Monday, May 4, 2009


We are experiencing the dramatic impact of what may become an international pandemic along with severe economic difficulties. Both problems are called by several different names, Pandemic, Swine Flu or H1N1A; Recession, Depression, or Economic Downturn. These events will impact individual families, specific countries, and the entire world socially and financially immediately and in future generations.

Both of these problems influenced my family going back to the Pandemic of 1918 when my father’s only sibling, Elsie, died while he was in his senior year at the University of Illinois. About three years later his mother, Clara, also died from a different strain of flu. Those two deaths had a lifelong influence upon my father that he could never totally overcome. Being a first generation American, he lost the two beloved women in his life at that time within just a few years. He then lost his sole remaining family member when his father slipped on the ice on a cold 1931 winter day in Chicago and died as a result of the fall and head injury.

While the Flu took his mother and sister, it was the dramatic Depression of 1929 that lastingly impacted my dad when his father lost his entire fortune with the collapse of the stock market. As a young man establishing himself in business, he was forced to assume the entire financial support of his father until he died. Grandfather had been a prosperous restaurateur in downtown Chicago who owned a prime piece of real estate which the Bank of America Building now occupies. All was lost due to grandfather’s ill advised investments in the futures market.

When I say that the 1918-1919 Pandemic and The Great Depression had a lasting influence on dad, as a result, those events also affected me. My father was so concerned about financial obligations that he never bought a home and always rented thus lived virtually from paycheck to paycheck without investments. Although I am not as cautious as he about finances, I am conservative about most things in life.

I remember well that each year around December 15th dad would go into a funk, which continued through the Christmas season. I vividly remember mom suggesting that we both give dad some extra space around the Holidays, because he felt so blue. He frequently expressed his deep loss of his sister, mother and father, especially at the holidays. With the early loss of his father, my dad was the sole remaining member of his family. These losses were a hole in his day to day life until the day he died in 1976.

So what is the point of this story? I was an only child and greatly miss my parents who I lost a number of years ago. I was fortunate to have them both for a long time. Mom died of old age at 94, and dad just gave in to old age at 83. The point is live life well every day that the Good Lord gives you. Love, and appreciate your entire family, because they are what make the quality of one’s life something unique, and worthwhile.

Pandemics come and go, just as Depressions or Recessions so we just have to hunker down and make the necessary adjustments to place our loved ones in the best possible position to cherish each day we have together.


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