Saturday, October 2, 2010

On Giving Away Everything

This year, Lizzie and Shane have needed large weekly monetary infusions due to lack of work. Lizzie's summer semester courses were cut, and Shane, as reported earlier in Clan under Siege, lost his job as a result of a threatened insurance premium hike on his employer for all employees due to the more than two million dollars that the insurance company had to pay out for Nikolina. Without going into the question of the value of life versus the value of money (I always choose life over money, and Nikolina at 18 months is showing that she has the will to make the most of the life she has been given), my son was left stranded with a wife who needed to stay home to care for a baby who could not be given care through babysitters or day care and no income.

I can state without equivocation that life fought for comes at a high cost in emotions, time, and, yes, money. So, here I am again in the position I was in when the children, especially the ones with birth defects, were small and needy, juggling bills. Now the kids are big and needy, and the bills I am juggling allow me to help them to juggle theirs. Of course, no one in the family has any savings. With million-dollar medical bills (not only for Nikolina but for three other children in the family), who would? I have to note here, though, that Stanford University Hospital, upon learning of the critical financial situation of Shane due to his summarily losing his job, told him that they wanted to keep the baby as a patient (the doctors are pretty darn proud of themselves -- as far as we know, only one other such baby, now a small girl living in Pennsylvania, has survived) and would help him however they could. They forgave every cent of the co-pay bills from birth up until Nikolina's second birthday (which will be in the spring of next year), at which point her medical expenses should taper off.

Nonetheless, living expenses remained a problem. Shane burned through his savings and withdrawn retirement funds while unemployed and took a 25% salary cut on his new job. Some day he will catch up to where he was. For now, I help him.

Some day Lizzie, too, will catch up. First, she needs to repay her student loans, and second, she needs tenure and promotion to associate professor. After that, she will be able to be on her own. I hope so since after that I would like to retire and devote full-time to writing and part-time international consulting. For now, that option is only a distant dream.

Recently, I told Lizzie, "I don't mind giving you all that I have. Just keep in mind that based on financial affairs to date, there will likely be no inheritance for you kids."

"No problem, Mom," she wrote. "I hate the idea of getting rich from your death." (Hah! No danger of that! In 2000, we moved from a 13-room house into a small RV and in the process gave away everything to the kids that they wanted, sold all of the rest that we could, and gave away all the rest to a neighbor who provided libraries in the Philippines with our books and needy families there with our household goods. We really did literally what Jesus said: "give away everything" and live for and with God. We have never missed any of it, and the joy of being unencumbered was surpassed only by the joy of all the people we were able to help with our accumulations.)

Personally, I hate the thought of my kids ever getting rich. That would mean a change in values. It would mean that they are no longer giving away all that they can, and I know that they do give away everything that they have at the moment if someone needs it more -- including what I give to them. I also know that they and my grandkids are as chronically happy as I am. I imagine it has a lot to do with not worshipping the god of money.


  1. I hadn't thought about it til just now, but I have never imagined any of my 5 kids being rich. None of them are acquisitive anyway...just never thought about it.

  2. Your post reminds of this bit I wrote a while back:

    "The university was expected to produce money-makers, young energetic capitalistic chainsaws. Not citizens; not....human beings in the fullest sense of the term."


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