Friday, November 5, 2010

The Money was Nothing

Here's a news story that is really hard not to like, especially amongst all the rottenness and conflict we usually are served by the media.

A retired Canadian couple who won $11.3 million in the lottery in July have already given it (almost) all away.

"What you've never had, you never miss," 78-year-old Violet Large explained to a local reporter.

She was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer when the couple realized they'd won the jackpot in July.

"That money that we won was nothing," her tearful husband, Allen, told Patricia Brooks Arenburg of the Nova Scotia Chronicle Herald. "We have each other."

The money was a "headache," they told the paper--mainly, it brought anxiety over the prospect that "crooked people" might take advantage of them. Several people called them out of the blue to ask for money when the news first broke that they'd won the jackpot. So they began an $11 million donation spree to get rid of it and help others, the Chronicle Herald reports:

They took care of family first and then began delivering donations to the two pages' worth of groups they had decided on, including the local fire department, churches, cemeteries, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, hospitals in Truro and Halifax, where Violet underwent her cancer treatment, and organizations that fight cancer, Alzheimer's and diabetes. The list goes on and on.

Violet told the Canadian Press that they retained about 2 percent of the money for a rainy day.

"It made us feel good," Violet told the Chronicle Herald. "And there's so much good being done with that money."

There are so many interesting threads to consider in this story. First off, this couple given everyone the simple, but profound message that love and companionship are much more important than material wealth. I also have to say it's kind of wonderful that they chose to distribute the money all over, pointing to a sense of how their lives are interconnected with the community they live in, and the institutions that have benefited them in the past.

On a more macro-level, it's hard not to contrast the care Violet has received for cancer, with the ways in which such care is either out of reach, or financially devastating for many here in the United States. While our government will probably spend the next two years bickering over the details of the decidedly tepid, pro-private health care industry bill that was passed last year, everyday Canadians continue to have a hell of a lot more options, even if there are some problems with their system.

And finally, back to the couple, there's this statement "We're not travelers anyway. We live in the country and we're proud of it. Money can't buy you health or happiness." I think it's just fine to travel when you're older, and I hope to be able to do so myself. But it's also refreshing to hear someone say they are happy right where they are. Even if they decide to go on vacation with the little bit of money they saved, it's clear they are at peace with the place they live in. Such a different attitude from all the "snowbirds" who run south the moment there's a chill in the autumn air every year.


tom sullivan said...

Great story - thanks for posting!

zendotstudio said...

nice post, hitting home the simple truth that equanimity comes from inside, not from externals. here's folks that are living this. I have to think would I do this if it happened to me??

hadv said...

now I know what to do with the money i win if i ever buy a lottery ticket and do win.. it always made me anxious thinking what i'd do with the millions that suddenly came my way. thanks for the tip.

Algernon said...

That is terrific. It is so often true that jackpot winners end up suffering -- there are some very tragic stories about this in the U.S. Part of the problem is that having more or less money does not in itself change our conditioned behavior around money. If I tend to be profligate, I'm going to be profligate with $20 as I would with $20,000,000. New habits can be learned but not many people think about that.

Dean 'Jagaro' Crabb said...

Nice story. I hope one day I'm at that same place.