By Danny Smith
It’s easy to find classic rock tunes about parents and parenting. A few that come to mind are:
“Papa was a Rolling Stone” — The Temptations
“Mama Told Me (Not to Come)” — Three Dog Night
“Shop Around” — Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
“Let It Be” — The Beatles
“Memphis” — Chuck Berry
The list goes on and on. When it comes to rock tunes about grandparenting, excluding “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” the list becomes much smaller.
Perhaps the most iconic classic tune on the topic is The Beatles’ “When I’m Sixty-Four.” Penned by Paul McCartney in the band’s early years, it remained unrecorded until it appeared on what is arguably the greatest LP of all time, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” The story goes that McCartney added the “Grandchildren on your knee Vera, Chuck, and Dave” lyrics around the time Sgt. Pepper was recorded because his dad recently turned 64.
You may be wondering, “Why did Danny do an article about grandparenting? I thought he was a financial adviser.” The following is a true story taken from my book that answers that question:
A couple who had consulted me came into my office and said, “Danny, we want to take our whole family to Hawaii, but we’re not sure we can afford it.”
I had been telling them for the longest time that they should do something like that. They had the assets, but if they kept putting it off, I was concerned that they might eventually run out of time. So I helped them plan their trip. I even introduced them to a good friend and travel agent who set it all up for them.
Before they left, however, I made them promise me that after arriving in Hawaii, they would spend that first night together as a family. “With all this loveliness, there should be love,” as Elvis Presley put it so well in his 1961 song, “Blue Hawaii.”
I suggested they do this because once they arrived, everyone was going to want to do different things, and there probably wouldn’t be another chance for everyone to get together. I also suggested that they designate someone to take pictures to commemorate the event, as this was back before the advent of smartphones and their handy cameras.
I arranged a conference room for them to meet in at the hotel where they were staying and suggested they ask every family member to bring with them a happy memory of grandma and grandad.
“Tell them that is the only thing that’s asked of them in exchange for your generosity,” I said.
Months later, my secretary let me know that the couple was coming into the office. I met them in the lobby, and the wife immediately came up and hugged me. In her hand, she held a photo album. She flipped to a picture of their family in Hawaii.
“That first night, we did what you suggested, and it is the most memorable night we ever had as a family,” she said with tears on her face. “It’s the best thing we ever did. I don’t know how to thank you for the memories you helped us create.”
After they had both passed away, one of their children (whom I had never met) reached out to thank me for suggesting the first evening event. Unbeknownst to me, she lived out of state with her family. That magical evening in Hawaii was the last time the entire family was ever together as a group. And the family picture taken by a hotel staff member was the last family picture ever taken. I’m not ashamed to say that even all these years, retelling this story brings a tear to my eye.
For any of you with a bucket list that has yet to be fulfilled, the best suggestion that I can offer is, “Let’s sit down and talk.” Maybe we can come up with a plan to get Vera, Chuck, and Dave off your knee (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and out into the wild blue yonder.
Danny Smith is president of Daniels Financial Group Inc. based in Sheffield Village. He’s the author of “The Baby Boomer’s Guide to a Rockin’ & Rollin’ Retirement.” His website is danielsfinancialgroup.com.
Danny offers securities and advisory services through Mutual of Omaha Investor Services Inc. member FINRA/SIPC. Daniels Financial Group Inc. and Mutual of Omaha Investor Services Inc. are not affiliated.