Kids Don’t Care about Sick Dad Missing until They Get Call from Family Lawyer – Story of the Day

Patrick realized his kids and wife didn’t care for him even when he got sick, so he disappeared one night. They barely noticed until a few months later when a lawyer called them with shocking and incredible news. But then, they learned a harsh truth they never expected from a complete stranger.

“Hey, guys. Wait for me!” Patrick called out to his children, who were just leaving their school at the end of the day. He worked at their high school as a janitor and waved at them occasionally, but Eliza and Dylan almost always ignored him. However, today should’ve been different.

He saw them rolling their eyes, but at least they stopped. “What?” Eliza asked petulantly.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

“You guys remember that it’s my birthday today, right?” he asked, hopeful.

“OK,” Dylan shrugged.

“Well… hmmm… aren’t you going to say anything?” Patrick frowned.

“Happy birthday, I guess,” Dylan said and walked away. Eliza didn’t utter a word and started following her younger brother.

This was common. Patrick’s family was not exactly picture-perfect. In fact, he was sure his wife, Samantha, and their children hated him because of his job and how little he earned. However, he knew the children were only mean because their mother had poisoned them against him.

She berated him often about his lack of ambition and how he never planned for the future, preferring to live in the moment. Patrick also knew she had a lover, but he tried to ignore that. He didn’t want to divorce her and be away from his kids, even though it already felt like there were miles between them.

He tried to improve their relationship, but Dylan and Eliza looked at him with the same disdain as their mother as they grew older. They grumbled about taking out student loans for college later and not getting cars for their birthdays like their classmates. Patrick tried to ignore it and do his best, but it was getting increasingly tiring each day.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

He felt dizzy as he watched them walk away from him, not even pretending to wish him a really happy birthday. It was nothing he had ever experienced before, and air quickly left his lungs, but it was like he couldn’t get more into his body. Suddenly, the world turned black, but he felt it when his body hit the floor.

He realized people had approached. Some were yelling to call 911, and others were touching. He could only hope his kids were not too scared before he lost consciousness. Patrick woke up in a hospital room later that day, and the doctors told him they needed to run several more tests because of some lung concerns.

He looked around the room after the doctors left and saw his kids sitting and browsing on their phones. “Everything is going to be alright, guys. I’ll be fine soon, and we can go home together,” he assured them.

Eliza looked up from her phone. “Well, now that you’re awake, I called Mom to pick us up. Of course, you would faint on a day I had plans,” she said callously.

Dylan didn’t say anything, and Patrick felt even worse about that than when he had fainted. Samantha came, pretended to check on him, talked to the doctor, and left with the children. The doctors wanted to keep Patrick overnight to check on him so he couldn’t go home with them.

Somehow, being at the hospital without anyone only emphasized his loneliness. His children didn’t care. His wife didn’t either, and Patrick wondered if there was anything he could do to change that.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

The following morning, the doctor sat him down and gave him the worst news anyone could receive. Patrick had lung cancer, and it was stage 2. He could receive treatment, get surgery, and hopefully survive.

“However, you won’t be able to work, Mr. Marlins, and you need tons of support. This kind of disease is not easy. But for now, you can leave. I’m referring you to our oncologist, and you and your family can make an appointment. I strongly suggest treatment as soon as possible,” his physician said after he explained everything.

Patrick didn’t know what to do. All he wanted was to get home, tell his family, and get their opinions on what to do. It might have been selfish and careless, but he hoped his diagnosis would change his family’s attitude. He was wrong.


“Jesus. Cancer? As if we needed more expenses,” Samantha shook her head and angrily went to their bedroom.

The kids didn’t know what to say, but they didn’t look too concerned either. “It’s stage 2. It’s nothing dangerous,” Dylan said.

“It’s dangerous, Dylan. People die all the time, and lung cancer can be aggressive. I might need serious surgery,” Patrick added carefully.

“Well, it is what it is,” his 16-year-old son continued. His carefree attitude was grating.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

“Do you understand what I’m saying? It’s cancer, guys,” Patrick added, feeling tears gathering in his eyes but refusing to get too emotional.

“Well, we’re not doctors. What are we supposed to say?” Eliza said, raising her hands to the side. His 18-year-old was not that worried either, and Patrick could only sigh.

“Fine,” he said and let them go to their rooms. They all acted as if nothing had changed for the next few days. Everything was the same for them.

