Fribbles: Mother’s Day Tribute

Motley Fool Fribbles

A Mother’s Day Tribute

by Mark Robertson (May 8, 1998)

In the early days of the Motley Fool kingdom, Selena Maranjian presided over an oasis known as Fribbles — tales about life and investing. This morning I was reminded that some things on the Internet are less permanent as access to some of these pages is no longer supported. However, via the magic that is Google, the content has been preserved in a cache making it possible to revisit, recapture, re-present and rekindle the moment.

After the past few weeks of tax season, it’s time to get back to what’s really important. For me, one of the most important resources and inspirations that I’ll always have, no matter what the future holds, is my mother.

Her outlook on investing and personal responsibility is one that you might carefully consider, applying the attributes as appropriate to your personal situation.

She raised four children in the grass-roots, meat-and-potatoes railroad junction in the prairie known as Savanna, Illinois. Until recently, we could proudly proclaim that we were without a stoplight in the entire county. In Savanna, the hard-working natives never needed a stoplight to tell them when to stop and go.

Dad is the greens keeper at the local golf course near their home. One of the highlights of a visit to Grandma’s house is the opportunity for Mom’s grand kids to drive Dad’s golf cart about the neighborhood. It’s a rural setting, but it’s charming to see Mom and Dad still nurturing responsibility as they hand over the keys to the cart to the grandchildren, some of them small enough to make most people squeamish with the prospect of them behind the wheel.

Mom’s two daughters became nurses; the youngest of them is a tenaciously Foolish saver, something that I wish had rubbed off a little more on me over the years. The older sister, while usually exercising good judgment is a Chicago Bears fan — a rabid one. ‘Nuff said, she’s usually pretty rational.

My brother is among the hardest working individuals that I’ve ever seen. I keep one of his recognition certificates on the wall of my office to remind me to try to work at least half as hard as he does.

I was educated as an engineer, and have recently worked with the National Association of Investors Corp. (NAIC) in the realm of investor education. Fervent Fools recognize the NAIC as the sponsoring organization of investment clubs and individual investors. The NAIC is committed to the education of individual investors, with a particularly Foolish message: “With some effort, anybody can take control of his or her personal investments… and achieve outstanding results.”

Consider handing over the keys to investing to the young people around you. Mom’s influence would suggest that it’s important to provide our youngsters and the young-at-heart in our lives with the challenges, responsibilities, and opportunities to achieve Foolish success. [Editor’s note: Start by pointing them to our Young Fools area!]

I believe that our existing educational system is bereft of opportunities to learn the fundamentals of personal investing. This gap, and its impact, is massive, and it’s sad that many of our financial institutions basically promote ignorance. They constantly remind us how challenging it is to understand and participate in the management of our own financial future. It’s part of the boom behind the mutual fund rush. (Let a professional do it for you. After all, you wouldn’t perform brain surgery or a root canal on yourself.)

Mom is an avid reader, consuming a few books every week along with a plethora of magazines and the local news. Unlike most Americans, judging from the explosion of movie theaters around us, she rarely goes to movies. Why? It’s not about exorbitant costs. She once told me that it was much simpler than that. She reads lots of books, many of which go on to reach the silver screen. The problem is, that in her experience, “nobody can quite make a movie like I make a movie as I turn the pages. Sure, every once in a while Spielberg (Jaws, Close Encounters) or Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, E.R.) come close, but it doesn’t happen very often. Imagination is a powerful force, and the best of the best have trouble keeping up.”

It’s a small jump from Mom’s wisdom to taking personal responsibility for our personal investing efforts.

Thanks, Mom!