A.S.A.P. Jul06


Related Posts

Share This


As soon as possible.  Does that mean as soon as it is possible for you to do it?  Or at once…  like in a Nano-second or else trouble follows?

Betty used it often and she wasn’t sure herself what it meant exactly.  Her Father used to say, “ ASAP Bets”… and she hopped quickly to it no matter what it was.   Was that just Daddy’s tone of voice or was he wanting something important at once?  She wasn’t sure.

Even at a very young age she was not taking any chances.  She rushed to do whatever it was.

Now as an adult her reaction to him was the same.  So when his very last words to her on the telephone had been,

“And Bets, I need you to do this ASAP.”

“Yes Dad , of course, but what?”  The phone went dead and she learned only hours later that he was gone.  She knew he was ill, but had not expected him to actually die of this sickness.

Yet, only minutes before, he had telephoned her with that strange message… his last words, as far as she knew.

They told her he had been found at his desk, phone in hand.  His heart had just stopped.

What had he wanted her to do ASAP?

By the time she arrived at his home, he was no longer there.  The Doctor who was summoned by his housekeeper had tried to find some life then failing that had sent him to be cremated according to his patient’s previously written instructions.

Betty already knew it was his choice to be placed with her Mother who had been gone for many years.

But what had Dad called her to do?  An examination of the papers on his desk where he was sitting at the time turned up nothing she could understand.  The fact that he was on the phone with her just seconds before asking  her to carry out a chore, meant something was important.  So she wanted to do it if possible.

However,  first she needed to know what it was.  If it was important to his life… it was too late.  What else could it be?  He had said ASAP.   But if he was caught by surprise and didn’t know the end was upon him, it could be still important… may still need doing.

So far the Doctor, the housekeeper and the pharmacist all had no idea.  She looked at his phone records and found that he had made several calls just before calling her.

She picked up his note pad and scribbled their names and numbers on it and put it in her purse.  She added his address book to find those people.  Had he asked any of them to do something ASAP?

The odd thing about those names, as she sat looking at them, was that she did not know any of them.  He had called six people she never even heard of just before his last call to her.  The records proved that she was the last.

Then on an impulse she picked up his little computer.  Those folks may be in there.  Her brothers lived across the Country, Dave in Florida and Paul in Utah, and would be arriving in time for a Memorial, thus in the meanwhile everything that needed doing here was up to her.  Except of course all of the duties her Dad had done himself, being a very efficient man.

He seemed to want to tie up another lose end, or wanted her to do it for him.  And she would, as soon as she could figure out what it was.

If ASAP meant , As Soon As Possible,  she would do it as soon as possible… no matter how long it took.

It wasn’t that Betty expected to know everyone her father knew.  He had many activities that she knew were different from those she did know about.  But he chatted so much about his golfing buddies and some of the people in his church, that she thought they would at least sound familiar.

She called the first person he had called that morning.  Her name was Alice and he had called to wish her a Happy Birthday on behalf of the Church.

Now she remembered, he had taken her Mother’s job after she died, to call the Church People who had birthdays on each month.  Betty was amazed that after all of these years he was still doing it.  Did it just make him feel closer to his missing wife?

Alice said he had actually spoken to her on the first week of her birth month for eleven years.  She felt that she knew him well because of those calls.  He always inquired about her health and her family’s.  It wasn’t just Happy Birthday this month from the church and hang up.  He really seemed interested, even though they only nodded if passing at Church.  No…  once she spoke with him at length, when her husband was in the hospital.  He was so understanding.  I’m so sorry to hear he is gone.”

Betty wanted to ask just one more thing.

”That morning, did my Dad ask you do anything , well a favor,  or something for him?”  Alice was silent as she thought about it.  Betty waited patiently.

“No, only to enjoy being a year older.  He said it was a gift from God.  He really seemed to mean it. And I thanked him.”

Betty sat wondering if the other calls were from the Church Birthday list also.  If so, probably nothing would come of them.

The next name on the list was Ralph Jones.  Instead of phoning she turned on the computer.  After finding the list of people he was to call each Birthday month, she read the names carefully for the entire year.  He had to call about six or seven each month.

Betty was impressed.  She had no idea that it was such a huge job.  Ralph Jones was not on that list, but he also did not answer the phone.  She made a note by his name and also drew a very light line through Alice’s.  Ralph Jones was not on any list she could find.

She left the computer to make lunch for her husband Jason and their two sons, Andy and Johnny, who were out playing on the dirt track they ran their remote control cars upon.   The boys would be picked up by their Grandfather to spend the weekend fishing with him, so she would get back to this chore later.

“What would you guess my Dad wanted me to do?”   Betty casually asked her husband.  She tried not to make it sound like an order from him or something of great importance.  She was just curious.

Of course he had no more of an idea than she did, but another brain might have hit upon what she had missed.

“Did he sound at all distressed as if he knew he was close to death.  Perhaps the heart attack actually gave him a little pain of warning.”

“No, he sounded perfectly normal.  It would have raised my blood pressure if he had sounded weak or confused.  Nothing he said or did made me jump up and leave the house to go to him.

When the phone went dead, I merely waited for him to ring me back and finish his request for me to do him a fast little chore.  Even when he didn’t ring back I thought he just got busy or did it himself or ask someone closer to do it.  His housekeeper was there.  I heard the vacuum cleaner in the back ground.”

“Then it must not have been that important.”

“I guess.  But I would still like to know.”  She reminded him,  “He said,  I need this ASAP.”  Jason just smiled…

“He said that even if he only wanted  you to bring him a cold coke.  He even has you saying it.”

“Oh, I know, I know, but still…  I don’t know. That is what is bothering me.”

“He didn’t write it on his note pad, I suppose.”  Jason stated casually.

“I have the note pad.  The only writing on it is mine.  I put some names on it.”

The door bell brought a quick warning that the boys Grandfather was walking in to collect his little fishing buddies, so the conversation ended.

