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A man puts an envelope in a mailbox | Source: Shutterstock
A man puts an envelope in a mailbox | Source: Shutterstock

Son Responds to Father’s Weekly Letters after Years with a Sudden Photo – Story of the Day

Roshanak Hannani
May 11, 2023
11:15 A.M.

For years, James tried to reconnect with his estranged son by sending letters. He received no response until his son sent a picture with a message demanding he stops trying to make contact. But James didn't listen and drove to his son's house hours away, only to discover that Andrew might not live for long.

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James snapped his lips after licking the stamp on his latest letter to his son, Andrew. He sighed, looking at the address and his boy's name, thinking it was another feeble attempt that would most likely go unanswered. However, he couldn't stop trying to contact him.

They had been estranged since James' late wife's funeral. He tried to mend the relationship for years. He tried to visit his house and send him money. James also got him an interview at an important firm.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

But Andrew rejected all his efforts. His son had a family and kids now. James wanted to meet his grandkids, so he would never stop writing the letters.

He went outside to mail the letter and checked his mailbox on the way back. The same piles of bills were present as always, and James sighed again. But as he threw the envelopes on his coffee table, one letter separated from the stack.

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James rubbed his eyes, thinking he saw things, and almost tripped to pick up the letter. It was real. Andrew's name appeared, and he couldn't have opened it faster. Thank God, he praised as his fingers touched a Polaroid.

His son was smiling at the camera with one arm wrapped around his wife. Their two young sons stood proudly, grinning as well. Tears gathered in James' eyes.

He couldn't have been more thankful for this gift, and the fact that Andrew had responded after all these years gave him hope. Had he finally earned his son's forgiveness? But all the blood drained from his face after flipping the Polaroid over.

Andrew had also added a message to the picture, which was as cruel as it could get. "James," he read aloud, cringing at how his son wouldn't even call him father anymore. "You will never be a part of this family. Stop writing me letters. And soon, there will be no one to receive them at this address.”

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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"What?" James wondered, flipping the picture back to see Andrew and his family.

Are they moving? Where? Is something wrong? What's happening? Are they in trouble?

James paced his living room floor, thinking hard about that cryptic part. He had no idea what it meant, but it wasn't normal. After years, his son had finally written back. There had to be a reason.

After pondering over the situation, James decided this might be his last chance to meet him. Andrew’s home was an eight-hour drive away, and he was ready to take that drive.

***

The following day...

After some time on the road, James's feelings went from determined and hopeful to fearful and guilty. Long drives offer a chance to think about everything that's happened in the past. The truth is, he could never blame Andrew for cutting all contact. It was James' fault.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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Ten years ago…

"What the hell are you doing?" a scream seemed to echo through the entire house. James had been fully focused…on a woman's bosom. James hadn't even heard anyone opening the front door of their house or coming upstairs.

He jumped from his bed, pulling his pants up quickly, and turned to see his son's angry face in the doorway. The woman he had just been "cuddling with" was covering up her body with the bed sheets, but he didn't care about her. Andrew's face was red with pure disappointment and outrage.

"Andy, son, listen. I—" James stuttered, his breath coming quickly. His hands were up defensively. "I can explain."

"GOD, YOU'RE SUCH A CLICHÉ! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU! YOU'RE IN MOM’S BED WITH YOUR ASSISTANT!" his son screamed and ran out of the bedroom. James followed quickly after picking up his shirt from the floor. He was ready to beg.

"Son, please. Please. Don't tell your mother. I'm sorry," he pleaded and almost ran into Andrew when he stopped abruptly.

The young man turned and stared into his father's face, and James watched as Andrew tried not to scream more. His face went through several emotions. Like his entire life, which was already a mess, was over. Finally, Andrew opened his mouth.

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"I will never tell my mother that you were here, screwing your secretary while she's rotting away in a hospital bed," Andrew seethed, his lips moving tightly. "I will never tell her that her husband is a piece of sh—"

"Son, I'm sorry."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"Are you? I don't think so," Andrew shook his head. "I don't want to see you. But you will go to Mom and be by her side right now. I came to discuss something the doctor said. I wanted us to meet with him again. You will hold her hand, tell her how much you loved her, how great of a mother she was, and this stays between us."

