Can’t Buy Me Love

An editorial
by Chris Hibbard
(riginally written for http://www.lethbridgeliving.com, Dec.2010)

Can’t Buy Me Love

Can't Buy Me Love

Sometimes you come across a news story that is different from all the rest. Most of our major media sources all describe the same things: celebrity gossip, political mudslinging, health care and big business, crime and punishment. Which is why when I read the following story, it was akin to taking a deep breath of fresh air.

* * *

Allen and Violet Large live in Lower Truro, a small town in Colchester County, Nova Scotia. He was originally from the small town of Malagash, while she was raised in the town of Economy. After spending 30 years in Ontario where Allen was a steel worker, the couple retired to Lower Truro in 1983.

Allen is a retired steel welder, 75, while Violet, 78, worked for many years with confectionary and cosmetic products. Married for over 35 years, Allen and Violet have been quietly living off their savings and retirement pension packages. Together, they share a comfortable life in a large old house, with one car and many friends and family. Earlier this year, Violet was diagnosed with a deadly form of cancer; and was undergoing intensive chemotherapy treatments.

In July, this elderly couple bought a lottery ticket for the 6/49 draw. They purchased lotto tickets twice a week, even though the most they had ever won was $1000, back in the 1980’s. Therefore, it was a usual morning in the couple’s life, when Violet called the local Lottoland to check the winning numbers. After successfully matching the first three numbers, Violet proudly boasted to her husband that they had won ten dollars. As she continued to check the numbers however, she realized they had won much, much more.
According to an interview in the Truro Daily News, Violet next contacted her brothers Elson and Willis, asking them to pick up a print copy of the winning numbers for further verification, and to check the local newspapers as well. “We nearly had a fit,” Violet said, when everything continued to check out. “We checked those numbers 50,000 times.” However, the numbers were true. The Larges’ had won eleven million dollars.

At first, the couple never informed anyone else in the community. Their reluctance to speak up about it started a guessing game in the community as to who the mysterious winners were. Finally, they came forward to claim their prize. Since then, their telephone has been ringing incessantly – from warm wishers and investment advisors, to media personalities and types that are more unscrupulous. Moreover, here is where the story gets really interesting – because now, every single penny of their winnings is gone.

“We were pretty well set before,” said Allen, about the couple’s financial status before their July win, “not millionaires by any means, but we were comfortable.” He was quoted as saying that the new influx of money was a headache more than anything – meaning they had to drive around a lot, dealing with bankers, government agencies and more. “A lot of people let [it] go right to their heads,” he said, “and they buy this and they buy that and they’re broke before they know it.” This elderly couple would not follow that path. They decided that at their age, they had friends, family, a house, and each other. They didn’t need anything else. The Large’s kept a small percentage for their own future; spread some money around their family members and then delivered the remaining millions by cheques, sent to two full pages’ worth of charitable organizations. These included local fire departments, cemeteries, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and larger national organizations that fight cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. They gave other portions of their winnings to churches, health care and animal protection groups and the hospitals in Truro and Halifax where Violet had been undergoing her cancer treatments.

Now, several months later, the $11,255,272.70 in prize money the Large’s won, is gone. “We didn’t do it to get recognized,” Ms. Large said in an interview. “We’re not travellers and we’re not high-class people. We live in an old house, but we’re comfortable. So why spend money when you already have everything you need?”
In another interview she mentioned, “what you’ve never had, you never miss.” For his part, Allen Large has said that this year it’s been very hard to watch the woman he married 36 years ago go through so much. “All the money in the world can’t buy your health,” he said.

Allen & Violet Large (photo by CTV)

* * *

This story caught me off guard on a particularly bad morning. It startled me and made me feel happy and guilty at the same time. It made me dream about what I would do $11,000,000 dollars. It made me wonder about what it would be like to be so happy with my life that I would never want to change it. It made me think about the things I already own and the other people around the world that could have used that money more wisely. It made me second guess Christmas, and shopping and presents; things that seem so normal. Most importantly, it made me write this column to relate their story to more people, and I have to hope that’s worth something.

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~ by Chris Hibbard on November 12, 2010.

One Response to “Can’t Buy Me Love”

  1. Wow!, this was a top quality post. In explanation I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I keep putting it off and never seem to get something done

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