Last week, I was Maxwell Linden, lab technician. I was four long years from retirement, sharing a cramped little A-frame with my wife, and driving a Lincoln Mercury seriously in need of a new transmission. Today, call me Mr. Linden, widower extraordinaire. Along with my wife Leah, my financial troubles are gone forever. Even though her life-insurance payout was only $250,000, I feel like a million bucks!

Grieving is a process, they say. At first, I was angry with God for striking down the love of my life. It had to be a mistake.

What had she done to deserve that?

I was just working my way out of the denial phase of the grieving process when the phone rang. Mr. George Tift from State Farm Insurance had a little proposition to make. After giving his condolences, he told me that my term-life insurance plan entitled me to 10 quarterly installments of $25,000, for a total pre-tax payout of $250,000. Yowza! What had I done to deserve that?

A quarter of a million American dollars! That's more than just a good day at the greyhound track. That's the big time: term life. Bargaining phase complete, hello acceptance. Grieving process over!

Leah was a wonderful woman—kind, gentle, caring. I'd have given almost anything to have kept her alive—easily more than $100,000. Probably even $200,000. But 250 grand might have been pushing it. Ah, we can't turn back the hands of time, so there's no use talking about it anyway.

Sure, it was tough paying insurance premiums all those years, but, like they say, you gotta spend money to make money. It was 1962, the year Leah and I got married, that we signed the papers with State Farm. I had a gut feeling that someday it'd be worth it. I bided my time at the lab, kept my head down, tucked a little into the life-insurance fund each month, no matter how tight things were, and then, just 42 years later—blammo!—Leah gets sideswiped by a beer-delivery truck! I don't have to work another day in my life. At 3:15 p.m., my financial troubles were pronounced dead at the scene.

It's hard not to dwell on how things could have been, though. If I'd only known what was in store when my dear Leah left the house that day, I could've gotten on the phone and doubled our coverage. But why dwell on that thought? It's better to focus on the positives: I can't lose sight of the fact that I've been blessed. What if I'd had no insurance at all? I'd be standing here alone in the world, without anyone to love me, a member of the middle class. But instead, luck—and the beer-delivery truck—struck.

No more clock-punching and bosses for me. Praise be to God for bestowing upon me this heaping mound of dearly departed cash-ola.

Holiest angels, please look after my beloved wife up there in Eternal Heaven. Take care of her. Make sure she's got all that she needs in the way of wings or halos or whatever. And tell my dearest not to worry about me. As of yesterday, I've got my bases pretty much covered here on earth. Ha-cha!

Sure, my heart aches for my wife of more than four decades, but I intend to get one of the best psychologists in the entire Akron-Canton area to help me through this loss. I'll say, "Fix me up and then send me the bill. I'll have my banker draw the money out of my account." My fat, fat dead-wife account!

They say it's darkest before the dawn, and I believe it. For a couple of hours, I thought the death of my wife would be the end of my life, too. The thought of living without her beside me threatened my very sanity. But then, like a flash, the clouds parted, the sun beamed through, and I realized that the day she was killed was the first day of the rest of my life—as a rich man.

I always knew big things were in store for me, and the death of my little Leah Lou proved me right. I played the insurance game and came out a winner! Step aside, world—the high roller's coming through!