“Going Down Swinging,” Part 2 - Rich, Dad Poor Dad, My Dad
About ten years ago, there was a best selling book entitled Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki. I do not particularly recommend it because I believe that Kiyosaki’s financial advice is not very balanced, leaning very heavily to real estate and heaping excessive, though on occasion justifiable, criticism at some very good financial strategies and products. But I’m going to share with you what I consider the best part. The author, Robert Kiyosaki, had two paternal influences in his life, his real father and the father of one of his friends.
His real father was “poor Dad,” a professor, a very intelligent man, who was very conservative, financially and otherwise. “Rich Dad” was a businessman who was not afraid to take a risk or “think outside the box.” Kiyosaki does a good job comparing and contrasting these approaches, which might make his book a good library pickup, but I’ll bet you already know several ‘rich Dads” and “poor Dads” in your own life.
In my case, my father was very much a “poor Dad.” He was brought up on Cape Cod, and raised by a single mother who worked as a night telephone operator to put money on the table for her five children He got a job with the post office around 1940 (which kept him out of World War 2), and held it for the necessary thirty years to earn a livable retirement
Dad’s world view was that life was all about being connected. I remember him telling my older brother, night after night at the dinner table, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” My brother applied to college anyway, and to Dad’s shock, got into the University of Notre Dame as an engineering major. Then my other brother got in, and then I did. I know he was proud of us, primarily because Mom later told us so, but I honestly don’t think he knew what to make of his kids taking risks and having some successes.
Dad was a true Cape Codder with “sand in his shoes,” as the local expression goes. He hated going “off Cape.” When my grandfather died, Dad agreed to go to Boston and "take over," along with my Uncle, the running of the family hardware store. This was a big opportunity at that time. I was going into my senior year of high school, and didn’t relish the thought of moving (I had already been dating my wife Melanie for 3-4 years at that point), but as it turned out, I didn't have to move. Dad lasted three weeks in the Boston area. He hated it, and turned the store over to my Uncle.
Dad discovered in his late 50s that he actually did like to travel. He and Mom went to Bermuda a couple of times with friends, and he really enjoyed it. But he had been a heavy smoker and fairly heavy drinker for all of his life, and the resulting lung and liver problems caught up to him in his early 60s. The last time I saw him before he died, he said to me, “I’ve got nobody to blame but myself.”
It makes me sad to even write out those words over thirty years later. As it has been said:
In my next installment, I'm going to do my level best to help us all avoid ever having to think or say anything like that at the end of our lives