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When is Enough, Enough?

Walking around my grandparents’ complex in sunny Boca Raton, Florida last week, I struck up a conversation with Michael, a recently retired gentleman from Boston, who spoke about his twin daughters.

“They’re in their late twenties,” he said. “One married last fall which cost me $40,000.” He described the venue, the band, even the food. I said it sounded very nice.  “It was,” he said. “But do you think my daughter appreciated it?” He shook his head.

“That’s too bad,” I said.

“Then a few weeks after the wedding she called to say she needed $600 to fix her car.”

“Did you remind her she now had a husband?”

“Yes!” he said, laughing. “That’s exactly what I said.”


“‘Oh no,’ she said. ‘We don’t want to spend our money on that.’” Michael shook his head, still stunned by her response.

“She sounds kind of spoiled,” I told him.

He nodded. “I bought my other daughter a huge apartment and then she called needing money for grad school. Neither of them calls unless they need something. I wish I knew what to do.”

I thought for a moment, gazing over at a Great Blue Heron standing alone and still at the water’s edge. I didn’t major in child psychology, but I have lived in 90 square feet and know what it means to appreciate the little things, especially when it comes to family.

“Maybe you should tell them the bank is closed.”

Michael looked shocked, as though he could never do that, then nodded, realizing he’d known that all along.

Back inside my grandparents’ condo, I sat with my grandfather in the den. “How was your walk,

sveetheart?” he asked, his eyes glued to the stock ticker scrolling along the bottom of the TV screen. I told him about Michael and his daughters.

He rested his hand on my knee. “Ven I came to dis country I vorked hard so my kids could have. But if you give too much den kids don’t appreciate.”

I thought of all the times my grandfather handed me a twenty-dollar bill and said, “Get yourself something nice.”

“Papa, thanks for all you’ve given me,” I said. “And I’m not talking about money.”

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