A millionaire discovered that the granddaughter of his late teacher had no family left. He took her home and was shocked when his biological daughter rejected the girl. But then, they went to the orphan’s house, and something astonishing happened.
“She passed two days ago. The alum committee sent the news, inviting everyone to the funeral tomorrow. I thought you might not have read the emails,” Josh told Anthony, who couldn’t believe Mrs. Matthews was gone.
She had been a school math teacher and the robotics team’s faculty rep. She thought that Anthony would make it big one day. She was right. He now had an incredibly successful technology business and earned a considerable yearly salary.
“Jeez. Thank you, Josh. I’ll be there,” Anthony replied to his old buddy from the robotics team. It would be easy because he only lived about 40 minutes away from their hometown. The friends spoke for a few more minutes and hung up. Anthony packed a small bag in case he had to stay at someone’s house, but he told his wife it was unlikely. At least that’s what he hoped…
“This is your room? Where are all your toys?” Gina asked.
The memorial was bittersweet, as she had been loved at the school, but the burial was solemn and quiet. Anthony stayed near his old friends and thanked Mrs. Matthews in his head for all her encouragement these years. Years ago, the robotics team had been just a few nerds with dreams, but thanks to her, it was now an award-winning team at school. Everyone was proud of that.
“Look… that’s even sadder,” Josh suddenly muttered, looking towards the side.
Anthony frowned, following his gaze and spotting a little girl dressed in black. “Who’s that?”
“Mrs. Matthew’s granddaughter, Rosemary,” Josh commented. “She has no one now.”
“What do you mean? Wouldn’t she be Charles’ daughter?” Anthony asked, confused.
“He and his wife died a few years ago in a car accident,” Josh shook his head. “Mrs. Matthews was her only family left.”
“What’s going to happen to her?”
“I heard Mrs. Matthews’ neighbor took her in temporarily, but I think she’ll be sent to the system soon,” Josh said, frowning. “I could be wrong, though.”
“My… I can’t believe all I’ve missed,” Anthony muttered, feeling terrible.
Josh shrugged and patted Anthony’s shoulder. “That’s life, my man.”
“Can we go ask?”
“Sure,” his friend responded.
They approached a woman who sat next to the little girl, and they pulled her aside. She confirmed that she had taken Rosemary for a while. But she was older than Mrs. Matthews and couldn’t have a kid, so a social worker was coming later that day to take her somewhere.
“No, we can’t allow that,” Anthony refused.
“Tony, man. You can’t exactly dictate that,” Josh tried to calm him.
“No, I mean… the foster system,” Antony said, clearing his head. “It’s awful. We can’t let that poor girl get lost in that system. Mrs. Matthews did a lot for us back then. We should do something.”
“What?” Josh asked, flabbergasted.
In the end, Anthony stepped up and volunteered to foster the girl. He explained to the social worker that he had a wife and a daughter at home, so he knew all about being a family. He told her about his job and how much he made, which was more than enough to give Rosemary many opportunities.
The social worker agreed reluctantly, and she would be conducting an inspection soon, but it would take a few days since he lived farther away.
“Hey, Rosemary,” Anthony approached the little girl, kneeling to her eye level. “You’re coming home with me. I have a daughter, Gina, who’s going to love having a little sister, and we have a huge house with tons of toys. I can tell you so many stories about your grandmother. What do you think?”
The little girl looked at him shyly and nodded, although he suspected it was not enthusiastically. “Poor kid,” Anthony thought and offered his hand, which she grabbed timidly.
“Who is that?” Gina yelled when she saw her father walk into the house with a little girl in tow.
“Gina, my darling. This is Rosemary. She’s going to live with us from now on,” Anthony said, smiling.
“What? Why?” Gina frowned, staring at Rosemary with a disgusted look.
“Because she needs us,” Anthony continued.
“No!” Gina said, and Anthony’s wife, Nicole, came over to try to calm the situation. Anthony had called her, and she was aware of everything. But they hadn’t told their girl.
“Gina, sweetie. You have to be gracious to our guest,” Nicole told their daughter, smiling.
“NO! It’s me or her! Decide! You can’t bring another kid here!” Gina yelled, and Anthony saw the tears in her eyes before she stormed off to her room. Nicole gave him an exhausted look and rushed after.
But Anthony turned and saw Rosemary looking down as if ashamed. “Don’t worry, Rosie. She’ll come around soon, and you’ll be the best sisters,” he assured her, and the girl only nodded with no words.
Afterward, he and Nicole did everything they could to get the girls to bond. He bought them toys to use together, and Nicole arranged creative activities. Rosemary was brilliant, polite, and extremely sweet the few times she spoke up. But Gina was angry. She refused to share, looked angry all the time, and would not talk to Anthony much.
One night, Nicole made them draw whatever they wanted on the crafts table, and Rosemary said something surprising.
“What are you drawing, sweetie?” Nicole asked the orphaned girl.
“It’s my teddy. I miss it,” she answered, and even Gina looked toward the girl’s drawing.
“Oh, where is it, honey?” Nicole continued.
“At grandma’s house… I think,” Rosemary answered.
Anthony had been sitting in the living room and heard the conversation. He went to them. “Would you like to get it back, Rosie?”
The little girl finally raised her head, and her bright eyes told him everything. “Can we? Really?”
“Yeah, of course. You, Gina, and I will take a road trip tomorrow,” Anthony assured and smiled at his daughter. He had included her because he knew she would be jealous, but also, this might be a good lesson for her.
“This is your house?” Gina asked, looking around in confusion.
Mrs. Matthew’s house was going to be placed for sale, but they had currently covered some of the furniture with blankets. It was also small. There were stains on the wall, and some things were run down and broken. Gina was not used to houses like this.
Anthony felt something akin to shame at discovering that his favorite teacher lived like this in her old age and while trying to raise her granddaughter. He felt terrible for forgetting her and not checking up.