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After Estranged Mother's Death, Siblings Find Dusty Old Box In Parents' Closet – Story of the Day

Roshanak Hannani
Jan 24, 2022
09:00 P.M.
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For years, Anne and Sean were ashamed of their parents, Richard and Lily. He was disabled, and she always covered up her body strangely. They also refused to explain what happened, so the kids cut off all contact after moving out. But they returned when they both died and discovered the shocking truth of their parents’ past.

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“The children are not coming, even today! It’s so awful. Mrs. Young died of loneliness, I’m sure,” said Mrs. Coltrane to another neighbor of the Young family. They were at Lily Young’s funeral, and her kids, Anne and Sean, refused to come to pay their respects. Their poor mother died alone, and Mrs. Coltrane knew that they never called her and had not attended their father’s funeral three years ago either.

“I can’t understand why they were always so ungrateful to their parents. It’s insane,” the other neighbor responded, trying to remain quiet because they were in the middle of a service. “After they sacrificed so much for those kids. It just goes to show that being a parent is a thankless job.”

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“That’s right,” Mrs. Coltrane stage-whispered, and they continued watching the service. Luckily, the local community had arranged everything for Mrs. Young, and no one had to worry about who would pay for it. But the entire small town in Virginia condemned Anne and Sean for their actions and they also didn’t understand their point of view.

***

Richard had lost both his legs and could not work any longer. He was receiving government money due to the disability, and Lily had a part-time job to pay for anything else. But money was always tight in their household. Unlike the kids in the neighborhood, Anne and Sean never received much for Christmas and wore old clothes most of the time.

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As the oldest, Anne started working at 14 to afford several things, and she could finally buy Sean some things. Their parents didn’t understand why they spent money on such things, but they didn’t get that the kids at school were bullies. They got mocked for everything, including their father’s disability and how her mother dressed.

During thier childhood, Lily was always covered up even when it was too hot. | Source: Pexels

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For some reason, Lily was always covered up, even in the hottest weather ever. Anne often asked why she did that, but her mother constantly changed the subject. As the youngest, Sean tried asking his father how he had lost his legs, but he was also rebuffed. Neither of them knew what happened, only that it was a painful memory for their parents.

Despite everything, the kids knew their parents were doing their best, but it felt like they were not being honest. And when Anne turned 18, she left for college, thanks to her many scholarships, and cut off almost all contact. She only ever called to ask for Sean. A few years later, Sean left too, and that’s when the calls stopped altogether.

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When their father died, Anne had just started a new job in a complex industry, and she lived on the other side of the country so she couldn’t attend. Sean was in the middle of midterms, so he also decided not to go. Lily was heartbroken. She tried calling them again, but they both dodged her calls, and she gave up after a while.

Lily laid her husband to rest and disappeared from the world slowly. Mrs. Coltrane was her only friend, but she wasn’t particularly close to her. However, her old neighbor knew she was starved for affection and heartbroken after not seeing her kids at her husband’s funeral. Anne and Sean never spoke to their mother again.

Lily died of loneliness. | Source: Pexels

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Lily passed away alone in her room, although she was still relatively young. Her health was in top shape, but her body seemed to give up. And Mrs. Coltrane made sure that everyone knew her children were the reason why.

***

Six months after their mother’s death, Anne and Sean were forced to return to their hometown in Virginia, although she lived in Seattle, and he was settled in Los Angeles. “This is a pain. Are you sure we couldn’t do this remotely or something?” Sean asked, extinguishing his cigarette right outside their childhood house.

Anne sighed in exasperation. “Believe me, if we could, I would’ve found a way. I totally get what you mean, but the real estate agent said we needed to be here to sign some forms in person and get their things out,” she responded.

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“Ugh… fine. Let’s do this quickly. I bet we can just throw everything away,” Sean added.

They started working and did what Sean suggested, throwing most of their parents’ things on the lawn. They would place them near the garbage bins later. But Mrs. Coltrane saw it and asked if she could keep a few items. “Of course, we don’t want all that garbage,” Anne told the neighbor and went back inside.

Sean and Anne were getting rid of everything to sell the house. | Source: Pexels

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The older woman shook her head and went back to her house after picking an antique teapot that Lily had loved. The entire neighborhood found out what they were doing in no time, and everyone asked to take something from everything discarded on the lawn. The kids didn’t care who took what.

