A Bag of Humbugs
We met Tom one evening in a small hotel overlooking a harbour in Spain. A largeman in his late seventies, he looked rather dispirited as he sat alone in the lounge, sowe invited him to join us for a drink. He was a widower from the north of England,and, after a rather lonely week’s holiday, was only too pleased to chat to anyone. Wediscovered that he was a retired bus driver and that his wife had died some monthsago, so we encouraged him to talk about his family and his home. What he told us leftus dumbfounded.Apart from his late wife, he had a son, and a daughter who was the mother of his twogranddaughters. His wife had died somewhat unexpectedly and, to his astonishment,had left a huge sum of money to be shared between the son and daughter. He didn’tdivulge the actual sum, but, in contrast with his pension and humble lifestyle, it musthave been a small fortune. Each time he mentioned it, he just shook his head slowlyin bewilderment, for it was clear that he hadn’t a clue how the money was obtained,or how she managed to conceal it from him all those years. His late wife’s will alsoincluded a detailed list of belongings which the daughter was to inherit; theseincluded jewellery, accessories, photographs, pictures and some items of furniture.A day after the funeral, his daughter came to the house with her husband and armedwith the list. She demanded to collect what was rightfully hers. It also included a half share in the family caravan and she wanted to know when Tom would be selling it.This was a mobile home which he and his wife owned on a pleasant site overlookingthe sea. Tom loved the caravan and had looked forward to living in it wheneverything was ﬁnally sorted out. Her husband, who was a rather charmless man,offered to put it up for sale that day, and, under pressure, Tom reluctantly agreed to itbeing sold. Just then, however, his son called by and pleaded with his sister to be alittle more patient and sympathetic. Eventually, to avoid a family argument, he wrotehis sister a cheque for half the current value of the caravan, and they left looking verypleased with themselves. Throughout the bereavement, Tom’s son had been a pillarof strength, whereas his daughter and her husband were just out for what they couldgrab.