Two recent things prompted me to write this post. This post is mostly about the first of these, the loss of a long time friend of over 40 years named Vince. COVID cut his rich life short. The second thing was a conversation I had with another friend who is rich – financially. These things caused me to think about what it is to be rich. I know little about Vince’s bank account, but I doubt it is nearly as large as my wealthy friend’s. Mine sure isn’t. Yet, Vince’s life was rich in experiences. He was smart and driven to try many things in life. We became friends because of a shared interest in photography. As best as I can recall, we met when we were both photographing a sporting event at Jacksonville University. We worked together as photographers on some projects, including a calendar of the women of J.U., and as professional photographers for my photography mentor, Jon Peters, about whom I wrote previously. Jon hired Vince and kept him busy in the field and darkroom. In his lifetime, Vince worked as a photographer and at camera stores. He was skilled with computers and IT. He worked as a security guard, as a police officer, and later in security positions at sensitive facilities. I don’t even know everything he did work wise. He returned to school late in life, completing a master’s degree and very recently, a doctorate. His personal interests included the aforementioned photography, sports (he was an athlete – football, basketball, tennis, golf, scuba diving), speed boating, music (he was a professional bass player playing in clubs and bars for a time) and competitive shooting (pistols, rifles, shotguns), hunting with large caliber airguns, and more recently, fly fishing and tying flies. I learned also that he was an accomplished knitter and could sew – things I never imagined. He had things – custom golf clubs, special order rifles, and more. But, it seems to me that he spent whatever money he had on these things, and more importantly, on experiences. He helped his mother and was a proud father and grandfather (dressing in a large Santa suit for his grandchild’s first Christmas). His riches didn’t involve counting $$$, as far as I know, but in his experiences and enjoyment of life, including collecting friends. Vince was good at making and keeping friends – he had over 2800 friends on Facebook! Riches are not all about dollars, and how many 0s there are in one’s bank account. Those things are great, but all things considered, Vince led full of riches of a different type. He is greatly missed!
Characterizing someone as rich only because he or she has a lot of money misses the point, in my opinion. My mom used to describe herself as “rich” because to her, she was rich as a child of God while she lived her life on Earth awaiting her heavenly home with streets paved of gold. It didn’t matter to Mom that, in most people’s definition of “rich,” she would be on the other end of the spectrum, surviving in her little cottage on the pittance she received from the government. I have a childhood friend who is from a wealthy family. This friend had everything a child, and now, an adult, could want except the love of his family members. Mom used to feel sorry for my friend, describing him as “a poor little rich boy.” For Mom, and people like her, being rich is unrelated to having money. Being rich consists of being loved by those one loves; living life to the fullest; helping people who are less fortunate; and taking time to count one’s blessings. I suspect most people know someone who has a lot of money but who, nonetheless, does not seem happy. David’s friend Vince was one of the richest people I have ever met. Vince had a way of connecting with almost everyone he met. His large stature made him an imposing figure, but he knew how to make people comfortable with his big smile and warm embrace. Mom was in her 70s when she and Vince became acquainted and, while many people didn’t pay much attention to her, Vince treated her like a queen. For that matter, he treated me like a queen too! There’s nothing wrong with having a lot of money; it goes a long way in solving problems in life. But having a lot of money doesn’t make someone rich. Vince lived his life to the fullest extent possible. Now he has joined Mom in an even richer life.
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