A deceased woman’s lawyer explains to her granddaughters that whoever adopts the cat will get their grandmother’s belongings.
I loved my grandmother even though she could be a difficult woman, and after my mother passed away, she was all I had. I guess I understood her, her sour disposition, and her anger.
She had lost her three children and her husband, and all she had left was me and my cousin, Vera. I guess I could have been more attentive but I was in college 600 miles away, and rarely made it back to New York.
Vera lived close by, but she never got along with my grandmother. Her father had been gran’s favorite, but Vera apparently didn’t live up to her expectations. The truth is, gran had a sharp tongue, and she didn’t spare Vera.
Even when we were kids and our parents were still alive, Vera hated going to gran’s house, hated that dark brownstone stuffed with dreary furniture and hung with heavy curtains that never seemed to let in any light.
I didn’t mind so much, and my mom explained to me that gran was very lonely, and that unhappy people are sometimes crotchety because they are in pain. I never forgot that. And I never forgot her tenderness towards her old cat.
He seemed to be the only creature she loved. Her gnarled old hands deformed by arthritis were always gentle on his fur, and he seemed to be equally devoted to her.
Then Vera’s dad died of cancer, and two years later, my mom passed away from a heart attack and it felt like our whole family was cursed, and at the center of the curse was gran, like a witch with her cat.
So I suppose when she died, I wasn’t overcome with grief. I felt saddened, yes, she was the last tie I had to my beloved mother, but it was hard to feel a connection with a woman who had pushed me away all my life.
Greed is a poor counselor and will lead the avaricious astray.
“Well,” Vera said laughing, “You can have it all and you’re welcome, Daphne! That beastly animal will probably live another 15 years!”
I looked at the lawyer and remembered my grandmother’s gentle hands stroking the cat’s fur. “I’ll do it,” I said quietly, “My mother would have, and so will I.”
The lawyer silently handed me the agreement and I signed it while Vera laughed. “That old woman got her claws into you! You’ll be spending a fortune to keep that cat, and for what? A handful of knickknacks?”
The lawyer smiled at her. “There’s a little more to Mrs. Preston’s estate than a few knickknacks. Apart from the brownstone, the jewelry, and the furniture, Miss. Daphne will be receiving around $3.5 million after taxes.”
Vera gasped. “WHAT? I thought the brownstone was rented…And the money…I had no idea…”
“Well, Miss Vera,” said the lawyer calmly, “Mrs. Preston wasn’t a woman to brag about what she had or didn’t have or to speak about her finances to anyone, but she was a wealthy woman.”
Wealthy!” gasped Vera. “If I had known…”
“Yes well,” said the lawyer with a smile that might have been mistaken for a smirk. “As I said, the liquid assets are worth around, $3.5 million, but I believe the house, art, and jewelry will more than double that. Miss Daphne will be a rich woman.”
“But if I had known, I would have taken the damn cat!” Vera screeched.
And your grandmother knew that,” the lawyer said calmly. “Which is why she directed me to withhold the information until after a decision was reached. She wanted whoever accepted her charge to do so out of love, not greed.”
“So she gets everything and I get nothing!” screamed Vera. “It’s not fair!”
“It’s very fair,” the lawyer said. “Miss Daphne’s decision to take on what she believed was a burden was based on her love for her mother and her respect for her grandmother, so it’s only fair that she be rewarded for her good heart.”
And that was how I suddenly found myself the owner of a brownstone, more money than I knew what to do with, and a sweet-natured, lovely calico cat called Muffin who turned out to be the best part of the deal.
What can we learn from this story?
1. Greed is a poor counselor and will lead the avaricious astray.
2. Kindness and a good heart are always rewarded.