Once she had cleaned the kitchen and packed some goodies for the children to take to their Grandmother, Lilly, who worked all day and didn’t have time to bake, Betty returned to the note pad and the telephone.

She called Ralph again but still no answer so she made a second check by his name and dialed the next name, George Paulo.

He said he did get a call from a Mr. Allen, about something to do with a golf tournament.  But he left no message and I didn’t call back.

Betty thanked him without explaining.  Even she was getting tired of the explanation.

There were still four names to call.  Another no answer, followed by the second one which answered with a machine that said,

“If you are calling about the car, It has been sold. Thanks for calling anyway.”

That made no sense as her.  Dad had two cars now.  The BMW her Mother used to drive and his own quite new little Mercedes.   Not much has made sense ever since his last call was left hanging.

These few calls had taken more time than expected for now Jason was standing in the doorway reminding her that they had an Airport Management meeting to attend tonight and she had promised to bring a platter of cookies to go with the coffee.

The cookies were in the freezer so she asked him to take them out while she dressed up a bit.   She looked in the mirror and discovered that she needed more than “a bit” and went right to work on getting ready.

No matter what the Airport discussion was, Betty was deep in thought and raised her hand to agree with everything they voted on, until Jason pulled her hand down as he asked if she really intended to vote down the new Landing Lights for the Runway, which he had been working weeks to get on the ballot.

“Ooh, I’m sorry, I guess I wasn’t listening.”  Jason shook his head.

“I guess not.  If the subject comes up regarding your Father’s last wish, I’ll wake you up.”

Betty tried to smile at his joke, but it was a weak grin.  Her Dad  wanted something for sure and she was getting more determined to discover just what it was.

No matter what work she did around the house, her mind went over the things her Dad was the most interested in.  Besides golf and church he was interested in the local Playhouses and Theaters her brothers supported and often acted in.  He also supported the Wounded Warriors and the USO.  He had been in the Navy himself for four years, over thirty years ago,  but was not a career man there.  As far as she knew he had lost touch with his old Navy buddies.  Then she knew what she needed to do next.

She drove to his house and went back into his study and found that everything was just as she had left it.  She really needed to do some work here and she alone had the keys and the responsibility.  Even if she accomplished nothing else, the house had to emptied to be ready to sell or whatever the Will stated.

Surely what her Father thought was important would turn up if she looked and  probably right in this his Office and Library.

The Special Olympics received donations from him, she noticed in his check book, which was on top of his desk.  In fact he seemed to be in the middle of paying bills when he made these last phone calls.  Could one of them have led him to call her that day?

The last written checks were in the proper envelopes signed and ready to mail.  Are checks from a dead person still good?  Why not?  It was sad but true that life went on.

She decided that she may as well mail them and went deeper into his desk searching for stamps.

A little book turned up before the stamps were found and it took her attention away from the bill paying.

It was like the little black book that single men made famous for having all of the single girls and a few married ones listed inside of it.

What was this one for?  It began with dates starting six years ago.  Next to each monthly date was a number and an amount.  The first was on April 10,  for $25,000.  After that they were much smaller, but usually the same monthly payment of $2,500.    On each Christmas the check was larger by double.  $5,000.   And again at the start of each new April 10th, it was $5,000.

Betty went back to that first row of numbers.  If they were for an account she had no way to guess the Bank or the City by looking at them.  She opened the checkbook again looked at those numbers,  If the Bank and the City location had not been printed clearly on the lower left corner she wouldn’t know them either.  They seemed to have no relation to the black book’s numbers.

This brought her back to his bill paying and a close inspection showed no checks from this account for anything like those amounts sent to the other account.  Not even on April 10th

The little registers for the past had been wrapped in a rubber band and she looked back over six years with no luck.  The money was not from his daily checking.  Then where did it come from?

Now she was getting more curious.  Did he have a second check book?  And then the big questions:  Who and Why:  Who received all of this money every month and why?

Could he have come to this large monthly payment that last morning and decided to ask her to take care of it , if anything should happened to him?  Then something did happen to him before he could finish telling her about it?

That he was really gone struck her hard once more and she sat just day dreaming about better times.  They weren’t all in her childhood either.  He was a great adult friend, ready to tell her how to behave with boys, even warning her about how guys thought.

But she sometimes envied the brothers who were always going off with him to do guy stuff.  They played golf with him as soon as they could hold a club.  Why didn’t she ?  Girls can play golf!  But she really never cared to, to be honest.

As for the brothers she had long ago decided that boys were put on earth to make life interesting, they certainly made hers so, always teasing her and her girl friends and playing tricks on them, then on each other if there were no girls around.  That attitude came in very handy when life brought her two sons of her own.

She could never chide them for acting like boys because boys would be boys.  Her father always treated his only girl, her, with a different attitude.  She was his pretty little doll who needed to be pampered and admired.

He brought her darling little music boxes and pretty necklaces when he was away on business. The boys got uninteresting stuff that she could not even remember.

After she was married he was always reminding her to be home when Jason came in and have something nice waiting for him.  She felt that he just wanted her to be the kind of wife her mother was to him.  He adored her.  She sighed,  Anyway,  they were together again now.

She went to the kitchen for a drink of water and splashed some cold water from the faucet to her face to clear her mind for the task she had given to herself.

This mystery was going to take some looking into. But how?  Dad had been doing it in secret for six years…Why?

Betty went home to get some boxes so she could come back tomorrow and dismantle his desk one drawer at a time to look for answers.  Her eyes traveled back to the loaded book cases against the wall.

“My God! What a big job this one room was about to be.  The rest of the house and more of her long gone Mother’s things, which Dad had failed to part with,  more work than she could imagine awaited.   She considered calling Jason, but didn’t.  Because she reasoned she could also be lucky and get her answers quickly.

That night at dinner she opened the conversation with Jason with a question.

“I was just wondering,  why would a man need a second check book to pay someone out of it in secret?”

“Oh Oh, I see a problem coming.  Was that what your Dad was doing?”

