For the many people who knew Alan, the world became a little less bright. A little less fun.
Alan was not a famous person. There will be no long obituaries written about him citing tremendous business or philanthropic accomplishments.
But to those who knew him, there is a great loss, a missing puzzle piece in their life now. He was a good person, who was a very devoted husband, father, grandfather (“Papa”) and friend to so many people. He loved life and sharing it with the people he knew.
Alan had the right priorities. He lived the American Dream in his 73 years, as he provided a better life for his family than how he grew up. He cherished his daughters, his grandchildren, his wife and extended family. He spent nearly every Sunday in recent years with his two young grandchildren. As his older grandson, now 10, has learned and began to excel at golf, they became close golf buddies.
He was a devoted husband and cared for his wife Susan. While they lived a middle to upper-middle class life style, they made important decisions and sacrifices, to benefit their children. When my wife Felicia was in her teens and began to develop creative interests, they enrolled her at Cranbrook, a private high school with an excellent fine arts curriculum. When Felicia wanted to pursue a career in commercial interior design, they helped her to attend Pratt Institute in New York City for college.
Alan had an incredible and large group of close friends, many of whom he has known and maintained from grade or high school. Keeping relationships like that takes work and effort. To him, it came naturally. As I have gotten to know these friends over the past years, and even more this week, I am amazed at their warmth, caring and intellect. Just good quality people, who treat me like family. They know who they are and how much they mean to me.
When anyone needed help or something fixed, Alan was always willing. When close friends needed something fixed, they would call and say “Service.” And he would be there, tools in hand, day or night. On Sunday’s however, he said his fee was double. With a smile.
Alan loved food. Sunday dinners and barbecues were memorable. He was a master at the grill. He would not hesitate to drive miles with family or friends to try a new restaurant, visit a great bakery or search for the perfect slice of pizza. Even if meant getting lost or going into a dangerous neighborhood, the venture was worth it. Distance was no issue when it came to finding good food. That is a family tradition that will surely continue.
Alan loved gadgets and the latest technology. He was not always good at it, but he tried. Apple has lost one of their best customers. Alan recently bought his grandson a small drone with a camera, but he was just as likely interested to use it himself.
Alan was often impatient, frequently changing TV channels and driving others in the room crazy. He was an avid golfer and sports enthusiast. He loved good music and Detroit’s annual Dream Cruise. He had a passion for doing huge puzzles, which he framed after completion. This was his way of relaxing after his hours in the property management business.
When I entered their family a number of years ago, Alan welcomed me warmly. He was not a deep conversationalist, as his phone would constantly be beeping, ringing or buzzing. He didn’t actively engage in all matters, as the iPhone or TV were usually of more interest to him. But we all knew that he cared, and cared deeply, about those in his life.
Unlike others who suffer for months or years with an illness, Alan’s death came quickly and without much warning. Unfortunately there was not the opportunity for a final “I love you” for those closest to him. His vast circle did not get the chance to tell him how much he meant to them. There will not be another round of golf, another vacation with friends or family or steak to grill. There will be no 50th wedding anniversary celebration for him and his wife Susan, a few weeks from now.
So as cliche as this sounds as I write this….please take time today or this weekend and tell those you love and appreciate….that you do. Do it often. You will not regret it.
Professionally, we are financial advisors. Our business relationships focus on money. But the relationships become deeper and much more personal than just about investments. They are about people, their children, their grandchildren and their legacy.
Alan Silver is a reminder that there is far more to life than money and work. Alan worked hard, but enjoyed his life. He knew how to have fun, smile, share good times with people, enjoy food and the importance of family.
That doesn’t mean that you should not plan and save and consider the long term. It is hard for me this week to balance the many seminars and discussions I have about planning for 90-100 year life expectancies, after an event like this. But I know that good planning and longer life expectancies are also an important reality.
So please, tell the people you are closest to how much you really care about them. It may be the most important habit you develop.