Money does indeed make the world go round, I’ve learned after more than two decades of reporting on personal finance and editing investing books, but in 2022 I’m heading in a new direction.
For the past three years, while blogging on personal finance for the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation for Business Journalism, I finally started writing a book. I say “finally,” because I first heard my father’s story while growing up in the house that my grandfather built in Scotch Plains, New Jersey.
Like millions of other young Italian men, money—or the lack of it—was at the root of what drove Concezio Perrucci to emigrate from the impoverished Mezzogiorno of South Italy. But I never heard the rest of the story as my father grew emotional and had to reach for his handkerchief to hide his tears.
After college, I traveled to the isolated village in rugged Abruzzo where my grandfather had been born and started jotting down notes when I returned. From time to time, I dug up more information, but I always had another deadline to meet. It took my mother’s cancer diagnosis and Aunt Josephine’s dementia for me to see what my father had been trying to say all those nights ago:
Money may make the world go round, but hard work and sacrifice and courage and loyalty give it its true worth.
That is the message in my grandfather’s story, which makes his ordinary story quite extraordinary. But as I wrote, I uncovered another story: my own. I began to see “treasures hidden in the darkness” (Isaiah 45:3) in my grandfather’s struggles that encouraged me as I hung onto the freelance rollercoaster and started down the long road of caregiving.
I intend to return to the money beat when I finish writing my book. I may pick up the personal finance blog I started, but I’ll be widening my focus to cover any topic where money plays a life-changing role. As Covid-19 took hold, I wrote a few blogs while visiting Aunt Jo at her nursing home and posted them here. As awful as it has been to witness her decline in the end stages of dementia, the experience of simply being present for her has also been an irreplaceable gift.
Covid-19 is offering me a second chance at living out the values that defined the lives of my grandparents and parents, so I’ve been wondering—has the pandemic changed others, too? If you’re an editor with a feature story, a personal essay or an opinion piece to assign, on this and other topics that resonates with readers, please contact me here.