What I Learned From My Father - Podcast Episode


June 18, 2023

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Podcast Transcript:

On this special Father’s Day episode, Suze shares several of the lessons she learned from her own father and how those enriching experiences shaped her life.


Music: Music (in).


Suze: June 18th, 2023. Welcome everybody to the Women and Money podcast as well as everybody. Smart enough to listen, Suze O here and today...


Suze: today is Father's Day.


Suze: And so first of all, KT and I both wish all of you fathers out there a very, very happy Father's Day and


Suze: fathers especially my father


Suze: had a lot to do with me becoming Suze Orman truthfully.


Suze: And I think back on my life and I sometimes wonder how did I become who I am today? How did all of this happen? Like it really wasn't meant to happen, everybody because if I think back on my life, I grew up, I was dyslexic. I had a speech impediment. You know, I didn't get good grades. It's like nothing, I didn't have a really good education. Nothing.


Suze: Nothing led to me becoming one of the world's personal finance experts. Nothing.


Suze: And so when I think about it, I think about my father...


Suze: My father, if I had to point to one thing. So today, I'd like to honor my father by telling you his story, by telling you our story because it was 42 years ago today


Suze: on Father's Day that my father who had been sick for a while, decided in my opinion, to take his own life.


Suze: And


Suze: it was an interesting story and I'll get to that. But I'd like to go back to the beginning to the beginning of what I learned from my father.


Suze: And what I hope we all can learn on some level from our fathers, from our mothers, from our parents, no matter who they are or what they are.


Suze: There's always something that we can learn from them


Suze: and what we learn from them plays a vital role


Suze: in who we become.


Suze: So while there may be so many stories that I could tell you that I learned from my father when I was five when I was 10, when I was 12 right around there. But this would then become a five hour podcast.


Suze: I think my true lesson began with my father. When I was in the car, with my mother.


Suze: We only had one car


Suze: and we were driving to where my father worked, which was a little place called Chicken A Go Go. That was on the corner of 56th and Lake Park in High Park. And it was this tiny, I want to say it's like 400 square feet. That was it.


Suze: And he made fried chicken there and ribs and things like that. And we drove up to pick him up and there, my father was standing outside of his little chicken shack


Suze: that was totally on fire.


Suze: And my mother and I both looked at each other and went, oh my God.


Suze: And then in that exact same instance, my father, for whatever reason, ran back into this burning building and when I say it was burning, it was totally,


Suze: totally engulfed in flames. And he runs back into the flames to grab a register, his cash register, which was all metal back in those days


Suze: and he came out holding this register, he drops it down to the ground because it was scalding hot.


Suze: And with that


Suze: came the skin on his arms and his chest,


Suze: he had third degree burns on the entire top of his body.


Suze: And he ran into the fire. It turns out because every penny that he had to his name back then was in that cash register.


Suze: And that's when I learned or I thought I learned the lesson that money was more important than life itself because I watched my father risk his life for money.


Suze: And back then it was kind of interesting because I would always volunteer. I used to love hospitals. I always loved hospital


Suze: and I really wanted to be a doctor when I grew up. But my grades were never good enough. And when I went to the University of Illinois, they looked at my grades and everything and they said, no, we don't think this is a field that you should go into. You don't have what it takes. And I believed them, but that's besides the point. But because I always had this interest in hospitals for some reason,


Suze: I always would volunteer at Michael Reese hospital,


Suze: being a candy striper and I used to love it so much. Everybody I would dress up in my little uniform, which was red and white stripes that kind of went over a white, a white shir


Suze: and a little thing that you would wear on your hat and you would go from room to room and do little errands and anything you can do for the nurses. And because I would go there a lot on weekends when I wasn't going to school the doctors and everybody got to know me. Ok. Now my father is admitted into Michael Reese Hospital


Suze: on the floor that I also was a candy striper on.


