Dearest Rachel –
I have to tell you, Jan has this thing about finding money in the houses she helps clean out and organize. She prides herself both on locating cash squirreled away in ridiculous places and in the fact that she lets her clients know about what she’s found. One of the first days she was here, she was recounting to me about discovering some $2,000 in cash in an attic, and the reaction of her client when she presented the money to her: “You have a lot of integrity, Jan.”
It is an admirable quality to have in her position. Well, let’s be honest, it would be admirable in any position. But hers certainly has a lot more opportunity to pull the whole ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach. Less scrupulous people could have just pocketed the dough and never said boo about it, and who would be the wiser? But not Jan, and she’s rightfully proud of that fact.
At the same time, it’s almost comical when she finds a stash here or there, as she lets out a kind of ‘whoop’ of joy, and adds it to the tally of what she’s found. Why, she almost makes me feel bad when I open a card we’d set aside and lost in the many piles in this house, and I find a sheaf of bills rather than her. It makes me feel much the same way I would when we would play a game that I didn’t particularly enjoy: I wouldn’t like it when I was losing, but I couldn’t enjoy myself when I was winning, because I knew how unpleasant losing felt.
I’ve gotten to the point of – should I find a card with money in it that we never pulled out and used – that I just close it up and hand it to her, telling her, “I think you’ll want to take a look at this,” so she can add it to her collection.
So why did we not just take the money out of the card in the first place, and put it in our wallet or purse right then and there? I really couldn’t say. I think, form my perspective, I didn’t want to appear too greedy about it at the time, and figured I would bring all the gifts home, and sort them out later… which, as we’ve discussed before, never quite came (unless you count now). Sometimes, it seemed to be for a specific purpose that just wasn’t immediate (one of our anniversary cards from my folks talked about using the money on our upcoming trip to Israel to buy ourselves something nice. That trip wouldn’t be until the following month, so to put it away at that moment would get it lost before we would spend it for its intended purpose. Of course, when we did get to Israel, we either used a credit card, or got cash out of an ATM in shequels, so the cash was a moot point), but most of the time, it simply got lost in the piles of other stuff we had and still have.
On the other hand, I have at least one case that’s sitting right in front of me as I’m typing this. I still have the cash Mom and Dad gave me for Christmas 2018, because it was only two months later that Dad was struck with the sepsis that nearly killed him, and for the following year, I could not bring myself to spend what I thought was the last gift that Dad would ever give me.
Of course, why am I still holding on to those funds?
My best guess is that I still know where and when that cash comes from, but once I spend it, I won’t really associate that purchase with the actual monetary gift, because, after all, one $20 bill is the same as the next. It’s not a good answer, when you come down to it, but it’s the best one I have.
Certainly, the fact that one $20 is the same as the next would mean that, whenever we wanted anything nice, we could spend our own money, and it wouldn’t necessarily involve tapping into the money we’d been given. In a way, we’d have spent the money, and still have it at the same time. Only, we wouldn’t consider what we’d spent as a gift, so much – except insofar as everything we have is a gift, when you think about it, from God Himself. Not that we’d consciously get that philosophical about our spending habits, but still.
And it’s a bit of a shame that most of what I’m (wait, no… Jan’s) finding are in cards that were sent to you (or to the both of us) or Daniel – aside from Dad’s ‘last’ gift, I’ve used the cash I’ve been given (Gift cards are another story completely, and shall be told at another time), but you… didn’t always get the benefit. And now you never will.
Again, I realize this is so unimportant in the grand scheme of things from your perspective. That you will be missing out on the next few decades of life on Earth, and all that that entails, is mostly not something that you consider to be a hardship, given your present circumstances. But it would have been nice for you to have been able to enjoy what we’ve found. For all I know, you’d be ‘whoop’ing along with Jan at each discovery, while I just give her a small smile as I turn over another card to her.
And, of course, I wish you were still with me once we have the opportunity to actually spend these funds. But it’s possible, were you still here, we wouldn’t be doing this excavation in the first place, and all this money would remain undiscovered for years to come. Still, it makes for a nice thought in my own mind.
Anyway, we’ll talk later. Say hello to everyone for us, and give our thanks in particular to your Aunt Betty if you see her.