A poor old cleaner at the air museum section of a huge airport is stunned when he finds a bag hidden inside an old plane that had not flown in thirty years.
Jacob Delaney had been a soldier once, but now he was a cleaner at the airport. It wasn't a bad job. There was a certain satisfaction in a job well-done that was very satisfying.
Of all of Jacob's duties, his favorite was the maintenance of the few old grounded airplanes from the 40s, 50s, and 60s that made up the airport's tiny Air Museum. The best part was the visits by the local schools, which Jacob often assisted.
Jacob was stunned when he found the bag in the old plane. | Source: Shutterstock.com
Jacob's superior had warned him that some children from a local school would be visiting the old planes, so he decided to start working on them a few days early. This would be the first visit since winter, and a lot of dust had accumulated inside the planes.
Jacob didn't mind the extra work. He had a lot of spare time -- he had no family and had never wanted one. First, he tackled an old big-bellied C-47 troop transporter from WWII.
"Hello, old girl!" Jacob said, patting the plane's heavy metal structure. "We'll soon have you spic and span!"
Let love into your life, take a chance on people, and you might just discover that happiness is within reach.
Next was an old Spitfire that had fought in the Battle of Britain back in 1940. This particular plane had been flown in a daring mission by a volunteer American pilot, and in his honor, the RAF had gifted the plane to his hometown.
There was even a stutter of bullet holes across one wing, and all the boys begged to be allowed to sit in the cockpit... Yes, Jacob thought, this little Air Museum was a treasure, and no one appreciated it more than the children.
Jacob Delaney worked at the airport as a cleaner. | Source: Unsplash
Jacob's last stop was always the Boeing 707 that had ferried countless numbers across the Atlantic back in the 60s and 70s. The poor dear hadn't held up as well as the other planes.
Inside, the plane was half gutted by vandals, and dirty. Jacob sighed and started setting it to rights, dusting and sweeping the narrow aisles between the old-fashioned passenger seats.
While he was trying to sweep under one of the seats, the tip of his broom hit one of the overhead compartments. To Jacob's annoyance, it sprang open and a heavy bundle of dust and leather fell in his head.
Jacob sneezed and looked down at the object at his feet. At first, he thought it was trash. "What on earth..." he cried. Then he crouched down and worked the heavy clasps of an antique flight bag open.
Inside there were bundles of what looked like newspaper, but once Jacob tore it open, he was stunned to see it was cash! Every bundle was a thick wad of $20 or $10 bills. There must be thousands in the bag!
At first, Jacob thought the bag might belong to some criminals who had been using the old plane as a hideout, but then he noticed that the earliest dates on the bills were from the thirties, and most were from the forties.
Jacob kept the planes at the airport's Air Museum spic and span. | Source: Unsplash
At the bottom of the bag, he found a sealed brown envelope and a captain's cap. Excited, Jacob tore the envelope open and pulled out a note.
It read: "I've spent my whole life up in the air. First I fought in Vietnam, then I flew people to their destinations. Sadly, I never found a better destiny than flying. Because of it, I have been a lonely man.
"I have no family, no one will miss me when I'm gone -- and all the money and property I accumulated will benefit no one. The doctors have told me that the blurring of my vision that I thought would ground me is something much worse than the advance of middle age.
"I have a tumor in my brain and as it grows it will rob me of myself, so before that happens, I want to set my affairs in order. I want whoever finds this bag to use that money to live -- really live.
"If you are reading this, don't make the mistake I made. Let love into your life, take a chance on people. Put this money to good use. Help others achieve their dreams.
"As for me, there are blue skies above and angels flying in to escort me home.
The bag Jacob found was filled with money. | Source: Unsplash
"This is Captain John Merton, Over and Out."
Jacob put down the note and found that his eyes were filled with tears. He picked up the cap reverently. He was determined to do something to foster Captain Merton's legacy. He didn't know what just yet, but he would.
Jacob finished cleaning the old Boeing 707 reverently, and when he left, he took the old flight bag home. To his surprise, the bag held over $200,000 in cash -- but he knew that some of the bills were so old -- most were from the 40s -- that they were collector's items. Captain Merton's $200,000 could be worth a lot more -- maybe as much as 10 times more.
Jacob went to bed that night with his head spinning. What to do with the money? Mostly, a phrase from Merton's letter played over and over in his mind: "Don't make the mistake I made. Let love into your life, take a chance on people."
Maybe you don't believe in Karma, serendipity, or synchronicity, but the next day brought Kevin Brux into Jacob's life.
Kevin was part of the group of fifth-graders who were there to tour the Air Museum. Jacob noticed Kevin because he looked so alone in the middle of the noisy, boisterous group of students.