They didn’t care about him. Patrick could only wonder if his entire approach to life was wrong, i.e., living in the moment, not caring about money, and not having career ambitions. Was it his fault that his children treated him that way? Perhaps, it was.

After another few days, he was sure it was, and it was time to give them what they wanted. He packed his bags when everyone was asleep and left.


“Your father is gone,” Eliza’s mother said in the morning.

“To work? I thought he had to quit,” she wondered, unconcerned.

“No. I mean left, left. His clothes are gone,” Samantha continued.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

“Well, what a drama queen,” Dylan mumbled, and they all returned to their lives.

Eliza continued to enjoy her senior year without worries. Dylan hung out with his friends more often and loved not being embarrassed by his janitor father any longer. Samantha started openly dating her affair partner, who eventually moved into their home.

Their lives didn’t change; they thought this was better than when their dad lived at home. However, everything changed when a lawyer called, telling them he represented their father’s estate and needed to see them.


“Why would Dad have a lawyer? Those are expensive,” Dylan grumbled, and he and Eliza reached the lawyer’s office.

“I don’t know. But let’s see what this is about,” Eliza answered. “I don’t know why he said estate. Isn’t that word lawyers use when someone dies?”

“Do they? You think…?” Dylan frowned, looking at his sister with slightly wider eyes.

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “No… right?”

The lawyer’s assistant led them to the office, and both teenagers sat in front of a bulky man who introduced himself as Mr. Levy.

“Well, the prodigal kids are here,” the lawyer quipped sarcastically, raising Eliza’s hackles.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

“Excuse me?” she asked, starting to get offended.

“Do either of you know your father is dead?” Mr. Levy continued.

Both teens sat back in their seats and looked at each other. They had always been dismissive of their father – at least since they were older than 12 – and didn’t know where he went. But they didn’t want him dead.

“No,” Dylan whispered. “What happened?”

“What happened?” Mr. Levy asked back, raising his voice. “Your father had lung cancer. He’s dead. Gone for good, and neither of you went to the funeral. Hell, you didn’t even care about him. I know all about you two, but somehow, his father still loved you, and that’s why you’re here.”

“Sir, please. Calm down. We didn’t know… we’re kids,” Eliza started, stumbling on her words.

“You’re 18. Your brother is 16. You’re both old enough to know better,” Mr. Levy leveled a dark look at them. “Anyway, let’s get to it. To Dylan, your father has left you your dream car and told me to say, “Happy belated Birthday, my dear boy. I hope you enjoy this car.”

The lawyer threw some keys at Dylan hitting his chest harshly.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

“To my beautiful girl, I left a small trust fund, which will help you get started in college. I’m sorry I couldn’t do more for you both while I was alive, but I hope I can make up for some of my errors with this money. Love you, Dad,” Mr. Levy finished reading.

“Trust fund?” Eliza asked, her mouth open in shock.

“Yeah, it has around $50,000. I hope that’s good enough, and I’m told the car is worth around $20,000. So, I hope you two are grateful,” the lawyer answered angrily. “I don’t think either of you deserves these gifts after how you treated your father, but that’s not my call. Anyway, he’s the address where he was buried. I hope you visit him, but I’m not holding my breath. My assistant has the rest of the details. Please, leave. Good riddance, you two.”

Dylan and Eliza rose reluctantly from his office chairs and went out. Eliza got all the information so she could access her trust fund immediately. Dylan’s car was right outside. But both teenagers stood next to it outside the law firm building. They were frozen and speechless.

“How…why… what…,” Dylan started, but he couldn’t get the questions out properly.

“Yeah,” Eliza said because she understood her brother completely. They looked back at their entire lives and how good their father had always been to them. However, they were awful to him.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

“We should go visit him…. Right?” Dylan continued, and Eliza nodded. They sat in Dylan’s new car, thinking about the implications. Where and how did their father get this money? Why would he give them stuff after everything? Why did he die so quickly? What happened to him?


They arrived at the cemetery and walked slowly to where his tombstone sat, but someone was already there. “Oh, wow. This is a punch in the gut. You two look just like him,” a strange man sitting on a folding chair beside the grave said after spotting them.

“Hello,” Eliza greeted with her parched lips. “You knew our father?”

The man scoffed. “Much better than you did. And I was much kinder to him these last few months,” he answered, looking back toward the grave.

