Arnold decided to visit his widowed mom for the first time in three years, only to see the house in a mess and with a stranger living there.
Arnold was 33 years old and with a successful career in the corporate world. He got his master’s degree at 27, and at the time, he had been living with his mom, Eva.
Eva asked him not to leave home because she was already getting old and needed help. However, Arnold insisted on moving out to focus on his career.
His mother took this against him, and she began to guilt-trip him into staying. “I didn’t raise you to prioritize money over family. I wanted you to be different! First, your father left me, and now, my own son is abandoning me as well,” she told him.
Arnold was hurt that his mother thought this way of him and decided to cut ties with her at once. He wanted to work hard to provide not only for himself and his future family but also to give back to his mom, and he didn’t like the way his mother guilt-tripped him.
“I’m sorry I’m not the son you’ve always wanted. If you’re so disappointed in me, I’ll make it easier for you. You no longer have to deal with me,” he told Eva before leaving.
Since that last fight, Arnold never saw his mother again. He never called or wrote to her until three years later when he needed to return home to get some documents.
Arnold drove to his hometown four hours away from his place. When he arrived at his mother’s house, he was surprised to see it in such a complete mess. The house was almost destroyed, and it looked as if it hadn’t been cleaned in years.
He proceeded to the kitchen and saw that everything was broken and filled with dust. Then he suddenly heard a man coughing from the living room.
He was surprised to see his mother there lying on the couch with a man in his 40s sitting on the chair beside her. The man was dressed in ragged clothes and had long, messy hair.
“Mom! What on earth? Who is this man? What’s wrong with you?!” Arnold suddenly said, which startled both his mother and the man with her. .
His mother kept her composure and simply answered, “This is Simon. He has been taking care of me for the last couple of months.”.
“Is this what you call ‘taking care’ of someone? Look at this place. It’s a complete mess!” Arnold replied.
“Well, this is how I live now. I would not even be here if Simon never came knocking on the door. He came here to ask for some water, but I couldn’t answer. He heard my faint cry for help from the window, and he opened the door. He saw me lying on the floor and gave me some food,” she explained.
“Where did all your money go?” Arnold asked her.
“The bills for your student loans kept coming and only stopped last year. Since then, I only had enough to buy simple groceries and didn’t have enough to pay the bills,” Eva replied.
Your mother’s utilities were cut off, so there is no electricity or water here. We’ve been getting water from outside. Her house will be taken away if she doesn’t pay her loans. If I had known she had a son, I would have insisted on calling you, but she never mentioned you,” Simon suddenly spoke.
Arnold was stunned, and could not get himself to speak, so Simon spoke again. “To be honest, if I had known she had a son, the first thing I would’ve done was give you a good beating for leaving your mother at such a horrid state!”
Eva intervened before the two men could say anything else. “That’s enough,” she cried. “You said you didn’t want anything to do with me, so I don’t want to disturb you further. If there’s anything you need, just get it and go,” she told her son.
At that moment, Arnold fell to his knees and cried. “Mom,” he sobbed. “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry you’ve been living this way,” he said.
“It was wrong of me to assume that it was my child’s responsibility to take care of me once I got old. I should have never demanded that from you. You don’t have to worry about it,” Eva told him, pulling him up from the floor.
“I know it’s not my responsibility, but it’s something I should have done whether you asked for it or not. I’m sorry, mom. You thought only of me all these years, and here I was, living life selfishly,” Arnold replied, still begging for her forgiveness.
After they made amends, Arnold paid off all of his mother’s debts and had her house fixed. He also helped Simon out by finding him a job at the company he worked for.
In the end, Arnold asked to be relocated to the city where his mom lived, and they lived together again. Once he saved up enough money, he had an even bigger house built for their family, where both Eva and Simon continued to live.
When it was time for Arnold to settle down and start his own family, he moved away from them but remained in touch. He and his family spent the weekends in Eva’s home, a good 15-minute drive from where he decided to move.
What can we learn from this story?
Our parents deserve to be respected and loved even when they’re older. While it was wrong for Eva to assume that it was her son’s responsibility to care for him once she got older, Arnold should have been more compassionate for the woman who raised him.
Instead of cutting her off completely, it would have been better for both of them to talk things through and meet in the middle on how they could’ve continued to help each other out.
Being kind costs nothing. Simon helped Eva out even though she had nothing to offer him in return. In the end, his kindness was repaid when Arnold helped him land a job and gave him permanent residence in the house he stayed in with Eva.