"Yes, of course," James breathed. He would promise anything.

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"I never want to see another random woman in MY MOTHER'S HOUSE again," the young man continued, losing his temper again. But he shook it off. "Move."

James nodded, watching Andrew grab his coat and exit the house, slamming the door on the way out. He did exactly as his son asked, and the doctor was right. His wife, Vivienne, lived for only three more months. But she was surrounded by her "loving" husband and son when the time came.

They both acted like nothing was wrong, even when Vivienne noticed something. They said they were just worried for her, and she comforted them. She went peacefully, and as soon as the doctors declared her officially gone, Andrew threw his father out of the room.

"I'll deal with this. See you at the funeral," he hissed, and James nodded again. He had to give Andrew time to mourn and forget about the scene he witnessed back at the house.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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At Vivienne's funeral…

Andrew gave a beautiful eulogy for his late mother, moving James and other attendees to tears. Vivienne had truly been a marvel, and he couldn't believe how foolish he was to start an affair with another woman right when his wife was most vulnerable.

His only solace was that Vivienne never knew, but James promised to make amends still and help his son as best he could. However, when guests and relatives left, Andrew walked straight to his father, and his stoic face didn't bode well.

"This is the last time you'll ever see me," the young man announced point-blank.

James' eyes widened. "Son, please. No," he pleaded, the words rushing out. "I've been doing everything you asked. I want to make amends. With your mother gone, it's us against the world. Please, give me a chance to earn your forgiveness."

"I don't know if you'll ever manage to do that," Andrew shook his head. "I don't know if I'll ever be able to forgive what you did to Mom during the worst time in our lives. But I know this – I'm done with you. You and I are not family anymore."

His son walked away and drove off, and the older man watched him disappear into the horizon as teardrops fell from his eyes.

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

***

Present…

"Mr. Carson?" a woman answered the door after James banged several times. She recognized him, although they had never met before. Andrew must have shown her a picture, or perhaps their resemblance was enough for her to know.

"You're Andrew's wife, right? Please, can I see him?" he implored.

"Yes, I'm Ashley," she said, confused and worried about his sudden appearance. "Andrew's not here."

"God, I'm sorry, Ashley. I didn't even ask your name," the older man lamented, looking down for a second. "But please. I beg you. He sent me a message, and I just need to talk to him in person."

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Ashley's mouth opened, but nothing came out. She briefly looked back into her house, but her head returned to James. "He sent you a message?" she asked.

"Yes, please," James nodded, hopeful. "Tell him I'm here."

"Mr. Carson, I know what happened between you two, but I'm not hiding him. He's really not here," she said while nodding.

"Where is he? At work?"

"No, he's at…the hospital," Ashley caved reluctantly, opening the door further. "Come in."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

***

"I have to see him!" James jumped from Ashley's couch as the same urgency that made him rush out of his home took over his body. She had just told him why his son was at the hospital: He was waiting for a transplant because both his kidneys had shut down.

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"It's not that simple," she continued, licking her lips and pushing her hair back. "Andrew's doctors said he needed rest while he waits for a donor. Any kind of anger is only going to make his condition worse. He's going through a hard time, Mr. Carson. I can't let you upset him."

"I can't stay here or go back home, knowing my son is dying," James hissed, tapping his chest with his finger.

"I know. But please, understand. I already told you much more than Andrew would want you to know," Ashley continued, exasperated. Her hands were in the air, trying to calm the older man. "He's on the waiting list. The doctors are hopeful. We just have to be patient."

"I can't be patient! It's been ten years, please. Let me speak to the doctors,” James insisted, putting his hands together, almost in prayer.

She sighed and closed her eyes. Throughout their conversation, she had tried to remain composed and to the point, but her emotions were slipping. "OK, let's go," Ashley breathed as if to restrain herself.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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***

"That's what we can do for now, but soon, his body won't support another round of dialysis. The only solution is a transplant, which is tricky, too," Dr. Mullins explained to James. It was mostly what Ashley had already said, except in a more medical way.