Suze: And for some reason, for some reason, the doctors and the nurses thought I would be interested in watching them take off the bandages of my father's arms


Suze: And I was interested until I saw a sight that I would hope I would never see again in my life. And my father had blisters on his arms and I am not kidding everybody that were at least 12 inches high. All filled with liquid


Suze: and their job was to cut them open and to let all the liquid drain out into buckets.


Suze: And I just watched the look on my father's face


Suze: and he was stoic


Suze: and he was strong


Suze: and he had a look of conviction,


Suze: a conviction as probably the most painful period of his life. And


Suze: rather than going, oh my God, this is horrible. Oh, look at what he's going through. I looked at him and I went, I want to be like that man.


Suze: I wanna have conviction. I want to be strong. I wanna be like my father. That's what I wanna be like.


Suze: And after that, however things would happen, you know, it was no secret that earlier on in my relationship with my father,


Suze: he was abusive to me on many different levels.


Suze: But at that moment in time, even though I so disliked him before that really everybody I did


Suze: for many reasons in that moment in time, I wanted to be like him.


Suze: And that was such a fascinating change for me. I can't even tell you.


Suze: I then watched my father


Suze: come down with emphysema by being caught in that fire.


Suze: And it was also during that time that he was scared to death because his little shack burned down. There was no money. He had no idea how he was going to pay the bills or whatever.


Suze: And that was during the time that my mother was also a legal secretary and was bringing in probably more money, believe it or not than my father. But then my mother during that time also was selling Avon on the side to generate extra money,


Suze: but I saw that they were never ever going to give up.


Suze: So here we are now, my father gets through this burn wise, but his emphysema becomes worse and worse and worse. And what was so fabulous financially that happened is that the people that had serviced my father, David Burg hot dogs, the chicken places, everything that he would buy his food from to then serve,


Suze: gathered together and opened up a new place on 55th in Lake Park. I think that was where it was. I can't remember the names of the street right now and opened up a Maury's Deli for him.


Suze: And so now he had the ability once he healed to make money again. However, even though he was able to make money again, as I had started to say, his emphysema was getting worse and worse and worse.


Suze: And every night, I would hear him cough all night long, breathe in to this nebulizer machine that was motorized back then. It was however, they, they you plugged it in and it would have all these medicines in it that he would have to inhale.


Suze: And every morning


Suze: after him not sleeping for that entire night and him suffering,


Suze: he would get up and he would go to work because he needed to provide for my mother as well as me. My two older brothers at this time were approximately four and seven years older than me. And they were essentially either about to graduate high school or already graduated in college. They were already kind of on their own.


Suze: But even though they were on their own, they always, including me


Suze: would go and help my father at Maury's Deli. It was our job to help him. And that is what I did every single day after school


Suze: and on weekends. So when my friends would be going out and they would be playing or they would do whatever on a Saturday, Suze Orman went to work at Maury's Deli.


Suze: And again, what I learned from my father was a work ethic that there was a saying in our house that "an Orman never gives up" and my father never ever, ever gave up


Suze: no matter what


Suze: And I learned that from him because I can remember saying to myself, if my father can do what he's doing, going to work every day and coughing his brains out every single night


Suze: then nothing can stop me as well


Suze: And so a lot of my determination of not failing


Suze: came from my father.


Suze: And then as time would go on,


Suze: my father loved the stock market, he loved it.


Suze: And even though he really couldn't afford to participate much in it on any level,


Suze: he just loved ordering something called value line. And at that time, it would come in these books and he would study every single stock. They were these yellowish type of pages big eight, you know, eight by 11 books and one by one, he would go through them and then he would write down the name of the stock that he should buy.


Suze: And then he'd be, he was part of what was called the Mint Club where people would gather together and just small amounts of money they would invest so that they could be in the stock market as a club rather than buying individually, which obviously my father didn't quite do.


