Friday, January 27, 2012

In Memory Of A Wonderful Friend

He was my guy. You know, my financial guy. The kind of guy that everybody loves when the market is up. When the market is down....well you know what I'm talking about.

He took me out of pity. The meager sums I saved were nothing near his average client. I was well below his minimum. But we had a common friend. And he liked me and my wife. We were his kind of people. Bargain shoppers. We bought low and sold high.

Over the years we talked every few months. He would take my wife and I out to dinner in the early days. Later, he would come to the house and entertain my children before we could chase them off to bed and talk financials.

It was a working relationship. But certainly he was the type of guy I would be friends with anyway. He invited us to his house many times to meet his wife and kids. We always had some reason to decline. There was usually something going on. We never had enough time.

We eventually learned his story and he ours. About how he met his wife in India. About how he didn't think he would marry and Indian girl. And about his children and the various activities they were involved in.

Occasionally there was turbulence. After all, the market was doing horribly. But we still came to him for advice; sometimes about money, sometimes about life.

He was kind and considerate. He was patient and calm. He always had a smile on his face.

Awhile back he called to tell me he had excepted a job with a new firm. I was proud that instead of expressing dismay or concern about my own financial well being, the first thing I said to him was "Congrats...I'm happy for you!"

He was surprised. I was the only client who had congratulated him. Later, we talked about how we would move our funds over to his new firm. I could care less who he worked for, it was his advice I was interested in.

A week later I called for a brief question about funds transfer. He was in the middle of a meeting, but took the time to answer me anyway. Little did I know that those were the last words I would ever speak to him. Thirty minutes later he collapsed in his office. In a few days he was gone. He never woke up.

My wife and I went to his funeral. As I watched his children, I flashed back to my own father's death. He died the same way. I approached the casket and mumbled condolences to his family. And there he was. His face edematous and puffy. Unrecognizable compared to the handsome smiling facade imprinted on my memory.

During the ceremony family and friends spoke about his affect on their lives. His clients were especially vocal. A widow talked of how he had promised to take care of her finances after her husband's death. And he had. An older man spoke of how he had traveled with him to India to guide him in search of his parents ancestry and to spread their ashes. He called him his son. There was no blood relation.

Then there was me. The fool that I was, I had thought that this gentle human being was brought into my life to teach me about money. Money! Useless money!

In reality his lessons were much more valuable. He demonstrated compassion,joy, and love. All these things he gently taught, quietly, and in his own humble way.

And I think of his distorted face and body lying in the casket. They were not a true window into his soul, but more an unkind reflection of what I had become.

One last lesson taught by a masterful teacher.

I wonder If I deserved as much.

2 comments:

Teufelhunden said...

Thank you for articulating this. I've been having similar thoughts lately, pining for the days of fascinated learning, when all these topics were mentally stimulating, before they became permanently attached to the realities of patient care in our modern age. Often, these thoughts pull me in the direction of "Hey, maybe I should do a second residency," with daydreams of being pulled back into didactics, and the like. Not sure how many years removed from training you are, but I think it’s normal to experience a disillusioned lull the first few years out of residency when the romanticized fantasy of post-residency practice is crushed by reality.

Teufelhunden said...

Thank you for articulating this. I've been having similar thoughts lately, pining for the days of fascinated learning, when all these topics were mentally stimulating, before they became permanently attached to the realities of patient care in our modern age. Often, these thoughts pull me in the direction of "Hey, maybe I should do a second residency," with daydreams of being pulled back into didactics, and the like. Not sure how many years removed from training you are, but I think it’s normal to experience a disillusioned lull the first few years out of residency when the romanticized fantasy of post-residency practice is crushed by reality.