They sat in Dr. Mullins' office, but she hadn't spoken a word, probably worried about her husband, his estranged father's appearance, and their family's future. James felt terrible about speaking to her harshly but couldn't dwell on it.

He looked into the doctor's eyes and blurted, "I can donate my kidney."

"Well, that's a possibility. We'd have to run some tests," Dr. Mullins explained in a calming tone as he flipped some papers on his desk.

"We can't do that," Ashley interrupted them.

"What? I have to. I have to save Andrew," James looked at her in shock.

"Andrew would never accept anything from him," she told Dr. Mullins, ignoring James. "They're estranged, and it's this whole deal. We can't. It would upset him. He's going to reject it. We should wait."

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Dr. Mullin sighed, linking his fingers and leaning closer in his seat. "First, we don't know if you're a match. Parents are not always suited for an organ transplant, so let's not get ahead of ourselves," the physician began but pursed his lips. "But Ashley, this might be your husband's last chance."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"No, Dr. Mullins," she closed her eyes, her face contorting as her mouth tilted down. "Please. You said we just had to be patient. That it could happen. That he was high up on the list. I don't mean to be ungrateful or anything for what Mr. Carson is offering. But it would be a huge problem. I don't think my husband will take it well. It could worsen his condition to find out about this."

"Yes, that's true," Dr. Mullins added carefully. "But it's not a guarantee. Your husband has been dealing with kidney disease for over five years. People wait years for a transplant, and Andrew doesn't have that kind of time."

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"What if he doesn't find out?" James interrupted.

"What?" Ashley asked, her eyebrows wrinkling.

"He doesn't need to know!" the older man continued, and they both turned to the doctor.

"Isn't it illegal for the patient to…well, not know?" she asked.

"No, Ashley. It's not illegal," Dr. Mullins replied but moved his head from side to side. "In this case, I'd say it's more of an ethical dilemma."

"Who cares?" James continued fervently. "If the organ saves his life, who cares about ethics?"

"I don't know," Ashley muttered, biting her fingernails.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"Ashley, please," James grabbed her arm. "Let's do it if I'm compatible.”

James knew that his daughter-in-law was almost convinced, but he didn't want anyone to think he was doing it for ulterior motives. As soon as he discovered that Andrew was sick, all that mattered was saving him.

He couldn't save Vivienne, and instead of supporting her, he had an affair that broke his remaining family apart. After years of begging for forgiveness, James finally knew how to earn it. But he didn't need the credit anymore.

"I don't care about that. I know now that I want Andrew to live a long life and be happy with you and your kids," he expressed, still holding her arm. "I was selfish. All my life. I didn't stop even when Andrew cut me off. I wanted, begged, and pleaded for forgiveness, not listening to him. Not anymore."

"I don't understand," she mumbled.

"Once the surgery is done, I'll leave. I'll let you two go on with your lives and finally follow Andrew's wishes," he nodded, knowing that this was the only selfless decision he had ever made. "But I need you to promise not to tell him."

Ashley looked down again, unsure. But her eyes went to Dr. Mullins, who knew how her husband had battled and suffered through his condition. "Alright, let's get tested. This might be a moot point anyway," she nodded, not wanting to hope.

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Fortunately, James was a perfect match. The doctor also agreed not to say anything, and they told Andrew they had found someone to donate the kidney. He didn't even question it. But as the surgeries happened, Ashley bit her nails to oblivion, praying for their health and begging God to find the strength to keep her promise.

***

Andrew was released from the hospital 15 days later but had to stay in bed, recovering his energy. Dr. Mullins already told him his stats were much better, and there were no signs of organ rejection. Therefore, they were all hopeful.

A few weeks later, he felt like a new man and was getting ready to return to work, but he worried about Ashley.

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"Honey, I'm doing fine. Dr. Mullins said I was a complete success," he chided his wife gently.

"Hmm?"

"You're biting your nails still. You never did that before. Maybe, we could talk to a therapist because you went through so much stress with the kids and everything," Andrew suggested, sitting beside her on their sofa.

