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Jerry Citarella: A man shares his final message with Citarella

Financial Truth

Posted: March 13, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 13, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Heavy-hearted, I have a message to share today.

I do my best each week to send a message, teach a lesson or successfully guide you through a process. This week is a little different. Today, I’m honored to share a man’s final words to me. His words and tone were so meaningful; I’ll never forget them. I hope they’ll mean as much to you.

The gentleman I’m speaking of became a client of mine within the past couple of years. We’ll call him “Bud.” When I first met Bud, he’d recently retired because of a serious illness he’d battled and beat, or so he’d thought.

We had typical conversations about retirement and planning, but we also had some serious discussions about life. He truly appreciated the second chance he’d been given and wasn’t going to let anything ruin what he had. I set some things up for him and stayed in touch regularly. Every meeting and conversation was memorable.

Bud and I also shared some experiences outside of our business dealings. He attended a charity event I was involved in relating to his disease, and I also saw him at other community events.

We came to know each other as more than just client and adviser. We became friends. He met my family. He was a very nice man whom I was happy to know and help, and I was even happier that he was healthy.

My phone rang one day. I knew the voice, but didn’t like the tone. It was Bud, and he was serious. He informed me that “it” was back. He let me know that he believed he now had just a couple of years to live, at most.

Bud wanted to meet to make sure everything was in proper order. His circumstances had changed, and he now needed to plan for his departure. Wow!

I’ve been through a lot in my career, but this is the type of conversation you can never prepare for and will never forget.

This was only a few months ago. Unfortunately, things got worse much sooner than expected. We had our meeting recently, and while he was obviously struggling, there was no indication that his days were so limited. Everything changed just a couple of weeks ago.

Bud was admitted into the hospital, and things were not looking good. I needed to make the call I hated to think about. It was a tough conversation, but I never expected it to end with something so simple and memorable. Bud knew this might be our last conversation, and he wanted to leave me with something.

This was a man who’d worked hard all his life, experienced many things and enjoyed life whenever possible. He was not enjoying these last days, but he was still thinking.

We had a brief conversation. I assured him I was there for him and his wife, no matter what was needed. He thanked me for what I’d done for them. As we were about to hang up, Bud’s tone changed. He said in a very serious voice, “Hey!”

I had no clue what he was about to say, but I knew it was going to be his message to me. Would it be something about life or business? Maybe it would be some secret to success or happiness. Then he said it, a few simple words I’ll never forget and will always appreciate.

After the big “Hey,” he simply said to me, “Take care of those little girls and that beautiful wife of yours.” 

Bud’s message to me — the most important thing this man, with many years of life and experience reminded me of — was to take care of my family. Not to take care of his family. He unselfishly let me know that my family is the most important thing in my life. It’s an obvious priority that we sometimes forget.

In honor of Bud, I’ll always remember what’s most important. How about you? If you’d heard his tone, you’d get it too — if you don’t already.

Rest in peace, sir.

Jerry Citarella is the owner of Infinity Wealth Management 23734 Valencia Blvd., Suite 301, Valencia, (661) 255-9555, ext. 11.  He is also the author of The Truth Helps Series of financial planning books. Citarella’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. Submit questions to: Securities and investment advisory services offered through NEXT Financial Group, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Infinity Wealth Management is not an affiliate of NEXT Financial Group Inc. 


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