The age of wonders

Ed Smith
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Read an interesting story yesterday.

Seems this Spanish lady of 90 years gave away somewhere between $3-8 billion of her total fortune. And why, you ask, being of a naturally inquisitive nature, would she do something like that? Well, let's look at the possibilities.

1. She's a great humanitarian who has donated the works to the starving people in East Africa.

2. She got tired of paying taxes and said to the Spanish government, "Here, take it all and leave me alone."

3. She bought the Spanish Riviera and gave it to the homeless as a place to live.

4. She said, "I'm 90 years old and want to try and atone for the terrors of the Spanish Inquisition so I'm giving it all to the Church". (Everyone in Spain is Catholic.)

5. She fell in love with a televangelist.

6.She gave it all away to test the love of her fiancé, 27 years younger than she.

Which of the above would you consider to be the most likely? No, this isn't one of my infamous contests. I'm going to tell you in a moment.

First, let give you a chance to guess and see how long it takes you to get it right.

I think #1 is viable. When you're that old you tend to do things that the rest of us, when we are kind, would call eccentric, and when we are not, totally idiotic. Not all people in that age group are like that, of course, just as there are people outside that age group who are. Talk to my children, or perhaps yours.

Isn't #2 something we've all wanted to do at one time or another? "Here, tax gatherers of the nation, take everything I have and I'll starve." No? Me neither. But this is a lady who has borne the heat and the burden of the day, don't forget, and it may be that the heat of the day has gotten to her.

#3 I think is a marvelous idea and those giddy, romantic Spaniards are just the type to do it. Imagine those dirty, filthy and unkempt hordes from the ghettos of Marseille and Paris and Lyon pouring into the luxurious digs of the rich and famous. Imagine the rich and famous retreating to the streets of the cities!

Someone with the technical know-how, like Michael Moore, could make a fortune documenting the takeover and the retreat. You'd have your $5 billion back in no time! Just possibly this lady thinks that can be done.

#4. Religion does wild and wonderful things to some people. But wanting to make up for the nightmare of the Inquisition is certainly a worthwhile thing, if eminently impractical. Many thousands were physically maimed and tortured to death because they wouldn't agree with the religious beliefs of their torturers. The Inquisition took place about 500 years ago so not much can be done about it now.

What this lady would be forgetting, if this indeed is how she dispensed of her fortune, is that it was the Catholic Church who conceived of and carried out the Inquisition. Perhaps she forgot; perhaps she didn't know; perhaps she didn't care. Come to think of it, the Pope is apologizing for all kinds of things these days.

When you're considering #5, you'd do well to remember the likes of Oral Roberts, Jimmy Swaggart and his cousin, Jim Bakker and his cousin's much made-up wife, Tammy Faye. I don't mean he invented her, I mean she was - you know very well what I mean. All of them, and many of their ilk, made absolute fortunes off the religious innocence of people the world over.

Some of these people, Swaggart is a good example, could talk a Newfoundlander out of a plate of fish and brewis. Can you imagine what they could do to an octogenarian plus 10? Not a little of that money left the pockets of gullible Newfoundlanders and probably Labradorians, although the latter generally have better sense. And no, I'm not forgetting Brother Gagnon of the Lewisporte Temple. Wish I could.

Which brings us to #6. Some of you are thinking, "Ah, he left this one for last because that's it!" Perhaps. Given their respective ages and the amount of money involved, do you really think that's possible?

Many years ago, Other Half was in Florida visiting her sister who was in hospital. In the bed next to her sister was an old lady who looked to be in her 90s at least and was obviously very ill. Every day a younger man would come to visit her and lavish great attention on her. It was obvious the two were very close. OH and her sister assumed the man was her son, but one day when they were talking to them both, he revealed he was her husband.

They had met when she was 40 and he was 20, he said, and had had a beautiful marriage all those years. So it happens. Amor vincit omnia - love conquers all (from The Canterbury Tales). Love is the greatest of these (from the Bible). Love will steal your husband (from The Young and the Restless).

So it happens. While I'm thinking of it, if any of you know of a great May-December romance, perhaps your own or your parents, I'd love to hear about it.

On that note, I have to confess that you're right. This venerable lady became engaged to a man 27 years younger than she is at the age of 90. Her children pretty well hit the ceiling and in said, "Mom, you're crazy! He's only interested in your billions!"

She's so sure they're wrong, that she's given away the whole kit and kaboodle. That story just broke so I'm not sure what's happened in the meantime.

My guess is that buddy is hiding out with the Sherpas in Tibet.



Organizations: Catholic Church

Geographic location: East Africa.2, Spain, Marseille Paris Lyon Florida Canterbury

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