The Generosity of Mom and Dad
You could not meet two people who were more generous to their children than mom and dad. As farmers for most of their lives, my parents lived a frugal life, denying themselves eating out in restaurants, buying good clothes, and taking vacations so that my siblings and I would have enough money for an education and a comfortable life.
Throughout their lives, the generosity of my parents was felt by all children. The most generous gift was received in a sizable inheritance following the passing of mom and dad.
In this article, I first recall how I was touched by my parents' generosity while they were still alive. I then describe the inheritance that they left to my siblings and me.
Receiving My Parents' Generosity 1944-1972
Up until the age of 28, mom and dad were extremely generous at certain times in my life. This included receiving sports equipment as a boy and a typewriter while in high school. Without my parents' generosity, I also would not have been able to go to college and graduate with a degree. Each facet of their generosity is now detailed.
Receiving Sports Equipment Gifts as a Boy
I remember dad loving to play baseball with me and others on the playground in the early 1950s. He taught me how to catch a ball and then decided that I should be a catcher. I guess that's why he bought me a catcher's mitt, mask, and shinguards for one Christmas.
Dad also presented me with boxing gloves and taught me how to box after an older boy started bullying me.
Getting a Typewriter as a Christmas Gift in 1959
During my sophomore year in high school, I took typing and did horribly during the first semester. When I told mom and dad that I was in danger of failing, they purchased a portable typewriter for me as a Christmas gift. I still don't know how my parents got the money because they were struggling to farm even though dad had another outside job. With a typewriter at home to practice on, I wound up making a C grade in typing for the school year.
Receiving Financial Aid for College
Although a semester's tuition for in-state students was only $117 in the fall of 1962, I lived in a dormitory on the school campus that provided three meals a day. Since the dormitory expenses were about $1,500 for one year, I needed financial aid for my college expenses.
As a poor dairy farmer, dad had no money saved for my education. He did, however, sell a steer which brought maybe $300 for my first year of college expenses. I also won a small $300 scholarship awarded by my high school. To cover my other expenses, I had to borrow money from the State of Wisconsin. Dad and mom co-signed for my student loans of at least $6,000 to cover my expenses for four years of a college education. Although I earned $800-$900 doing summer employment following my freshman and sophomore years of college, I still needed $1,200 a year for college expenses.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin in August 1966, I attended the University of Michigan Graduate School for almost a year. I remember mom pleading with dad to borrow money from the Production Credit Association PCA in Elkhorn to cover my Michigan expenses. Mom correctly reasoned that I would be drafted into the Army and sent to Vietnam if I didn't have money to attend the University of Michigan.
Taking Advantage of My Parents' Generosity 1967-1988
It is quite obvious that I did not have a sense of responsibility after graduating from college and going into the Navy. I completely ignored the repayment of my student loans and mom and dad were stuck repaying them.
After leaving the Navy in January 1971 and squandering my saved money in Taiwan for six months, I returned jobless to live with my parents from June 1971 through January 1972. I further relied on mom and dad's generosity while living in Taiwan 1973-1979 and then in Maryland 1980-1988.
Accepting My Parents' Generosity While Living in Taiwan 1973-1979
Under the guise of planning to study Chinese in Taiwan, I married a Taiwanese and lived in Taiwan teaching English 1973-1979.
When I first started my home teaching business, I had a few students and needed money for daily expenses. In 1974, mom and dad bailed me out by sending me $1,500.
Although I was self-supporting with a good teaching business in 1978, mom and dad gave me another $1,500 when I visited them for two weeks in July. Mom wanted me to use the money to see a dentist and get my teeth fixed but I used the money for my business in Taiwan instead.
Still Depending on Mom and Dad While Living in Maryland 1980-1988
In December 1980, I accepted employment with the federal government and moved from Toledo, Ohio, to Maryland. During a trip back to Wisconsin to visit my folks in July 1981, my old Dodge Polara stopped working and I had to ditch it at the house which I owned in Toledo. My brother, Philip, then drove out to Toledo from Wisconsin and took my family and me back to Wisconsin to see mom and dad. To get back to Maryland, my dad gave me a used vehicle that my sister Pat had used when she was attending college.
Dad and mom also helped by taking care of my car and dog when I was sent to Taiwan for Chinese language training for one year in the mid-1980s.
Their biggest assistance came when I had a bill of $8,000 which I couldn't pay the federal government in 1988. Dad immediately sent me the money when I pleaded that I might lose my job if I didn't pay the bill.
Trying to Repay My Parents' Generosity
After I separated from and divorced my first wife in the early 1990s, I finally realized that it was time to start repaying my folks for their generosity. I did this by visiting mom and dad at least once a year during my vacations from work. Also, I started giving them money when I could spare it. For mom and dad's birthdays and occasions like Father's and Mother's Day and Christmas, I would always enclose money with a card. I also paid for my folks to come out to Maryland to see me in May 2003 one year before dad passed away. Unfortunately, time ran out and I could not repay my parents financially for all of their assistance.
The Family Farm North of Honey Creek, Wisconsin
Receiving an Inheritance from Mom and Dad
After my mother passed away in May 2011, my siblings and I received a sizable inheritance in money and land from the estate of mom and dad. The family farm was worth at least $500,000 and with the cash that mom and dad had in the bank, each of my siblings and I received the equivalent of a little more than $100,000. My oldest sister's share was reduced by the value of a house in Milwaukee that my parents had purchased in the late 1980s, allowed her to live in, and gave to Beatrice after they passed away.
I was especially surprised and grateful to receive such a sizable inheritance, considering how I had taken so much money from mom and dad while they were still alive.
My parents, perhaps, were so generous with their children because my grandparents on both sides of the family left nothing to my parents after they passed away.
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© 2018 Paul Richard Kuehn