Sarah dialed her brother’s number. She intended to get through to him. “But Edward! It’s your turn! At this point, my marriage is about to collapse!” Sarah tried to speak in a whisper, but involuntarily her voice broke into a scream. She was unaware that her mother, Emma Persky, was listening. The older woman couldn’t hear what her son told to Sarah, but it was obvious that he didn’t like the topic of conversation.
“Please, Edward! Take her away, please! We talked about this beforehand,” Sarah pleaded with her brother. Emma began to understand what the argument was about: her daughter had asked Edward to take Emma in, but he refused.
About a year ago Emma’s children came to her with a conversation. Sarah and Edward told their mother that they needed to expand their business. Sarah was the owner of a store on Etsy. The store’s audience was large, but to turn the business around, Sarah needed to buy equipment, and she didn’t have the money for that. Edward had a gardening business and also needed additional funding.
Emma suggested that the children take a loan, but they were not eager to take an additional debt. Both Sara and Edward had mortgages on their homes that had to be paid off each month, and they were saving for their children’s education. Sara and Edward suggested that their mother would sell her house and come to live with them.
The children’s offer confused Emma. The prospect of losing the house that she and her husband had spent so much energy and money on did not appeal to her. And besides, their children were born and raised in that house, and it held family memories. But eventually Emma gave in to her children’s entreaties and moved into Sarah’s house.
The first problems arose very quickly. Emma was forced to sell most of her belongings because Sarah assured her that she already had everything in her house furnished. All her daughter allowed her mother to take was a bed and some things from the bedroom. The rest of Emma’s belongings were moved to a warehouse, where they were sold on eBay. Emma never saw the money for the items. But she did have a savings account that held a large sum of money. The children knew about their mother’s savings, but they had no idea how much. They had no claim to the money yet.
It was not easy for Emma to live in her daughter’s home. Emma loved her grandchildren, but like all children, they were too noisy, and Sarah’s husband was a rare nuisance. And now Emma hears that it turns out that it was difficult for Sara to live with her mother, so she wants to send her to Edward. And Edward, apparently, is not eager to take her home with him.
Emma’s heart was breaking. It was not for nothing that motherhood was said to be a thankless job. With these thoughts in mind, the woman went to her room. Grabbing her purse, Emma went out into the living room.
“Where are you going?” inquired Sarah. Apparently she had just interrupted a conversation.
“I want to go for a little walk,” Emma replied, and smiled fake with one lip. Sarah didn’t pay any attention to this, however; on the contrary, she was content that her mother would leave her for a little while.
It was a good thing Emma kept her car. She drove around the streets of Decorah, Iowa, just without purpose and didn’t notice when she came to her old house. She saw a large truck parked next to the house. The construction workers had already torn down most of the structure.
As she parked in front of her house, Emma watched with tears in her eyes as the ball hammer demolished the rest of the house. Maybe the sight wouldn’t have brought her so much pain if she hadn’t found out what monsters her children were. Unable to contain her emotions any longer, she sobbed loudly.
Emma would have kept shedding tears if her sobs hadn’t been interrupted by a knock on the car window. “Emma? Are you all right?” It was her neighbor Nora. The woman smiled cheerfully at Emma until she saw her friend’s weeping eyes.
Emma took a deep breath and rolled down the window. “Hello, Nora! How are you?”, she tried to keep as calm as possible.
“What’s wrong, Emma? Why are you crying? Because of your house?”, Nora inundated her with questions for which there were no answers.
“Yes, it’s very sad. I didn’t think they would decide to tear it down,” Emma replied and looked in the direction of the house.
“Yes, they did. The new owners have decided to build a modern house here with all sorts of ‘green stuff,'” Nora accompanied her words with air quotes. “I have no idea what that means.”
The age difference between the women was about ten years. Even so, Nora was a close friend to Emma. Nora single-handedly raised her son. Now he was in college and came to visit his mother regularly.
Emma interrupted her thoughts and looked at Nora. “I guess I’ll go. I don’t want to see any more of this,” Emma said and moved toward the car. Nora, however, detained her and invited her back to her house for a cup of tea and cookies. Emma didn’t immediately say yes, but Nora’s offer was the kindest of the day.
Nora guessed that something was wrong with Emma. She pestered her friend for several minutes for the truth until finally Emma told her what her daughter and son were talking about.
“It’s disgusting! I can’t believe it. You’ve already sacrificed the dearest things for them,” Nora resented, sipping from her cup of tea.
“I agree. I don’t know what to do next. How can you go back to a place where you’re not welcome?” replied Emma to her friend. “I’m not talking about money right now. It doesn’t matter. But home, Nora. That’s where their childhood was spent. The house holds… holds memories of their father. I can’t believe all my kids care about is money. So I’ve been a bad mother.”
“What are you talking about! Don’t say that! All people are different. Some people are blinded by money. You and your husband were a great example of parenting for me. I was inspired to look up to you. And how many times have you helped me with Tom? He always spoke very warmly of you, told me how kind you were to him,” Nora replied and put her hand on Emma’s arm in a show of encouragement.
“I am very glad to hear that. Tom is a sweet boy, he aspired to be like Edward. Those were good times…”, Emma said with a sigh of regret. “Anyway, I still don’t know how I should go on.”
“Why don’t you stay with me? The house is big. I’ve already paid for it. There’s plenty of room, and to be honest, I feel very lonely here after Tom left for school,” Nora said. A smile played on her lips.
Emma wasn’t expecting to hear such a generous offer. After hesitating a bit, she agreed. Emma was going to bring her few things, that she had at her daughter’s house, but Nora stopped her and told her it wasn’t necessary. Nora’s house had everything Emma might need. “Who knows, maybe your daughter will realize her mistake,” Nora said excitedly.
But Nora’s expectations were in vain. In the week that Emma had lived at her friend’s house, none of the children had even called her. In the end, she dialed her daughter’s number herself and announced that she wasn’t coming back to her house anymore. Although Sarah expressed surprise, a degree of relief sounded in her voice.
The friends discussed payments and rent, and officially became roommates for the immediate future. One Friday night, Tom arrived at his mother’s house for dinner. What was his surprise when he saw Emma busy preparing dinner for them. Tom rejoiced when he heard of their housing arrangement.
After dinner, Nora went to the bathroom, and Tom and Emma remained to talk. What Emma heard from her friend’s son shocked her. “Mrs. Persky, you must think my mother is doing you a favor, but in fact you are doing me a favor. And I’m grateful to you for that. I was very worried that Mom was left here all alone, but thanks to you, I can have peace of mind. If you ever need any help, you call me right away, okay?” said Tom. Emma smiled at him, barely holding back tears.
The women saw Tom off with kind words of encouragement for his exams. All the months that followed, they had a great time, Tom visited them every week, they had dinner together and had heartfelt conversations. The young man always came with flowers, and if something was broken in the house, he fixed it right away.
Emma’s children, on the other hand, didn’t visit their mother once during the entire year she had lived in Nora’s house. Then Emma made an important decision she bequeathed all of her savings to Tom. Emma’s lawyer advised her to leave something in her inheritance to her own children, so that they would not contest the will. Then Emma bequeathed the bed she had left at her daughter’s home to Sara, and bequeathed an old dresser to Edward.
She finished signing the papers at the lawyer’s office with a smile. “What a pity I won’t be able to see their ‘shocked Pikachu faces,'” Emma grinned and hurried home. Tonight Tom was supposed to introduce her and Nora to his girlfriend, and Emma couldn’t miss this important event.