We didn’t talk a lot about money growing up. Somehow, I learned two things: not to spend beyond my means and to have a healthy fear of credit cards. “Use only in emergencies and if you can pay it off each month,” was the message I absorbed from my Dad.
My parents were also generous in the community. My mom went door-to-door in our neighborhood raising money for cancer research or children’s illnesses. Dad gave to Special Olympics and Wounded Warriors. And we always put our dated white envelope in the offering plate at church.
What I remember most about my parents and money their regular meetings with their financial planner and attorney. We even knew their names. And my parents always went together. This wasn’t a Dad-only thing, though he was clearly savvy with finances and investing.
Although he was a civil engineer by training, he had a respect and understanding of the stock market. When my parents traded out an old TV, the stock ticker that ran across the bottom of financial channels was burned into the screen! The grandkids would say that Grampy was watching “the numbers channel.”
During every family vacation, my parents would have a breakfast meeting at a restaurant with my two sisters and me—no husbands. Dad would review what was happening with the family finances, as well as the hand-written notes on his yellow legal pad with all the names and numbers we would need to call if something were to happen to my parents.
Almost two years ago, we lost my Dad after a five-month battle with cancer. True to his nature, he wanted to review the finances with us again, as well as the familiar names of their planners and attorney. He worked hard to tie up every loose end. And the very day he died, the taxes were finalized! He was so faithful to us.
His legacy lives on
I married later in life and my finances were pretty simple as a single missionary. When Bob and I got married, though, it became more complicated. His four kids and three grandkids, my parents’ beach house, and our home all added to it. We started early with a financial planner—just like my parents had modeled.
My parents took time to find people they trusted, and we wanted that for us too. When my Dad was dying, my Mom was already in a familiar relationship with professionals who understood their desires. She was there when they developed their vision for the future, giving and inheritance. Amidst the blur of grief, one thing was settled: We knew what Mom and Dad wanted.
Their planning together was a tremendous gift to my Mom when my Dad died. And it still is. I recently went with her for her annual meeting with their advisors. They respected my Dad’s investment savvy and his character. And I was so happy to meet the faces behind the names.
Dad did so many things well in his life. This was among the many. Thank you, Dad.