Builder Finds Diary in Wall of Rich Couple’s House, ‘She’s Moving Me to a Home on Oak Street’, It Read — Story of the Day
A contractor hired to restore a lovely old brownstone mansion finds a hidden diary in one of the walls that tells a horrible story of cruelty and deceit.
Ethan Powell had been working as a contractor for twenty-five years and he'd never had a client as unpleasant as Lilian Garson-Finch. Unfortunately for Ethan, he needed the work and couldn't afford to turn it down.
Ethan was enchanted with the house when he first saw it. It was a beautiful turn-of-the-century mansion, and Ethan's specialty was restoration.
He loved the house, he hated the owner, and that was before he learned the truth about her...
Mrs. Garson-Finch was there every single day, looking over Ethan's shoulder, riling his team. She carped about them tracking dirt into the house, even though they'd laid down tarps.
She complained about the color of the hallway and said she hated the color, even though she'd picked it herself. Ethan repainted the hall and spent hours carefully picking out the delicate details in the crown molding.
Never give up hope, God always answers prayers.
She walked in and shrieked: "No! That's not what I want! I want gilt!"
"But Mrs. Garson," Ethan said. "The original molding was picked out in light grey..."
"I DON'T CARE!" she screamed. "I want gilt!"
So Ethan put in gilt and it looked terrible, which her husband immediately pointed out. Ethan explained that the original accent had been grey and that was when he got the surprise of his life.
"In that case," Mrs. Garson-Finch snarled. "You would have been professional enough to stick to your guns and stop me from making a mistake!"
That was when Ethan turned around and walked upstairs to supervise the stripping of the old 1920s wallpaper on the second floor. He wanted to remove it intact if possible. He had a friend who restored old wallpaper and he knew she'd be crazy about it.
He was carefully lifting a corner of the wallpaper when he noticed a slight depression on the wall. He pressed it, and to his surprise, a piece of the wallpaper lifted, and underneath was a tiny niche. In the niche was an old-fashioned diary. He pulled it out and blew on it.
The diary was surprisingly dust-free. Ethan opened the first page and read: "Vivian Harper Garson 11/20/2021," The entry was a little over a year old, but the diary was definitely an antique!
Intrigued, Ethan started reading. "I can't believe this is happening to me. Maybe I'm going crazy, so I'm writing it down in the diary my mother gave me for my sixteenth birthday."
"It's ironic that I'm only using it now that I'm 78. I pray to God that I will wake up from this nightmare, but in vain. Since my dear Edgar died six months ago, Lilian had been tormenting me."
"She wants me to sign over the house to her. She says it's to spare her from exorbitant inheritance taxes but I don't believe her. She wants to sell my beloved home where I was so happy with my Edgar."
"Thank God she can't get her hands on my money. Dear Edgar put it in a trust, so that is safe."
Ethan was stunned! Mrs. Garson-Finch's mother had written the diary! But where was she? Why was the diary hidden in the wall? And had she forced her mother to sign over the house?
Ethan couldn't put the diary down, so he took it home with him. "Ethan," his wife cried. "You forgot to buy milk!"
"Sorry, honey," Ethan mumbled and headed for his office where he sat down to devour the diary. Even his three children fighting and arguing couldn't disturb him.
"Lilian woke me up in the middle of the night to bring me breakfast, then she locked me in the windowless bathroom for hours. I never know what time it is and I've lost track of the days."
"I can feel myself losing my grip on reality. She told me she would stop giving me my medication until I signed. I don't want to die. I signed. Now she's shown her true colors."
"She is going to sell my house. She’s moving me to that awful house on the corner of Oak Street. I'm so afraid. Please God, help me."
That was the last entry in the diary. "Emma!" Ethan called. "Read this, and tell me what you think."
Emma sat down and was as fascinated as Ethan had been, "Oh my God, Ethan!" she cried. "The poor woman! Her daughter was gaslighting her. This is abuse!"
"Tomorrow I'm going to Oak Street to see if the old lady is alright," Ethan said. "Then I'm going to the police! I'm going to rescue that poor woman!"
The next morning, Ethan called Mrs. Garson-Finch and told her he was going to look for some period fixtures for the bathroom, then he headed for Oak Street.
The old age home looked pleasant, and when Ethan asked to speak to Mrs. Vivian Garson, the staff was surprised. "Mrs. Garson has been here almost a year and you're her first visitor!"
Ethan was led to a secluded garden where a frail woman sat, looking dispirited. "I hope you can cheer her up," the orderly said. "The poor lady is very depressed."
Ethan sat down next to the woman. "Are you Mrs. Garson?" he asked gently.
The woman looked up at him and Ethan saw that she must have once been a great beauty. "Yes," she said. "Who are you? Do I know you?"
"No," Ethan said. "But I know you." He took the diary out of his pocket and opened it to the last page. He read the last entry aloud: "'She’s moving me to a home on Oak Street. I'm so afraid. Please God, help me.'"
"Mrs. Garson, I'm the contractor restoring your old house," Ethan explained. "I found your diary, and I think it was in God's answer to your prayer. I want to help you get out of here, and the first step is to take this to the police, and lay charges against your daughter."
"You found my diary?" asked Vivian Garson, tears running down her cheeks. "You're the angel God sent to rescue me!"
Ethan took the diary to the police, and after interviewing Mrs. Garson, the D.A. had Mrs. Garson-Finch and her husband arrested. Mrs. Garson moved back into her home, and she asked Ethan to finish the restoration.
When Mrs. Garson passed away some years later, Ethan was stunned to discover that she'd left the lovely turn-of-the-century mansion to him, and to his children.
What can we learn from this story?
- Never give up hope. God always answers prayers. Vivian Garson never imagined that her old diary and a desperate prayer would lead to her rescue.
- Dishonesty and cruelty always lead to a bad end. Mrs. Garson-Finch thought she'd gotten away with stealing her mother's house but she didn't count on Karma.
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