By Alexis, In Her Own Words



I have a confession to make —odd, perhaps, in that I’ve only been on this plane of life for just a hair more than six months, and there’s not a lot for a new human to feel guilty about. But if I’ve learned anything during my tenure here (other than milk is really good, and a warm blanket is glorious) it’s that we humans tend to be hardwired for feelings that don’t always make sense. 

Anyway, here’s my confession: I like it down here. I mean, a whole bunch.  

Frankly, I didn’t expect to. Back in heaven, life was incredibly good. I was still a spirit then, and as a soul-in-waiting I had it, pretty easy. There were always angels around, chatting to each other in that music language they always used in conversation. They were universally kind to us human types, both those who had already lived their earthly lives and returned home as well as those like me who were in the queue waiting for their crack at life as a human person.  

There were a bunch of human-veterans there, people who had lived an earthly life and passed back to heaven. Most of them were more than willing to relate stories about their mortal lives. Some of them might have been a bit too willing to do so, often getting a tad long-winded about what they’d done or seen or otherwise experienced. But eternity is timeless, so most of the time I didn’t mind hearing about, say, how good sugar tasted or how — after a long day at something called “work”— soaking in a hot bath felt transcendent. Living or passed on, people talk about the strangest things sometimes.  

And off course, I’d see God all over the place. He was, literally, everywhere— always ready to answer questions (or ask them, though it was understood that He already knew the answers) or to just converse about random topics. One time, as we walked through a verdant field before sitting beside restful waters, he explained the Diophantine equation to me. It made perfect sense. God has a real knack for explaining stuff if you listen.  

I may have already mentioned that God’s native tongue is mathematics, right? Everybody in heaven instinctively understands it; don’t ask me how. Right now, I still remember most of the math “words though every time I learn something human down here, more of my heaven-memories slip away. Learning peekaboo, for example, cost me the Riemann hypothesis.  

So, heaven was pretty nice (that is an understatement, for sure). I was less than sure that human-living could compete, you know?  

Shows you what I know about anything: down here, I have a wondrous person called “Mom,” a cool guy named “Dad” who scoops me up for hug and kisses, a pretty lady — “Grandma”— with a glowing smile and soothing voice, and a friendly bear of a fellow who goes by the moniker of “Grandpa.” They all feed and hold me and carry me around and talk to me and… well, love on me.  

In my book, that more than makes up for celestial choirs of heralding angels, right?  

And I still get math-talk, especially from Grandpa. He talks numbers all the time, mostly because he’s something he calls a “financial advisor.” Over the weekend, he was awarded babysitting duty… and I knew a whirlwind of numbers was coming.  

“Let’s talk about time and tides,” Grandpa said. “And by ‘tides,’ I mean what’s coming in —specifically, as retirement saving and earnings. 

“Trust me, the younger you start saving, the better off you are. There are all sorts of options: your company 401-K, or a personal savings plan like an IRA, or… well, even a passbook account in a bank is better than nothing. And too many people, young and old, are doing nothing for their long-term security. For certain, most people aren’t doing enough.”  

I was intrigued and signaled it by reaching for his nose.  

Grandpa reached for his computer tablet and tapped out some letters.  

“Here you are— a handy little tool called the Dave Ramsey Investment Calculator,” he said.  

“Look— let’s say you hold off putting a good retirement plan in place until…oh, let’s say 47 years old.” He fiddled with the screen again. “Now, to take full advantage of the pitiful amount you’d get from Social Security, we’ll say you want to retire at 67. I’ll be generous here and say you can afford … and decide to put an average of 10 percent of your current $75,000 salary ($625 per month) into your new plan.” 

More screen-tapping. “Okay, that’s still young enough to allow for a bit of higher risk, so… let’s say for conversations sake you earn an 8 percent return on average each year. In those 20 years, you’ll have… okay, $368,137 saved. And if you earned just on average 5% per year on that amount it would add about another $1,538 per month to your retirement income for life.” 

I mentally did the math: yep, that’s right. I tried to nod, but my teething-toy was in the way. 

Not an enormous figure but it sounded like a comfortable figure— but now let’s say at age 20 you were smart enough to know you’d retire someday.” He laughed. “Maybe I told you that, okay? So, we leave everything else the same, but now we have an additional 27 years of time and savings to our equation. But lets be fair and start with a lower salary of $50,000 a year or $417.00 a month. 


“At 67, now your account is worth about… $2,590,560!” He nodded, decisively. “That is a darned fine cushion for your Golden Years. Take that number and apply a 5% return to it and you come up with an Extra $129,528 a year or $10,794 PER MONTH in retirement income for life! And, and that $2,590,560 is yours to do whatever you want to when you return to heaven. Help your kids, grandkids, charities or whatever your little heart desires. 

Grandpa pursed his lips and concentrated on the screen. “Now, if you marry smart and your spouse does the same, just double those numbers. I’ll even let you in on a tiny secret. I think those numbers will be a tad low. 

Remember little one, when I said 10% savings? I want you to shoot for that magic 15% savings rate numberSave that amount and do what you want with the rest of your money. Have a bonfire with it, Grandpa won’t care. Also, you are not going to earn just $50,000 a year for the rest of your 47-year working life.  

Then Grandpa mumbled about Social Security, and something called a Ponzi scheme in the same breath that I did not understand. Maybe he will explain what that is all about sometime later. 

Grandpa was smiling ear to ear now.  

More tap, tap, tap. … bingo! “Use a Roth IRA or 401-K plan and your income will be tax free for the rest of your life!” Then he mumbled again, this time something about Uncle Sam possibly messing that up down the road. Who is this Uncle Sam? I have not met him yet.  

Anyway, I was impressed and told him so by wiggling in delight. “Planning is vital, if you want security later,” Grandpa said. “But it’s never too late to start, either. 

“It comes back to what a smart man named Mark Twain once said: ‘No power on earth is stronger than the Power of Compound Interest.’” 

Grandpa touched the tip of my nose, gently. “He was right, of course. After all, the numbers don’t lie, do they?” I had nothing to add to that. Nothing at all. 

— end —  

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Alexis and her musings will return to these pages in future editions. But not right now, she’s sleeping.)