***

They were almost done when Anne spotted a hole in her mother’s closet. She called Sean to take a look. “Ugh, we’re going to need to repair that before we can sell the house,” he said.

“There’s nothing inside, right?” she asked her brother.

“Hmmm, let me see. Oh wait… yeah, there’s something,” Sean added, rummaging through the closet. Finally, he came out with an old dusty box. It had a piece of duct tape on top that read, “Lily.”

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“What could it be?” Anne wondered aloud, not really asking her brother as she grabbed the lid and opened it.

Inside the box, they saw several newspaper clippings. They had yellowed with time and dated back to 1992, just two years before Anne was born. She started reading the article. “It’s about a huge bus crash from the ‘90s, and apparently, it caught fire,” she told her brother as he kept inspecting the contents of the box.

They found old newspaper clippings. | Source: Unsplash

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“Look, there’s a medal here,” Sean said, taking out a gold medal and turning it with his fingers.

“Oh my god,” Anne whispered, covering her mouth with her face.

“What?”

“‘Young local hero, Lily Young, saves eight people and her husband, the bus driver, from burning down in the aftermath of the crash. Initial investigations suggest that the brakes in the bus went out and Richard Young could not control his vehicle,’” Anne read part of the article and then raised her eyes to Sean.

“What else happened?” Sean asked, urging her sister to keep reading.

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“It says that Mom got severe burns from the crash, and Dad lost his legs as a result. It also says that the Mayor gave Mom that medal for her courage. I don’t understand. Why didn’t they tell us about this? Every part of our childhood now makes sense,” Anne said, as tears gathered in her eyes, and she looked back at how horrible they had been to their parents after moving out.

Sean also got caught up in emotion, and they were silent for several minutes, sitting on the floor right outside that closet. Suddenly, he spoke up.

Anne wiped her tears as her brother spoke. | Source: Pexels

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“Wait a minute. If it was the bus company’s fault, why did they compensate our parents? They always worried about money, so I know they didn’t have savings or anything,” Sean wondered. He had graduated from law school and was about to start his internship at an excellent law firm in Los Angeles.

“I don’t know,” Anne said, wiping her tears.

“Well… I can’t make up for the bad things we did or how we neglected our folks. But I’m going to get to the bottom of this,” Sean promised, and Anne smiled at her brother.

“And we’re not selling this house,” Anne decided out of the blue. “We’re going to keep it. It’s their home, where they raised us despite severe difficulties. We’re going to restore it to its former glory.”

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Sean nodded at her, and they stood up. First, they went to the local cemetery to see their parents’ graves and ask for forgiveness. Afterward, Anne quit her job in Seattle and moved back to Virginia to remodel the house.

Anne quit her job, moved back, and fixed her parents' house. | Source: Pexels

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She apologized to Mrs. Coltrane for their attitude, as they never knew why their parents struggled so much. The neighbor had no idea the kids didn’t know about the accident. And Anne hated herself for not googling her parents at some point. “Mrs. Coltrane, I can’t make things right with my parents. It’s too late, but we’re going to try,” she vowed to the older woman.

Several months later, Sean discovered that the bus company didn’t pay their parents because they got off on a technicality. Anne didn’t understand much, but Sean was going to fight it. Two years later, they finally won a new lawsuit against the vehicle company and received handsome compensation as a result.

But they didn’t want the money. They donated it to the local hospital to build a burn unit and help victims of such cases as their mother and father. Anne also started a charity in the area and helped as much as possible. She lived permanently in her childhood home, which had been modernized after the remodel. Mrs. Coltrane returned Lily’s antique teapot as a housewarming gift.

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A few years later, Sean moved next door to Anne. | Source: Pexels

After a couple more years, Sean decided to move back home and bought the house next to Anne. They raised their families there and talked about their parents often so no one would ever forget them.

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What can we learn from this story?

  • Make amends before it’s too late. Anne and Sean never realized how much their parents struggled in life and didn’t get a chance to make up with them before they passed. Don’t let that happen to you.
  • Heroes don’t have capes. The real heroes in our lives are not flashy or Avengers. They’re our parents, friends, teachers, and everyone who helps us become better people.

Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them. 

If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about an older woman who was mocked by business class passengers on a plane.

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 info@amomama.com. 

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