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True wealth doesn’t come from money

POSTED: March 6, 2008 5:00 a.m.

I have my doubts as to whether I’ll ever have a big bank account.

I chose the world of journalism, where the likelihood of one "hitting the jackpot" is relatively slim.

I’m like most folks — I do what I can and get by pretty well.

There are dozens of books out there on how to accumulate wealth. On top of that there are all kinds of gurus on television who can tell you how to make money in real estate or the stock market.

Actually, they tell you up to a point. Then, you have to send them $19.95 for the book or DVD that tells you the rest of the details. I’ve never sent them money, but something tells me the way you make money is by going on television and selling a book or DVD.

It’s been a rather challenging month for me. In January, I said goodbye to my only sibling, a brother who I loved dearly.

I miss him at odd moments.

My sister-in-law called the other day. She was stuck in Atlanta traffic and wanted to know a detour. I was flattered that she called me and I got her around the tie-up.

At the end of the call, she said, "Do you know how much I miss Dixon right now?"

I said yes, but it was the first time I really had to pinch hit for him. It made me miss him even more.

Things were going along pretty well this week when my phone rang. On the other end was my wife, who was hysterical. I understood enough to know our house was on fire.

We have a house that is 102 years old. It has lots of old timbers and when it caught on fire, it was a spectacular fire.

Spectacular would have been the reporter term I would have used. When it is your house, the word is devastating.

It is particularly hard on my wife. The home was built in 1906 by her relatives and it was the place where she grew up. It was a house filled with memories.

I have told you all of this, not that you’ll be sad. In fact, there is a silver lining to all of this.

First, we’re OK and whatever happens, we’ll be OK.

Secondly, I have never before felt the collective, strong embrace of a community.

When my brother died, I received dozens upon dozens of cards, notes and e-mails. It seemed I couldn’t move without a touch from those I know and from many others whose friendship is only through a newspaper column.

After the story of the house was in our paper, friends offered places to stay, money and — most of all — their encouragement and support. We are blessed.

You really don’t know the value of friendship until your ox is in the ditch. I was beginning to think my ox was out of the ditch, and then that rascal ran back and lay down.

I’m not sure if I was tossed a lasso or a life preserver, but I have seen so many wonderful people holding on to the other end of the rope and pulling us in the right direction. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I may not have the biggest bank account, but in the measure of friends, I’m the richest man in town.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays.



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