The Suitcase Lady


November 22, 2011, 8:58 pm

Valueless things can have immense value. Our Montgomery Ward key chain is one of those objects. It resides in a desk drawer and holds the key to our neighbor’s house.   

We inherited the key chain from my late father-in-law. He was a good father, a good provider and a good neighbor. But he did have the misfortune of becoming drunk after two bottles of beer, and he rarely stopped at two. Despite a life long alcohol problem, he always showed up for work, earning top dollar as an extremely fast and skilled auto body man.

Money rolled in, but it also rolled out just as quickly. My father-in-law was generous. When his barber hit hard times and was in danger of losing his shop, it was my husband’s dad who loaned him the money that saved the business.

He worked pounding out cars into his seventies when retirement became a necessity. His nest egg was almost nonexistent.

This fact did not bother my father-in law in the least. He frequently told us how lucky he was. His small trailer and the lot it sat on were paid for. The electric bill was only $15.00 a month (some creative wiring may have been involved), and he did not have to pay any property taxes. In fact, due to his low income level, he actually got a rebate on the property tax bill.

“I’m so lucky,” he would say,”Uncle Sam sends me a check every month, and we even have money left over!” To this he would add, “And I get a free gift every month.” Each month he would go to his local “Monkey” Ward store for the free gift given to their loyal charge card customers. He was as excited as a young child awaiting Santa Claus.

So our key chain is much more than a place to park a key. It’s a reminder that some people can be extremely grateful when living on Social Security … and a monthly free gift.

I can’t think of a better Thanksgiving message.


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