While on a plane last night trying to get back to New York, I sat next to a guy who was a retired sanitation worker (over 25 years) originally from New York, but retired with his wife in Florida. He decided (since we were flying aimlessly from one undesirable city to the next to avoid the thunder showers) to tell me about his life, including his marriage, his two daughters, where he’s lived, etc. He had no interest in learning anything about my life (in fact, since my phone had died and I had no other way of checking time, he never even realized I asked him what time it was about three times before his neighbor kindly told me). He told me that when his two daughters went to college, he bought each of them a brand new car of her choice.
I was struck by his enormous generosity and told him. A lot of parents buy their children cars; not all of them would let their children choose it, and have it be brand new. He shrugged and responded, “Well, this is how I look at it: I’m not rich by any means, but we all have some money. While I’m alive, I want to allow my kids to enjoy that, and I want to see them enjoy it with my own eyes. It’s better this way than leaving it to them when I die and I can’t see anything!”
I was immediately overwhelmed and could feel my eyes slightly watering at this statement. In some ways, it’s kind of morbid because he’s anticipating his death, but on the other hand, he’s trying to be positive and ensure he’s able to enjoy life (with his family) as much as possible for the rest of his limited time on earth.
I wish my parents thought the same way – not because I want them to buy me a new car, mind you, but because they’d probably be happier and more fulfilled people.