“Just tell me some good reasons.  You’re a guy.  I just can’t think of any myself.   It sure isn’t a girl thing.”

“How much and how often?’  Jason asked.

“What has that got to do with the reasons?”

“Everything!  Either he was supporting someone with a reasonable  income, or paying a conman some black mail.   The amounts have meanings.  Just a little could be a favorite small charity.  Lots of cash and often might mean black mail, and a regular amount could mean building a nest egg for something he wanted to buy that was expensive.

If he was a female it might have been a classy mink coat or a big diamond ring or bracelet, maybe even an upcoming divorce.  But a man might want to own  a special Automobile or an Airplane.  I know I’d spend mine on a neat twin engine Plane.  What would you buy? ”

Betty could not think of a thing for herself or her father for that constant collection of big money.   Finally she handed her husband a sheet of paper with some pages from the little black book, which she had run through her Dad’s copy machine.

Jason looked them over carefully and had no answers, just another question.  “Did you find a second check book?”

“Not yet.”

“Have you asked your brothers?”

“Not yet.   Next week Paul will be reading the Will to all of us.  But I know he already knows what it says.   So there doesn’t seem to be a mystery associated with the Will or he would be asking me.”

“You mean if an unknown person is in it?”

“Right.  I feel sure there is not.  My guess was he was going to ask me to carry on some payments for him. But that is just a guess.  Because nothing else has turned up… except that book about money.  Oh and the baby on the Christmas card.”

“Do you need my help?”

“Only if you have time to go over everything in his desk with a fine tooth comb, like I will start doing tomorrow.”

“I was going to tune-up my airplane’s engine tomorrow, but I’ll come if you get stuck and need me.”

“Thanks that’s good enough.  Keep your Cell phone in the hanger with you.”

“Right and you take yours.”

Thanks for the reminder.  I just had Dad’s desk phone disconnected when I paid his last bill.”

“No clues on the phone bills I imagine.”  Jason decided .

“I am working on a few like the ones he made that last morning.  But now I may go further back.”

“Too bad your brothers are too far away to help.”

“No!   I’m glad they are.  I don’t know what I’ll find, but whatever it is,  Dad kept it a secret,  so I may need to do the same.”

“It’s your call, Bets. “

“I’ll tell you . I may need you to explain it to me.”

“Call me if you find anything.  I’ll be here.”

Back in Dad’s old office Betty began by removing each paper one at a time from the drawer that had the latest Bank slips.

Then she came across a different Bank deposit of $100,000. From the Retirement Account of his Business now run by Paul.  Someone, probably her Father, had run it through the copy machine and the page lay with the deposit slip, so she could see that it was even signed by her brother, Paul Allen and placed in the account of James Philip Allen, her Dad.  One day later, he gave the exact same amount to Ralph Jones who paid it all to an Insurance Company for a Life Policy on James Philip Allen, with Betty Miller as the beneficiary.

Betty leaned back in shock.  It would pay her a quarter of a million dollars.  The name of the man handling the Policy was familiar.

Ralph Jones… isn’t that the guy I have been trying to call?   And why am I to get the money not the boys?  But as she could not find an actual fancy gold leaf, official Policy,  the whole thing was suspect.  She dialed Ralph Jones’s number again and still it rang and rang with no answer… not even a machine to listen and talk to .

She put the Insurance payment receipt in a special pile to take home and continued the search.

With all of her Dad’s recent checks listed from the Bank she added that payment to the pile for Jason to study.  Here’s another interesting charge… six years ago he had bought one Airline ticket to Michigan with a return two days later.  He had other charges for plane tickets that were easily recognized as business, but none to Michigan.

It must have been some business that fell through, because as far as she knew he didn’t know anyone in Michigan.

The entire rest of his bills were paid and nothing out of the ordinary.  Then she gingerly picked up a Christmas card in its green holly trimmed, red-lined envelope, stuck on the very bottom of the drawer.  It had a Michigan post mark which dated it five years ago, but no return address.  Very curious.

The card was a holly framed photograph of a young teenage girl sitting by a decorated Christmas tree and holding a little, blue, wrapped baby.  She had such a sweet look on her face, as she cradled the tiny,  infant.   Neither the baby nor the girl was identified.  It was signed simply with a black pen,  “Merry Christmas to Phil, a great man!”

He had kept it buried in the bottom of his desk for all of these years.  Yet she had no idea who was in the picture or even in Michigan for that matter.  She put it on the take home pile, which was growing.

It occurred to her that he had a second family there, but it was so ridiculous, that she dismissed the thought as quickly as she thought of it.  For one thing, he visited that State when the baby was born, but if he had fathered that child, wouldn’t he have had to visit Michigan more often before that?

After dinner Betty and Jason sat at the table and simply pushed the dishes aside to make room to go over the stack of papers she brought home.  Her back still ached from the day of bending over the desk and she didn’t even look in the row of book shelves.  Just looking at them now made her back throb, but she was anxious for Jas’s opinion.

Now where to start.?  They were piled as she found them so she turned them over and began with the first, which was the $100,000. From his Company Retirement Fund and which seemed to be given to an Insurance Company for a Policy on his life, $250,000. payable to Betty upon his death.

However she quickly pointed out that she found no more about the Policy and certainly not a copy of it.  She would need that to prove it existed.

“Perhaps this Ralph Jones is his Lawyer and he has it in his files.”

“He is not answering his telephone calls and I feel certain that the call Dad made to him went unanswered.  She handed Jas the list of his calls for that fatal time.

“But look at this.”  She removed the Christmas card from the pile and took it from its bright envelope.

Her husband looked at the photo for a long time.   A resemblance was impossible at this baby’s age.  The girl was not too young to be the Mother, but she was very young so…  he hesitated to decide that she was its Mother at about 14 or 15.

Betty handed him the bill for the charged ticket to Michigan.  “He was there when the baby was born.  The card comes from Michigan according to the Postmark.  But I can’t imagine, knowing my Dad,  that he…”

“I know.  Jason interrupted.  “Neither can I.  So what is the next choice?”

