Deborah Marks found joy in providing her terminally ill grandmother, Tessa, with all the care and support she needed, rather than considering it an obligation. Tessa had been a constant presence in Deborah’s life since childhood, unlike her emotionally detached and distant mother, Martha.
Knowing that Tessa’s final days were near, Deborah was determined to be there for her, despite her responsibilities as a single mother of two. Martha was as indifferent to her mother’s condition as she had been throughout her life, so the responsibility of ensuring Tessa’s comfort fell solely on Deborah’s shoulders.
When Tessa expressed her desire to spend her final days at home, Deborah took six months of unpaid leave from work and moved into Tessa’s house with her children. Meanwhile, Martha had booked a three-month world cruise and saw no reason to cancel it.
Over the next four months, Deborah tenderly nursed Tessa, providing her with the same care she would give to her own children. As Tessa’s pain subsided, the two would spend hours talking, with Tessa sharing stories from her life while Deborah held her hands and offered kisses.
Every day, Deborah whispered to Tessa, “You’ll always be in my heart. I want you to know how much I love you, granny.” Tessa’s eyes would slowly close as she drifted off to sleep under the effects of her medication, with a gentle smile on her face.
Deborah wept as she cradled Tessa’s frail body in her arms, but she knew that her tears were for herself alone. Tessa was finally at peace and free from all pain. Unfortunately, Martha, who had returned from her cruise just days before, was not there for Deborah. Martha had told Deborah that the smell of sick people made her nauseous, and she had said it loud enough for Tessa to hear.
Feeling alone and overwhelmed, Deborah picked up her phone and called Martha, hoping to find some comfort and support. “Mom, gran’s gone. If you want to come to say goodbye…” Deborah trailed off, unsure of how to continue.
However, Martha was not a sentimental person. “I’ll see her at the service, won’t I?” she said crisply. “Now we need to make the funeral arrangements and get the death certificate so we can get the estate into probable…”
Deborah was in shock. “The estate?” she asked. “I don’t understand…”
Martha replied with impatience, “Don’t be silly, Deborah. The money, the house — the house should be worth quite a bit! And all those jewels she inherited from her grandmother… We need to take care of these things as soon as possible.”
Deborah was heartbroken and couldn’t believe that Martha could be so callous at a time like this. “How can you think of that at a time like this?” Deborah asked, her voice breaking with tears.
Martha’s reply was sharp and unforgiving. “Because I’m a practical woman, Deborah! Not a sentimental ninny like you and my mother!” Martha then proceeded to quickly organize the funeral, contact the lawyer, and set a date for the reading of the will, leaving Deborah feeling alone and unsupported during one of the most challenging times of her life.
Tessa’s will was straightforward. She left her house to Martha, along with its contents, with one exception: the old peach brocade couch in her parlor was designated for Deborah.
Upon leaving the lawyer’s office, Martha had a smug look on her face. “Oh Deborah,” she taunted. “If you want that shabby couch, you better get it by the end of the week. I’m putting the house on the market.”
Deborah reached out to a friend who owned a large truck to help her move the couch home. The piece of furniture was massive, cumbersome, and worn, but it held sentimental value to Deborah.
Placing it in her sitting room, Deborah began to clean the couch and found something unexpected underneath one of the cushions. She discovered a large zipper that opened to reveal a black velvet bag. Inside the bag were jewelry boxes and an envelope addressed to Deborah.
Deborah opened the envelope and read her grandmother’s final message: “My dearest Debbie, I want you to know how much I’ve loved you and what a treasure you’ve been in my life. I wanted to pass on my grandmother’s jewels to you, but I know Martha too well. She would find a way to cheat you, so I’m giving them to you this way. Enjoy them and keep them safe from Martha’s grasp. Remember me and pass on my legacy to your own granddaughter one day.”
Inside the boxes were an exquisite collection of priceless jewels, but Deborah’s tears distorted their glittering beauty into a rainbow of emotions. As for Martha, she spent weeks tearing apart Tessa’s home in search of the jewels but found nothing.
Her greed and cold heart had gained her nothing, and she was never cherished by her own grandchildren as Tessa had been by Deborah.