As the morning sunlight peeked through the curtains hanging in the back of my grandparents’ motorhome, I squinted my eyes open and stretched out my arms as my body readied itself for the day. It’s hard to say if it was really the sunlight that woke me. It’s equally likely that my slumber was (happily) interrupted by the poignancy of the bacon frying on the stove. Or the putt-putt-puff of the hit n’ miss engines that permeated the campground air. And yet, it’s still entirely possible that it was actually one of my sleeping brother’s knees lodged into the middle of my back as we all shared the queen size mattress at the back of our temporary home.
Whichever it was, one thing was for certain: life was good.
I was 11 years old and it was the first morning of our annual campout with my grandparents at the Hancock County Fairgrounds. You see, my Grandpa Hermon (Mel) was a self-dubbed “antique junk collector” and part of the endeavors associated with such a title was the annual attendance of the Northwest Ohio Antique Machinery Association's Tractor & Gas Engine Show in Findlay, Ohio.
The thing was, though, that Grandpa wasn’t just a collector - he was a dealer. For all of the years that our lives intersected, he would collect small gas engine parts and then travel the state selling these parts to his tractor-loving peers. Findlay, Plain City, West Liberty, Lagrange – just to name a few. Being the grandkids and non-paid help of the operation, our job was to help build the awning at the beginning of the week, cover and uncover the parts tables under said awning on a daily basis and make water runs across the fairground to replenish the converted bleach bottles for Grandma.
(I would be remiss if I didn’t modify that “non-paid” comment. Because we were paid, just not with cash. Instead, our payment came in the form of daily snow cones, homemade ice cream and did I mention the bacon my Grandma was frying up?)
Me and my two brothers loved shacking up in the motorhome with Grandma and Grandpa for those days. We spent most of our time running around, playing in the creek, getting dirty, visiting the sports card vendor at the flea market at least 8 times a day and, as we got a little older, looking for all the cute girls on the campground. I will forever attest that these days, spent with my grandparents at campgrounds and parks in the dog days of summer, were some of the absolute best days of my life.
So what does any of this have to do with a wealth advising company? Good question. Read on for the answer.
We’ve recently posed the question to our clientele, “Where Could Retirement Take YOU?” As a financial and retirement planning company, we know how important it is to folks that they spend their retirement on their own terms. Part of our mission statement says “money doesn’t come with instructions and we want people to be able to focus on what they care about most.”
It’s hard to know exactly what 9-year old Travis would have said if you had asked him the question, “What do you think your Grandma and Grandpa care about most?” I can imagine, however, that he would have given you some combination of an answer centered around gas engines, baseball, knitting, puzzles, and Dr. Pepper. But if you ask 36-year old Travis what I think my grandparents cared about most, the answer would be unmistakable: their family.
They cared about us boys – me, Troy, and Brian. They cared about our cousins and their granddaughters, Cassie and Carrie. They cared about my Mom & Dad, my Aunt & Uncle. They cared about making memories with us. Sure, my Grandpa cared DEEPLY about the game of baseball. So deeply that the memories I have of him missing ANY of our games while he was living are few and far between. My grandma? Well, to this day, I still have blankets floating around my house that she knitted for us. And I blame my vice of drinking Dr. Pepper on the fact that the supply of them buried under nuggets of ice in that steel cooler outside of the motorhome seemed to be endless. So yes, those things were undoubtedly staples in their lives. But they weren’t what they really cared about MOST. That honor, was reserved for the paid help of the operation and the rest of their family.
So that leaves me with this question: where could retirement take YOU?
For my grandparents, the answer to that question was the Hancock County Fairground. It was Pastime Park in the middle of Plain City, OH. It was the West Liberty Lions Club Ball Park. And it turned out, their retirement wasn’t only a reservation for two – they managed to make some room for a few tagalongs from time to time as well.
So I would challenge you to consider the fact that where you end up spending your retirement may have life-lasting implications not only on you, but also on those around you that you love the most. What memories are you going to make? Where are you going to spend your time? Who are you bringing with you? The memories we set ourselves up to create are treasures that will forever live in the minds of those we choose to bring along with us.
Who knows, maybe even one day your grandkids will write a blog about you on their company website.
Written in loving memory of my grandparents: Mel & Patty Hermon and Tom & Leota Bevan.