Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Inheritance: You can't take it with you; on the other side, you start over

Sunday morning, May Day, Rev. Judith Fulp-Eickstaedt at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington, VA, gave a sermon “Imperishable, Undefiled, Unfading”,  (I Peter 1:4) where she mentioned the controversy over inheritance taxes and the flurry over the expiration and renewal of the exemptions recently – with the message, you can’t take it with you anyway. Whatever happens, when you land on the other side, in a parallel universe, you start over.

An aunt passed away in October, after several years in assisted living in Ohio, and I was surprised to find out how much she never spent.  She really didn’t know how to spend it. A victim of meningitis as a small girl with stunted growth (during the 1920s), she wound up supporting the rest of the family. Back in the thirties, she gave music lessons at an upright piano that would be in grandmother’s den for years.  In the 1980s, she actually worked in an hourly job in a laundry, and then took care of an older sister.  The accumulated wealth came from a house left by our grandmother, whom she took care of, and then an older sister, whom she took care of in the 90s. But, living modestly in apartments, she never knew what she had.

Financial stability certainly helps, in in the long run, one of the most important aspects of life in the senior years is being able to get done the work one thinks one should do. (For me, at least.)  There is a certain physicality to it that money has little or nothing to do with.

Something else: every publicly successful artist or composer had to be taught by someone at some point.

Below, a more distant relative in Ohio: 

Below, apartment building where aunt lived for years, in 80s and 90s, until Oberlin College bought it for dorm space:

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