“If the baby was not important to him why did he go there?”

“Because it was important.  But how, why? “

“I think the Lawyer knows all of the answers.  I’ll just have to keep calling until I get him.”

“Your Brother gave your Dad a very big advance on his retirement.  He must know why.”

“I called him when I got home and he said Dad just asked for it, so I gave it to him.  What else could I do?  It was his Company.  I reminded Paul that it was his Company now. And he said,  I didn’t know he was at death’s door did I?  He was actually quite young.  The Insurance Company issued him that policy based on his expected age life span, which was 75 or 80, at least 20 years away.”


“So I asked him about that problem.”  Betty confessed, I said,

“What will you do now, Paul?  His retirement stops at his death.  If the Policy he supposedly bought cannot be paid for… what happens to it?”

“And he said,?”  Jason was really beginning to get curious himself now with all of this information and that photo.

“Nothing  happens.  It’s a done deal.  It was paid in full up front.  So as far as the death is concerned the Insurance Company will have to pay up.”  Still worried, she wondered,

“Then your Company is short in its Retirement Fund. Right?”

“Not in this case, because Dad had it coming and never collected a cent until he asked for this lump sum.  I didn’t think it was my business to ask why.  Maybe he wanted a new car.  You know he liked to pay cash for things.  He hated the Bank’s interest rate on a Charge Account.”

“You’re right about that, but do you know anything about the Insurance Policy?  Why did he buy it?”

“No I don’t, so if you find something show it to me.  I have only seen his Will.  It was not mentioned there at all, when he showed it to me.  I’ll be reading it next Saturday when the family is all together at the Golf Club Restaurant.  He ordered and paid for luncheon for his Will reading and Mr. Jones put the Will in the Club House safe for me. “

“So there we are.” Betty told Jason.  “Nothing new will be coming at  that event.”  Betty sighed.  “Somehow I am thinking this Insurance is meant for the child, whoever the Father is.”

“If he hasn’t left you any orders, you cannot carry them out with just a guess about what he had in mind.  So if nothing else, now I’m guessing also, but probably the Lawyer knows.”

“I have a whole book case to unload tomorrow. ..want to help?’

“Sure.  We will both look tomorrow.  Now let’s go out to the hot spa and get your back a good massage.”

“Hey! I like your ideas!”  He gave her that old special look that made his blue eyes sparkle and whispered,

“I even have a couple of better ones I’ll share when the time is right.”

“They made every effort to give their attention to each other, but somehow the subject of her Father’s strange relationship kept returning.

“I mean really, “  Betty exclaimed, “Do you have any secrets?  I never dreamed my Father did.  Now I don’t trust anyone anymore.”  Jason just laughed.  He would be glad when Betty got her answers and stopped worrying so much about it.

Early the next day standing in Dad’s library, the boxes stood empty on the floor as they began to strip the book case one item at a time.  Just picking up a book and placing it in a box was not the order of the day.  Each book must be opened and tipped to let any papers, or whatever, fall to the floor… then the book went into the box.  What to do with the boxes of books had not been decided yet.

Too many facts were in question about this man they both knew so well for so long, which made them now doubt if they really knew him at all.

“Everybody has a few secrets.”  Jason commented as he worked.

Betty stopped in her tracks book in hand.

“Really?  Everybody?” she said in amazement.  Jason didn’t stop working,  as he laughed,

“ Well… Almost everybody!”

“Are our kids going to be going through this when you are gone?”

“Maybe,  if they don’t know everything and are hell bent to see if they can find out something they don’t know.  But I’ll try to not make any unfinished Phone calls…  that should help… shouldn’t it?”

“Oh come on… My Dad didn’t know he wouldn’t get to finish telling me about what he needed me to know.”

At the end of that day they headed back into the hot tub to relax, but the subject of secrets would not die.  Jason tried a compromise.

“Tell you what.  I’ll try to go to heaven long and slow in my bed with everyone standing around asking me about anything they wonder about.”     Betty scoffed,

“Fat chance of that.  You’ll fly that plane of yours for far too long into old age,  then fly off and forget the way home until you run out of gas and then… curtains!  And the boys will be trying to find out where you were going and where you finally crashed…  for years and years.  And of course you will also have a senior moment and forget to file a Flight Plan.  Too bad!  Everyone at your Memorial will have a different guess about what secrets you had. “

”I don’t have any yet.”  Jason told her, “But I am still relatively young,  maybe someday?”  He grinned at his own joke but Betty didn’t.

“Just be sure I never find out.  My Mother never did and so she was better off for it.”

“Your Mother died five years before any of this was in his life.  So just you hang on, so we can grow old together and don’t leave me alone to gather secrets.”

A day later they returned to finish boxing the library and were getting better and faster, working together, still only one book at a time.

Betty shook the next book vigorously and watched as a slip fell to the floor.   She looked back at the book that had held the tiny paper.  It was a copy of a Doctor Spock’s  Baby Book.  The slip Jason picked up was a receipt for a Layaway from the Babies R Us Store.  He handed it to Betty.

The date was old very old,  It was the week before she was born.  It had been paid for and picked-up a month later.  It was obvious that her Mother had put it on Layaway and not picked it up until after Betty was born.  She dropped it into the box marked save, even though she wasn’t sure why.  Her children were nearly raised.  Anyway was Dr. Spock even relevant anymore?  She removed it to the trash box.  An hour later she pulled it out to put in back in the save box.

The next book  Jason chose was so stuffed with paper that he didn’t tip them out, but simply opened the cover and collected them.

The book was one Phil had been reading and his bookmark was still where he stopped.  The Papers were all related to the Insurance Policy.  His hand written notes filled a few pages.  Some were crossed out and others were written in sideways to fit new ideas in.

