After Wife’s Demise, Widower Finds Out They’ve Been Divorced for More than 20 Years – Story of the Day

Robert sat on his couch, staring blankly at the divorce decree. He was in his up-market beach house, surrounded by memories of Melissa, his wife of 30 years.

Her death had been a blow, but finding this document in her belongings was bewildering. He had no memory of ever divorcing her.

He reflected on the accident he’d had years ago, which caused head trauma and a six-month memory gap for him. Reading the document, he realized that it was during that time he had apparently initiated the divorce. “July twenty years ago,” he muttered, noting the date on the document.

His life back then was a whirl of socializing with artists and actors, fueled by excessive drinking. Despite the temptations, he remained faithful to Melissa, although his drinking issue strained their marriage.
He eventually picked up the phone and dialed the law firm’s number on the letterhead, only to find they had moved. The receptionist at the other end suggested he Google the new number.

Robert returned to the document and was stunned that Melissa was entitled to half his considerable wealth in the divorce. He had been wealthy even then, with a fortune inherited from his father.

Robert had dabbled as a stockbroker, but for the most part, he paid others to manage and grow his wealth while he lived an easy and high life in New York City.

Not that he’d been irresponsible; he spent his money well and donated large sums to charitable organizations—he left that side of his dealings to his wife to manage, which she did well.

He returned to Melissa’s box of documents and discovered more surprises. Among them was a birth certificate for a child named Tallulah, born three years before their marriage. The child’s last name matched Melissa’s maiden name.

Robert’s heart raced. He had always sensed Melissa had a secret, but this was beyond anything he had imagined. A child he never knew about.

He pondered the situation, troubled. Melissa had fought cancer bravely, but it had spread rapidly, taking her life. Robert, still grieving, now grappled with this new revelation.

He decided to discuss it with his twins, Pete and Sandra. They were close to their mother, especially during her illness, and had returned home for her funeral.
As he sat them down, he explained his discovery. The twins were shocked, unable to comprehend their mother’s secret.

“Why didn’t she tell us?” Sandra asked, visibly upset.

“I don’t know. Maybe she thought it’d hurt us,” Robert replied. “I’m also trying to understand why there’s a divorce document. I don’t recall any of it… due to the accident.”

While scrutinizing the divorce paper, Pete suggested, “You should look up the lawyer listed here on LinkedIn.”

Robert agreed, but they decided to focus on the funeral first.

In the quiet aftermath of the funeral, Robert summoned the courage to confront the situation. It didn’t take long for him to trace the lawyer who had officiated the divorce; he was with another firm in New York.

The call brought more surprises; Franklin recognized Robert instantly and expressed concern about his well-being.

“Well, yeah, I’m fine,” Robert said, flummoxed that Franklin seemed to know who he was. “So, you know me?”

“Of course I do. It was a chaotic time, what with your accident. How’s Melissa?”

“Melissa passed away about a week ago.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that. How can I help?”

“Uh, I found some documents that I’m quite concerned about. A divorce decree and a birth certificate for a child.”

There was complete silence on the other end of the line. “I handled the divorce, Robert. It was an open-and-shut case. You don’t remember it?”

“I don’t. Melissa and I were happily married for thirty years.”

“You never left her?”

“I never left her, Franklin. Do you have records of the divorce and Melissa’s will?”

“We have everything on file. How about coming to New York to figure this out? It’s serious.”

Robert agreed and flew to New York. In Franklin’s office, they discussed Robert’s past and Melissa’s recent will change.

“Do you remember anything about the accident, the fall?”

“No, just what Melissa told me. I fell from the balcony during an argument about my drinking.”

“Did Melissa tell you anything else about that night?”

“You mean later on when I recovered? No, we didn’t speak about it much,” Robert replied. “She moved us to California. She found the best head trauma specialist in the country out there to help with my recovery. I was in good hands.”

“So, you never saw any media coverage at the time?” Franklin asked.