"Sorry. I didn't notice I was doing it," she said, quickly putting her hand down and grabbing the mail stack on the coffee table. "I'll sort through all these things. I haven't had time in weeks."

"Let me do that," Andrew insisted, grabbing the papers. He flipped through things, opening a few and discarding others until he let an expletive out suddenly.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"What?" she asked, scared.

"God, I forgot all about this," Andrew shook his head. "Another letter. This man can't take a hint. Not even a hint. I told him to leave us alone."

"Are you talking about your father?" she wondered, her hand flying back to her mouth.

"Yeah, it's another letter. It's some weeks old, but that makes sense since we had so much on our plates," he continued. "I'm tired. From now on, I won't even read them. Right to the trash."

"WAIT!" Ashley yelled too loudly, making Andrew flinch.

"Hey! Why are you screaming at me?" he questioned, confused.

"Don't throw it. Read it," she urged.

"Stop biting your nails," he said, grabbing her arms and pulling them down. "I'm worried about you, Ashley. I know it was scary, but I'm here, and I–"

"HE'S THE DONOR!" she blurted.

"Excuse me?" her husband asked, raising his eyebrows.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"Your dad! He donated his kidney," Ashley continued and stood from their couch. "I promised to keep it a secret, but I can't. You have to know."

"My father?" Andrew asked slowly as if he couldn't comprehend the words. He turned his head away. "How did that happen?"

Ashley revealed everything, how his father drove to their house after getting the picture, how they spoke to Dr. Mullins, and what was said in that office. But she also added why James didn't want him to know.

"He made me promise to keep this a secret, and in return, he would be out of your life for good," Ashley finished, almost embarrassed. She sat again and placed her head on her hands. "I'm sorry I kept this."

Andrew didn't have much time to process, but he scooted closer to his wife and wrapped his arm around her. "No, babe. It was the right choice. If I had known, I would've probably rejected it. I just couldn't forgive him for what happened," he commented.

"I know. But at the very least, you should write back and keep doing it," she added, lifting her head. "We all make mistakes. I think he's been paying the price for a long time."

"You're right," Andrew nodded. "But I can't write him a letter. I have to see him."

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Ashley smiled slowly as a bittersweet joy traveled through her body. They hugged, and it felt like everything would finally be alright.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

***

Knock, knock, knock!

Andrew's fist pounded on his father's door, but there was no answer. "Dad! Dad! Open up!" he yelled as he stepped back from the front entrance and looked around.

Andrew could've found several ways to sneak in if this had been his childhood home. But his father had moved and sold the old house. It was a relief when he found out from a family friend. After all, that was his mother's house, and where he caught James cheating, so it was better to let it go.

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However, now he was stuck outside and had to wait for his father to return from wherever. Andrew wasn't sure if his dad still worked or what he did, but it could take a while.

"Hey! What are you doing there, loitering!" a shrill voice called out. Andrew turned to the front lawn to see an old woman in gardening clothes walking towards him. Her expression could only be described as a "Karen about to ask for the manager."

But he didn't want a confrontation. "I'm not loitering, ma'am. I'm sorry if I was loud. This is my father's home, and I wanted to see him," Andrew explained, descending the porch steps.

"You're James' son?" the woman questioned, frowning. "You don't know?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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"Know what?"

"James is gone," the old woman added.

"He moved?"

"No. He died," she continued, almost offended that Andrew was oblivious. “I heard he got an infection from a surgery and was taken to the hospital. It happened a few days ago.”

For years, Andrew thought that his father's passing wouldn't matter. In his mind, his only parent was gone, and that emptiness could never be matched to any other pain. But the hollowness of his chest told another story.

His father had donated a kidney selflessly, and now that Andrew was ready to forgive him, he was gone. "I'm too late," he choked as the sobs began.

What can we learn from this story?

  • Everyone makes mistakes, and it may take years to make amends fully. James did something reprehensible, but for years, he thought writing letters was the best way to beg for forgiveness.
  • Life is too short to hold to grudges. You must allow others to make things right because life passes quickly.

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

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If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a man who tried to visit his daughter on her deathbed but was kicked out.

This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers 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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