The two of them sat at a table to try to figure them out. Apparently for a moment in time he planned to give the leftover money in the Account to his kids, then to the grown up new baby, then finally to the Hospital in Michigan.  Another choice began with…

“Any funds not used for Jimmy Porter’s education should revert to….  He had not finished that sentence either.

A copy of the Insurance Policy was not among the papers.

“I think the word revert is the clue here.”  Jason explained,  “It means goes back to where it was, so he was saying reverts to the Retirement Fund.”

“That could be it.  We’ll ask Paul.”  Betty decided.  Jason rethought the situation.

“Don’t bother!  It really doesn’t matter, because he did not spell it out, so it will not hold up in court.   Those judges expect every T to be crossed and every I to be dotted.”

“Oh dear! Here we go again.  Another puzzle.  “ Betty picked another book from the shelf and stopped still holding it.

“Wait a minute!  We now know two things.  The baby’s name is Jimmy.  James!  He is named after my Father!   And the Hospital was under consideration for some money!  The Hospital must have had to give baby James Porter extra care.  If he was just born there, it wouldn’t be as important.   But if the baby was very premature or born with a birth defect and they saved his life…  then maybe?”

Betty began to work faster to get this job over so she could try to follow up on this new info.

“You sound like you think he is the father of that baby James.”  Jason said quietly.

“No not at all.  He just knew who was and was trying to help them that is all.”

“He wanted to help an almost stranger with thousands of dollars for the kid’s whole life, so they named the baby after him because they were so grateful.  Does that really make sense to you?’

“My Dad was a very generous man and lots and lots of babies are named James.  That doesn’t make them all his!”  Betty returned to looking over the book she still held.  Nothing was in it ,so she dropped it in the nearly full box crossly, without even trying to answer Jason’s dumb accusation.   Jason thought yes, but James Philip? Though he didn’t say so.

Betty grabbed up another, then another, always hoping that there would not be another questionable paper, while wishing something really useful would be, until at last the shelves were  empty.  No more papers were found.

On Saturday a great many people, some from very far away, went to the Community’s elegant , Golf Club Restaurant for the meal their Father, relative,  or friend, Phil Miller, had planned for the reading of his Will.

Phil had left a good deal of money behind on Earth along with a Will telling them how it was to be divided.

Paul Miller took the mike at the podium and began at once. He decided that lunch would be more enjoyable after the questions had been answered.

“I,  James Philip Miller…”  there was a little gasp as the people who did not know or remember that Phil’s name began with James all looked puzzled.

Paul read the Will’s words carefully to officially state the individual cash or property amounts.

Paul had been given Phil’s large, profitable, Business, so a bit of the profit above 75%,  must be divided with Betty and Dave for five years, after which it was all Paul’s.

Betty was left his home and furnishings, free and clear, plus her share of cash. Dave got his own house free and clear.   He had only last year borrowed the money from his Father to buy it.  Now it no longer had a mortgage.  It was paid off, and he was to have the little black office safe and the gold coins he kept in it.

The Church and the Golf Club and several  other Charities were each given a final cash gift.  Then at last he got to what Betty wanted to know

“ I have a  large Insurance Policy held in the office of Ralph Jones.  My daughter Betty will take charge of it and follow the instructions being held by Mr. Jones.”

That was all it said.  What the instructions were she could only guess and had guessed over and over.

Except there was now no reason to make those Phone calls trying to learn what only Mr. Ralph Jones knew.  Then it occurred to her that her brother Paul said he did not know about the Insurance.  But, he had just read the words out loud.  She excused herself to go find him.

“Paul,”   Betty found him in the middle of a group.  At the sound of his name he looked up and the crowd around him thinned and disappeared almost immediately.  “I have a question.”

“You and everybody in the room. “  Paul joked.  “ This Will stuff  is a busy business, but I would rather have it than yours. Emptying a house is for the birds.  We did it for Annie’s folks.  Your question is…?”

“About the Insurance Policy I am supposed to manage.  What do you know about it?  You said you didn’t know about it?”

“I didn’t, nothing at all.  He asked for the cash and I gave him a Cahiers Check and that was that.  I thought he might have his eye on a snazzy car, but then it occurred to me that perhaps he had met someone special and was going to propose marriage.

Then the Check went straight to the Insurance Company and I saw the endorsement  and knew who had banked the money.  I mentioned it once and he said to forget it. That you were going to handle it.  So I forgot it.  So you tell me…  How come you don’t know anything about it?”

Because he died while trying to explain it to me.  All I heard was,

“I  need you to do something for me, ASAP.   Then the phone line went dead, because apparently so did our poor Daddy.  I regret that I never heard what he wanted me to do, but the fact is I really have no idea.”

“It must be written somewhere.”

“I’ve looked almost everywhere.  Do you know Mr. Ralph Jones?”

“The Lawyer?  Dad’s Lawyer is in Europe right now.  I guess you’ll have to wait until he gets home.”

“When will that be?”

“ Next month sometime.”

“This month has been too long already.  Didn’t he leave any number to call in an emergency?”

“I’ll give you his home address.  Maybe a maid knows something.”

“It’s worth a try.”  Betty took out the note pad and was about to write whatever address Paul gave to her.

A bright light steamed into the window from the right and she gave the pad a second look.  It appeared as if a note had been written on the page above this one.  There were indents on this next page shown up by the cross light.

“I don’t have it here Bets, I’ll E- it to you.”

“Fine!” she mumbled, as she rushed off to find a private place to look into what had been written previously on this pad by her Dad.

She found a small vacant room to one side of the Lunch Room and as no one seemed to object she sat near the window and tilted the top page of the pad to one side.  She had written a bit over some of the indents but even so she took the pencil lead edge and brushed lightly with as wide of a band as possible and highlighted the page top to the middle where the indents stopped.  Then she took it up to read.  The very top word stood alone under her quickly printed first name of the calls he had made.

It clearly read, CALLS and was underlined with a swipe.

The first name was the same as her printed name from the phone records.   Ralph, with his now familiar number next to it, all slightly under her printing, but legible in white behind the gray pencil strokes.

