Charity should begin at home, but should not stay there. ~ Philip Brooks
You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. ~ Anonymous
A good laugh is sunshine in the house. ~ William Makepeace Thackeray
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Two brothers were called home upon the passing of their father. Neither had been home in many years. The day after laying their father to rest, they were called upon to attend the reading of the will. The executor of the will informed them that, being the last two living relatives, their father did his best to split his estate equally. However, the closest he could come to evenly splitting his estate was sixty percent to forty percent. The older brother would have first choice as to which part he wanted, leaving the younger brother with the remainder of the estate.
Both brothers agreed that this was fair, and so the two options of choice were presented to the older brother. The first option was the family owned lands and all of the assets and treasures existing on those lands. “Treasures?” the older brother queried. The executor handed him an envelope. In it was a well worn map of the family lands. Several x markings were placed on the map with a handwritten notation at the bottom of the map indicating that the x’s marked treasures. Over whelmed with excitement, he asked the executor what the second option was. The executor replied, “Several hundred thousand dollars in trust.”
The older brother couldn’t help but conclude that if his father had accumulated several hundred thousand dollars in cash, that there must be even more value in the treasures of the family lands. But uncertainty made him want to see it for himself. He asked his younger brother if it would be ok to inspect the family lands before making a decision. His younger brother gave approval and even offered to go along with him.
First, they visited the old farm house. It was the first x marked on the map. Upon opening the front door, it fell off of its hinges. The paint was peeling and many a repair was needed. While the older brother went through cupboards and drawers, the younger one looked around as well. There was the old fireplace that they warmed themselves beside on so many cold nights. He blew the dust off of the top of the large kitchen table that their family had gathered around for many meals. His nostalgic thoughts were broken when his brother announced, “There’s nothing here. Let’s go to the next ‘x’ on the map.”
The next ‘x’ took them to the old barn. The older brother started looking around and kicking at loose floor boards, searching for any sign of hidden treasure. The younger brother just stood in the middle, looking up at the loft that he had so many times jumped from into a pile of straw. He remembered the name of every horse that occupied each stall. Again, his older brother ordered that they should move on.
Next was the top of a hill that overlooked the family lands. While the older brother searched for signs of treasure, the younger one reminisced about the days they would picnic atop this very hill and the many evenings that they would lay back and gaze at the stars. It was on a star filled night atop this hill that he had his first kiss with his high school sweetheart, whom eventually became his wife. With still no treasure found, the older brother urged his younger sibling to move along.
The next stop was a pond. While the older brother franticly looked behind rocks and trees, the younger gazed over the pond and thought back to the days when they would catch frogs and feed ducks. He remembered catching small catfish and then throwing them back so that they could catch them again.
Several more ‘x’s on the map were visited, and with each one, came disappointment for the older brother. The younger brother was not surprised when his older sibling told him that he would take the trust and leave him with the old family lands.
To this day, both brothers believe they got the bigger half of their father’s estate. The older brother, saw very little value in the old family lands and never did figure out why his father would leave behind a treasure map when there was no treasure to be had. However, the younger brother knows why ‘x’s were marked in those spots on the map. Although the younger brother never received any money, he knows that the family lands hold many treasures. Treasures in the form of memories. Memories of family, youth, fun, and love. And true treasures such as memories are... priceless.