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Monday 22 Apr 2024

AJ Robinson

The birthdday present an inheiritance paid for:
James Taylor + Jackson Browne

I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination. I work as a civil engineer in Florida. I’m also a published author, but none of my books are best-sellers, which makes me feel sad and not merely for the royalties.

I like to share my vision.

I like the stories I write and wish to share them with others. I’d love to be popular and, better yet, adapted to movies or television shows. Considering some of the bad films in the theatres and on the various cable outlets or streaming services, my books, not to be boastful, are downright Shakespeare, Chaucer or Dumas.

I don’t want to be rich. I follow the axiom my father taught me, “I don’t want to be rich; I just want to live like I am.” That was his life.

Dad had a home, two cars in the driveway, his boat was his most precious and all-important item along with a modest cottage on Martha’s Vineyard. Now, I realize that saying that last bit does not sound like something small these days. A cottage on Martha’s Vineyard.

In the days of my youth, a cottage on Martha’s Vineyard was something the average person could aspire to own, especially in the Campgrounds of Oak Bluffs. Another thing my dad said was, “Oak Bluffs is the poor man’s town on the rich man’s island.” Edgartown was for the rich, Chappaquiddick for the super-rich, Chilmark for the artists, and so on. In those days, a cottage was roughly $5,000 to $10,000 and that was all.

Yes, insane, right? Not when you consider how flimsy, nay primitive, are the buildings and that you do not own the land the cottage sits on; you lease it year to year. That’s why, when I see a listing for a cottage now, I note the price in the hundreds of thousands of dollars; I roll my eyes and think: that’s insane.

Even if I had the money to buy one, I wouldn’t. I’m sorry that is way too much for such a place. If I could, I’d buy a little plot of land, build a modest cottage and semi-retire so I could spend summers on the island. It’s not likely, though.

As I mature, money is less an issue.

Today, for me, money is not an issue anymore, which is due to my mom. With her passing, her trust is divided among me, my brothers and my late brother Greg’s children. It’s not a great deal of money, my mom was not a wealthy woman, but then she didn’t have to be.

When I think of mom, I’m reminded of a scene from one of her favourite movies. Yes, my mom and another movie reference. In the original Murder on the Orient Express, Detective Poirot explains to a man trying to hire him that he has made enough money to satisfy his needs and his caprices, which is such a great word, and thus only takes those cases that interest him.

My mom was like that. She had money. Not a great deal, but enough to allow her to live the lifestyle she desired.

She had a home, a car; nothing fancy, no Rolls, BMW or anything like that. She could take the trips she wanted. She could help her family when times were tough. She could take care of herself.

When I was younger, I was amazed when I heard about some of the high-profile divorces of the rich and famous; the settlements some people made. Thousands of dollars per month just for clothes. My mom dressed fine and probably didn’t spend thousands on clothes in a year. How could some people need so much?

I think it’s because these rich women and men were empty on the inside. Buying so many expensive items made them feel whole. I guess I’m lucky that I had a mother who didn’t need material possessions. She had friends, family and, more important, love.

Now with mom gone, her assets pass to us. My wife and I are trying to be cautious and careful. We’ve paid off every debt we have in the world, other than our mortgage. We helped our daughter, Alexa, per our love for her and the wishes of my mom. We plunked some money in savings.

Yes, at some point we’ll need to speak to a financial advisor. After all, I have roughly ten years until I think of retiring. We put that money in the right investments, it could be a nice nest egg.

Thanks for taking the pressure off, mom.

No, I’m not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but at least we’re not living paycheck to paycheck. Just today I bought my wife a birthday present that I know she’ll love; tickets to an upcoming James Taylor concert here in Orlando, Florida and I didn’t have to worry about the price. Today is her birthday. I don’t have to be rich to get her what she wants. I just know her as I do.

Combining the gimlet-eye of Philip Roth with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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