There Are No Shops in the Cemetery

by DavalosMcCormack on January 31, 2008

Yesterday we posed the question “Can money buy happiness?” Well, it didn’t take long to get the answer, and it came from an unlikely source, a former hospital porter in England who had just won almost $40 million in the UK National Lottery.

Stephen Smith said he would give up all his winnings, in return for good health. Smith, who is 58, is at risk of an aortic aneurism, meaning one of the blood vessels feeding his heart could burst at any time, giving him only a one in ten chance of surviving.

“It’s a ticking time bomb inside me” Smith says. He said he would happily swap all his money just to be able to live a long life, in his one-bedroom flat in a housing project, with his wife, Ida. “It’s her [Ida] I worry for, it’s leaving her behind. I would give all that back if I am allowed to still be with her.”

Most of us would love to have that kind of money. But I’m guessing none of us would want his health problems or the fears that come along with them. It’s poignant to note that Stephen Smith would gladly give up what most of us want, to have what most of us already have.

Stories like this are a reminder that we rarely appreciate the blessings we have, until they’re gone. They’re a reminder that we need to spend more time being grateful for those we love, for the things that make life worth living.

Smith also suffers from arthritis and severe back pain, but it’s the threat of death that hangs most heavily over him. “There’s no shops in the cemetery, is there? I can’t spend any of the money there, I want to spend it with Ida. I want to spend my life with her too. I want to see my grandchildren spend their pensions.”

We may never win the lottery, but there are things we can do right now to improve our health, and reduce the risk of dying before we’ve had a chance to see our children or grandchildren grow up. What are we waiting for?

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