Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Life's continuity

I just finished speaking to my friend Jean tonight. Jean is in her mid-eighties and she is as spry and on target as any 30-year old. She's an amazing woman, one I've written about before. I called to tell her about something funny I had read about the Scilly Island Airport, as Jean has vacationed on the Scilly Islands several times. I know she would find the article amusing, and hearing her hearty laugh solidified my joy in giving her something amusing late at night.

We spoke about her day. She's 'babysitting' for her 7 year old grand nephew today and he's having a sleepover alone at her house this evening. She told me all about the things they did, hiking over to Echo Bridge to hear the echo, going to a friend's house for hot chocolate, having pizza for dinner, and then watching a movie on TV.

If you knew Jean, you would know that every one of those things, besides the hike, are totally unlike her and outside her realm of daily living. I can't even imagine her eating pizza, and I've known her for 16 years. She does own a TV, but I've never seen her sit down and watch it. She's much more of a NPR person, and she's a slave to her New York Times. She also loves Sudoku and the Times crossword puzzle, and she's an ardent correspondant. She does use email (I taught her how to use a computer about 6 years ago, and now she's a bit of a power user on email) but most of her correspondance is done with paper and a pen. She writes letters and sends cards daily, and she also gets more mail than anyone I've ever met in my life. Dozens of cards and letters arrive for her, as well as catalogs and solicitations for charities, most of which she supports.

Anyhow, while we were talking I asked where she was going for her early spring vacation this year. She takes a month every year to travel in Europe, first visiting a friend in Genenva, and then going off on hiking tours with organized groups. She walks all over England, Scotland, Wales, and France. She's been to the Scilly Islands several times in early spring. Her vacations are always so interesting, and she takes tons of FILM photographs and files them all away in albums.

But this year she's not going in March. Her grandaughter, one of MANY, is having a baby in March. It will be her first great-grandchild.

I think that's so amazing. Jean's family is very closely knit. They all vacation together every summer, and gather together at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The youngest grandchild is the same age as my kids, the oldest must be closing in on 30. They are all ridiculously successful, just like Jean's kids and Jean herself.

I often wonder if this family's successes have to do with financial comfort. Jean was brought up in a wealthy family, she brought her kids up in Westchester, also with great wealth. Her children live in our city or in Minneapolis, but are very well set, with enough money to offer summers in Guatamala and Spain and traveling through Europe for their kids. The grandchildren are amazingly well-traveled, having been all over the world on various programs. There has never been any financial worry for any of them. Jean wouldn't allow it, and so far she hasn't had to worry. Colleges have been paid for, careers have been set up with cash, grad school is paid for, housing is acquired with help from the family.

The lack of worry about finances keeps these people close to each other. It's all equitable and fair, regardless of which of Jean's three kids are the parents. All the kids have been offered the same opportunities, and they have all been given the same chances for success.

I don't know if that's why their family has so little rancor towards each other when other families I know, where the finances aren't equitable at all, can't seem to get along. But it's interesting to wonder just why there is such continuity in her family when there is absolutely none in mine.

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Blogger Ora said...

But since I know that your family was very comfortable when you were growing up there is another answer here.

30/12/08 8:10 AM  
Blogger margalit said...

Ora, yeah, my family was well off, but they never shared the money. It was my parent's money, and they didn't give to their children at all. It's the generosity I'm wondering about. The feeling of not having to worry about money, ever. We never had that at our house. Remember, even with maids and a nanny, we were convinced as kids that we were poor. It's a totally different attitude.

30/12/08 2:08 PM  
Blogger hschinske said...

I think it's the old Matthew effect -- once you have a certain amount of solidity in your circumstances, whether it's to do with emotional health, financial security, or whatever, it tends to get better and better. Jean's family is pretty emotionally healthy, and therefore they handle money better, and therefore they don't fight about it as much, and therefore it's easier for them to continue to be both rich *and* emotionally healthy.

30/12/08 4:59 PM  

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