“Our Treasure of Honesty,” Ensign, Feb. 1995, 65–66
One Saturday, I decided to clean the basement of the house I was renting. I’d been putting off the job for months. Little did I expect the simple task to test my integrity and in the end prove a great blessing.
The space under the basement stairs was cluttered with debris and choked with the dust of many years. Because the space was small, I asked my six-year-old son to crawl in and hand things to me. Out came a succession of old pans, flowerpots, and washboards.
When Michael handed me a burlap sack that jingled a little, I thought it contained nails. But when I peered in, I saw bundles of old greeting cards tied together with string. I opened the first card—a birthday card—and was amazed when three silver certificates fell out. Nearly every card contained money: bills in denominations from one to twenty dollars and silver coins dating back to 1890. Some of the coins jingled loose in the bottom of the bag.
Upstairs, I called my six children together to announce that Michael and I had discovered a treasure in the basement. We spent two hours reading the cards and sorting the bills and coins, the face value of which exceeded three hundred dollars. Later, we went to the library and found out that the coins alone were worth several hundred dollars.
My landlord had told me the history of the house when we moved in. The original owner’s wife had died early and left two daughters, who my landlord thought still lived in the area. Judging by the dates on the cards, I knew they belonged to that first family.
What should I do? I pictured a mother tucking away money and keepsakes for her daughters over the years and then being overtaken by illness and forgetting about them. I imagined meeting her one day. How could I tell her I’d taken her daughters’ legacy?
Then I considered my six children. We were struggling financially and receiving assistance. Would we be blamed if we kept the money? What would my children think of my example?
After two days of prayers and tears, I called my bishop and asked for his help in tracing the names that appeared on the cards. He found the two daughters and relayed the message that I’d discovered something quite valuable in their old home.
When one of the daughters came over, she expressed amazement that nobody had ever cleaned under the stairs and found the treasure. She was even more surprised that I had tracked her down instead of just keeping the money. She took the cards, the antique washboards, and a few of the coins. Saying that she felt we were meant to find this money, she left us several hundred dollars worth of currency and coins.
I was able to catch up on some bills and buy some items that my family needed. More important, I was able to add to my children’s legacy of honesty.