A dying man tells his wife he has left her a special gift in a painting he’d given her and leads her to an unexpected discovery.
Amanda and Steve Ferris had been married for 50 years, and she would have sworn that she knew everything there was to know about the man she considered her soul mate.
Amanda had fallen in love with Steve at first sight, and he’d swept her off her feet. Just three months after their first meeting they were exchanging their vows and Amanda never regretted her decision. It was only on his deathbed that she realized her husband was a mystery.
Amanda and Steve had lived together happily for 48 years and shared three children and several grandchildren when their idyll was interrupted by a dire diagnosis: Steve had an inoperable tumor.
All they could do was attempt some experimental treatments and pray. Over the next two years, Steve and Amanda fought the terrible enemy that was destroying Steve’s health but to no avail.
Finally, the doctors told them that the end was near, and advised Steve to set his affairs in order and say his goodbyes. Amanda phoned their children who all came to see their father, and Steve had many tender final words for them all.
Then Steve asked to see Amanda alone. “Mandy,” he whispered. “Do you remember that painting I gave you of Puget Sound?”
Amanda smiled through her tears. “The one you painted of that little inn where we spent our honeymoon?” she asked.
Steve smiled. “Yes…That one. Well, Mandy, when I’m gone I want you to look behind the frame…Promise me, you’ll look…”
Don’t leave anything unsaid, or unshared, tomorrow might be too late.
“Oh honey,” Amanda said gently. “I’ll do whatever you want.”
Steve became very agitated. “Please, Mandy, there’s so much you don’t know about me, I hid things away and now it’s too late…” Amanda comforted Steve as best she could, and a little while later he died in her arms.
Over the next few days, Amanda was completely caught up in the complicated business of laying a loved one to rest, comforting her family, and grieving for Steve.
She didn’t think about the painting again, not for months. In fact, she only remembered her promise when she was packing up her house. She had decided to move to Florida to be closer to her youngest daughter, Erin.
Erin had recently given birth to twins, and Amanda felt that she needed all the help she could get. So she sold her house and hoped she could buy a modest little bungalow close to Erin.
Her two oldest children were settled in California, and their own children were almost grown. In Florida, Amanda would be needed and useful. So she started packing away 50 years of memories and among them was a painting of Puget Sound.
Amanda looked at it, and remembered Steve’s odd request: “Look behind the frame.” She turned the painting around and didn’t see anything except the frame’s brown paper backing.
She shook her head. “My poor Steve…” she murmured. “He was dreaming…” But as she set the frame down, a corner of the brown paper tore, and Amanda saw something underneath.
With trembling hands, she tore off the brown paper exposing the back of the painting. Taped to the canvas was a thick envelope. Amanda opened it and found a card with the address of a bank, a deposit box number, and a key taped to it.
“What on earth is this?” she gasped. Then she saw that there was a letter in the envelope addressed to her.
“My dearest Amanda,” Steve had written. “We have just come back from the doctor and he gave us the terrible news. I think it’s time I told you something about me that I confess I’ve hidden away.
“When I was a young man, long before I met you, I was married. She was a liar and a gold digger and the only reason she married me was that she expected me to inherit a lot of money.
“I divorced her, but from then on I found myself doubting people’s motives. It shames me to admit that I doubted yours, so when I came into a considerable inheritance, I hid it from you.
“My love, you don’t know how much I regret it, especially when I think of all that we could have enjoyed together. Forgive me, Mandy, and share our windfall with our children.”
Amanda drove to the bank and asked to see the deposit box which the manager told her hadn’t been opened in 50 years. When she opened the box she was stunned to see that it was filled to the brim with dollar bills!
The bank manager helped Amanda count the money and it came to over $3,000,000! With the money, Amanda helped her children and started a foundation in Steve’s name to help find a cure for his disease.
She was saddened that Steve had been so hurt that he hadn’t trusted her enough in life to share his secret with her, and vowed to honor his memory forever.
What can we learn from this story?
Trust is the foundation of every relationship. Steve knew that Amanda loved him but he was insecure and afraid she’d only want him for his money.
Share your heart and your truth with your loved ones while you can. Don’t leave anything unsaid, or unshared, tomorrow might be too late.