“Flames of Misfortune”
Jane and her brother, Robert, walked from the cemetery following the burial of their mother.
Jane’s eyes flashed with anger when Robert started talking so soon about cleaning out their mother’s house, stating that he believed they should just take everything out and burn it.
Three weeks later on a Saturday they met at the house. Robert was still intent on burning most of the contents, while Jane, who appreciated the value of many of the books and magazines which nearly filled the house, wanted to at least try to sell them. There were magazines going back for decades, and several book collections, including one their father had kept about the Civil War. Robert insisted on burning many of the home’s contents, since the house was being put on the market at the end of the month and he was in a hurry to get it ready. He further insisted that they had no money to haul everything off and store it until it could be sold. Jane knew that it could takes months or even years to sell everything, so, feeling all the while that she would regret getting rid of everything in such a final fashion, she gave in to Robert’s wishes. They hauled out load after load and had a huge fire all weekend.
Early Monday evening the fire was starting to wind down, the pile of ashes still glowing hot.
There was only one magazine left in the house, and Jane idly thumbed through it. She was startled when a twenty dollar bill slipped out of one of the pages of the magazine and fluttered to the ground.
She smiled as she thought of her mother putting the money in the magazine, probably to pay a bill,
then forgetting about it. About that same time, Vince pushed his wheelbarrow out the back door with the last load of books, which he had taken from the shelves in the living room, complaining that he never wanted to see another book or magazine again.
At about that time, a well-dressed man entered the gate and introduced himself as the attorney representing the estate of the parents of Jane and Robert. Both were confused, as they didn’t think their parents had a dime to their names. They expressed this to the attorney.
“I get that quite a lot from people,” he stated. He placed his briefcase on a picnic table and withdrew official-looking papers entitled “Last Will and Testament,” along with an accounting ledger.
The attorney motioned for Jane and Robert to sit. “This one is pretty short and sweet,” he said, “so I’ll just read it to your two, and you can sign it. We can wrap this up before the sun completely sets, and I’ll be on my way.”
“To Jane and Robert,” he began. “There is something your old mom never told you, something I’ve saved for you after I’ve passed on. When you grandma Sylvia was a young girl, she began collecting books and magazines. It wasn’t just for the collecting either. No, she used them for a purpose. She stored her hard-earned cash in them. She did this to keep her money protected from thieves who might want to take her money from her; she counted banks as being among the thieves. When I was a young girl, I started doing the same. When your grandma passed on, I received her collection. I never did spend any of her money, but kept a running tab of what she had, and what I’ve added since. I’ve never needed much to live on, so I tucked away money for you, my precious children.”
Jane and Robert turned to each other, a dawning horror written on their faces. Jane looked at the twenty dollar bill she was holding, and her face turned white. Not noticing them, the attorney kept reading. “Your father, knowing how I tucked money away, bought you two several savings bonds, and tucked them into his favorite Civil War books, which you’ll find on the living room shelves. May our gifts help you toward a lifetime of happiness.” The attorney put down the paper, and reached for the ledger. “So,” he said, smiling. “From what your mom has written in her ledger that she’s kept all these years, you should find in all her books and magazines two point five million dollars
($2.5 million).” Jane clutched the twenty dollar bill to her chest and screamed, and Robert fell off the picnic bench in a dead faint.
This story illustrates the old saying, “haste makes waste.”
Take time to carefully evaluate every situation. It just might save you time, effort, and money in the long run!