A Quiet Fortune column: Goodbyes and turning points
May 13, 2018
Turning points come at odd times. This is one of those times for me. It's not so unexpected, really; we knew it was going to happen. Just didn't plan for it today. Or even this year.
Today's turning point arrived with news of an escort to the emergency room by a fire department 270 miles away from us. My husband and I got a call, or several, this morning while we were at home in Glenwood Springs. Now we're sitting in the waiting room of a hospital in Pueblo, Colorado, hoping that Grandpa comes through surgery OK.
Grandpa has been part of my life for 43 years. We've gone through plenty together, from weddings to baptisms to funerals. We've taken dozens of trips, ones as close as Moab and others as far away as his father's home in Croatia. We watched as Grandpa's wife was diagnosed with cancer and fought against it for 12 years.
All of those years Grandpa was strong. That strength was there many years before I met him, though. He was fire chief of Pueblo and came close to death many times. Before that, World War II threw him into the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, then the Battle of the Bulge. He took shrapnel several times, stuffed his wounds with the upholstery of his seat when his tank was blown up, was wrongly declared dead, and eventually brought home two purple hearts. In his youth polio had attacked his body. Many years later he fought hard against losing his independence because of age. No doubt the guy is tough.
This May he'll be 98. He fully expects to live past 100, but now we're sitting here waiting to hear how his surgery goes … if he survives it.
I'm telling you this because I realize that his turning point has also become my husband's and mine. We spent years making the five-hour drive to Pueblo at least once a month, and in the past few years that number has accelerated to every 7-10 days. Grandpa was aging, and we needed to help. I know that our help will be more necessary than ever now; in fact, our lives will change as of today.
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That's why I realize I need to quit writing this Quiet Fortune column. Life takes us on a journey, and I'll go along for whatever the ride presents, and more of my time will now be spoken for. This "bums me out" because I have heard from many of you that the very simple message I write about has actually helped.
So I hope you don't let the message go: when you make some money, please save some. Even if you have to give up things that you really, really want right now, save some. Learn how to invest, either on your own or with the help of an adviser. Start as early as you can and make this as automatic as you can.
You'll be thankful if you're able to start early. Your savings can double or quadruple or grow by 100 times depending on when you start and what you choose. When emergencies, or opportunities, or retirement come up you'll be far more prepared, far more able, to cope or take advantage or enjoy. Half of our country's population does not save and invest. Please be in the half that does.
I would like to give you a little present if you would like it. A couple of years ago I wrote the book "A Quiet Fortune." Many people have told me that it is an easy read, and an enjoyable one. The book's title says it all, and it gives both practical and (I hope) inspirational advice for everyone: parents, kids, grandparents.
I have a few boxes of these books in my home and would like to give copies to any of you who might like them. You may have young people in your lives, or neighbors, or even a whole classroom of young people, that you think could benefit from learning about saving, investing and prospering. If so, please email me at email@example.com, and I'll happily give copies to you without charge. My true hope is that you and I can make a difference in the future security of those around you.
Grandpa, one of my sources of humor, common sense and strength for the past 43 years, would always say, "It's not what you make that matters, it's what you save." So I'll save some time for him now.
My best to all. Thanks, Terrie Drake
(By the way, Grandpa made it through surgery like a champ: the doctor said he did as well as a 57-year old, not a 97-year old. Hooray!)
Terrie Drake is the author of the book "A Quiet Fortune" and a retired teacher and librarian. She and her husband have lived in Glenwood Springs since 1974.
She is not a financial adviser; consult a competent professional for your personal financial solutions. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.