Fribble Wednesday, January 26, 2000

A Different Kind of Fool

By cyberray

Recently, I had just posted to the Quitting Smoking board about my mother passing away. This was the first close family member that I have ever had die since I was born. Not having had this happen before, I was prepared, but not ready, for the feelings that would follow. I kept second-guessing myself (I've always been a bit analytical) about the way I would feel... the way I should feel.

A month after she passed away we had the memorial service and some of those feelings of loss and grief came back, but not greatly. Apparently, the healing process had already begun. During the month between her death and the memorial service, we were sorting through her personal belongings and I came across some of the diaries that she started keeping about the time my parents divorced. They opened up a new world about what my mother had been going through. As a 14-year-old at the time, who would have noticed?

During the memorial service, when people had a chance to speak their thoughts, I heard some things that I had never heard before. For example, my cousin related that in the summer of 1966, four months before I was born, she was having problems with her parents. My cousin was 15 years old then. She had no drivers license, so my mother took her out in the little MG Midget that my uncle owned. She said they went cruising all over the place. Imagine! My mother cruising in an MG! I never thought my mother was so cool! (I never got to do those things.)

In 1989, my mother's first grandchild was born, followed by two more in the next two years. She would always buy the funniest stuff for them, even as they got older. Socks with pumpkins on them, glitter-covered dress shoes, all the knicky-knacky stuff you get at the dollar discount stores. I didn't mind this because I knew it was just my mother.

The thing that confused me was where was she getting the money from. She finally got a government job in 1986 and held it until she retired in 1999. Now, I knew how much government jobs paid, especially since I had seen her pay stub a few times. I was concerned that she was not saving enough for retirement. I saw her investments a few times and they seemed to be okay. But I couldn't reconcile what I was seeing with what she was doing. Was she being Foolish, being foolish, or just plain acting foolish/Foolish?

Well, it dawned on me the other day while I was having a little chat with TMF Parlay, that maybe she was being Foolish the whole time and I was just too dense to recognize it. So, let's bring a few facts together:

  1. She was spending excess money on the grandkids (I thought), therefore she was being foolish
  2. She was saving money in mutual funds at USAA (great place! they work strictly on salary, no commission), again being Foolish
  3. She was sick and she didn't care (after she passed away, the doctors related that they would have been surprised to see her last another 6 months)
After a lot of thought, finding out different stories about my mother at the memorial service, and knowing my mother, I knew money was not everything to her. So, the conclusion I came to was this: Either she didn't care about being Foolish, even though she did invest, or she'd rather spend it on the grandkids. And if you really think about it, isn't that just Foolishness of a different kind with a different type of payback?