My dad turned 60 years old this year. Now that I am married and going to be a dad, I can relate a bit more with him. He is an awesome father and, to this day, I continue to learn life lessons from him. He teaches by his actions and his stories. One story in particular, has recently had a great impact on me. It is the story of my dad’s best day.
It was perfect weather as it typically is in the fall in Southern California. 1985, Regan was in the White House, gas prices were up and Richard Ramirez stalked the LA basin. My parents were 27 at the time and my brother and I were 10 and 2, respectively. My mom was working the night shift in a cleanup crew at a hospital. My dad was working as a manager at a group home for special needs adults. They were broke, as most young couples just starting out are but my parents made the best of it. As my dad says “We were so poor, we didn’t have two nickels to rub together.”
It was a Saturday and my older brother played Junior All American Football at the high school across the street from our house. My dad volunteered to run the first down marker and chain gang. As I was just a little guy, my mom walked the track surrounding the field with me in my stroller. He watched as a proud father as his son played ball in the California twilight and his toddler experienced the wonders of childhood. After the game, we went as a family to the Italian deli up the street. We all shared a couple of grinders with a side of chips. We had a blast that day. My dad always says, shaking his head, “it was our last 5 bucks at the time”. My parent’s specifically budgeted this occasion into their weekly expenses. That was as close to a vacation as they could afford. Simple times and simple pleasures but that is what the “good stuff” of life is made from.
33 years ago and he talks about it like it was yesterday. Like he can smell the fresh cut grass on the football field. Like he could hear the referees blowing their whistles. Like he could see the dust on my knees from playing on the dirt track. Like he could taste the bakery fresh bread from the grinder. Every minute detail of the day. A more vivid picture than he could ever paint.
My dad has gone on to become a successful businessman. He has since divorced from my mom and remarried. He moved on from the Los Angeles suburbs and now has a 5 acre spread in the Southern California wine country. He has traveled the world. He has achieved a level of financial freedom in his own right.
Yet, I can still see his eyes light up when he remineses back to that day. All that he would achieve in his later life, didn’t matter. All the houses, cars, boats and vacations he has had do not come close to the life he felt that day. The day he will treasure until his last. He only had his humble beginnings and the love of his family. That was enough.
Since I have begun the journey down this path to financial freedom, I find myself reflecting on my dad’s best day. Sometimes it’s necessary to stop and smell the roses. Be thankful and humble. Treasure the fact you have a family, food on the table and a place to call home. Watch the sunset. Give your pets a little extra love. Be in the moment. Realize what a blessing life is. It was just a simpler time. All the riches, all the possessions, all the status in life don’t really matter. They are not going to make you happy. What truely matters most is the moments you have with the people you love. This is why I made the slogan for the site “It isn’t about the money… it’s about living life on your own terms” This is what drives me to achieve financial freedom. To live a life that is free from the rat race. To be able to create as many of these moments as I can with my family. To live life on simpler terms. To be thankful with ENOUGH.