Some Thursdays are just another day of helping clients manage their financial lives, divorcing couples navigate a good financial outcome, and helping those with less funds get started through online planning. Today’s Thursday involved a midday break to attend a celebration of life ceremony for a friend’s brother who died unexpectedly. Danny, as I briefly knew him, is one of those good souls, the kind of person I’d want to be near in any kind of trouble. At the service, we heard from several who’d known Danny for decades and his kindness was universal and consistent. The whole family is like that – even the extended family. Having lived all over this country, I’ve found there are good people everywhere – you just have to find them. The Reeves family and extended family are good people.
Patsy, Danny’s widow, described their blended family as having been “grafted together with many, many ‘opportunities’ to grow in understanding and love”. When a person from Chicago (as I am born and raised) hears ‘graft’, we don’t normally consider opportunities to grow in understanding and love, but Patsy was very convincing and as I thought about it, it occurred to me that her understanding of blending families is profound and important. Grafting can mean transplanting (living tissue) as a graft. This is no easy task. It means lots of days when one could make the choice to not be understanding, not love the family member and definitely not grow. But if you took the more difficult path as Danny and Patsy clearly have, what could be the rewards for that? In winemaking grafting means taking root stock that works and placing a new vine on top of it to get something even better than that with which you started. And so it is with good people.
I’m part of a blended family. Murray and I share 11 grandchildren with another on the way, and eight children, all grown up. As I’ve known him, he never uses “step” in front of children. I like that. And even if some of the folks in our extended families have yet to consider our blending an opportunity to grow in understanding and love, we will welcome them with open arms the day they decide to do so. I do not recall Danny making reference to anyone other than his family, kids, and grandkids – no special/segregating titling. Just family.
True wealth is so much more than money. It’s taking those opportunities to grow in understanding and love wherever they show up – our community, our family, our work, and friends. Here’s to you Danny, Patsy - to when graft is a good thing!