The next white name was hers and her number.  Right under my name it said, “Explain the Insurance plan for Jimmy.  As he had not completed that call, the next one had never been called.

It said,  June, and her phone number.  The words beneath June said,  “Explain the future arrangements for Jimmy’s income.”

Betty sat back. So June probably had not been informed of Dad’s death.

She looked around.  No one had entered and she was still alone, so she quickly plucked out her Cell and dialed  June’s number.

A woman answered who identified herself as June’s Day Nurse, Mary, and went on to explain that June was unavailable to the phone but she would give her a message.

“Is she not well, Mary?”   Betty inquired.  Like, Betty thought, a Day Nurse? inferred a Night Nurse, also.

“Actually I should not be saying this, but she may be failing fast.  But sometimes she really gets a bit more alert and I can try to tell her whatever you want her to know.”

“June was very close to my Father and that’s where I got this number.  Do you know if anyone has told her that Phil Miller has passed away?”

“I can’t answer that.  But she gets very few visitors… so maybe not.”

“Do you know if her young daughter or the little boy named, Jimmy, are there?”   Betty wracked her brain,.  Did she know the girl’s name ?  No it wasn’t on the Christmas Card.”

“I haven’t seen anyone since I came this morning.  Or any morning  for that matter.   There are some flowers here with a card that says, “Get Well Soon,  from Jimmy and Linda.  I’ve been on duty here for three weeks but I have yet to see them.  There is a number next to the phone that could be Linda.  Shall I have the night nurse call you?”

“Please,  my name is Betty Miller and my number is… she paused until Mary said, “ Go ahead.”  Then she added her Cell number and asked Mary to give it to any adult visitor.”

Very likely June was in no condition to be told anything important and her Dad had not known that either.  It all came back to good old Ralph.

The door opened a crack and Jason peeked in.

“There you are! Paul said you dashed off after speaking to him and he thought he saw you go in here.”

She passed the scribbled page to Jason.

“I noticed the indents and wanted to see what Dad had written.  You can read it now.  The only thing new was a name for the baby and his caretaker, plus her Number for his next call after me was to be,  June.  So I called it.”


“And she is more or less unconscious.  But I asked the nurse about a few things and learned nothing new… except he was going to call her next after me.  Apparently June was in charge of the baby, Jimmy.  The girl who was holding him five years ago in the Christmas picture must be June’s daughter, Linda, and I have a number for her which will be helpful if she is now Jimmy’s caretaker.”

Jason was impressed.

“You actually learned a lot of new stuff.  Let’s go home and think some more.”

“I have to stand at the door and thank the folks who came.”

“You had better hurry then.  Some are already gone.”   He took her arm and they rushed to stand with her brothers.

Betty had already decided that she was tired of waiting for Mr. Jones to return from Europe get some answers.  She would get an address from the night Nurse and fly to Michigan to meet these people who were for some reason very important to her father.  She hoped Jason would go with her, but she was definitely going.

They arrived there at a very bad time.

The house she was sent to was in mourning for June, who had passed away leaving a daughter, Linda and a grandson, Jimmy, neither of whom were at the house.

Only a few servants and a nurse were there and they had no idea where the daughter and grandson had departed to after the funeral.

The servants and nurse were packing their things to leave, as they were no longer needed.

“I’m sorry.”   Betty told Jason sadly,  “I dragged you across the whole country for nothing.  Now what do we do?”   She asked him.

“Fly home I guess, Do we know anyone else in this State?”

“Just the Hospital and you know how they are.  No information… no way… unless you are immediate family.”

“Aren’t you?  Maybe Jimmy is your half brother.”

“I don’t think so.”  Betty admitted.

“They don’t know that.”

“What do I use as proof ?”   Jason pointed back at the house.  A couple of people with suit cases were walking out.

“They’re all leaving.  We just arrived.  Remember we are so sorry to have missed everything for poor Grandma June, after we came so far, if anyone asks.   And look!  Now there isn’t anyone left,  but us.  What a pity!”  he said, sadly

Betty followed Jason into the home of the baby who was a relation to them… maybe.

With all of the experience they had lately going through other than their own paper work, they both walked slowly around, looking at everything and trying to decide where the important papers might be.

The different bed rooms were all obvious, a young girl’s, a little boy’s and the one June passed away in.   The house was small and neat.

June’s  check book, easy to find in her purse on top of her desk  proved where the $2,500. was going each month.   She paid the regular bills from it and all of the marketing.  She had a savings account in the desk,  into which she placed the larger amounts supposedly for the baby’s future education.  It had grown quite large in the six years, so the money was being well spent by the Grandmother and saved even better.

For two months the checks had been signed by Linda Porter.  That must indicate how long June was ill.  And now the whole thing fell to Linda who was only just entering her twenties.

The closets showed that no one was a fashion plate.  They had lots of adequate clothing for the Michigan weather.   Little Jimmy was the best dressed, as though the two women loved buying things for him.  He also had a room full of toys,  but a great many  were more like exercise equipment .  A small trampoline and a child size walker even a little boat made to be a rowing machine.  All very cute and fun looking,  plus well used.  He must be a very athletic little fellow.

The Insurance Policy she was to handle was not mentioned anywhere.  So Betty assumed it was a last minute way her Father had designed to keep Jimmy provided for without him, now, without him and without June.  She wished she had known all of them before.  And she said aloud,

“Darn it, Dad!  Why didn’t you share them with us sooner? “

Jason put his arm about her and said soothingly.

“ He didn’t even share them with himself.  You don’t see any pictures of him on that shelf do you?”

“No, and nothing answered the question about why they were so important to him… but at the same time, still not that important.”

Pictures of Linda and Jimmy were all over the place. A walk past them and one knew their whole life story from birth to sports and Christmas’s and other holidays.  Some other adults that didn’t fit the pattern and two teen age children were each over the fireplace.  Where were they?   Too far away to attended June’s memorial?    Or maybe they had already come and gone.