Suze: And I would talk to him about the stock market and why he liked it and his love about it


Suze: and watching his enthusiasm for the stock market


Suze: really sparked that in me as well, believe it or not.


Suze: And even though I put that spark on a shelf and it didn't come to play until 1980


Suze: I watched my father


Suze: light that spark within me and within himself as well.


Suze: So now we're gonna fast forward to 1980.


Suze: And all of, you know, the story of what happened that I was a waitress for seven years at the Buttercup Bakery. And one of the reasons that I loved being a waitress for seven years from the age of 23 to almost 30 at the Buttercup Bakery is because I worked in my father's little tiny Delis and chicken shacks waiting on people. And I loved serving people


Suze: and I loved seeing the joy in my father's face serving people.


Suze: So I loved being a waitress. I loved being able to be a fast order cook. All of that again, I learned from my father


Suze: and you know, the story which is I wanted to then open up my own restaurant because I watched how the Buttercup Bakery grew to be so large on my ideas


Suze: and my parents didn't have any money to help me start my own restaurant. And the customers at the Buttercup Bakery who I served for all those years. They're the ones who gave me the money to go and deposit it at an account at Merrill Lynch. All the money was lost. Three months later, long story, I've told it to you before and now I'm hired as an account executive at Merrill Lynch.


Suze: Now I get my series seven license


Suze: and now I'm serving people a financial plate of investments that would be good for them.


Suze: And I felt like I was a financial waitress and I loved it because that spark, that spark that my father planted in me


Suze: to do something that I never thought that I would do. I only went to work for Merrill Lynch because they had lost all the money. At least the crooked broker that worked for them did all the money that the customers had given me and I wanted to pay them back. So I thought the only way I could do that was work for Merrill Lynch. And that's when that spark that I had put on the shelf years ago that was lit by my father came back


Suze: and I felt like I was the luckiest person in the world. I loved learning about everything that my father was teaching him himself.


Suze: And now I'm starting to make money


Suze: and now I'm making at least $10,000 a month. Sometimes I would make more than that. And I was just in shock because that was so much money to me. I can't even tell you that was so much money to my mother and my father. I can't even tell you.


Suze: And then it was March or April of 1981.


Suze: My father now is getting sicker and sicker in and out of the hospital all the time.


Suze: And now my brother Gary takes over Maury's Deli because my dad can't work anymore. And he made an even bigger success out of it and had the money then to continue to help my mother so she could continue to stay in her apartment and everything else. But now Suze is making money


Suze: and I get a call about March or April of 1981


Suze: and I'm told I have to get to the hospital. My father has been on life support and they're going to take him off.


Suze: I get on a plane. I get there, I walk in there, everybody's there and they're all waiting now


Suze: because it's the time and we know if we take him off of life support


Suze: that he will in fact die


Suze: and they take him off


Suze: an hour goes by, two hours goes by and he doesn't die. In fact, two weeks later, he leaves the hospital, everybody and my mother takes him home. He's now in a wheelchair. He has a nurse at the house with him.


Suze: And I'm like, oh my God, I can't believe it. And I go back then to California to Merrill Lynch to continue working.


Suze: Now I'm just gonna fast forward here for you for a second.


Suze: And it's Father's Day, June


Suze: of 1981 42 years ago.


Suze: And


Suze: I call the house


Suze: and my aunt answers


Suze: and I say Aunty Thelma what's wrong? I can feel something's wrong.


Suze: And she says, oh, Suze, we were just gonna call you. Your father passed away today.


Suze: And I said he did, how did that happen?


Suze: And she said, well, Suze, it was the strangest thing because you see, my aunt and my mother lived in the same building. They now had moved to High Park in Chicago there and they lived in the same building just a few floors apart from each other. So they were always together, the family was always together.


Suze: And my aunt said, well, you know, Suze, it was a very strange thing.