Jacob was moved by Captain Merton's letter. | Source: Unsplash
He was also the one who was paying attention to the pilot showing them around, explaining the history of each airplane. The other kids noticed Kevin's fascination.
"Hey, four-eyes," cried one of the boys. "It's no use you thinking about it. You will never be a pilot, not with those thick glasses!" Kevin hunched his shoulders and tears filled his eyes.
The pilot heard the bully's slash and responded: "You may need 20/20 vision to fly an airplane, but to get people off the ground, to develop new technology to let us fly faster, you need a great brain. I'll bet you have a great brain!
"I'll bet you are the best at science and math!" Jacob cut in. The boy nodded shyly and Jacob added, "If you want you can create the next generation of planes -- maybe even craft to take us to Mars!"
Kevin's teacher threw Jacob and the pilot a thankful glance but one of the boys sneered. "He can't afford to go to college! His grandma is POOR!"
That was when Jacob knew what the money was for! He asked the teacher for Kevin's grandmother's contact and arranged to visit the family. He was surprised to discover that even though Kevin's grandmother was about his age, she was still a stunner.
The other kids were teasing Kevin about his glasses. | Source: Unsplash
Jacob sat down and told them all about Captain Merton's note and his flight bag filled with money. "I was thinking that maybe I could honor his legacy by setting up scholarships to send boys to college to study aeronautical engineering.
"Boys who will build better planes, maybe even aircraft that will take us all to Mars-- and I want you to be the first, Kevin."
Kevin's grandmother Ruth was stunned, but she cautioned: "Mr. Delaney, I think at 11 Kevin is still much too young to make such a momentous decision about his future..."
"No I'm not!" cried Kevin indignantly, but Jacob nodded his agreement.
"Your grandmother is right, Kevin," he said. "But it is not too soon for you to really apply yourself to your studies so you'll be ready to make that decision when the time comes."
"I'd love to design airplanes, Mr. Delaney," Kevin confessed. "But I would love to fly them too. And that is impossible."
Jacob married Kevin's grandmother, Ruth. | Source: Unsplash
"I don't know about that!" cried Jacob. "You may not become a fighter pilot or a commercial pilot, but when you're 17, you can earn your private airplane pilots' license. You can fly Kevin, and I'm going to help you."
Kevin was grinning from ear to ear, and he became even more excited when Jacob promised to talk to one of his friends who was an airplane mechanic so he could come to the hangar every week and start to learn how the engines worked.
Meanwhile, Jacob started making excuses to pop into Kevin's house at least once a week, and after working up his nerve for months, he asked Ruth out on a date. The two became very close, and a year later, Jacob proposed.
They were married, and Kevin gave away the happy bride. After a lifetime alone, Jacob had a lovely and loving wife and a grandson he adored. Things just couldn't get any better -- or could they?
When Kevin was seventeen, he got his pilot's license the very same week he received his acceptance letter from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Finally, all of his dreams were coming true.
Kevin got a job at NASA. | Source: Unsplash
He climbed up into the twin-propeller plane he would be flying all on his own for the first time and grinned at his grandparents watching him. Then he reached down and clapped Captain Merton's old pilot's cap onto his head.
"Remember what Captain Merton wrote, grandpa?" Kevin asked. "He's out there flying with angel's wings, and I know he will be looking out for me too!"
Jacob and Ruth watched with understandable apprehension as Kevin and his instructor took off. The little plane was soon a tiny speck up in the sky and Ruth started crying.
"Oh, Jacob," she whispered. "My little boy is all grown up and he's leaving me behind."
Jacob hugged Ruth. "Listen," he said tenderly. "We've given Kevin wings to soar, now we must have the courage to set him free. We need to concentrate on each other. We have a chance at happiness at a time in life most people have given up.
"Let's be happy, today, Ruth. Tomorrow we can start looking at the new applications for the Captain John Merton scholarship. There's this girl who has great grades and wants to change the world..."
Kevin had his own happy family. | Source: Unsplash
When that dusty old flight bag fell at his feet, Jacob never imagined his life would be transformed, that he would find a new purpose for his life, a woman to love and a child to raise.
He had fulfilled all of Captain Merton's dreams, and at the same time, he was giving so many young people the opportunity to follow their own destinies. That would be his legacy, and Captain Merton's, and neither one of them would ever be forgotten.
As for Kevin, he graduated from MIT summa cum laude, accepted a position at NASA, and is now working on a revolutionary new engine concept that is so secret he can't even tell Jacob and Ruth, or his wife and little son, John-Jacob.
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