I wrote the check and once again was struck by the generosity. It’s money my father could keep for himself but instead he gives it to my mom. Every month a portion of my father’s retirement is deposited into an account that he and I share. The money is then placed in a trust that is used to care for my mom who has Alzheimer’s. Dad has been giving Mom money since they were divorced in 1972. Over the years, as the cost of living has increased, he has increased the amount that he gives. Dad could have stopped giving Mom money long ago. He could have stopped when he married Jean in 1979, but he didn’t. He could have stopped when my sister and I were no longer living with Mom, but he didn’t. He just kept giving. Who does that? Well, generous people do.
Born in 1929 and raised during the Great Depression, my dad is the definition of frugal. He chooses to wear sweaters rather than turn up the heat, maximizes natural daylight rather than turn on lights and clips coupons rather than buy groceries at full price. It’s not that he doesn’t spend money. He’s just penny-wise. His penny-pinching allowed him to retire at 55 and to purchase not one, but two beach houses: one in Bethany Beach, Delaware and one in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. When he spends money, he’s far more likely to spend the money on his family rather than himself. For example, he paid for my sister, me, our families, and my mother to travel to Walt Disney World a number of times.
It is this model of generosity that has impacted my view of money. Dad is generous because he has been prudent. He exercised sound judgment and managed his finances carefully. His thrifty lifestyle provided me with an example of what is important in life. It’s not the fancy car or the big house; it’s time with family that matters. You see, my dad considers my mom family, and as he says, “You take care of family.” The two houses, well they were purchased as much for my sister and me as they were for Dad and Jean. He did this so we could enjoy the beach with our families in both the summer and the winter seasons. What seems extravagant was actually grounded in the value of family.
I hope to one day be as generous as my Dad. I know that in order to do that I need to have my priorities straight: God, others, me. When I put myself last there’s an amazing economy that goes to workthe economics of generosity. That’s what my Dad exhibits. He demonstrates selfless generosity.