I pushed my way into the house with my arms full of groceries and shoved the door shut behind me with my foot. I dropped the bags in a heap and prepared to brave the cold for the next load, but the note on the fridge caught my eye. It was scribbled in my mother’s handwriting and read, “A letter came for you today, it’s from some attorney’s office. You better check what it’s about. Start supper- I’ll be home soon. -Love, Mom.” I threw the note in the trash and sorted through the mail scattered across the counter. There it was, the letter. It was addressed to me, and the return address stated in business-type font that it was from The Office of Bashter, Rowledy, and Samswa Attorneys At Law in San Francisco, California. Curiosity got the best of me, and I tore open the envelope. I pulled out the sheets inside and started to glance over them. Phrases caught my eye, “Your uncle has passed away”, “You are the legal heir to his inheritance”, “Please come to California immediately”. I sank unto a chair and reread everything hoping for a little clue into this mystery.
“Hi, honey, I’m home,” Mom said as she came walking through the door. I did not hear her until she repeated it once more. “Why’s supper not ready?” she then asked. I did not say anything, only handed her the letter. I watched her eyes scan over the letter. She covered her mouth in shock as she turned pale. “Oh my!” was all she would repeat over and over to herself.
“Well?” I asked impatiently. “What’s this all about? I never knew that I had an uncle on your side of the family. You always told me that you were an only child.”
She fumbled a bit with the zipper on her jacket before answering, “Well, that’s what I tried to always believe and make you believe.” I raised my eyebrows. She continued, “I actually grew up in San Francisco with my parents and older brother, Timothy. When Dad and Mom died in the crash, Timothy was all that I had left. He looked after me and made sure that I got through college. He had big dreams of a brother/sister reporting team. You know, the kind that travel the world collecting stories and writing first-hand about events. Well, that was his dream, not mine. I just wanted to get married and raise a family; so when I met your father and moved away, Timothy said that he would never speak to me again. I guess I disappointed him pretty badly. I tried many times since then to contact him; each year I sent him a Christmas card and family picture, but I never heard back. I didn’t know what happened to him and what he ever did with his life; so this is just as much of a surprise to me as it is to you.” Mom stopped to catch a breath after hurrying through the past years of history.
I stepped off the plane into California. I had only dreamed of visiting this place, but now here I was with all expenses paid. I took the taxi to the Bashter, Rowledy, and Samswa Attorneys At Law office. To say that I was intimidated by the huge skyscraper before me would be an understatement. I walked in, feeling a bit out of place in my plaid shirt and jean skirt. I must have looked like a cowgirl to those black-clad suited attorneys. A secretary briskly led me to a room where a man was already seated at a long mahogany table. He stood to his feet as the secretary pulled a chair back and seated me across from him. Once we were seated, he cleared his throat and began, “I’m sure you know why you are here, Miss Trago.”
I timidly replied, “Actually, I really am not quite sure what all is happening. I never even met my uncle.”
The lawyer never blinked an eye, “That may be true, but he seemed to know you quite well. He was very vehement that you be the heir.”
“Heir? Of what? And how did he know me?” I blurted one question after another.
I thought I detected a slight sigh, “Your uncle, Timothy Card, was a very wealthy man. Very eccentric, but very wealthy. You’re looking at a multi-million dollar property, quite a few investments, and a special nest egg that will keep you warm and happy for a very long time.”
I sank backwards. It was strange, but I could have guaranteed that the room was spinning. I clasped my hands on the table before me trying to find some bodily proof that I was actually here and not only dreaming. I shook my head trying to clear the confusion. I was only an average American young adult. My car was on a loan, and my paycheck was pretty much used up by the end of the month with the bills of life. Money was something that I had not had much of a chance to build a relationship with. “Why me?” I squeaked out.
He pulled out a file, “Mr. Timothy Card was quite proud of you, his niece. It seems that he kept each Christmas card and family picture that your mother sent. He learned to know you and your personality through those annual letters, plus it seems that he was a follower of your blog, “writingandstuff”. He walked over and placed an envelope before me, “This was requested to be given you. It contains a personal letter from the deceased.” I picked up the envelope and stuck it into my purse so I could read it later in the privacy of my hotel room. “There is however one condition that must be met before you can obtain rights to the inheritance,” the lawyer said as he shuffled some more papers.
“Yes?” I nearly exploded from having to wait for each detail to come forth in its own slow agonizing way.
“You need to write a biography on the life of Mr. Timothy Card before assets will be available to you.”
He said it so nonchalantly, as if this was an everyday occurrence. I scratched my head, “What?”
This time, he seemed to have lost all patience, and I noticed a slight eyeroll. “I repeat, you need to write a biography on the life of Mr. Timothy Card before assets will be available to you.”
“I heard you the first time, but I don’t quite get it. I’m not a writer. I mean, I wouldn’t even know how to go about publishing a book,” I waved my hands emphatically.
I curled up under the downy comforter and pulled forth the letter from my uncle.
You don’t know me, but that’s okay. I have chosen you for a special gift. You probably are wondering why I have done this. I could have probably found someone else, even if I am an old bachelor; but I know you are the right one. I have read your blog and seen your passion. You are a writer; you see with your heart and then put those feelings unto paper. I always thought your mother would continue my dream, but she had dreams of her own. I ask you to write my biography because I want you to have to retrace my footsteps. I want you to read my articles, see the hurt in this world, and do something about it. You are the key to telling the world what is going on out there. You need to be the first one capturing the agony after an earthquake, the hopelessness after genocide, and the desperation during a famine so that you can tell others and bring help to those that can’t help themselves because of the impossible situation that they are within. Yes, I’m an eccentric old man; but that’s because I have spent my entire life fulfilling Jesus’ command of loving and helping and serving. That’s what I want for you, my dear niece. Yes, you will receive a great monetary reward from me when you complete this; but I know you will find an even greater treasure that money can’t begin to buy. Blessings for your Journey, Mr. Timothy Card.”
I folded the letter back up and held it to my heart. I was about to embark on the voyage of a lifetime, and I knew that I would never be the same again.