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Thursday, March 19, 2009

What Would Jim Do?

Jim was a disabled veteran and received compensation from the government. While he was in long term care, I sent his veterans and social security checks to the nursing home. Jim died in 2005 and the checks stopped.

I was surprised to receive a letter from the Veterans Administration admitting that some surviving spouses had not received the veteran’s compensation for the month the veteran died. Apparently, after all this time, the VA realized they should have sent one more check to me.

Since it took almost four years before I received the letter, I wasn’t expecting the check anytime soon. To my surprise, it came a few weeks later.

In my mind this was Jim’s money and my first question was, what would Jim do? We were married more than 35 years, and I had a good idea what his wishes would be.

Jim had received a few windfalls over the years, and he always knew exactly what he wanted to do. Whether it was a $700 winning lotto ticket or a $10,000 settlement, he never considered spending the money on himself. He always had someone in the back of his mind that needed cash more than he did.

It took me awhile to understand his philosophy. We went through a lot of hard times when we were younger, and often I felt like we needed the money. He always had faith that we would get by, but he wasn’t so sure about everyone else.

Somewhere along life’s journey, I learned that the more you give, the more you receive. I’m not talking about gift exchange. Jim didn’t care for or even believe in gift exchanges. When he gave it was never, ever because he expected something in return. It was because he just felt it in his heart. He would open his billfold and hand over his last dollar to someone he loved.

He wouldn’t have wanted this unexpected check to be put in the bank. I know he would want the grandkids to have something from “Grandpa Jim” so that was the easy part. The more I thought about it, I knew where he would want the rest of it to go.

It makes me feel good to know Jim’s giving spirit can reach out and lend a helping hand to people he loved. In my memory, I can see him smile and his eyes light up. I can’t think of a better use for Jim’s check than to honor his legacy of love.
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