When Chris Harvey was hospitalized, his daughter sent her son, Peter, to check on him and make sure his house was ready for him to return. But Peter and his wife had another idea. Chris returned to see his home dilapidated, then heard something shocking from his grandson.
“Dad, don’t worry. I’m going to work something out. But I can’t visit you at all because I don’t have any more PTO at work,” Angelina told her father, 87-year-old Chris Harvey when he called her from the hospital.
He had called 911 after a heart episode, thinking it might be more serious. But the doctors said they had to run more tests, and there were several things they needed to check before he could return home. He called his daughter, who lived in Miami, asking if she could come home to Austin, Texas, and help him out.
But she couldn’t. “Ok, darling. I think the doctors are just worried about my health at my age, and they’ll tell me more soon enough,” he mumbled, holding his cellphone to his ear while in his hospital bed.
“Hannah, calm down. It’s fine. It just messes with our plans for a bit,” he placated. Plans?
Eventually, they hung up, and the doctors asked Chris to remain in the hospital for a few days while they checked everything and decided what he needed for treatment.
“You need to go to Austin and check on your grandfather. He’s all alone,” Angelina insisted to her son, Peter.
“I don’t know if I can, Mom,” he responded. They were speaking on the phone, and Angelina would not take no for an answer.
“Peter, you need to be there for your grandfather. Who knows how long he’s going to live after this, especially if his heart starts failing? And you’re his only grandson, remember that,” Angelina tried to convince him. “He always said you would inherit his house and his things when he passes. Maybe you should check the house and see what repairs it might need so he can live comfortably for however long he has left. And it’s a great time to bond with him too.”
Peter was quiet for a second, and his mother thought he might have hung up. But he finally answered in a strange tone. “Ok, ok. I’ll go. Hannah will go with me. I think I can ask for some time off work since I haven’t taken a vacation in a long time.”
“Good. Thank you, son. My work wouldn’t budge, but I trust you to help your grandpa as best you can. I love you, dear,” she continued, relieved that her father would not be alone after he gets discharged from the hospital.
“I love you too, mom. Bye.”
Unfortunately, Angelina had no idea what her son was honestly thinking.
A few days passed, and the doctors finally prescribed Chris several medications after checking his test results. They released him from the hospital, warning him not to strain himself because he had to be careful with his health even after getting better.
Chris nodded at all their explanations, but he was not paying that much attention. He was worried because Angelina didn’t call the day before, and she told him that Peter was coming to stay with him.
He didn’t have his grandson’s phone number, but he hoped to see him at the house. So he took a cab from the hospital to his home.
He was surprised to discover some furniture on his front lawn and recognized it as his own. Moreover, his door was slightly ajar, but he remembered that the paramedics who took him to the hospital had shut it completely. What was going on? But the most shocking thing happened when he entered.
The entire house was empty. The paintings on his walls, his military memorabilia, his credenza. the kitchen table and chairs, everything he didn’t see outside, they were all gone. There were several plastic sheets in some areas as if someone was painting or doing some construction on the house.
“Hello?” he called out to the completely empty space and heard footsteps coming from the hallway where the bedrooms were.
“Grandpa?” Peter asked, confused at seeing him. But Chris didn’t pay any attention to that reaction. He breathed a sigh of relief.
“Peter! Oh, thank God! I thought someone had broken in and taken everything I owned. What is happening here, my dear boy?” he asked his grandson and approached to give him a tight manly hug.
“Oh, well. Yes. No one broke in,” Peter mumbled, pursing his lips but returning the hug.
Finally, Chris realized that he was acting strangely. “What’s going on then?”
“I… well, we actually wanted to surprise you,” he started.
“Yes, Hannah and I. She’s here,” Peter revealed and turned towards the hallway to call his wife. “Honey!”
“What?” she came out, and her eyes widened when she spotted Chris. “Hmm, Mr. Harvey. Hello there.”
“Hello dear! It’s so nice to see you. I haven’t seen you since the wedding,” Chris smiled at his grandson’s wife and kissed her on the cheek. “So, tell me, what’s going on with my house?”
Peter and Hannah exchanged a weird, quick, side-eye look, but Peter answered first. “We wanted to remodel it before you left the hospital. It was in serious need of some TLC, and we hoped this would make you feel better. But you’re out sooner than we expected.”
Chris smiled widely at the two young people in his living room, thinking how thoughtful they were. “That’s wonderful! Although I hope you guys are not spending much money.”
“Oh no, no. Don’t worry. I know a guy,” Hannah chimed in, placing her hands in her pockets. Her grin was awkward, but the older man didn’t notice.
“Cool. What about my stuff? Where are they?”
“They’re currently in…. uh… storage, except a few things we want to replace as a gift. Those are outside waiting to be picked up by the garbage men. We had to put it there for the remodel,” Peter explained with a strange pause. “But the bedrooms still have everything. Don’t worry. We’ll be able to sleep well at night.”
“Thank you! Thank you so much, my boy. You are amazing!” Chris stated, hugging them both simultaneously. He was insanely happy to see family again and realized how much they cared for him to do something so thoughtful. “Now, listen. I have to get some prescriptions filled up, but I’ll be back soon.”
“Sure!” Peter and Hannah said in unison and chuckled awkwardly.
