I’ve been chastising myself lately, and not in a fun, sexy way.
It’s about money management. I keep wondering why it’s taken me half a century to focus on financial responsibility in a somewhat grown-up way. My mother modeled great fiscal behavior, and my father offered sound advice, but I suppose when we’re young, that sort of thing doesn’t get through.
My mother taught me how to stick to a grocery list, fiercely, so that I could plunder the impulse purchase area at the grocery checkout. This resulted in a lot of quality time with my dentist.
And when I was fifteen, she was generous enough to hook me up with the guy who had the best pot prices in town. There’s no sense in overspending when you can avoid it. Such an important lesson.
My father didn’t model anything until his last years of life, when he married a woman who took him from the edge of bankruptcy to wealth (and back to bankruptcy and a fatal level of debt without his knowing it; he died believing he was a rich guy. She was a great wife and stepmom, bless her).
He did offer several pieces of monetary and general life advice, though:
“Marry someone safe, and be a secretary.”
He offered this advice when I was ten. For years after this statement, I thought of myself as a rebel. No way was I going to do what my father said – until I married an Air Force officer and became a secretary. But I was steadfast in my belief that his words had no influence on me. Such an unappreciative daughter.
“If you want to go to college, get a scholarship.”
He tossed this ditty at me as he strolled through the living room and disappeared down the hallway, and he lovingly allowed me the room to figure out what a scholarship is. I was also ten with this one, so there was plenty of time to research it.
He had a habit of offering life tidbits as he was passing through rooms.
“You should take up the clarinet” was one. He was thoughtful enough to suggest this when I was wearing braces. I remember lots of tears. Probably of joy.
“You should take up stamp-collecting,” whoosh, gone. Although this is possibly the most boring sport in the history of humankind, there is a bonus: I learned what “philately” means. It’s an awesome Scrabble power word, and someone always insists on challenging it.
“Buy real estate from women who just became widows. They’re vulnerable and ready to sell at any price.”
I was so lucky to be thirty-two when he imparted this one – and even luckier that he didn’t leave the room this time, so we could finally have a great father-daughter talk. I could appreciate the point he was making even though I didn’t fully grasp the wisdom of it in the moment.
We were sitting in his den, waiting for his mother’s wake to begin, so my grandma’s death was pretty much on my mind. My father and I were getting into the innocuous sort of chitchat that happens right after death, kind of catching up on family members. He mentioned that my stepbrother was going to visit Seattle.
I said, “Oh, Ricky will love it. It’s so beautiful.”
Dad said, “Yeah, and I told him he’s going to find great pussy there.”
Instead of berating myself, I’m going to appreciate that I’m now paying attention to my finances and be thankful for the nurturing guidance of two caring parents.