In my second appointment with Father Michael, he surprised me by talking about the stock market. A long time before, I had told him that I’d inherited some money from my very special aunt. I explained that my intention had been to stop working at my very stressful job. I thought I’d take a break for a while and then try to find something ‘fulfilling’, non-stressful-and without a three to four hour round-trip commute.
Well, the economy and the stock market tanked. I felt uncomfortable considering taking a modest-salaried job from someone who needed the money way more than I did. So I busied myself with a few trips, some family wedding preparations and lots of genealogical research. I was amazed at times how quickly the days passed as I worked on the family tree. And so I explained all this to Father Michael.
We talked about my aunt, who was a true individual for her era. I explained how she sometimes had worked three part time jobs, was frugal and saved. I told Father M how my aunt loved to swim in Lake Michigan and spent all her spare time on the beach in the summer. She was able to convince one of her bosses that she could do a full day’s work in four to five hours. She’d get to work at 6 AM and be at the lakefront by 11AM…..with her boss’s blessing. In the winter, she just went home early. This same boss was extremely generous with my aunt and gave her huge Christmas bonuses. I remember one for $6000 one year and $10,000 a few years later. And this was in the early 60’s! My aunt invested in the market, with guidance from her boss. Father Michael remarked “the brothers and I often marvel at these amazing women and the amount of money they amass.” He was quite impressed. Interesting to me that rich women were the subject of priory discussion.
Father M was also completely intrigued by the stock market. He asked me some surprisingly blunt and,to be honest, nosy questions. I answered most, but was taken aback by quite a few of them. One was about the approximate percentage and dollar amount of profit I had earned the past year. There were more that were similar to that; Father M was quite bold.He stared at me with those big eyes, looking completely guileless. I just stared back at him and didn’t answer. I very much had the feeling that he was trying to gauge exactly how much money I had in investments. Perhaps I was wrong…..
Father Michael changed the subject a bit and talked about his older brother’s losses in the market. He asked me what my broker’s new strategy was. I told him “Well, he’s always telling me ‘stay the course'”. Father Michael said that was what his brother was doing, but he hadn’t recovered all his losses. But he assured me that his brother’s business had continued to do very well. This conversation just amazed me. I had never expected to discuss this with Father.
Father M then admitted to being a little embarrassed by his interest in finances. He relayed how he had been “prayer partners” with a lady in the parish,who had recently passed away. He told me “You know I’d go over to her house and she would go over all her stocks and investments and how they were doing. She knew I was fascinated with them. But then it would be time for our prayer and I would find it difficult to NOT think about those stocks!” I admired his honesty in admitting that.
Funny, now I remember how I purchased some $20 instant tickets as a special treat for Father after the cancer diagnosis. Father Michael was so excited, but he put off scratching the tickets till late in the evening. Later he texted me that all he could think about during evening prayer was what he would do if he won a million dollars. So I’m thinking “well, of course he’ll be helping the poor”. I was NOT expecting “Hey, I’ll be calling you from Hawaii”. Another time he told me “You know what happens if I win, right?” I said “No-what happens?” Father Michael: “I’m outta here!”
Father Michael — as he would say- “What a hoot !”