Dave and Jan were looking forward to having their daughter and son-in-law arrive for a weekend visit. They didn’t get to spend a lot of time with their kids, but when they did, the subject of when they’d have grandkids seemed to always come up. Mark, their son-in-law, was thirty-six and Candace was thirty-seven, and Jan was worried they were leaning toward not having any children. Dave would always remind his wife before the kids arrived that she shouldn’t bring the subject up, but it that was hard for Jan.
Mark and Candace were part of the “millennial” generation and Dave heard their ideas about making an impact, both locally and globally. They were moving away from being dependent on social media and being more of a service to others. Lately, Mark and Candace were talking about quitting their high paying jobs, selling their home, and then traveling around the world. Dave knew that Candace had a love for mission work, ever since they took her on a mission trip when she was twelve. When she met Mark, they knew he was perfect for her, as he was socially conscious and mission focused. Mark and Candace would often volunteer for local organizations in an effort to make an impact on their community. They talked about valuing experiences over possessions, and wanted to make a lasting impact on the world. Dave and Jan were concerned they weren’t seeing a bigger picture regarding their retirement, and were hoping to have a meaningful conversation with Mark and Candace this weekend about their future.
At about one in the afternoon, the doorbell rang and Jan hurried to answer the door. Another reunion, if only for the weekend with their kids and Jan was thrilled. She welcomed them in, gave them big hugs as Dave walked in the back door with a big smile on his face. Candace was bursting with excitement and whispered to her mom she had big news. Jan started thinking that this is finally the moment she’d been waiting for and Candace must be pregnant. For a moment, Jan was thinking Mark and Candace would finally settle down. And when Candace raided the refrigerator, Jan confirmed in her mind she was going to be a grandmother.
As the kids went outside to play with the family dog, Jan took Dave’s hand and said “The kids have something important to tell us” as they walked into the family room and out the back door, to join Mark and Candace. Jan motioned for them to come have a seat at the patio table and tell them the exciting news. It was hot out, so Candace suggested they make a batch of ice cold margaritas while they sat on the back deck and chatted. Jan immediately spoke up and said, “Candace, you don’t want a margarita do you?” Candace, through her laughter said, “Of course I do, why wouldn’t I?” Jan’s heart sunk and her exuberant face turned to a faux smile and said, “Let’s get these margaritas made so we can hear your exciting news.”
Dave gave a last stir to their pitcher of margaritas and poured everyone a thirst quenching drink. Then Mark spoke up and said, we have some big news. Before Jan or Dave could ask what it was, Candace spoke up and said, “We put our house on the market, gave notice at work, and we’re taking a year off to volunteer for an organization that will bring better education to underprivileged communities. We are so excited, we could hardly wait to tell you.” Jan looked at Dave as if she wanted him to speak up and Dave got the message. He started asking questions instead of telling them what to do or how to handle things. Questions like, “Do you need to sell the house to be able to volunteer for the year, or could you keep it as a rental so you have a place to come back to? Do you have other funds available to help you get thru the year? Are the travel expenses on your dime or is the organization planning on paying for it? Lastly, he said with a big smile on his face, “I hope your mom and I can come and visit you and see the fabulous work you’ll be doing.” His hand had been on Jan’s knee under the table, to reassure her that all would be ok. He knew Jan’s mind would jump to conclusions about their safety in remote parts of the world, or their living conditions, or their ability to return to good jobs and then qualify to buy another home.
Candace said they’d talked about all of that, but felt passionate about the adventure and impact they could have by giving up a year of their life. Mark hesitated and then reiterated what Candace was saying, and then asked Dave if he might have a better option for when they return to the US. Mark and Candace we’re known to jump into an adventure head first without looking at the backend of the situation.
Dave suggested they might want to rent their house out for the year and then he volunteered to help manage the property. He thought they might be able to have a positive cash flow on their home and it would provide a safety net on their return to the US. Dave also suggested they talk to a financial advisor about how their current savings and retirement could earn more during the time of their absence to help them with expenses. Candace looked at her mom and said, “Remember mom, when we went on that mission trip when I was twelve? That experience has never left me, and Mark and I have found a way impact education. It will be an experience like the one you gave me, just a little bit longer time period.”
By the time they finished the pitcher of margaritas, Dave and Jan were excited to hear more about Mark and Candace’s adventure in another part of the world. This conversation even inspired Dave and Jan to re-evaluate how they could impact their local community by donating their time, and even some of their resources now that they were retired. Candace reminded her parents that it was their guidance when she was young that opened her eyes to being of service to others. Dave and Jan looked at each other and knew that Mark and Candace would make an impact globally, while they, themselves, had an opportunity to make more of a local impact during their retirement.
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