”Let’s go to the Hospital in question.  If they don’t give us any answers we will be no worse off.”

They almost found Linda.  Her name was well known around the hospital.   People responded to her name with a smile, even though she was nowhere in sight.

“Does Linda work here? “  Betty asked the nurse behind the desk.

“You could almost say that.”  Was the answer.  “She puts in more hours than I do.”

“What kind of an answer is that?”  Betty asked Jason.

“It says she spent a lot of time here.  She is here now.  Let’s look around on our own.”

Jason stood in front of the elevator studying the floor layouts.  Then he pulled Betty into an open elevator and punched the 4th floor.

“The Children’s Floor. “  Jas answered her unasked question.  “Linda must be there with Jimmy.”

They got off and walking as though they knew what their destination was,  they looked quickly into each open room.  Finally Jason stopped at a larger ward filled with equipment.

“There!” he said, “doesn’t that look like Linda’s pictures?”   Across the room a blonde young woman was helping a small boy work his legs walking on a pediatric  walking machine.   The little fellow was doing fine  and they wondered why he needed it.  Dressed in a new looking little light blue jogging suit, he looked happy and healthy.

They both stopped at the side of the young woman and watched for several seconds until she became aware of them.

The boy looked up with a big smile to brag,

“I’m doing pretty well this time aren’t I?  I haven’t stumbled once.”  He grinned.

“You’re doing great.”  Jason smiled back as he knelt to the boy’s size.  “Do you do this often?”

“Every six months.”  He answered brightly. “The rest of the time I do it at home.”

Linda was still just looking at them trying to decide if they were with the hospital or what?

“Are you Linda?”  Betty asked.

“That’s right.  Who are you?” Linda asked politely but surprised.

“I am Betty Miller and this is Jason Miller my husband.  But more important to you, I am Phil Allen’s daughter.”   Linda’s mouth dropped open and she knelt by Jimmy and told him.

“Jimmy, this lady is Uncle Phil’s daughter, Betty, and this is her husband Jason.”  Jimmy actually put out his hand to Jason without even stopping the walker and Jas took it in his,
“I am so happy to meet you. “  He told Jimmy.  Linda looked at Betty and asked,

“How is Uncle Phil.   I only met him once when I was very young, but he was so nice.”

“I’m sorry to tell you that he has passed away, just a few days before your Grandmother, June.”

“Yes, Jimmy and I are alone now.  We will miss her.”

“I miss my Father too and his last wish was for me to help take care of you and Jimmy.  I didn’t even know you two existed until then.”

“I didn’t know about you either.  Uncle Phil just came here when my parents died and that was the only time I met him.  He waited with Grandma and me while the Doctors saved Jimmy.”

“What happened to your parents?”  Betty asked then was sorry.

“Oh I’m sorry You don’t have to tell me.  It was long ago and with just losing your Grandmother, I don’t mean to dig up unhappy memories.”

“Yes it was terrible.  I was young but it seems like yesterday.  But we are lucky to have our little Jimmy.  Well, June and I were.  But he’s mine now.”

“You are still so young to have that much responsibility.  My job is just to see that you get your regular checks just as my Dad always did.  He wanted to see the boy through college and that was why he decided he needed my help in case he was gone.  So I guess you may call me aunt Betty.”

“I think Grandma June is saving money for that.  So we will probably be just fine.”

“Are you in college?”

“I’d like to be a Nurse or a Doctor, after I spent half of my life here with Jimmy.  But it might not be possible.”  She shrugged, “You know, Money.”

“We can meet and talk about it later, but I can tell  you for sure that it will be possible, so plan on it.  I just need to talk with Ralph Jones.”

“Is that the Ralph Jones who has been calling Grandma so much, and hasn’t been able to speak with her.   Now he won’t be able to for sure.  Do you know what he wanted?”

“I don’t really but I have a good guess. He’s in Europe and when he comes back he’ll fill me in.  Then probably you too. “Betty paused to frame her question carefully.

But I would like to know one thing before we have to catch our plane back to California.  You are June’s daughter, right?  And this little guy is your brother, right?  Who were your parents?”

“My Daddy and Jimmie’s was Grandma June’s son, William.  He and our Mother, Barbara, and our sister Sue and brother Neal were all killed in an airplane crash.  I was okay because I was home with Grandma June at the time.  And we are only so lucky to have Jimmy because they rushed Mommy here to have him.  Uncle Phil  flew out here because he was our Dad’s best friend in the Navy. “

The Doctor came in to see how Jimmy was doing, so Betty and Jason told Linda they would phone her from home to talk some more.  Maybe they could come to California for a visit them.

They made it to the Airport and the Airplane home,  just barely in the nick of time and had the entire flight time to talk and mull over what they now knew.  By the time they were back and settled they had made several big decisions.

The answer machine had six calls from Ralph Jones, so the very next day they went straight to his office.

The Lawyer;  Ralph Jones was full of information and began to fill them in at once.  He was surprised that they had visited Michigan but it helped.

Six years ago your Father called me to help him with a financial problem, which he thought he needed a lawyer’s guidance to work out.

I have been working with him and it ever since.  He told me that he was receiving Social Security payments that he did not need.  His business had done very well and he was retired early from it with son, Paul now in charge.

Basically, what he hoped I could arrange,  was to have the Social Security money sent each month to a special account that would be available to a lady, named June Porter for the care of a new born child, James Porter and of course her young daughter, Linda.

I told him it was a simple arrangement for him to have his Social Security payments sent monthly to an account he opened and have the access to the money go to anyone he chose.  So that was what I did for him.

Then to make his own life simpler,  I became a guardian to that money to be sure it went to care for little James Porter and his Grandmother, his legal guardian, June Porter and young Linda.

Betty was surprised that she had not even considered the Social Security money.  No wonder it didn’t show in his checking.  The Lawyer continued with the story.

As June grew older she worried what would become of the boy when she was gone.  She had me arrange for her daughter, Linda Porter, to be made his legal guardian when she was 21.

