Decade Seven and beyond: Exploration and mostly ill functioning body parts
To test to my grade school sentence diagramming skills, my father offered, “If I had a million dollars, I know what I would do,” probably his longest composition ever, discounting run-on sentences. Yet, too complex for my fifth-grade grammatical skills. An adverbial clause introduced with hypothetical if had me stumped. Seven decades later, Judy’s hypothetical creative writing challenge surfaced a pleasant memory, an early morning father-son discussion at the breakfast table—Dad and I were the only early risers in our family. He apparently knew what he would do with a million 1950’s dollars, today worth perhaps twenty million. Maybe he didn’t realize how many zeros followed the number one. His example inflated to today’s economy requires an extra zero, total of seven, but I am inured to big numbers considering America’s national debt with figures reaching ten zeros and climbing. Or, stargazer’s 1950 estimate of 4000 visible night-time stars to a number today with 4000 zeros behind it. Inflation!!
What would I do with, let’s say, twenty million dollars? An amount quite conservative considering recent near billion-dollar lotteries. The concrete-sequential segment of my brain needs to visualize what twenty million would mean in manageable units. Mercedes Benz cars, for instance. I recently gave my vintage E350 to my granddaughter and did a spot check for a new replacement, its price tag, fifty thousand dollars. Today’s twenty million dollars would deliver four hundred E350’s to my doorstep. Sales tax and registration would seriously damage my retirement. Dad could have purchased twice that many 1950 Fords, that last new car he ever owned, but, of course, he didn’t have any sales tax back then. He even wailed about social security tax because his eight dependents only eliminated his income tax.
My first consideration would be Laurie’s and my four children and our three grandchildren since I have no desire for even one new Mercedes, let alone four hundred. Not to eliminate their financial problems for the rest of their lives, but how to preserve a few financial hurdles to challenge their integrity. Besides, total reliance on even 20 million, large as that number is, would too soon evaporate, perhaps by one or two family members to the chagrin of the others.
My family values were developed through poverty, and who knows if an acquired DNA could be squandered by a bunch of zeros. Unable to decide, I would probably die intestate relying on the wisdom of the state to make the dispersal. To parrot the advice of a child to Santa, “As for me, my little brain isn’t very bright. Choose for me Dear Santa what you think is right.”
Give to charity, you might suggest. To the best of my knowledge, no millionaire has vowed to give half of his fortune away when he or she leaves this planet. Such an act of charity is reserved for the billionaires who wisely horded their millions to become billionaires. I could use that strategy and hoard my lottery good fortune, but my investment skills aren’t that great and my horizon for growth is relatively short. And the number of potential charities numbs my mind, again, threatening intestate.
A friend vowed to create his own charity and screen the needs of people requesting funds. What a nightmare. I can’t tolerate unsolicited calls when I have nothing to offer but maybe a change of car insurance. And, to the best of my knowledge, that friend has yet to win any lottery.
More significant, how would I handle winning a negative lottery, the person chosen to leave a sinking lifeboat, or, Shirley Jackson’s short story, “The Lottery” where a villager is chosen each year to be stoned to death. Could I accept such a just or an unjust decision of my peers?
I won the world’s greatest lottery back in 1941. Competing with a billion competitors and myriads of ever-changing circumstances of time and place, my little package of DNA found a mate and, with the help of God, developed my soul. I am still grappling with God’s creation to prepare it for when I must give it back, or at least account for the eight decades it was in my care.
I can create longer and more complex sentences than my dad, sometimes too long and convoluted, but I don’t have his vision of what to do with instant wealth.