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I Gifted My Late Wife’s Apron to My Daughter-in-Law – Imagine My Shock When I Found It in the Dumpster

As Thanksgiving approaches, William mourns his wife, Ellen, and wonders how he’s going to spend their favorite holiday without her. But his daughter-in-law, Amelia, loves to cook and has taken to cooking for dinner. Moved by his feelings and nostalgia, William gifts her Ellen’s most loved and worn apron, ready for her to wear during the dinner prep. But when he finds the apron in the garbage, he realizes that his hurt goes all the way back to his grief.

It was the morning before Thanksgiving, and I was feeling the full weight of Ellen not being around anymore. This was the first Thanksgiving without my wife, who had passed away almost a year ago.

A rose on a tombstone | Source: Freepik

A rose on a tombstone | Source: Freepik

I sat on the armchair in my bedroom and left my newspaper to the side. If Ellen were still around, she would have had an entire shopping list ready for me to get.

“It’s just the last-minute things, William,” she would say, absentmindedly doodling on the grocery list while she pondered what else we would need.

A woman writing | Source: Unsplash

A woman writing | Source: Unsplash

“Sure, honey,” I’d always tell her, ready to go to the store and get her everything she needed.

But this year was the first time in 30 years that I wouldn’t have Ellen around for the holidays.

Instead, my son’s wife, Amelia, promised us that she would take over the Thanksgiving dinner.

A smiling young woman | Source: Freepik

A smiling young woman | Source: Freepik

“Don’t worry, Dad,” my son, Harry, told me. “Amelia cooks just like Mom, and Mom taught her a few things, too.”

I wasn’t worried about anything. If I had to be honest, I was grateful that the kitchen would be used in all its glory once again. Since Ellen passed away, Harry and Amelia had moved in with me.

A fancy kitchen | Source: Unsplash

A fancy kitchen | Source: Unsplash

“It won’t be for long, Dad,” Harry said. “But I don’t want you to be alone. And this way, Amelia and I can save up for a house in the meantime. We all need to heal together.”

When they moved in, I tried to put a lot of Ellen’s things away. I wanted them to feel at home, too.

Packing boxes | Source: Unsplash

Packing boxes | Source: Unsplash

I couldn’t argue with Harry because the thought of being alone in the house that Ellen and I had built was too much. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to cope without her.

I needed the support from my son.

A smiling old man | Source: Unsplash

A smiling old man | Source: Unsplash

The longer I sat in my room, wrapped in the thoughts of my wife, the more sentimental I got. Eventually, I decided to pass on something priceless to Amelia.

Opening Ellen’s closet, I pulled out her faded floral apron. It had been around for as long as I could remember, and every holiday had at least one photograph of Ellen in it.

A floral apron | Source: Pexels

A floral apron | Source: Pexels

There were a few food stains that just couldn’t be removed, but I thought that it added charm to the apron.

I thought that maybe if I passed the apron to Amelia, who shared Ellen’s passion for cooking, she would honor Ellen’s memory and Thanksgiving traditions.

An elderly woman cooking | Source: Pexels

An elderly woman cooking | Source: Pexels

The following morning, I was sitting in the kitchen eating a bowl of cereal when Amelia came in, tying her hair and pulling up her sleeves.

“Hi, William,” she said. “Ready for Thanksgiving?”

A man pouring milk into a bowl | Source: Pexels

A man pouring milk into a bowl | Source: Pexels

“Of course, I am,” I said, smiling at her. “I’ll do whatever you need me to do in the kitchen today.”

“Thank you,” she said. “Harry isn’t going to help at all. He’s probably going to watch the parade or look for sports on TV.”

“There’s something I want you to have,” I told her.

A person watching sport on TV | Source: Pexels

A person watching sport on TV | Source: Pexels

I put the folded apron onto the counter and slid it across to her.

“Ellen would have wanted you to have this, Amelia,” I said. “This was her favorite apron, and she wore it for every holiday that involved the kitchen.”

Amelia smiled at me. It was a polite smile; maybe it was a bit strained, but I dismissed it as my own sentimentality clouding my judgment.

A woman with a forced smile | Source: Pexels

A woman with a forced smile | Source: Pexels

She put the apron on, her face changing slightly when she saw how well-worn it was and the old food stains.

“Great, thank you,” she said. “Let’s cook!”

We spent the next few hours cooking together. Amelia did things differently than Ellen. From her cooking style to the actual ingredients used.

A woman cooking | Source: Pexels

A woman cooking | Source: Pexels

I obeyed all her instructions and watched everything she did. It was different from what I was used to. But I still loved that Amelia was stepping up and taking control of the family holidays.

“Do you think we should do a table setting like what Ellen would have done?” she asked me.

