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The Problem with Patrimony

June 20, 2015 , , ,

Dick and Ruby marry 1942

Dick and Ruby marry 1942

Men and women have coexisted in inequality for all of history.  Treatment for women around the world is just now starting to bring the female population out of slavery to the male population.  The serious wounds to culture, development and education can be healed, but only through a process of patience and forgiveness.  In the developed world we struggle for equal pay, but in the third world females have a very hard time getting an education or determining their own fate.  How do we make a path that will lead to respect and appreciation for both sexes in our societies?  There are economic barriers as well as political practices that impede progress toward equality.  Cultural beliefs about roles and appropriate careers change slowly without outside help.  Figures show that educating women and making small business loans available to them is the best way to jump start local economies.  Many great examples are popping up around the globe.  Still, Boko Harum kidnaps and marries school girls.  Violence against women continues, as does slavery and sex trafficking.

Tomorrow is Fathers Day, a time to commemorate the contributions of all fathers living and dead.  I am extremely grateful all my forefathers survived in order that I might exist.  I wonder about their politics.  I have studied them throughout history and wonder about their secrets and inner beliefs.  There is evidence of discord in some of my family history, between husbands and wives, but there are also examples of dedicated and happy families (according to history).  My family was probably about average on the bliss and harmony scale.

I was fortunate to be born a boomer because women’s liberation as a socio/political movement in the United States gained momentum when I was a teen.  I can clearly remember calling my father a male chauvinist pig when I was in high school, only partly joking.  My parents wanted no liberation for my mother, but had mixed feelings about my own. They always said I could achieve anything, but still focused on dress code more than education.  My mom scored some liberation in her 60’s because my parents took up hot air ballooning.  Ruby was not only the ground crew, a sometime pilot, but most importantly, she could sew the balloon when it was damaged.  My parents were exposed to younger people in the ballooning circles, and I noticed that my dad needed her as an equal in that situation. He started to treat her with a bit more respect in the balloon days.  They were born in the 1920’s, so there was only so far they could be expected liberate.  I suppose they went as far as they could toward equality.

My father had a stroke and pretty steep decline of his facilities which left him unable to handle finances.  The problem was at that time my mom had never balanced their checkbook, let alone had any understanding of the investments/insurance/retirement plans they had.  She was not really in shape to learn everything about finances at age 78.  She learned Quicken and began to do the bill paying and simple tasks.  I convinced them to move to Tucson to a retirement home so I could keep an eye on them.  This worked well for a while until my dad’s health took another serious dive.  He was in the hospital, looking very much like he might die when I asked him about his estate.  He told me to ask his accountant.  I called and learned that his accountant had no idea what all his assets were, or where they were.  Neither did my dad.  He did survive that scrape and lived for a few more years, but the crisis gave me the opportunity to find out that:

  1. Although they told me they had a trust, they had no assets in trust, just a folder
  2. My father had obligations to partners in New Mexico who could call for cash any time
  3. There was no market for the oil shares in New Mexico, so he could not sell them
  4. His vast holdings and constant call for cash had the potential of breaking his bank

This reality hit me like a brick when I was already emotionally stressed about my dad and his near death.  I managed to help them get their assets into a trust.  By then they had to have separate property trusts drawn up to protect my mom from my father’s deeply speculative dealings.  This was expensive, but the alternative was divorce after more than 60 years to protect my mom.  The oil properties had to be legally described and placed into trust, then he stopped paying the cash calls.  His lawyer told the partners he had nothing to contribute, which was true.  Finally after about 3 years of negotiating the partners let him out of his obligations.  I have no idea what happened to all the wells, but the deed was signed in Texas the day after my dad died in Tucson. His final act on earth was to be released from that piece of bad judgement.

My father believed that the price of oil could never go down over time. He plunged more money that he rationally had into that belief because he was a petroleum engineer.  He had no financial sense, and by the time he started buying into those wells he had no sense of any kind. My mom had no protection and no way to guess how wacky his finances had become because he stayed in charge after he was incompetent.  From that experience I learned a lot about finances and investments.  Not only did I help them put their house in order and in trust, I put all my assets in trust.  I am happy I learned enough to save my mother’s financial fate, and possibly my own.   This Father’s Day I honor my dad and all his forefathers.  Here’s hoping that their ideas of patrimony fade, for everyone’s sake.

Dick 1945

Dick 1945

 

 

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comments

What a great perspective Pam! It’s a nice comparison you set up between your mom and you in the time frame of those events.

Liked by 1 person

Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

June 22, 2015

That is a very interesting article that naturally made me think about my own parents. My dad heavily taught me to stick up for my own opinion but I can tell that he was shocked that I absorbed his words so well and became much more outspoken and “emancipated” than he ever dreamed of :-). Meanwhile he recovered from the shock.

In our family we spoke about money issues and entrepreneurship during our meals. Until my dad’s retirement my mom was the finance minister. My brother once summarized it very accurately: “No wonder one of us is in finance (which is him) and the other one into how things function (me); after all that’s what we spoke about at dinner table”.

Liked by 1 person

Brigitte Kobi

June 22, 2015

I guess it was not as uncommon as I thought to have a woman in charge of the purse…but it was never so at my parents’ home. We talked about the oil business at dinner…

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Pamela Morse

June 22, 2015

England seems to have done better under its Queens than its Kings…

Liked by 1 person

Frederick Edward rehfeldt

June 23, 2015

You are right about that, Cousin Rick. I like the current queen very much but do not look forward to Charles

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Pamela Morse

June 24, 2015

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