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Help Fund Me

by Gal Mux 3 months ago in Historical · updated 3 months ago
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The last living survivor of the Titanic

Art by author on Canva

I took a quick peek through the small gap between my curtains. 

I was very cautious. I didn't want to be spotted. 

There were several reporters out there in the street. A crowd had also gathered and was contributing to the heat. 

What a backlash! 

It looked worse on TV though. That's why I had gone to take a peek. It helped me understand the situation I was in. Why does everything look so big on television? TV is just one big exaggeration! 

My father was recovering in his room upstairs. I kept the television volume low so as not to disturb him. He had been out of surgery three weeks earlier and was recovering well. The vitriol on television would not be good for him. We lived in a noisy neighbourhood and we had all learnt to drown out the noise coming from the outside. So this wasn't too much of a bother. 

"Scammer!" I could hear some people in the crowd scream. "Thief!"

"Return our money!" A male voice roared. 

"What a loser! Who fakes an illness to con others their hard-earned cash?" I heard another angry comment. 

" Disgusting excuse of person!" a voice that I recognised as my great aunt's said. 

"Come outside and talk to us!" They dared me. 

I remained in my house. After being unsuccessful at getting my attention, the reporters left and the crowd slowly dispersed. This had been happening for days now. 

By Glen Carrie on Unsplash

The story

Well, the thing is my father was unwell. That was the truth. To the core of it! 

He had been suffering and fighting throat cancer for three years.  

He struggled to speak and even to eat! 

The pain was hard to bear not just for himself but for me too, his only child and caretaker. 

I loved my father. And I hated to see him in this painful and saddening condition. 

We had also exhausted our finances trying to manage this illness. We had been taken from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist and we were seeing no improvement. In fact, his condition was getting worse. 

We had been given the final recommendation by the last specialist we had seen. He suggested an experimental surgical procedure. Due to it being a new practice, it was high risk and also very expensive. 

From my father's reaction, and from the few words he could manage to utter, he would have considered it. The huge risk notwithstanding. The cost was the major issue. 

And that is how I hatched the plan. 

The history 

My father had been born in Ireland. 

His father was a journalist that had been hired to document the journey of the Titanic right from the start of its building to its maiden voyage to New York. 

He wrote a weekly column in the local Irish newspaper called "The Great Unsinkable." 

After docking in New York aboard the Titanic, he was going to publish a book detailing every single thing about it. He had collected files and files for this endeavour. 

On 10th April 1912, he had posed for a picture together with his family on the docks at Southampton. In the picture was him, his 5-year-old son who grew up to be my father and his wife - my grandmother. 

My father had kept this photo in the safest places he could find throughout the years. It was the only photo he had of his family. 

As fate would have it, the Titanic sunk four days after the photo was taken. And his father had sunk with it. 

This photograph held great emotional value to my father. He never showed it to people or talked about his father much. 

His mother had collected the columns my grandfather had written about the Titanic and had passed them together with this photograph to my father. 

It had been years since she had also died. So it was just my father and me now. He had divorced my mother in my early teens. 

The plan again

To raise money for my father's crucial surgery, I had taken that photo and some of the newspaper columns scanned them and started a help fund me. I put an advertisement for donations in the newspapers and on the internet. 

The story was my father was gravely ill - which was true. 

The other story was that he had travelled with his father aboard the Titanic and had gotten lucky on that fateful night while his father had drowned. 

Surely people would want to help save the life of a poor man that had also been a poor boy who had lost his father in such a heartbreaking way. 

My father was also part of a piece of unforgettable history. He had been aboard the mighty Titanic! - At least based on the story I was telling. 

The picture of him on the decks with the Titanic in the ba

ckground and the date the picture was taken on it helped sell the story. The newspaper columns were a good addition. 

Donations

I received so many donations in the first week of my posting. 

When the press picked up on the story, the donations grew exponentially! I exceed my target at least 3 times. 

This made me panic. 

I knew the story would sell. I had even added true stories of how we had watched the movie The Titanic together with my father. I remember how sombre his mood was on that day. And how he never watched it again. 

I had also imagined a quick entry and exit on my plan. 

I didn't want the publicity. I just wanted the money. 

But the publicity came with the money! 

Many people were emotionally invested in the story. It wasn't long before the press jumped on it. 

I had no choice. I had to gather myself and follow through. When you make a baby, you have to take care of it! 

I allowed reporters in to view the photograph and the newspaper columns. They found them fascinating and so did the public. They wanted more and more of this magnificent story. 

And to make the story more compelling, they created the angle that my father was one of the last surviving passengers of the Titanic if not the last. 