A table setting and decor | Source: Unsplash

A table setting and decor | Source: Unsplash

“Of course,” I said. “It’s just part of the tradition!”

“Then maybe we should get Harry onto that,” she suggested.

The rest of the day flew by in the kitchen with cooking preparations. Every single time I thought of Ellen, I distracted myself with another task.

A man chopping mushrooms | Source: Pexels

A man chopping mushrooms | Source: Pexels

I watched as Amelia bustled around the kitchen in what seemed like genuine delight. As our closest family and friends began showing up for dinner, I went upstairs to freshen up for the occasion.

Everything was perfect, including Harry’s table setting. I missed Ellen throughout the evening, especially when the pies came out. My wife had a tradition of eating two slices of pie, one pecan and one pumpkin.

A pumpkin pie | Source: Pexels

A pumpkin pie | Source: Pexels

“It’s the one time of year that I eat them,” she would say, spraying whipped cream all over the slices of pie on her plate.

Now, as Harry cut into the pumpkin pie, he caught my eye and smiled, handing me the first piece.

“For Mom,” he said.

Cream on a slice of pie | Source: Pexels

Cream on a slice of pie | Source: Pexels

Everything seemed perfect. I went to bed that evening feeling as though my wife had been present. She was there, in the quiet moments after the dinner party, when I loaded the dishwasher and made myself a cup of tea.

But then, with the next morning came a different set of heartbreak.

A person stocking the dishwasher | Source: Unsplash

A person stocking the dishwasher | Source: Unsplash

I was out, taking my usual walk around the block. While taking a shortcut back home through the alley behind our house, I saw something that stopped me in my tracks. A glimpse of floral fabric, peering out from the top of our dumpster.

A man talking a walk | Source: Pexels

A man talking a walk | Source: Pexels

It was Ellen’s apron, discarded and partially covered in the newspaper that I had been reading and other refuse.

My heart sank, bringing a different sense of grief to me.

The apron that held so many cherished memories of Ellen was thrown away like common trash.

Outdoor trashcans | Source: Pexels

Outdoor trashcans | Source: Pexels

I retrieved the apron, the dew having made it damp in the crisp morning.

“How could Amelia do this?” I asked myself.

It felt like a betrayal, not just of Ellen’s memory, but of the love and trust that I had placed in her.

An old man holding his chin | Source: Unsplash

An old man holding his chin | Source: Unsplash

I could have let it go. I would have chalked it up to Amelia not wanting to wear something old, or even not wanting to wear something that once belonged to her mother-in-law. But it was the cold way in which she had discarded it.

Determined to teach her a lesson about respect and the value of memories, I thought that I’d sit down to tea with her and talk about cooking. It was the one thing that we constantly bonded over.

A cup of tea | Source: Pexels

A cup of tea | Source: Pexels

Amelia agreed, unaware that I knew about the apron. She followed me up the stairs, and I led her to the attic.

“Come on,” I said. “There’s something I want to show you.”

“Oh, William,” she said when she looked around the attic and saw the neatly preserved boxes.

An attic with stacked boxes and clothing | Source: Midjourney

An attic with stacked boxes and clothing | Source: Midjourney

“I’ve never been in here,” she said. “I didn’t know that we had an attic in this house.”

I stepped aside, allowing her to get into the room properly.

“Since you didn’t find value in the apron, maybe you’ll find something here that you won’t just throw away,” I said, my voice colder than I intended.

A woman covering her face with her hands | Source: Pexels

A woman covering her face with her hands | Source: Pexels

Amelia, visibly uncomfortable, shifted from foot to foot.

“William, I…” she began, her voice trailing off when she saw the apron hanging from a hook across the room.

I stood in silence as she tried to apologize, but her words seemed hollow.

A woman holding her face | Source: Pexels

A woman holding her face | Source: Pexels

“Look,” I said. “Maybe I forced it onto you, and I’m sorry about that, Amelia. But at the same time, I just thought that it would have been something to pass on to you. Not to mention that it was comforting for Harry and me to see.”

She nodded, nervously looking at the door. She was probably wondering if I had told Harry about the incident. I hadn’t. I didn’t want to create any unpleasantness between them.

A couple sitting uncomfortably | Source: Pexels

A couple sitting uncomfortably | Source: Pexels

But I still felt like a rift had been caused between us. As we continued to live under the same roof, I kept to myself as much as possible. I wasn’t angry with Amelia. I was hurt.

I was hurt on behalf of myself, of Ellen, and even Harry, who didn’t know any better.

I knew that I would get over it eventually, but for now, I just needed to let myself grieve my wife, and keep her memory strong.

A smiling old couple | Source: Pexels

A smiling old couple | Source: Pexels

What would you have done?

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