My grandpa, my mom’s dad, was a hoarder.
He was a straight up, legitimate hoarder.
I’m sure much of this stemmed from him growing up in the middle of the Great Depression. It left quite an imprint on his concept of abundance. While it was hard on our family to see him accumulate so much stuff and a pain to clear it all out when he died in 1992, his hoarding left a positive legacy.
In addition to the magazines he kept stacked too high and whatever he filled that 3 car garage full with, he also hoarded money. When driving cross country, he’d stop along the way to open a new bank account. After he died, the family kept receiving bank statements from around the country and finding books with money hidden inside.
His primary account was, of course, in our hometown. He opened it in 1947, 2 years after he came home from the War. Along the way, he added my mom as a joint account holder and she still has that checking account today.
The business of banking has changed a lot in 69 years. The name of the bank has changed many times, eventually settling on Wells Fargo. But my mom still has that account because it was her dad’s. Even though the interest rate sucks, even though they charge her the occasional fee. She has so much pride when she holds up her card and it shows its been open longer than she’s been alive. That’s Gramps’ account and that means something.
And I can’t say that I blame her. I too have Grandpa money. For all the kid’s birthdays every year, we got savings bonds, back when those paid interest. Much of it covered my expenses to go to college. Without my Grandpa money, I wouldn’t have been able to graduate debt free with my undergraduate degree.
He also started a whole life insurance policy for me and my siblings when we were born. My sister cashed hers out to cover the down payment for her house. I still have mine. I’ve kept it as a safety net, just in case, but also because its Grandpa money. It’s what I have left.
My mom and I aren’t making rational financial decisions with this money. It is Grandpa/Dad money and that’s why we keep it. I know whole life isn’t a good investment. My mom knows that keeping her money at Wells Fargo isn’t the best for her money. The only reason we keep it is because of him.
But to honor him, we shouldn’t squander this legacy. After all, what we are cherishing are an expensive account and an inefficient savings vehicle. Grandpa wouldn’t have tolerated that. It is time to cash in and close down these accounts.
Nothing about these accounts can bring him back. The best I can do is do him proud.
Miss you, Gramps!