To republish these items on their platforms, they offered me a good sum. I had done my research and managed to negotiate an even better deal. 

I had spoken to my father about it and by a nod of the head, he had agreed. 

We needed money for the surgery and for his recovery. Plus I wasn't working as I had been taking care of him full time. I never revealed to him about the help fund me though. He was also in too much pain to ask about the details. He had probably thought that I had invited in reporters to cash in on the pieces of history. The lie was too far fetched I imagined he would have thought. 

By Mathias P.R. Reding on Unsplash

Here comes the trouble!

The lie and the publicity had also reached my mother who was quick to reach out to me. 

She wanted a piece of the money or she was going to tell the truth! 

"You can't be benefiting alone boy! I gave birth to you! You and your big head." She shouted to me on the phone. 

How had I not seen this part coming!? 

I agreed to share the money with her but only after my father had been taken care of. It was the only way to get her off my back. 

I never really liked my mother. She was not the loving kind. She was also very money-oriented and a spendthrift. She was also very conniving and vindictive. It took me years to understand why my father had divorced her. As an adult, I had also kept my distance. 

My mother had also shared the information about the money with my great aunt. If I didn't share it with them, they would out me. She was the great aunt that was standing outside my lawn giving interviews about the fraud I was. 

They both knew my father had never gone aboard the Titanic. They were credible witnesses that would be believed. 

Even though my father's surgery had gone well, the doctors advised that a second surgery might be needed after a year. Due to my father's advanced age, it would be much riskier to complete the procedure all at once. That's why it would be done in two stages. 

Because of this, I decided not to share the money with my mother and great aunt. Yet. They refused to understand the situation and insisted they were suffering too. 

"You either wait or you are out!" I shouted at them. 

They had been getting on my nerves. And I was also being bombarded from all corners by the pressure of keeping up with all that I had created. 

I remained firm in my decision. 

That's when all hell broke loose! 

Stories about the fake last survivor of the Titanic that had faked an illness to obtain money from unsuspecting well-wishers hit the headlines. Harder than the original story. Negativity really does sell! 

My mother it seems, couldn't keep her mouth shut! 

What mother goes out in full force to deliberately hurt her kid!?

Action!

I quickly shot the stories down. 

I told them that my mother had been bitter and vindictive ever since my father had divorced her. I showed court documents that proved the reasons for their divorce touched on money. I even had them listen to the recordings of her threatening me about sharing the money with her. I had been wise here to record the sound bites. Especially after I had sensed she was going to talk. 

There were medical files that proved that my father had cancer. They even interviewed some specialists we had seen. 

I allowed experts to examine the photograph and the newspaper columns. Historians proved the columns to be true. You can never erase what has already happened. It's part of history forever. 

What they couldn't prove, however, was whether my father had indeed been aboard the Titanic on its maiden voyage or not. 

It was a well-known fact that the names of those aboard the Titanic both survivors and those that perished had been a contested issue for decades. The documentation had been an issue right from the word go!

If they wanted to be sure, they would have to ask my father themselves. And I wouldn't allow them to! 

After all, he was recovering from throat surgery. He was still too weak to speak and the doctors had advised against him trying to. Also, the pressure would have been too much and any journalist attempting to interview a suffering and emaciated man just for a story would be crossing the lines. Such an act would be deemed unethical. 

Also, my father had no clue that word was going around that he had been aboard the Titanic on its maiden voyage. 

I planned to reveal it to him after his health situation had improved. And I intended on asking him to collaborate my story. 

"You are just like your mother." He would tell me anytime I did something questionable. "You didn't get that from me."

I suspected he would say the same thing this time. 

My father believed in virtue and honesty. I always wondered how he had even been with my mother in the first place. Opposites really do attract, don't they? 

Maybe my conniving plan was a thing that I had picked from my mother. But I was using it for good. At least looking at it from where I was seated.  

I hoped my father would understand me, my decisions and all the actions I had taken so far. 

It was all for him!

I loved him. I treasured him. I valued his life and I hated to see him suffer. It pained me to my core, especially because he was such a good person. Always so kind and gentle. 

If there was a solution for his situation, even the slightest whim of it, I would climb the highest mountains and storm sail the deepest oceans to find it! 

Sometimes, the end truly justifies the means. 

I know if it were you, you probably would have done the same.

Historical

About the author

Gal Mux

Lover of all things reading and writing, mango 🥭

and pineapple 🍍salsas, strawberry and vanilla ice cream, MJ, and Beyoncé.

Nothing you learn is ever wasted. So learn everything you can.

Reach: [email protected]

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