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Bonding for Life

Richard Connor

WHEN MY WIFE AND I were young, it was common to receive savings bonds for major events, such as birthdays and religious celebrations. We carried on the tradition with our two sons and we’re planning to do the same for our grandchildren.

With our sons, we bought savings bonds to mark significant childhood milestones. We held on to those paper bonds for many years, and gave them to our sons when they graduated college. They appreciated the significant sum and used the money to help fund the transition from college to the working world.

But one bond they each received was unexpected—and extremely meaningful.

The story begins in summer 2004. My mother, who lived with us, was diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma. At first, brain surgery and aggressive chemotherapy seemed to cure her. But weeks after her last chemo treatment, the cancer came back and ravaged her brain. By December, it was clear there were no treatment options, and she chose to go on hospice care at our home.

My mom was especially sad about losing the opportunity to see her nine grandchildren grow up. They spanned a wide range of ages, and she had a special relationship with each of them. At the time, our oldest son was a senior in college, and she lamented that she wouldn’t see him graduate.

That reminded my wife and me of something my wife’s grandmother had done. She bought savings bonds for her great-grandchildren to commemorate religious milestones that would come later in their life. My mother-in-law held on to the bonds that her mother had bought, and then gave them with a card to each great-grandchild as the milestones occurred, which was often long after their great-grandmother had died. It was a nice way to connect them with a beloved family member.

We asked my mom if she’d like to do something similar, and possibly write a card to each of her nine grandchildren. She thought that was a great idea, so I went to the bank and purchased nine $100 savings bonds. That was the easy part.

Meanwhile, my wife bought a variety of cards she thought each grandchild would like. Then, with the help of several boxes of tissues, she sat with my mom so she could add a message to each card. Writing was well beyond my mom at that point, so she dictated a personal message for each grandchild, while my wife wrote the cards. It was an incredibly emotional but very special time that they shared. My mother passed away a few weeks later.

At our son’s graduation in May 2005, after the ceremony and the celebratory lunch, we pulled him aside and gave him the card. He was surprised and moved to receive the card and the savings bond. We asked him to keep it to himself, so that his brother and cousins could later experience the surprise themselves.

Two years later, we were able to repeat the event with our youngest son. He also was touched. Over the years, this was repeated with my mom’s remaining grandchildren at events such as college and high school graduations.

At the end, my mom had few financial resources. I think she was glad she could pass along a modest but tangible gift to her beloved grandchildren—along with a timeless message of her love.

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Suzie
Suzie
2 days ago

My husband has been recently cashing in savings bonds he first purchased at his first job. It has been interesting. I never received savings bonds but my one grandmother did give us silver dollars on very special occasions. I still have them. They’re not worth anything like a savings bond but they do have great sentimental value. One is over 150 years old which is pretty neat.

Sharon Pichai
Sharon Pichai
6 days ago

That’s a lovely story.

SCao
SCao
8 days ago

Thanks for sharing this wonderful story.

Andrew Forsythe
Andrew Forsythe
8 days ago

Beautiful story, Rick. This must have meant so much to your mom, and later to her grandkids.

William Perry
William Perry
8 days ago

Thanks for sharing this story from your life Rick. Your blog caused me to dig out a certified letter from my Dad & Mom had written to me on 2/5/1990.

Dad was born in 1917 and his parents divorced when he was two when divorce was rare as I understand. His mom remarried around 1933 and her husband was the only grandfather I knew as Mom’s dad died while she was in high school.

My grandfather was a life insurance salesman. What I received in 1990 was a gift of a $1,000 death benefit whole life policy on my life which included a photostatic copy of the 3/13/1951 application for insurance signed by my grandfather as witness to my Dad’s signature as applicant. The application noted I weighted 6# 9oz at birth and was in sound health.The policy called for an annual premium of $22.16 for twenty years. There was also a notice of paid-up policy dated 2/08/1971.

Mom and Dad had bought similar policies for all five of their children and gifted them to us at the same time. I know from a later conservation the initial goal of the polices were to provide for funeral expenses for the covered children in the event of death. Death of children was not an remote event in the minds of my parents who had fought in and lived through WWII and before a polio vaccine was developed in the mid 1950’s.

I do not know who paid the annual premiums but I believe the policies provided financial peace of mind to Mom & Dad when their kids were infants. I cherish the thought of Dad and Granddad sitting at the kitchen table in 1951, making this decision and then receiving this gift at age 39.

R H
R H
8 days ago

Rick, thank you for a moving, heartfelt post. I still think about one of my widowed aunts who left a share of her modest savings to each of her many nephews and nieces some 50 years ago. One of my hobbies is genealogy, tying past families with the present. Now where are my tissues?

David Powell
David Powell
8 days ago

So beautiful, Richard!

John Goodell
John Goodell
8 days ago

This is just lovely in every way.

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