It had been several days since her father’s funeral. Julia sat in his office going through his papers. She and her mother wanted to put her father’s things in order. He kept all the important papers in his office, and Julia decided to sort them so that her mother wouldn’t have to look for anything later.
As she was going through the papers, she got her hands on one envelope that seemed a little strange to Julia. It was sealed by the law firm from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The strange thing was that they lived in Miami their whole life. Fort Lauderdale was only an hour away, and Julia got curious. Her intuition told her to look inside the envelope.
Breaking the seal, she opened the envelope and found her father’s will in it. She was shocked, for her father had died suddenly, and could not have foreseen his demise beforehand. Running her eyes over the dry, legal terms, she reached the most interesting point. Julia was at a loss for words.
“Mama! Mama!” she screamed.
“What’s wrong, Julia?” asked her mother, who rushed to her daughter’s voice.
“Look!”, Julia replied loudly, and showed her the document.
“Just a minute, I need to put on my glasses,” said Mrs. Moss and took the paper in her hands.
“Mom, were you aware of this?”
“No, honey. I don’t know what you’re talking about. What’s in that document?”, Mrs. Moss asked Julia.
“It says that all the property, including this house, goes to someone named John Serrano. Who is that?”, Julia’s voice trembled with emotion. She couldn’t believe her father could do this to his wife, leaving her with nothing.
“I don’t understand anything. The whole thing is very strange. Do you believe it could be true?” replied Mrs. Moss. There was a look of concern on her face.
“I don’t know. We should consult a lawyer,” Julia said. She tried to remain calm.
She googled the information, and found the number of a law firm. After talking to people she knew, she found out the name of the lawyer her father worked with. His name was Isaac Abrams. Julia took his phone number, called him, and made an appointment for the next day.
The next morning she and her mother drove to Fort Lauderdale. They still didn’t understand how Mr. Moss could do such a thing. Julia’s head was filled with all kinds of questions. Why this particular city? What kind of man was John Serrano? Why had her mother never heard of him? What secret had her father been keeping?
It wasn’t long before they were on their way to the office. The secretary escorted them to Attorney Abrams’ office and asked them to wait a moment. Soon, Mr. Abrams appeared, followed by some man. Julia guessed it was the same John.
The man was about her age, perhaps a little older. Something told Julia that John was not an easy man. Her father must have had a good reason for doing so. But he probably couldn’t tell the whole truth.
“Mrs. and Miss Moss? Pleased to meet you. My name is Isaac Abrams,” the lawyer said and held out his hand to say hello. “And this, as you might have guessed, is John Serrano. He was the one that was mentioned in Mr. Moss’s will.”
“Who are you? Why your name was put in the will?”, Julia went on the offensive. She was no longer thinking about intuition. She was seized by anger that this man would cause her mother to be homeless.
“Who am I? Who are you?” answered John sharply. He was beginning to get angry.
“Take it easy. Please sit down. It’s not an easy question. I had planned to call you as soon as you could recover from the funeral. But you beat me to it. Here we are,” said Mr. Adams. “Your father had a secret.”
“Your father?” said John quietly, and looked at Julia questioningly. She in turn looked at him, too, her eyebrows furrowed.
“Yes, my father,” she replied.
“Mr. Moss was also John’s father, miss,” Mr. Abrams clarified.
Julia opened her mouth in surprise. Mrs. Moss remained silent, only moving her gaze from John to Julia. John looked lost. The silence was broken by the lawyer.
“Mr. Moss trusted me to tell you the whole truth because he couldn’t do it himself. Some time ago he found John through social media and reconnected with him. Am I right, Mr. Serrano?”, the lawyer turned to John, who nodded agreeably. “Why don’t you go ahead yourself, John?”
“What’s there to say? We met with him a few times a month. But I didn’t know anything about you. I figured my father didn’t have anyone else. You haven’t heard anything about me either?”, John turned to Julia with embarrassment in his voice.
“No, he didn’t tell me anything,” Julia whispered. She knew in her heart that John was no stranger to her, but she didn’t understand her father, why he didn’t confess right away.
“The fact is that your father was ashamed of past mistakes. He left John’s mother as soon as she became pregnant. A few years later he met Mrs. Moss and started a new family. But he wanted to be reunited with his son and make up for all the time he had not spent with him. So Mr. Moss wanted to give him all the property,” the lawyer continued the conversation.
The women nodded understandingly, but were still in shock. “I think we ought to do everything we can to vacate the house as soon as possible,” Mrs. Moss said meekly.
“No! It’s your house, Mother!” protested Julia.
“No, Julia. This house has been with your father’s property since before we were married. I’m not sure I can claim it,” Mrs. Moss answered her daughter.
At this point John intervened in the conversation. “I’m not going to kick you out of the house. Keep it. I don’t need this house. I have no desire to leave Fort Lauderdale. My work is here.”
“Thank you!” answered Julia with a sigh of relief. She was very worried about her mother, that she would have nowhere to live. But John’s words reassured her.
They quietly continued their conversation. Mr. Abrams promised to help them settle everything. John offered to divide the monetary portion of the will among all family members. “I didn’t communicate with him for the money. I didn’t have a problem with it. I just wanted to get to know my father better,” he admitted.
After the meeting, John left Julia his number. “Just in case. In case you need anything,” he said and left.
After all the documents were signed, Julia breathed a sigh of relief; she could relax and not think about the situation again. Unexpectedly, she dialed John’s number, they talked. It turned out that he had a family, two children. Julia told him about her two cats.
They called each other every week since then.
Julia suggested that John introduced her to his family. John became very close to her, she loved his children and pampered them in every way.
Deep down, she was angry with her father, but only because he had deprived her of so many years of contact with her own brother. At the same time, she understood that her father was afraid to tell them the truth. In any case, this was life, and people tend to make mistakes all the time.