Saturday, 3 April 2010

All for nothing

When Sue met Sam, he was working in the building trade.  She was a civil servant, working in the financial department.  Their romance was opposed by both of their families.  Sue's family felt that Sam, as a building worker, was beneath her socially: Sam's family thought that Sue was too "stuck up" for him - this opinion based on the fact that she was well educated.  Nevertheless, the relationship bloomed and they married within a year.

Their first home was a dilapidated, tiny house, but Sue had ambition and Sam was happy to follow her lead.  They renovated the house and saved hard for several years.  Sam became a supervisor in the building firm for which he worked.

A small, local kitchen installation company became available for purchase, and Sue saw it as an opportunity for the couple to improve their standing.  Sam knew little about kitchen fitting, but he was prepared to learn, and happy to put in long hours.  His supervisory experience was very useful and his cheerful, affable disposition made him a natural salesman without the need to use guile.  Sue continued to work in the civil service and looked after the company's books in the evenings.  The business grew steadily.

Sam and Sue decided to postpone starting a family until they became financially secure.  Twenty years later, Sue had given up her civil service career to work full-time in their business and it was going well.  They had moved into a modest detached home (close to my home) and it was time to start their family.  A baby boy duly appeared.

The little boy didn't interfere very much with their business.  Sam and Sue lived quite frugally and invested their excess cash in property.  Local property wasn't terribly lucrative,  so they moved their money to property in the rapidly growing USA market.

Sam worked around 10 hours a day, 6 days a week.  His only recreation was his weekly snooker night.  Sue only worked about 40 hours, but she also looked after the family home and most of their son's needs.  There wasn't much of a social life - they were focussed on saving for their retirement and for their son's future.

The last few years haven't been so good.  The USA property market more or less collapsed and their son rejected their lifestyle and moved to a squat in London.  They rarely see him.  Sue and Sam, approaching their chosen retirement date, seemed to have lost some of their ambition.

A few months ago, Sam had a heart attack.  He seemed to recover, but another heart attack, last week, proved fatal.  Sue claims that her life is over too.  All those years of struggle and self denial - it was for nothing, Sue told me.  Just a waste of 40 years.

I feel really sorry for Sue, but I hope that she will find it possible to create a new and different life for herself.  After all, she might have another 30 years or so to live.

Sam and Sue's story has made me even more determined to take as much pleasure as possible from every day.  Plan a little for the future, but not too much.  Try to avoid regrets in later years.   

And teach my children and grandchildren to do the same.


The Fairweather Blogger said...

I agree. An incredible waste of life. But I suppose they thought they were doing things right for their Son and their retirement.

A life full of aspirations for the future is no life in the present.


maz said...

Hi guys, you know what? i think we all know people who are too focussed on tomorrow that they miss today!
I guess I was a little bit like that too but when Coo became really poorly and very quickly too, it kinda pulls you up short and reminds you of what's important!
I hope Sue does find some more happy times!
maz x

ladythinker said...

I agree - NOW - is all we can be certain of. This is not a rehearsal.

Michelle said...

How incredibly sad. An incredibly good point, though. I missed so much of my first son's growing up because I was future-oriented.

Sapphyre said...

This story reminded me of my hubby's parents. They'll never run out of money in their retirement, but hubby missed out on doing much with his folks as they never wanted to spend any money.

And now he lives in Australia with me. They are happy he is happy, but what i don't understand is why did they buy him a burial plot next to them in their home town... they honestly thought they would outlive him. Sad.

Robert said...

Michelle - I've been there too! When I was much younger, I got my career/family mix wrong. I spent too much time on my career and left the majority of the family matters to my wife. When my children got older and told me that I wasn't in their lives enough, I had to re-evaluate my direction in life. I realised what was really important in life and I've never looked back.

It wasn't totally my fault - business gurus, business coaches, self-help books etc... all emphasised singlemindedness in business/career. They may all have been right about making a successful business/career, but making a successful life is way more complicated than that!

Robert said...

Sapphyre - It sounds like your hubby's parents suffer from an excess of selfishness! I'll bet that they didn't give your hubby enough of their time, either. My wife's father and my 2nd wife threw money at their children, but never spent enough time with them!

Your hubby is lucky that he found you (and/or vice-versa) since lots of kids are damaged by their parents' behaviour to their children.

Robert said...

TFB, maz and ladythinker - We're all singing from the same hym, sheet!

♥ Kathy said...

How sad :( I actually quit my job when my children were young so that I could be with them. I wanted to be the one to teach them everything.