“Sir, please. Can you tell us what happened?” Dylan requested. His eyes showed real pain for the first time since they heard the news.

“Do you care?” the man wondered, and it was like he shot them with a gun right to their hearts. But it only hurt because his question was so honest.

“We care,” Eliza replied, ashamed.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

“Well, your father joined our cancer support group months ago, and we all became friends. Do you know what he said on his first meeting?” the man questioned, but he wasn’t expecting an answer. “Patrick said, ‘I was a bad father to my kids. I didn’t work hard enough to set them up for life. They hated me for that. Cancer made me realize I needed to do better. I’m going to work twice as hard now to leave them something once I’m gone.'”

Eliza and Dylan gulped loudly.

“At first, people thought he had been neglectful or something, but then, we heard more about his life and realized that he was a good man, a good father, and a caring person, especially when he started working four jobs and refused to go treatments,” the man continued. “He didn’t want us to know that, but I figured it out.”

“Four jobs?” Dylan said, heartbroken.

“Yeah. He was in construction and had to carry sandbags and more for hours when he was barely breathing properly. He worked at a gas station at night, mowed lawns, and delivered things although he didn’t have a car,” the stranger continued.

Eliza started crying quietly, imagining her father struggling.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

“Yeah, I became his emergency contact. He often fainted on the job and was taken to clinics, but he refused assistance and returned to work. Finally, I decided enough was enough. I gave him some money I had saved to get treatment myself. His symptoms were so much worse. I wanted him to get chemotherapy finally, but I now know he used the money for you guys,” the man added, giving a side-eye to the expensive car parked just outside the lot. “I don’t begrudge him that, but I don’t think you deserve it. You didn’t deserve him.”

Dylan fell to his knees at those last words, and Eliza sobbed loudly. “We’re sorry, Dad,” she wailed and touched his tombstone.

“We’re so sorry,” Dylan cried too. Their tears didn’t stop for a long time. Eventually, the stranger stood and went home, leaving them to their grief.

When their tears dried, Eliza told a story about going to a daddy-daughter dance at school. “Some girls said their fathers couldn’t come because of work, but ours did. He was always there.”

“He was,” Dylan agreed. “He built that rocket project for my 3rd-grade science fair. It was crazy, but we had so much fun.”

“Why? Why were such monsters to him?” Eliza wondered, the words ripping out of her soul.

“I don’t know. But… I can’t keep that car,” Dylan said.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

“I can’t go to school with that money. But are we wasting Dad’s sacrifice?” she asked her little brother, and he pursed his lips.

“I think there’s something better we could do for him,” Dylan had an idea. And Eliza agreed.


They managed to find the strange man the following day. He was back, visiting the grave. His name was Gerald, and Eliza had written him a check. “I don’t know how much money you need for your treatments, but let me know if you need more,” she said. “We’re trying to make things. I know this is not enough. But Dylan and I will work our entire lives to make up for how we treated him.”

Gerald was tight-lipped, but he accepted the money. “Thank you,” he said. “He spoke highly of you despite everything. There might be hope for you two.”

With Eliza’s help, Dylan sold his car, and they decided to donate the money to a local children’s cancer organization, which helped kids from low-income families get treatment. They made sure they knew that the actual donor was Patrick. The siblings felt better after doing so, but it was somehow not enough.

Eliza asked Gerald for his phone number, and they kept in contact with him. He had no family or anyone by his side, so she and Dylan started attending chemo appointments. They accompanied him as often as possible after school, ensuring he didn’t feel alone.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

Their mother hated everything they were doing and complained when they told her about giving up the money. So, Eliza moved out after graduation, and Dylan followed a few years later. They didn’t cut her off entirely because they had already learned the pain of losing one parent, but they weren’t around her often.

Both of them realized they had followed her example and didn’t want to revert to their old ways. Instead, they focused on college and part-time work to pay for their needs. They got student loans and lived frugally but were happier than ever.

After around a year, Gerald was officially in remission, and they took him to the beach to celebrate. “Our father always wanted to see the sea, but we never had time. Let’s make more time,” Eliza suggested, and Dylan and Gerald agreed.

What can we learn from this story?

  • Life is too short to treat your loved ones like they don’t matter. Dylan and Eliza learned this lesson too late but spent the rest of their lives making up for it.
  • Money is not that important in the grand scheme of life. Patrick cared about being there for his family more than any career, and his children didn’t appreciate it until his death.

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