Seed Money

   I find some money almost every time I go on a walk.  Not like a big stash or anything, but a few coins, a dollar bill every so often, even a five spot twice.  This morning I found a shiny penny staring up at me and I carried it home to put into the Christmas Jar.  If you’re not familiar with the concept of a Christmas Jar, do yourself a favor and read Jason Wright’s book by the same name.
   In any event, the penny reminded me of my brother Mark, whom we affectionately call Mipps, for two reasons:  1.  He wrote a really funny piece about whether or not to pick up a penny based on if it’s facing heads or tails up when he was in college, and 2. Mark seems to always have more money than we do. 
   We were catching up poolside recently and chatting about our work and our goals, about my kids and his travels, about love and life, about everything and about nothing. I really enjoy visiting with him because he’s generally hilarious but he also has a serious side that allows him to get nostalgic, reflective, and introspective. He mentioned a quick conversation he’d had with Jacob over dinner, and said he hopes our son really gets to be a foreign-exchange student in Germany next summer. He had studied German, too, when he was in high school, so he and Jacob made an instant connection.  Mark said that he was feeling compelled to give his nephew some money to help make that dream a reality. That’s really nice, I thought, and then the weekend came and went without another mention of Uncle Mark’s offer.
   In fact, a month went by, and just last week, a very generous check came in the mail with this excerpt from his really kind letter:
       So you don’t think I was just spouting off as we visited around your glorious pool, I am enclosing some money for your kids. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense for me to do at this time. I may not have kids of my own, but if I did I would want them to turn out like my nieces and nephew. . . I would like Kate’s to be used for college as she sees fit, Joshua’s to be saved for college, and Jacob’s to be seed money for the trip to Germany. I would like to see him raise the rest either by fundraising or by getting a part-time job.  I know he has little free time during the summers because of his involvement with camp and band, but if he got creative, I’m sure he could find time to mow lawns, clean houses, or tutor.  After all, he has a year to do so and it might be good for him to earn the other half, giving him ownership and teaching the value of money in a way he maybe hasn’t had to consider before. Love, Mipps
   I was overwhelmed by my brother’s gift, as were Kaitlyn and Joshua.  Jacob, on the other hand, was initially a little miffed.  After all, his brother and sister had gotten their scholarships from Uncle Mipps outright, why not he?  But after not much time at all, I heard Jacob say that he could easily see himself tutoring kids in Chemistry or Pre-Calculus.  He was making plans to grow his seed money. Uncle Mipps might not be a father yet, but that possibility holds tons of promise because he’s a fun friend, an understanding uncle, and a heck of a good gardener!

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