IMHO: Time Enough?

My dad has been on my mind a lot of late—for no particular reason that I’ve been able to identify.

The anniversary of his passing was several weeks ago—his birthday not until October. The approach of Father’s Day is the most obvious explanation—but the truth is, Father’s Day with my dad was never a particularly memorable occasion (Dad always liked his Sunday afternoon naps).

He was a man of few words (outside his pulpit, anyway) and, like many men of his time, wasn’t inclined toward big shows of emotion. Ultimately, he was with us longer than he expected to be—but a lot less time than I ever anticipated.

Perhaps because I’ve been in that frame of mind—perhaps because of his closeness with his father, and his books that shared that relationship with the rest of us—the news of Tim Russert’s untimely passing Friday really stuck with me this Father’s Day weekend.

People die tragically and prematurely every day, of course. However, most of them are unknown to us, and nearly all are unnamed to us. As for Russert—well, I didn’t know him, never met him—but he spent a lot of Sunday mornings in my living room. Politics aside, his was a face and a voice that I got to know. He was older than I, but not so much so that his passing would be expected. He was, by all accounts, a loving son, husband, and father—a man in the prime of his career. That he might have gone to work Friday just like any other day—to realize that on any given day, any one of us could go to work and simply not come home…well, it reminds us just how precious and sometimes tenuous life can be.

We know that, as ironic as it sounds, death is a part of life. Thoughtful individuals prepare for the possibility of death—through faith and, with luck, sound financial planning. Most don’t dwell on those realities, and that’s doubtless a good thing, IMHO.

In this business, we spend a lot of time worrying about the risks of outliving our retirement savings. Participants increasingly seem to rely on an assumption that they will work longer, or save more later, to make up for their current shortfalls.

However, Tim Russert’s passing should remind us all again that we don’t always have as much time as we might want.