“Melissa thought it best I stay away from that completely. She wanted a fresh start away from that life. I agreed. I think it was the best thing to do.”

“Robert, this might be hard to hear. Were you aware of the life insurance policy in Melissa’s name?”

“I’d forgotten about that. We bought it soon after we were married,” Robert mused. “She would’ve been the sole beneficiary at the time of the accident. Hang on, are you saying—”

“I’m not saying anything, Rob, please. The media speculated Melissa had something to do with your fall,” Franklin revealed. “But well, you survived, and she never cashed the policy. By the way, she changed her will at the time of your accident.”

“Does the name of the beneficiary mean anything to you?” Franklin asked, sliding a sheaf of papers across to Robert.

“Tallulah J—,” he said. “Yes. Remember the birth certificate I said I found in Melissa’s personal effects? Same name.”

Robert reached into the leather shoulder bag he’d brought, found the birth certificate, and handed it over to the lawyer.

“The plot thickens,” Franklin said, looking the document over. “Along with the will, there’s a sealed letter from Melissa addressed to you with instructions to be read only in the event of her death. Are you ready for it?”

Robert nodded. “Let me see it,” he said.

Franklin handed over the envelope. “I’m going to visit the bathroom,” he said. “Please take your time.”

Robert opened the letter and read:

“My Dearest Robert,

I’m sorry for keeping such a big secret. When I fell pregnant with Tallulah, I was scared. I thought you’d leave me, so I kept it a secret until your private investigator found out.

I had Tallulah adopted, and I never told anyone else about her. I thought I was doing the right thing, but I was wrong. I’ve missed her every day. And yes, no matter what anyone says about that night, I had nothing to do with the fall. It was an accident.

I’m so sorry for everything. I hope you can at least try to understand.



“In her will, Franklin, she left her entire estate to Tallulah?” Robert asked as the lawyer returned.

Franklin nodded. “She tied all the assets up in a trust account that pays out to her daughter in the event of Melissa’s death.”

“That money is mine,” Robert declared. “Can we challenge the will in court? Can the divorce be rescinded?”

Franklin explained the challenges but agreed. “I think we can make a case.”

“How much money are we talking about here?” Robert inquired.

“You mean, how much will it cost to contest the will and annul the divorce?” Franklin clarified.

“No, how much money was my wife worth when she died?” Robert asked.

“Nearly half a billion dollars,” Franklin revealed.

“And it all goes to her daughter Tallulah now?”

“That’s right,” Franklin confirmed. “Unless we sue the estate for what she did to you, hiding all this.”

“In that folder you have there, are there any contact details for Tallulah?” Robert asked.

“There’s a last known address. Looks like a business address.”

“Write down that address for me, please, Frank,” Robert said.

Franklin provided an address in Los Angeles. Determined, Robert visited the given location, a rundown studio, and encountered a gruff man.

“I’m looking for a woman,” Robert began.

The man scoffed. “Join the club. Aren’t we all?”

“She’s around 33. This is the address given as her workplace,” Robert said, ignoring the man’s joke.

“Let’s see, that could be any one of, I dunno, a hundred women in the last year alone. I can’t help you, brah. Best you shove off. Are you a lawyer or somethin’?”

“No, this is a personal matter. I’m looking for my wife’s daughter.”

“Another one looking for a long-lost daughter,” the man mocked.

“What do you do here?” Robert asked. “Is this an adult film studio?”

“Got that right, genius. Now are you going to piss off, or do I have to throw you out?”

“There’s no need for that. I’m here to give this woman some news about her mother; she died,” Robert said. “Her name is Tallulah.”

Robert offered him a $1000 reward if he told her about Tallulah. The man agreed after seeing the money.

“Her stage name is Tulip Jones, or sometimes, she goes by TJ. Try Melrose Productions a couple of blocks over,” the man disclosed. “And don’t tell her I told you where to find her. She’s not exactly in our good books around here. Ran out on us a year ago.”

Robert gave him the money and left.

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