Sunday, July 18, 2010

Let’s Hear It for the Mom

My mother Betty Ake passed away on July 9 at the age of 88. While she was alive I would have said she had no connection to this blog. However, you see so many things looking backward that unfortunately you don’t see in the present.

Here are some influences my mother and her father (my grandfather) have had on me (and this blog):

Good Writers are Made, Not Born

Good writers start out as good readers. I grew up in a home that subscribed to two newspapers, seven days a week. The newspapers were read front page to back every day. My mother read books her entire life and read her Akron Beacon Journal to the very end. Therefore, it is no surprise that I developed a love of reading, a thirst for knowledge, and strong writing skills.

The Stock Market Can Be a Source of Great Wealth

Many grandparents buy their grandchildren savings bonds. My maternal grandfather was a superb stock picker. I’m not sure he bought a savings bond in his entire life. When I was born he bought me a small amount of stock in three companies. Two of the three stocks (the lesson of diversification) did very well. The stock growth (including splits) and the dividends invested in a savings account were enough to pay for my college education 18 years later.

However, my father was determined to pay for my college education himself and did so. The stock money was used to assume a very favorable mortgage on my first house. The low interest rate allowed me to both save more money and build more equity in the house. This simple act of giving me stock resulted in a tremendous start to building wealth. In addition because I was already a stock owner, I was motivated to learn about and become interested in the stock market. I am not anywhere near the stock picker my grandfather was, but I think he would be very proud of the Model T.

Money is Important – Manage it With Care

My parents taught me how to manage money. My mother managed her money very well and passed those values down to me. After my mother suffered a heart attack two and one half years ago, I had to manage all her finances. She was never totally comfortable with this situation. What she didn’t realize is her influence and guidance had assured that her money was in very capable hands.

You are Responsible for Your Decisions

My mother was big on personal responsibility. When I failed to achieve something growing up, excuses were not tolerated. So when making financial decisions I try to understand the investment and the risk, because the outcome is my responsibility and I have to live with the results.

Hard Work Is Expected and Enjoyed

My mother began working in her uncle’s grocery store at age seven. She later worked in her father’s grocery store and then took an additional job as a school secretary. So for many years she worked two jobs, until a quick romance turned into to an unexpected marriage and subsequent pregnancy. (See a video clip of the story here). As I write this I realized that my mother gave up a career (two jobs) she loved, to raise me.

Moving Forward

At a time when newspaper readership is down, I subscribe to two newspapers, seven days a week. The newspapers are read front page to back every day. I have always worked two jobs including leading projects at church, my stint as a stand-up comedian and my current work teaching college classes. That doesn’t include my third job of managing my mother’s business affairs, a job that unfortunately I have just recently successfully completed. I doubt that I will ever be able to pick stocks as well as my grandfather, but that doesn’t mean I will quit trying.
Here is another video clip from my eulogy for my mother.

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