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Friday, May 7, 1999

Everything I Never Had

by Jim Padar

When I was growing up, my mother always told me that my father wanted me to "have everything he never had." I groused to myself as only a 10-year-old can. I mowed endless lawns and worked odd jobs to earn half the cost of my first bike. I looked at our 10-year-old car, modest 5-room home, and the bedroom I was forced to share with my brother and wondered to myself, "So this is everything?" My father passed away while I was in high school. I worked my way through college for a bachelor's degree. It took seven years.

It wasn't until after my father's death that I learned he had been raised in an orphanage from the age of three. At 15 he was sent out on his own to make his way in life with barely a high school education. He lived in a rooming house and got a job as an apprentice printer. He married, bought a home, had three children, and clothed, fed, and loved us all.

Late last night when I finished work, I paused for a moment on our driveway. I looked over our two late model cars and the split-level home filled with VCRs, televisions, stereos, and computers. I made a mental note to talk to the lawn service about the bare spots out front. I am less than a year from a comfortable retirement. I looked up at the stars and thought, "I've done well Dad. You did give me everything you never had."

My son just turned 29. (He's got a master's degree in environmental geophysics.) He has announced that he has saved an impressive sum strictly for long-term investment. One of his gifts will be "The Foolish Four" book. Happy Birthday, son. Study it well. Be a Fool. I, too, want you to have everything I never had.


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