My father Roy Hall is pictured above, far right, with his mother and brothers at home in December 1942. He died recently (distinctivelife.com/obituary/roy-hall/). As one of my friends commented after meeting him, “Still waters run deep.” In recent years I learned just how deep, thanks to listening, supporting, and finally, caregiving. Allow me to summarize some lessons learned, many of which I’ve shared before.
Grinders do better than gamblers. Daddy was an accountant, and worked for Shell 42 years. “Sounds boring,” said a skeptical descendant. “It was,” he replied. He saved 20% of his income from day one. “Net or gross?” I asked. “Gross.”
Self-help can be a false economy. Daddy managed his own investments, and came to regret it. “I was too conservative.”
It’s never too late to learn. When Daddy retired and rolled his pension fund over, he hired his first financial advisor. At 88, he was still doing his taxes, but hired a CPA anyway, if only to spare me the eventual trouble. When we all flooded in Harvey, he upgraded to a management agency and bill-pay from a local bank.
With powers of attorney, sometimes, less is more. When Daddy gave me his POA, I went maybe 4 years without using it on a financial account. In the meantime, I acted as his secretary rather than agent, running around town and collecting forms and returning his signature, not mine, as he managed his own business. By the time it was truly my turn, each power of attorney had long since been accepted (thank you, Steve Adell, Fidelity, and Frost Bank) or a workaround substituted (e.g., joint ownership without right of survivorship at Bank of America).
Delegation can be a growth experience. For me and Daddy, it began with reviewing the mail together as I backed my way into a balance sheet and cash flow statement, one invoice and statement at a time. Daddy was legally blind, couldn’t drive, and too deaf to use the phone. Reconciling his memories and my spreadsheets, he and I were equally delighted to discover his mental status was better than mine (okay, maybe I was more delighted than him). Never again will I assume an old body means an old brain.
Played right, medical directives enhance life, not shorten it. Daddy had to fight for a pacemaker. He got it, and promptly signed a DNR. Years later, after three hospitalizations in a month, he refused further IV antibiotics and blood transfusions, but got them anyway. After that, he signed Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment, limiting hospitalization to comfort care. With excellent home health, he lived another fifteen months.
Thanks for the enduring lessons, Daddy. Rest in peace.