Inspirational Stories

October 27, 2021

After Her Kids Leave the House, Kerry Collects All Their Gifts and Burns Them in the Fireplace — Story of the Day

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Kerry was widowed at the age of 58 and was horrified to discover that her children thought of her as old and finished.

Kerry Greenday was devastated when her beloved husband Walter passed away after a brave battle against cancer that lasted 8 years. At the time of his passing, Kerry had been just 58 -- still a young woman -- but she had felt ancient.

But slowly, with the help of her friends, she started regaining her joy in life, and a great part of that recovery was due to her work with a local day center for at-risk youth. As for Kerry's three children, they all lived out of state, and they rarely called.

Kerry threw the gifts in the fire | Source:


Kerry, who had been a teacher before she gave up her career to raise her kids found enormous satisfaction in helping these children who, she realized, were a lot like her.

They had family, somewhere -- but no one to reach out to, no one to hold their hands when they were sad, or share their small victories. "I can still do so much good," Kerry thought, "Walter would be proud of me."

But Kerry was in for an unpleasant surprise. Her children called and told her that they were coming home for her 60th birthday, and bringing their children too. Kerry was delighted. She hadn't seen them all since her husband's funeral two years before!


Excited, Kerry started getting ready for her visitors. She cleaned the house from top to bottom and got one of her favorite kids from the Youth Center, 15-year-old Cynthia, to come and help her with the baking.

A tired Kerry placed her hands on her hips and smiled. "Cynthia, we did good!" she cried, "Now when my children and grandbabies arrive they'll have all their favorite desserts."

Kerry was jut 57 when her husband passed away | Source: Unsplash


Cynthia shook her head. "Miss. Kerry, I have a confession to make, and I think you gonna be mad at me."

Kerry put an arm around Cynthia's shoulders. "Now honey, you know I'd never be mad at you!" she said.

Cynthia started crying. "I'm jealous, Miss. Kerry, of your children and your grandbabies 'cause no one never did nothing nice like this for me."

Kerry gave Cynthia the biggest hug. "Listen to me Cynthia Brown," Kerry said, "Cause I'm old and I know better!"

Cynthia sniffed. "You ain't old, Miss Kerry! You're just MATURE!"


Kerry started working at a Youth Center | Source: Unsplash

Kerry laughed. "Whatever! Listen: One day you'll have people making a fuss over you just like this, and do you know why?"


"Why?" asked Cynthia.

"Because you have a heart of gold, that's why!" said Kerry. She gave Cynthia another hug and a big box of goodies to take back to the other kids at the Youth Center.

When her children arrived Kerry was dressed up to the nines, looking gorgeous and glowing with joy. "Kendra, Mark, Odette!" she cried happily as she greeted her children.

Then she looked around in surprise, "But where is the rest of the family? The children..."

She made friends with a lonely girl named Cynthia | Source: Unsplash


"Well, Mom," said Mark with a smile, "We thought it might be better if it was just the four of us, so we could talk some things over."

"Mom!" cried Kendra  sweeping in on a cloud of perfume, "Stop fussing!"

"But I baked all these cookies and cakes and muffins..." said Kerry disappointed.

"Mom," said Odette, "You know my children aren't allowed any sugar so it's just as well they didn't come!"

Despite her disappointment, Kerry made her children welcome, and soon they were gathered around the dining table doing justice to the wonderful meal she'd prepared.


Kerry was looking forward to a big family dinner but she was disappointed | Source: Unsplash

After Kerry served coffee, the three siblings brought out their gifts. Kerry excitedly started unwrapping Kendra's present: a big box with a bright pink bow. To her surprise, she found a flounced flannel nightgown inside,


It had to be the ugliest nightgown Kerry had ever seen. "Well, mom?" asked Kendra smiling, "Do you like it?"

There is always time to take on a new challenge and find happiness, no matter how old we are.

"Well," said Kerry diplomatically, "I've never had anything quite like it!"

"I thought it was very suitable," Kendra said proudly, "You know... For your age!"

"My age?" asked Kerry surprised, "But I'm only sixty!"

Even the birthday presente turned out to be a terrible disappointment | Source: Unsplash


"Which is why I brought you THIS!" cried Odette and handed Kerry another gift, Kerry opened the box and found inside a range of products for women in their seventies with fragile skins.

Kerry read the labels and looked up at Odette. "I'm SIXTY, and I don't have prematurely aged skin..."

"Now mom," said Mark soothingly, "You know you're getting old, and we think maybe it's time you gave up the house and moved into an assisted living facility."

"Yes," said Kendra, "The income dad left you in more than adequate for a first-rate place, and think of what fun you'll have!"


"But what about my house!" asked Kerry, "My life?"

Kerry sat by the fireplace never realizing her life was in danger | Source: Pexels

"Well, obviously we'd sell the house..." said Mark.


"And Odette and I have already decided who's getting which antiques and the family silver..." said Kendra.

"Mark's wife said she doesn't like old stuff, so that's ok..." said Odette with a bright smile.

Kerry stood up slowly and looked around the table at her three children. "I see...Yes, I see..." she said, "But as you've pointed out, I'm getting on and too tired for late nights so perhaps you'd better leave now."

The three siblings were confused by their mother's cold tone, but they were sure she'd come around sooner or later. Kerry watched them leave with the bitterest pain in her heart.


Kerry woke up hours later in the hospital | Source: Unsplash

They had already discounted her as worthless. They were already divvying up her belongings, planning to sell her house out from under her and place in an old age home -- at sixty!


Kerry caught a glimpse of the ugly old woman's nightgown and the wrinkle creams and she swept them up in her arms and threw them into the fireplace where they immediately caught alight.

Kerry sank into an armchair close to the blaze and cried her eyes out. She didn't even notice when her vision started to blur, and when she started to lose consciousness.

Kerry woke up six hours later in hospital, and the doctors told her she'd been very lucky to survive. The plastic containers she'd thrown into the fire had released toxic fumes, and those had nearly killed her.

Kerry adopted Cynthia | Source: Unsplash


"You were lucky your young friend came along when she did!" the doctor said. 

"My young friend?" asked Kerry bewildered, and then she noticed Cynthia standing in the doorway looking embarrassed,

"Hey Miss Kerry," she said, "You OK now?"

"Yes! Thanks to you," Kerry exclaimed, "But how did you find me? What were you doing there at that hour?"

Cynthia hung her head. "I guess I was spying on you...I wanted to see what a real family was like, with the grandbabies and everything..."

Kerry finally had the close, loving family she wanted | Source: Unsplash


"You saved my life, Cynthia," Kerry said quietly, "and I guess that makes us family."

Kerry asked Cynthia to move in with her, and a year later she adopted her legally, which left her three biological children very upset, But Kerry didn't care, she was too busy mothering and mentoring Cynthia who went to college and did very well.

A few years later when Cynthia married a lovely kind man, Kerry gave her away. A few years later, Kerry was sitting in her own house, and her table was crowded. There was Cynthia and her husband, and their children. A real family, a family built on love, not blood.

Mark, Kendra, and Odette were very upset when Kerry passed away at the ripe old age of 93 and left her house, her money, and all her love to 'the daughter of my heart, Cynthia.'


What can we learn from this story?

  • What makes a family is love and caring. Kerry's biological children were only out for what they could get, but Cynthia loved her.
  • There is always time to take on a new challenge and find happiness, no matter how old we are. Kerry discovered she still had a lot to give back to people who needed her.

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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a young widower who refused to allow his dead wife's family to have contact with her daughter.

This account is inspired by our reader’s story and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone’s life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to