Suze: We all came up to the apartment and there were all these presents for your father


Suze: and he refused to open them. He just refused. We said, come on Maury, that was my daddy's name. We called him Nashe. But anyway, Maury, come on, open up your presents. He said, no, I'm not opening up my presents. Tell me what time the boys are supposed to come.


Suze: So my aunt and my mom thought, oh, he doesn't want to open up his presents until his sons come. I'm still in California. Ok.


Suze: So they tell him


Suze: my brother Gary will be there at such and such a time. My other brother will be there at such and such a time. And


Suze: he says, fine,


Suze: he then is watching the clock


Suze: and he says to my mother, can you take me downstairs in my wheelchair and just wheel me around because I want some fresh air. And my mother said, sure, no problem.


Suze: Now, my father had been instructed not to get out of his wheelchair because his heart was not strong enough to hold him walking and he was instructed, do not do that.


Suze: And he saw one of my brothers drive up. I can't remember which one it was and park and get out of the car.


Suze: And now he's walking towards my father and my mother and my father gets up out of his wheelchair and starts walking with my mother screaming and wheeling the chair behind him and he will not stop


Suze: then my other brother drives up and as soon as he parked his car and got out, my father collapsed


Suze: and everybody ran to him and he simply said, what time is it? They told him and then he died.


Suze: And when my aunt told me that story, I realized that the reason that my father


Suze: didn't want to open up his presents was because he didn't want the family to waste money on him. Even to the day that he died, he was watching every penny. He didn't waste any penny. He made the most out of every penny


Suze: and he didn't want gifts opened up that he was not going to use because he knew what he was gonna do that day.


Suze: And that's when I thought again. Oh my God.


Suze: Oh my God.


Suze: Again, I just learned something from my father


Suze: that no matter what you have to make every penny count, you can't waste money. You have to be respectful of money. You have to honor money in every one of its forms and gifts that we buy from one another is absolutely a form of money.


Suze: I can go on and on


Suze: and tell you so many stories about my father. One of my favorites happens to be in the book, the nine steps to financial Freedom.


Suze: And it's in the step


Suze: that everything happens for the best. And I tell the story in that book too long to tell here


Suze: as to how my father taught me that lesson.


Suze: So here I sit on Father's Day 42 years later,


Suze: 2023.


Suze: And I think back on the beginning years with my father and how angry I was at him and how much I disliked him and how much I wanted my mother to leave him for all these reasons.


Suze: And I think about all the things that I thought he took away from me.


Suze: And in the end, as I go through this story with you,


Suze: he gave me so much more than he took from me.


Suze: And in fact, he didn't take anything from me


Suze: because everything happens for the best and everything that has happened to me, everything has made me the Suze Orman that lives with you via this podcast via my TV shows via my books, via my talks via everything I have ever done.


Suze: The last thing that my father gave to me really


Suze: was when they told me that I had that tumor in my neck.


Suze: And I was told


Suze: approximately three years ago that this operation will either have been a life ending surgery, but it will definitely be a lifestyle altering surgery.


Suze: And so for these past three years, my father has come to play again


Suze: because I remember what he went through. I remember how sick he was and nothing was going to stop me. And that was the last gift


Suze: that my father gave me to make it through. Really a period of time, everybody that I didn't know if I was going to be able to really make it through and fight it and have the life that I have today, which is such a fabulous life. Health wise, I can't even tell you


Suze: so miracles can happen.


Suze: Good can come from bad.


Suze: We can put any label on our lives that we want.


Suze: But in the end,


Suze: our parents can offer us something


Suze: that we will absolutely use later on in life. For me. That was my father more than my mother.


Suze: That was my father. So Pops, I wish you a very, very happy Father's day. And I thank you so much for helping me become who I have become in my life.


Suze: Happy Father's Day. Everybody. And remember today, wherever I go, I will create


Suze: a more peaceful, joyful and loving world.


Suze: And what a day to do that


Suze: on Father's Day. Because if you do, I promise you, you will be unstoppable.


Music: Music (out).


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