Today is a particularly depressing news day:
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s autopsy report will be released.
A Justin Bieber sex tape is being shopped.
The stock market is coming off its worst day in seven months.
More Healthcare.gov glitches are being reported.
But sometimes you find a diamond in the dirt. This morning, amid all this bad news, we get a heartwarming story about Margaret Southern, a retired teacher who worked with special-needs kids. She was, by all accounts, a quiet person who drove an old car, lived in a modest home, and loved working with children. Her social life consisted mostly of going out to eat occasionally with friends.
Ms. Southern is in the news today because she died last year at the age of 94. It has just been revealed that she left 8.4 million dollars to charity. No one knew it, but she developed a keen interest in investing back in the 1980’s. Quietly, secretly, she’d been amassing quite a fortune. But not so she could spend it on herself. Apparently, her plan all along was to give it away.*
Day after day, we see headlines chronicling the greed, selfishness, and utter foolishness of people who are blessed with mountains of talent and almost limitless resources. It’s encouraging to know that there are people of a different stripe on the other end of the teeter-totter. Where would we be without the Margaret Southerns of this world?
We all should think about how we’re living our lives, what we’re accumulating, and what we’re going to leave behind.
Speaking only for myself…when my life ends, I don’t want people to be sorry I died as much as I want them to be happy I lived. I want them to see some lasting value in my life…some good in the world that may not have been there otherwise.
Thank you, Margaret Southern, for giving us a ray of sunshine on a morning when dark clouds are swirling.
*Reported by Eleanor Goldberg, 1.31.14