2014 was a harsh year in our home. January marked my mother's 70th birthday on the 2nd, and then about 2 weeks later she entered the hospital for what would be her final admission. Over the course of a few weeks it became clear that a cure was not possible, we needed to focus on her comfort. There were good days, some promising, but slowly, day by day she moved toward a final exhale. I was with her during that moment, a Sunday morning in mid-February. Sipping a mug of tea, reading a book -- it seemed fitting since she was the one who fed my book cravings as a child. And then she was gone, into a permanent state of calm.
Not quite so for me. Relatives were irate that I followed my mother's wishes for a memorial service, their grief clouding that fact my job was to carry out her directions, not theirs. Our son developed sleep problems, waking every night for months, coming to find me -- he now knew that moms can die, and he wanted to be sure his was still there. There was the side matter of the contract dispute, one that went so far as to generate a deposition in the Spring and settled a few weeks later. After her memorial service came the job of emptying out my childhood home, both parents were now gone. What to do with the home itself; fix it up, sell it as is, something in between? Time marched on. Tornadoes touched down three blocks from her house, but no damage, a sigh of relief. Time marched on and we listed it for sale. A showing here, a showing there, too much work was the common refrain. And just as the snow started to fall here in Madison, Wisconsin the house sold, closed, and for the most part the ordeal was over.
Reward yourself, treat yourself, buy something for yourself. From my husband to my friends to anyone who knew a little about my 2014, they all encouraged me to spend a little. In the end, I am my mother's daughter. Growing up I heard my father say "she can go to the mall and actually come back with more money than she left with -- picks up penny in the parking lot, and spends nothing." What did I do with the modest inheritance? Some might describe it as nothing, but I did buy something -- resting easy at night. Instead of a new camera lens, an expensive vacation or diamond earrings we opened a specific mutual fund. And after my husband calculated the power of compound interest, running the numbers to the year I turn 90 (my mom's parents are still alive, in their mid-90s, and live independently -- I am counting on those genetics) that modest inheritance will turn into a very hefty sum. I have no intention of taking a cent out of that fund.
As a result, my plan for the foreseeable future is to work limited part-time hours in the summer. Why? My kids are an age where we can garden, read books, swim at the lake, etc. They are not old enough to have their own agenda to explore on school breaks, time with Mama is still coveted. Earrings sparkle, camera lenses dazzle, vacations excite -- but none compare to the luxury of stress free time with my kids. And that is the Upside of Frugal.
My parents, a key source in my frugal path in life. Miss you both!