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Blanche Vavra was a frugal, private woman.

Her friends say she never spent a penny on anything but the absolute bare necessities. She had no children, was never married and lived a quiet life.

But eight months after her death, at the age of 90, with her generosity Vavra has affected the lives of thousands of people she never even met.


It’s a strange story and supposedly a simple one. She worked hard in life and was able to do something good in death.It’s such an oversimplification. A life boiled down to its essentials. A narrative only an actuary would believe to be a true account of a person’s life.

She did all this work, all this effort, and she was born in a fantastic world, of beauty, opportunity and modernity and she didn’t take the fruit of any of it.

I don’t know how to feel about this story.

I admire her. The discipline, the strong character, the sheer stubborn will power to persist in living a demanding life for so long. Her generosity is immense in the perspective of having lived such a harsh life.

I pity her. What a horrid existence. How terrible to have deliberately chosen a life  of unending grinding struggle and then to endure that existence alone, without family and friends.

I want to question her. All this time, what did she think money was? Was it something to be kept and collected for its own sake? Did she recognise that the value of money is the ability to exchange it for other goods and services?

I want to question her. Were you who you wanted to be when you were a child? Have you satisfied your dreams? Are you content with how your life has been?

Questions for which you can’t get answers from a news story.


One Comment

  1. >> Did she recognise that the value of money is the ability to exchange it for other goods and services?

    You need to consider the opportunity cost, which in this case is donating to the 11 organisations. Maybe the idea of the donations interests Blanche more than enjoying better food, clothes, etc.? Then again, having read the furnace story I think she is just doing this out of compulsion.

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