My Father’s only investment

Have you ever stayed in a hotel where the shower is a glass cubicle in the middle of the room? No? I am in a room like that now and this is the picture. If I wasn’t dog tired, I would have been seriously spooked – taking a shower and looking at your bed is a rather uncomfortable feeling; there is the suspicion that it will all collapse and the water will run through the room, my computer, clothes and the rest. Also, there is the possibility that one forgets to draw the curtains; can you imagine taking a shower with the light on and the curtains open? Poor people in the apartment block opposite. But I am digressing.

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Tonight I am very tired to write any ‘clever stuff’ – after all in the last week I have been to South Africa and Poland. Too much travelling, this is, and that is not how ‘clever stuff’ is written. Not by me, anyway. John said something on the phone tonight that concerns me a bit; when I mentioned that I am not sure whether I’ll write tonight he said: ‘You may be all written out!’ I really hope I am not written out: I am having too much fun doing it. So, back in the saddle and if tiredness is impeding profound meaning then I’ll just try to be polite and tell you a story.

I would like to thank everybody who left a comment on our post about paying off our rather uncomfortably large debt. You are too many to reply to individually but we value each and every comment. Some of them, I found really emotional – guys, keep going and pay your debt off. Anyone can do it; you just have to draw on your internal strength and live your life as you have never done before.

I feel very humbled because all messages left here were overflowing with warmth and positivity. On another board, one I used to write on before I started The Money Principle, several people noted that I mentioned skiing, and haircuts etc. and pointed out that we obviously had/have a lifestyle that is not accessible to most people in debt. This may be true; but the take out of the story is not about that – it is about the fact that whatever your lifestyle is when you are paying debt off, you don’t have to give up the things you do. The mastery is to learn to do them in different ways! This is what stays with you when the debt is gone and this is learning.

Now, I would like to pay homage to my Dad and tell you about his investment. My Dad came from a family of landowners – his grandfather was a rich landowner in the most fertile part of the country; honest, it is so fertile that the land is black. Anything one may put in the land grows there but it is mainly used for wheat – during the summer the fields look like liquid gold.

When I was little my Dad would tell me how he used to ride with his grandfather for days to see the land and to check on the people working it. And yes, my grandfather inherited some of the land; he was also an accountant (we are getting to the genealogy behind The Money Principle, it seems) and a wealthy man in his own right. My Dad was a communist; a proper one who believed that exploitation should be eliminated and that the way to do this is by ‘expropriating the means of production’.

Simply put, my Dad was on the side of people who took the factories away from their owners and ‘collectivised’ the land. My grandfather went along with it (not that he did have much choice but he didn’t resist or bemoan losing his land). My Dad went in the army and later, much later, he retired as a high ranking officer.

My Dad didn’t invest – this went against his ideological convictions and against his core belief that ‘labour and capital should be one’. He and my mum saved – out of habit (the WWII generation) and because they wanted to leave something behind for their children. Then the changes of the 1990s came, the currency collapsed and was devalued, and Bulgaria embraced wild and unrestricted capitalism. Oh, and my Dad lost all his savings; they were lucky to have paid their home and to have a summer house with land around it.

One thing that my Dad never saved on was my education! There was always money for my books, to travel and explore, to go to university. My Dad never said ‘no’ when it came to my education. He supported me not only through my undergraduate degree but also through my first PhD when he was already retired. My education was his only investment!

Thank you Dad; your only investment has paid off and I am very sad you are not around any longer to rejoice.

This is all for now, my friends. Now, it is time for rest.

15 thoughts on “My Father’s only investment”

  1. Although I did not get a PhD.  My parents paid for a deluxe education!, prep school and college.  They always felt education was important. Their only investment besides me was in businesses.

  2. Very moving piece Maria. My parents didn’t pay for college, tuition was free through scholarship and I covered my living expenses with side hustles. But they always said that if I did need money to go to study abroad or do an expensive master I could count on it. Financing the first years taught me the value of money and I found a company to pay for my master. Had I gone for a medicine degree where it is virtually impossible to have a side job, I am sure they would have paid for it, they value education greatly and so do I. Although you don’t need a degree to get by in life, you learn many life skills at uni and they help you face life with more ease.

  3. Your Dad had his priorities right.  My Mum went out to work in a kitchen to pay for my school uniform when I got a scholarship to a Grammar School and I’ll always be grateful.
     
    Take care and don’t run yourself into the ground (says Grannie Pat).

  4. That’s a fabulous story – and it could be mine in so many ways.  I am from Croatia, and my dad was a communist idealist too…. With the same priorities as your dad.  Sadly, by the time I reached university the socialism had collapsed, our country was at war, and their savings were gone – and I know my dad always felt like a failure because of that.  Personally, though, no regrets – my life could not have worked out better no matter how hard I tried, and luckily, my dad is still around (83 and still going strong), so this is a timely reminder for me not to waste any time and to make sure that he knows how much I appreciate everything he and Mum had done for me even though things didn’t work out the way they hoped they would !
    So thanks for that :)

  5. You  may be tired and maybe you are travelling too much, but never doubt your ability to say something meaningful. I find  I need time to digest your writing and refer back regularly. That is a good sign cos I hate reading things twice!
    Your parents sound like good people who lived through some very hard times, they did what we all try to do – the best we can for our children.
    Try to get some rest.

  6. Wow – that was an incredible tribute to your dad, and I am positive he is very proud of you now, even if he can’t physically enjoy your accomplishments with you. As a history major, I personally found your family’s history fascinating; I’d love to read more about this in future posts!

  7. What a great tribute! Nice to read a post with such respect.
    In a way, this reminds me of my own parents.  They’re old but still around, and I have to say they made real sacrifices to help me with education.  It was probably their biggest investment.
     

  8. Thank you, guys, for the kind words. Yes, my Dad was a great man. Everytime I am tempted to tell one of our sons that we can’t support him any longer I remember what he did – and my hope soars. We can’t do much but provide opportunities for our children!

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