Letter to George

I found this letter among effects of an estate. I share it with you.  

Dear George-

What happened? We were given so much, or so we thought. We had the 27 room home. We loved going to the Club on our bikes. Remember riding down the hill at full speed and breaking the speedometer because we were going that fast? Now that was fun!!

Moving into adolescence playing tennis and flirting with each other’s friends took us through so many emotional highs and slumps. Then in the winter, going to boarding school to deepen our scholastic aptitude. Little did we know that the life we grew up was crumbling around us. Little did we know that all Grandpa had built was beginning to be squandered in impossible and improbable investments by our step-father. But you know, our older brothers must have felt something. They left home during college and only returned when mother paid their way. OUCH!

A family with such wealth. And because we had it we weren’t taught to make it. No, that would have been greedy and selfish, or so we were taught. Neither of us were frivolous but we never understood, as kids or as young adults, that money needed a steward.

What a rude awakening we both had. And you know, neither Grandpa nor Dad would have wanted this for us. You know, I always thought that part of  mother’s early death was her not being able to face the skid from riches to rags, from tens of millions to $200,000. She would not have done well in a little apartment in the middle of somewhere near where her parents’ help lived. 

The value of money has to be taught. I don’t know why families think that the mere fact of having money precludes bad consequences from happening to them or to their money. But they do and it is because of this that I had to help. Money does not grow on trees. Money does not respect anyone’s position. That’s not how it goes about its business.  In fact, to be honest, money goes with the imaginative, the aggressor, and the one who goes after it. It’s really that simple.  We did not have a relationship with money. No, we had expectations about money: it would always be there. And that is a problem, a big problem.

How have you done with your life? I hear that your wife is the provider. Me, I decided that I needed to depend on myself, and so I have. It has been an interesting journey. I call it look from the inside, inside what it really takes to “get ahead”.  I watch others gather it and only hope they create the family system of understanding the meaning of money in their lives. It would help them in the long run. Do you think they would believe me if I told them this? I wonder. I’ll leave that to others. I’ll merely watch and turn my head if anyone should ask if there is a way to keep the family with money. You and I know there is. We turned our backs on it.

I hope you tell your grandkids that their parents, money, the money they will one day inherit is to be cared for as much as their own parents’ emotional legacy.

I’ll see you on the other side.


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