A young man learns what's most important in life from the guy next door.
It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the
way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams. There, in the rush of his
busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son.
He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.
Over the phone, his mother told him, "Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday."
Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood
"Jack, did you hear me?"
"Oh sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It's been so long since I thought of him. I'm sorry, but I honestly
thought he died years ago," Jack said.
"Well, he didn't forget you. Every time I saw him he'd ask how you were doing. He'd reminisce about
the many days you spent over 'his side of the fence' as he put it," Mom told him.
"I loved that old house he lived in," Jack said.
"You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man's influence
in your life," she said.
"He's the one who taught me carpentry," he said. "I wouldn't be in this business if it weren't for him. He
spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important...Mom, I'll be there for the funeral,"
Jack said. As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr.
Belser's funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives
had passed away. The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the
old house next door one more time. Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like
crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he
remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture....Jack stopped
"What's wrong, Jack?" his Mom asked.
"The box is gone," he said.
"What box?" Mom asked.
"There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk. I must have asked him a thousand
times what was inside. All he'd ever tell me was the thing I value most," Jack said. It was gone.
Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box. He figured
someone from the Belser family had taken it.
"Now I'll never know what was so valuable to him," Jack said. "I better get some sleep. I have an early
flight home, Mom."
It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day Jack
discovered a note in his mailbox. "Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by
the main post office within the next three days," the note read.
Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been
mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his
attention. "Mr. Harold Belser" it read.
Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an
envelope. Jack's hands shook as he read the note inside. "Upon my death, please forward this box
and its contents to Jack Bennett. It's the thing I valued most in my life."
A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes,! Jack carefully unlocked
the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch. Running his fingers slowly over the finely
etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved: "Jack, Thanks for your
time! Harold Belser."
"The thing he valued most...was...my time."
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