Support Marketplace

My mom, the comeback kid

Jen Miller, left, and her mother. The similarities between the two go beyond the physical.

Jen Miller in high school.

Mary Miller in high school.

 

Tess Vigeland: Indulge me for just a moment this weekend while I wish Julie Vigeland the happiest of mother's days. I could not have asked for a more beautiful mom -- inside and out. I love you mom.

With that, I relinquish the microphone for someone else to express her appreciation, as commentator Jen Miller does for her mom, Mary.


Jen Miller: I am my mother's daughter. We are carbon copies of each other, separated by 26 years. I see her every time I look in the mirror, and I think of her every time I put money away in my retirement account, make a mortgage payment or toss money into my emergency savings instead of buying something I don't really need.

My mom didn't graduate college. She took night classes, but she married young, and had four children by the time she was 30. When the youngest was in kindergarten, she temped and, within a year, had a full-time job as an administrative assistant for a financial planner -- a boon since, when my parents divorced, she needed to work.

She was about to take a certification exam to become a financial planner herself, when her father was rushed to the ICU. A hole had ripped open into his stomach and he'd suffered a stroke.

Still she took the test and, understandably, did not pass.

Further study went out the window as she helped care for him until he died. She did the same for her mother, who passed away a few years later.

Then the recession hit. Her investments tanked, and the value of her home dropped by nearly a third. She got a second job, working nights and weekends at a grocery store. Some members of our family whispered that they were embarrassed she worked there.

I was not. She did what she needed to do to keep saving for retirement, pay the mortgage and replace the roof on the house she still needed to sell. Which she did this year. She found a buyer almost immediately after it listed and then negotiated a blockbuster deal on her new home. In April, she quit the second job. She went to Ireland. She renewed her Match.com profile. At 57, she has made an amazing comeback.

I am proud of my mother. She has been an inspiration -- in both preparing for my financial future and the rest of my life.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I can't wait to see your next chapter.


Vigeland: Jen Miller is author of "Book a Week with Jen: 1 Year, 52 Books, and the Year of Starting a New Chapter."

And our little blue plastic friend -- the Marketplace Money Piggy Award -- is heading to Haddon Heights, N.J. That's where commentator Jen Miller's mother, Mary, lives. Jen's description of her mom's financial wisdom made her a shoo-in. So take care of piggy, Mrs. Miller! I know I don't have to worry about you feeding him!

By the way, our pig is on Twitter and taking nominations. You can follow him @piggyaward

About the author

Jen Miller is a freelance writer and proud denizen of the Garden State. She's the author of "Book a Week with Jen: 1 Year, 52 Books, and the Year of Starting a New Chapter."

Jen Miller in high school.

Mary Miller in high school.

 

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...