Dad was shaking his head repeatedly muttering ‘Crazy old fool’. Mum was clutching dad’s hand, dumbfounded. Somehow I knew they were talking about Uncle Scrooge.
Obviously that wasn’t his real name, but he was such a miser that we kids had christened him thus. Scrooge was mum’s widower uncle who lived all alone. Which was a given. I doubt anyone could have survived his acerbic tongue. In fact, we strongly suspected Mrs Scrooge had passed on out of sheer frustration. Yet for some inexplicable reason (to show us how good we actually had it?) mum had decided that he needed to celebrate every holiday with us.
I don’t know if tightwad Scrooge was actually poor. He often extolled about how he didn’t squander money even though he was ‘rich’ unlike dad who had absolutely ‘no value for money’. Yet old gasbag lived like it was his sacred duty to preserve every dollar ever printed. He never spent a buck unless he absolutely had to, and never spent more than a penny even when he had to. We often wondered why he carried a wallet when we had not seen him use it even once.
On Christmas the kids got (what were allegedly) toys made of recycled waste, dad got free investment and budgeting advice ‘worth a million bucks’ while mum got a kiss and a stack of ‘all the best coupons that he had collected just for her’. But to be fair to the old devil, he was unbiased in his miserliness. I don’t recall seeing him in anything but his old blue jacket. When it developed a tear, mum offered to take him shopping for a new one, which launched another one of his lectures on how ‘kids nowadays have no value for money’. Mum was forced to darn that one and it continued to grace many more Christmas dinners.
Gradually the stress of constantly scrounging took its toll on old Scrooge and one fine day his doctor announced that he needed a pacemaker. ‘Doctors nowadays, no ethics, it’s all a money making racket. I asked him if he could give me a guarantee that I would be 100% healthy for the next ten years, but he wouldn’t. I’m supposed to trust him with all my hard earned money and he won’t even give me a guarantee. Humph! My father lived till the grand old age of 92, and his father before him lived to be 95. This old ticker isn’t stopping any time soon.’
There was no changing his stubborn mind.
But the old ticker didn’t last that long. The funeral was a small and simple affair, befitting of Scrooge. He was buried dressed in his beloved darned old blue jacket.
Which brings me back to today, and Scrooge’s bank book that mum had found while cleaning out his closet, with its six digit balance. The crazy old fool who had lived like a pauper, was in fact very rich. In fact, he was probably the richest bones in the cemetery!