2.26.2010

An Unlikely Influence

I have recently reconnected with an old friend from my childhood. We first met back in our Junior High days. Our families went to church together.

Despite the fact that we lived in different Northern Colorado towns, we spent countless hours together going to the lake, hiking in the mountains, or roaming around town. We told each other our deepest and darkest secrets, not that either of us actually had anything to hide. When I got married at the tender age of nineteen, she was one of my bridesmaids.

Over the years, we regrettably lost touch. The hubby and I moved to Tennessee. She spent some time overseas, went to nursing school and dove head-first into her job as a hospice nurse.

When we finally got back in touch with one another, she told me that she was expecting her first baby, a little boy born who is now just three weeks old, with her husband of two years. I got her up to speed on all of the happenings here at the Ha house.

Then she told me that her dad had cancer. Not just any cancer, but an aggressive and nasty cancer that was threatening to take his life. He is currently undergoing a new experimental treatment approved by the FDA. So far, it seems to be working.

It has been eighteen years since I last saw my friend's father, but upon hearing the news of his illness, a flood of memories filled my mind. It's funny how someone can impact your life without you even realizing it at the time.

Allow me to explain.

My friend lived in one of those unattractive bi-level houses that were so popular in Colorado during the 70's and 80's. Their home was modestly furnished and well maintained, but was certainly not anything to write home about. They drove used cars. They seemed to live a comfortable life, but it was not extravagant by any stretch of the imagination.

Her dad was a corporate lawyer and spent a lot of time traveling back and forth between their home in Colorado and various corporations in the Seattle area. It was clear that he absolutely adored his wife. His son and daughter were his pride and joy. I always enjoyed being around their family.

After we graduated from High School, my friend's parents decided to pack up and move to Russia for a few years. They wanted to spend some time volunteering in an orphanage. Her dad retired, and they readied themselves for the big relocation.

It was decided that my friend and her brother would live in the family house while their parents were overseas. They had a big family meeting to go over all of the financial information. The kids would need to be informed, just in case.

I have vivid memories of that day. My friend and I, sitting on her bedroom floor, pouring over her parent's Last Will and Testament and financial documents. We were in shock. Her parents were loaded.

In hindsight, it should have been so obvious. As I'm sure you all know, Seattle in the 80's played a key roll in the whole technology boom, with Microsoft among others placing their headquarters in that region. All those years traveling, it never even occurred to us that he could be working with some of those corporate giants. Secretly he was shoveling away a monstrous nest egg, all the while living an incredibly modest life.

Over the years, my life has been profoundly influenced by this man. He was an example of someone who could work hard and provide a wonderful life for his family, but somehow refuse to get caught up in all the trapping of wealth. He didn't care what people thought of his home or cars.

Yes, he saved his money so that he could retire and not be a burden to his children in old age. That alone, was a good lesson for me. But more than that, he was an shining example of what it meant to work hard and be generous.


The fact that h
e chose to keep his wealth a secret so that he could instill in his children the art of living a modest life... Well, that is something that has truly stuck with me all of these years. It's that way of life that I hope to pass on to my own son.

My prayer is that the experimental cancer treatment works. My friend's baby boy deserves to grow up knowing his grandfather. He is truly a wonderful man.

1 comment(s). Leave yours!:

Antique Mommy said... Best Blogger Tips

Loved this post.

And boy, did I ever needed to read this just now.

I've been feeling like the poor girl in town lately (wah, whine, snivel). A good reminder that we are making a choice to not have iphones and new cars, a choice that will reap more than financial rewards as our son observes us now and looks back on later - that he will see that stuff is not what we are about, stuff does not add value to our lives. Even though his mother likes her some stuff.

Offering a prayer for your friends dad.

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