“You mean she was only 15 when the boy was born?”

That’s right.  But she helped raise little Jimmy and loved him dearly, so she was the logical choice.   She was about to be 21 and had almost been his mother from the start.  June was still with them but getting too old to deal with Jimmy’s medical problems.

I understand that is no longer true.  I just heard about June.  That is why it is so very lucky that Linda is there and willing.

“The poor kid never met his own Mother and Father, so was lucky to have the two of them.”

It had always been hard for Betty to accept that her Father had a son she did not know about and then especially with a 15 year old it was unthinkable.  The truth was coming together very nicely.

“She is his sister but he still calls her,  Aunt Linny.  His Mother died the day he was born and June and Linda had raised him ever since.

Little James’ luck held when his Mother was rushed to that Hospital  because the tiny heart in her womb was still beating,  even though her own was not.

Being born in a very good Michigan Hospital, was lucky for him because he was born with one very badly mangled leg, due to the terrible accident that killed his Mother, Barbara.

Something metal from the plane pierced the mother in the belly and almost cut off the infant’s leg.  Still that strong heart told them it was possible to save him.  And they fought to do that.

June as Barbara’s mother-in-law, had to give the doctors permission to remove that leg immediately, even though it would mean a life of having regular prosthetics made to fit his growth and all of the training to use them.

That was why June, a widow with a young daughter, Linda, moved from New Jersey to Michigan to stay near Jimmy’s doctors and the Hospital.  They would need to devote time to helping the child with each new larger leg.  After while he went home and they lived nearby to bring the child in regularly for measurements, so he would not grow accustomed to walking with a short one.

The Hospital donated the doctors and the new leg regularly, but the two women had only their time to donate.

And that is why your Father arranged to have the account set up to support them, as they raised and helped their little Jimmy, who was the miracle child of his good friends, Bill and Barbie.

He didn’t want any credit for his help.  He just wanted to help.

June knew and appreciated this, so that is why she gave the baby your Father’s names, James Philip, and she would let the boy know why he carried those proud names one day. “

“What did he have in mind for the Insurance I was to handle for him?”

“I guess I got right to the story of why he did what he did and why you are now involved without you understanding what he wanted.

I assumed your Father told you the back ground and the future.  He said he was going to telephone you soon and explain everything.”

“He tried…  but he was too late and too slow and his heart gave out before he had said more than just trying to tell me that he needed me to do something ASAP.”

“I know he didn’t want you to feel responsible for the boy.  It’s just that he had to make some new plans.  His Social Security stops with his death and he asked me to find another source to continue the monthly payments when he was gone.  He had a retirement from his Company, but his son, Paul,  ran that and of course it would also stop now.

I recommended an Insurance Policy that would pay into that account starting with his death.  So we set it up, but it had to be included in his Will.  He asked me to have it pay to you and he would tell you what to do with it.  If you place it in this account, then you will be added to the account and either of us may  continue to manage it.”  He took it out of the safe and showed it to Betty and Jason, telling them,

“ It sound complicated but it is not. You may choose to explain it to your brothers or I will.  It’s up to you.”

Betty was mulling that over when he added

“You Father’s goal was to continue to support the boy until he was an adult and have enough money in the account to pay for his education.  That is why he added extra money at Christmas and the boy’s birthday.

He decided to donate any balance when the boy, James was 21 or graduated in his chosen field to the Hospital who cared for him for his whole life,  so they may continue to help other children with birth defects.  But it is open to your decisions from this point on.

You see, William Porter was in the Navy with Phil and they were very good friends.  Phil was the Best man at their wedding back when they were in the Navy that was thirty or more years ago.

The couple had two teen age children who were also killed in the plane that crashed taking all of their lives except one, the one in the womb.”

Barbara was pregnant and that child was born in the Michigan Hospital, where Barbara was rushed when it was found that the unborn child was still alive.

Your father was very upset by the death of the family and flew to site of the crash to place a wreath and was at the hospital when the baby was born.

“Your Father never did visit again, once everything was set up.  He knew the boy’s parents and was very fond of both of them.  He met June when he visited the hospital, where he learned about the baby’s birth and the subsequent surgery to amputate his leg.  After I made the account for them, I was the only contact.  I was able to let Phil know how they were doing and that they were a good responsible little family.  That was all he needed until he knew it would end when he was gone and so the Insurance was paid in advance to see them to Jimmy’s adulthood.  Linda has since decided become a Nurse and may go on to be a Doctor as she has spent so much time in that hospital giving Jimmy the therapy he needs every time a new leg is made.  I guess that is the whole story… any questions?”

Betty had followed it all and now understood what her Dad wanted her to know.  She and Jason would talk about it and be in touch with Ralph soon.

But she did know that she wanted the money to pay for Linda to go to Medical school if that was what she wanted to do.

After discussing it, Betty and Jason came to the conclusion that Linda and Jimmy should come live with them until Linda graduated from Med School.  That way the two of them would be where they could help with Jimmy while she studied.

The Michigan Hospital  informed a California Hospital affiliate about little James Porter.  They would continue with his weekly measurements and his new legs would be sent to them for fitting.

His growth would eventually slow to a stop and a new leg would be required less often…  to not at all.

When Linda married or opened her own practice elsewhere it would be her choice, but she would continue as long as Jimmy lived with her.   Jimmy was beginning to talk about becoming a Doctor himself one day.  He wanted to specialize in Birth defects.

Betty happily did what she believed  her Father had meant to ask her to do.  It was the slowest ASAP on the planet but it was ASAP after all.

Having Jimmy and Linda as part of their lives was not in Phil’s or Ralph’s original  plan,  but it worked well for all of this California family.  Now Jimmy had two bigger brothers to chase after. And Andy and Johnny had a little brother to tease and teach.

Immediately after James became a Doctor, the balance of the Insurance money was donated to the Hospital that rescued the infant boy’s life and made him a happy normal kid.