Reflecting on a Life Well-Lived

Last week I attended the visitation and funeral for an uncle, who died unexpectedly. He was a dad, granddad, great granddad, farmer, and insurance agent in a small town, just an hour and a half southeast of the KC Metro area. Nothing I have told you thus far is unusual, except for the following.

This town's population is a little over 3,000, and I would wager to say at least a third of them showed up for the visitation.  My youngest brother and I arrived a little over an hour after it began, and the line for those paying their respects stretched out the doors of the church, all the way to the curb and down the block, and this was how it was for almost five hours.

Without knowing my uncle and seeing the throng of people, you may think he was one of the town's founders, a very important politician, celebrity or business tycoon. Well, he was important and successful in being known as a hardworking, honest, kind, caring, respected and admired.

I only have great memories of my uncle as a wise-cracking, fun, hardworking guy who was strong as an ox, quite intelligent and quick witted, yet always generous. However, as I heard the priest, his oldest son and three of his grandkids talk about him during the service, I realized there was much more to him.

This was a devoted family man who coached, attended and supported innumerable sporting events for his and many, many other kids in town over the years. He volunteered countless hours for a variety of causes. He was quite religious and did not miss church no matter where he traveled. He was the go-to guy when getting things done and the first to help someone else in need, before even being asked. He also helped his wife raise an incredible family whose siblings and their kids are as tight as bark on a tree.

During the funeral mass, they played the country song, "When I Get Where I'm Going."  Click here to see the lyrics or listen to the song.

Well, all I can say is that song completely encapsulated who my uncle was! At the end of the funeral mass, I was emotionally exhausted, and pretty weepy to say the least. I was in good company though because my brother, an ex-college baseball player and pretty rugged guy, wasn't dry-eyed either.

I have to thank God for allowing me to know such a great man, and for blessing us with such incredible weather for his final send off. It was a window in time when the whole world seemed to stop. I wasn't distracted by any noise regarding the market, economy, politics, or headline news about corruption, terrorism, crime, etc. Instead, I was completely in awe of what one man had done over the course of his life to bring approximately one-third of the town folks out to pay their final respects.

Every aspect of daily life from paying bills, dealing with traffic, saving for retirement, etc., took a back seat to just thinking about what I will be remembered for when I die. Will those lives I've touched be able to fill a church several times over? Will I make a difference in just how I treat others daily? Who knows. However, what I do know is that this one event did knock me off center, which is good. It made me realize no amount of money you or me accumulate, will ever match the impact that my uncle had on other people's lives.

That being said, what do you and I want to be known for:

How good of a deal we got on a purchase by taking advantage of the other party;

How quickly we got home from work by cutting others off in traffic and driving aggressively;

How much money we made or saved by making it our vocation in life;

Throwing great parties, being the best dressed, having the newest car, nicest house or biggest TV;

Going on the greatest vacations.

OR

Do we want to be known for all those lives we've touched by being "other focused." Well, it's easy to pick this choice, but it entails us sacrificing our time, energy and money for the benefit of others and that can be a tall task!

I realize this is a much different commentary than the norm, but I felt compelled to share this experience with you. Honestly, the older I get the more I realize how far off the mark I am. That being said, I am acutely aware that my uncle and others have given me great examples of how we should live our lives. Unfortunately, the news is full of stories of celebrities and famous people who seemed to have it all, but die lonely and have a secret, dark side of life that hardly anyone knows about. Well, I would much rather take after my uncle, who may not have been in the headlines, but led a transparent life that everyone knew about and was positively touched and impacted by.  

In conclusion, whatever consumes your time, your thoughts and your emotions is where your heart is and how you will be remembered.

Current Economic News

Current Economic NewsJobs

The number of job openings across the U.S. reached a 13-year high in August, which is a sign that strong job growth may continue.

The Dollar & The Federal Reserve

Worries about slowing growth overseas caused stock markets to decline on Tuesday. However, on Wednesday the U.S. stock market rallied on news that the Federal Reserve minutes showed that the Fed is very aware of economic growth slowdown globally and the possibility of the dollar strength weighing on U.S. companies. As such, the Fed may not be in any hurry to raise rates and investors reacted quite positively.

A September 13, 2014 Wall Street Journal article touted that the U.S. dollar was on its longest winning streak in more than 17 years, rising against a broad basket of currencies for the nine straight weeks according to the ICE U.S. dollar index. The gains reflect investor expectations that the Federal Reserve next year will raise its fed-funds rate for the first time since 2006, while central bankers in Europe and Japan will seek to spur stagnant economies by holding down interest rates and adopting other easy-money policies. The prospect of higher U.S. rates is drawing investors from around the globe in search of stronger returns amid near-zero interest rates.

As a result, a resurgent dollar is bolstering global demand for U.S. stocks and bonds as investors flock to a recovering American economy.

Ironically, an article in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal titled, "Dollar's Surge Imperils Corporate Earnings," noted that many investors are fretting that a rising dollar could dent the sales of some multinational corporations, including materials companies, auto makers and technology firms by making their wares costlier in global markets.

Which point of view is correct? Both! A stronger dollar makes U.S. consumers' purchasing power greater when buying foreigner goods and means that our products are more expensive for foreigners to buy. It is interesting that the stock market can move in opposite directions, on different days, yet on the same information.

Sprint Buyout of Pension Benefits

Sprint has announced a buyout of pension benefits for retired/ex-employees.  You may know associates that have received paperwork in the mail regarding this matter.  I am providing a complimentary analysis of their information for ex-Sprint employees.  The deadline is October 23, 2014 so please contact our office before this date to schedule a meeting. 

Quotes

“Every man should have a fair-sized cemetery in which to bury the faults of his friends."

         Henry Brooks Adams

“The trick is to stop thinking of it as ‘your’ money.”

          IRS auditor

Quotes selected by the IAG staff

“Never squander an opportunity to tell someone you love or appreciate them.”

          Kelly Ann Rothaus

 “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

           Confucius 

Tony Moeller, CPA

 

The information listed in this commentary is a compilation of various publicly available sources and is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation or solicitation of any particular investment or strategy. A risk of loss is involved with investments in the stock and bond markets.

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