At the beginning of the story For One More Day, Chick Benetto is so filled with self-loathing and despair that he wants nothing more than to kill himself. Tormented all his life by an absent father who forced him to choose between being "mama's boy or daddy's boy", Chick, desperate for his father's love, made all the wrong choices, alientating family and friends and hurting over and over the mother who loved him without conditions. At the beginning of the book, Chick has reached the lowest point in his life. His only daughter has gotten married and has informed him of the wedding after the fact. She had not invited him to this important event in her life; ashamed of his drunkenness and instability, she had not wanted him there.
By the end of the story, Chick has discovered the insight and the courage to forgive himself for his shortcomings. He has tried to kill himself twice, first jumping from a water tower and then driving his car at a high speed in the wrong direction on the freeway, and has failed both times. While he lies injured after crashing his car, Chick has an inexplicable, perhaps supernatural experience. He is allowed to spend one more day with his mother, who reveals to him secrets she never shared with him during her lifetime.
During the time he spends with his mother, Chick relives all the times she stood up for him, as well as all the times he did not stand up for her. He faces the source of his guilt head-on, and begins to understand the influence his father had on his decisions. Chick's behavior especially towards his mother was consistently unfeeling and cruel during her life, and for that he takes responsibility, but his mother helps him understand his motivations by finally sharing with him the fact that his father was a bigamist who lived a lie and essentially hurt everyone who loved him in his life. Through the experience of his mother's unconditional love for one more day, Chick is able to forgive his father and himself and let go of his guilt. He spends the remaining years of his life reestablishing broken relationships, trying as best he can "to make things right again with those (he) love(s)".