Chris frowned at them for a second but didn’t put much thought into their attitude. He left for the local pharmacy which was within walking distance.
When he returned several minutes later, he didn’t see Peter or Hannah in the living room. He heard their voices coming from Angelina’s old bedroom and approached to ask them what they wanted for dinner. But something Hannah said stopped him in his tracks.
“What are we going to do, you idiot?” she insulted her husband, and Chris had never heard her speak to him that way.
“Hannah, calm down. It’s fine. It just messes with our plans for a bit,” he soothed. Plans?
“A bit? A BIT? You told me he was dying, and this was going to be our house. That’s why we’re spending all this money on it. You think I was going to dip into my money and help fix someone else’s house when we still live on rent?” Hannah questioned, almost mockingly.
Chris’ eyes widened, and his hand flew to his mouth so that no sound would come out. He wanted to listen to the rest of the conversation.
“Hannah, it’s fine. The house will be mine one day or another, and he has tons of money saved up. Just think of it as an investment,” Peter assured, frustration dripping into his voice.
But Hannah was outright angry. “NO! We are not going to spend another dime, and I don’t care about him! Tomorrow, we’re getting on a plane and going home! This was a waste of time!”
“We can’t leave this house like this!”
“YES WE CAN AND WE WILL! That’s final!” she screamed at Peter, and Chris finally had enough. He went back to the front door, pretending he had just arrived from the pharmacy.
“I wanted to thank them for all the work they’ve done on my house… because I’m going to enjoy it for the rest of my life.”
He called out to them, and they both acted like nothing was wrong. They talked about what to make for dinner and were completely pleasant around Chris. But he now knew the truth, and it was time to teach them a harsh lesson.
They were eating spaghetti and meatballs, one of Peter’s favorite meals, on the empty living room floor when Chris finally cleared his throat and spoke up.
“Peter, I wanted to talk to you about something important,” he began and noted how Peter and Hannah perked up for some reason. “I’ve been thinking about moving into a nursing home permanently. I don’t want another emergency to happen while I’m alone here. I think it’s the right choice, and I think you two should have the house.”
Peter and Hannah’s jaws dropped, and they looked at each other in delight. “Are you serious?” his grandson asked, clearly delighted.
“Yes, I’m serious.”
“Thank you, Grandpa! This is an honor! We’re going to get this house looking so good!” Peter finally said, and Hannah echoed his gratitude.
Over the next few weeks, Peter and Hannah remodeled the house as best they could. They had actually saved a few things that belonged to Chris in storage, but they got rid of some old stuff, and he acted like that was fine. But it wasn’t.
Finally, the house was done, and Chris suggested having a housewarming party. He told Peter and Hannah that he was moving into the nursing home soon, and they should start preparing to live there permanently.
They were excited and decided to invite a few friends who flew from Miami to Texas. Everything was terrific for a while. They chatted. They ate. It was a merry party. Chris had been pretending all along until he got up from the table and called everyone’s attention.
“I would like to make a toast…to my grandson and his lovely wife,” the older man began, and everyone present cheered quickly while the couple hugged as they looked at Chris. “I wanted to thank them for all the work they’ve done on my house… because I’m going to enjoy it for the rest of my life.”
Because the couple’s friends were under the impression that Chris was moving out, Chris’s toast surprised them. Meanwhile, Peter and Hannah were stunned, confusion registering on their faces.
“Did you know they came here under the impression that I was going to die soon? They remodeled the entire house, gave away some of my things, and started working on it thinking it was already their own. And when I returned from the hospital, which they didn’t expect, they were going to just up and leave me here with a half-remodeled, empty house.” he told all the guests, who started to notice how awkward the night was turning out to be.
“Grandpa, why don’t we speak privately for a second?” Peter suggested, but Chris shook his head.
“No need. I heard you two speaking that day. So you two came here, telling your mother you were going to take care of me but decided to take this house as your own instead. Well, that’s NEVER going to happen, Peter. I already revised my will. This house is going to charity when I’m gone,” he revealed, shocking everyone.
Hannah was red-faced and wanted to make a scene but didn’t want more embarrassment.
Chris called everyone’s attention once again. “Now…,” he cleared his throat and raised his voice. “EVERYONE GET OUT OF MY HOUSE RIGHT NOW BEFORE I CALL THE POLICE!”
Peter and Hannah’s friends didn’t have to be told twice. They scrambled to get away, and Peter kept yelling at Chris because he still wanted to get a word. But the older man didn’t want to hear any explanations. “GET OUT!” he demanded and Peter and his wife left.
The following day, Chris told Angelina precisely what her son had done and what they were planning together. He didn’t tell her sooner because he knew it would break his daughter’s heart. But she had to know now that everything was out there.
Angelina was ashamed of her kid but didn’t like how Chris deceived them either. She couldn’t do anything about it though. “You’re right, Dad. It’s your house. But are you comfortable severing your relationship with Peter just like that?”
“Honey, he severed it the day he decided to kill me prematurely and claim my house. Watch out because who knows what they might do with you,” he warned his daughter, and their conversation ended.
Chris lived for 11 more years. And as he intended, his lawyer sold his house and donated the proceeds, along with the rest of Chris’s estate, to a charity for senior citizens.