Do you know Ruby? Ruby Pinto?
Last week, my family drove to the neighboring city to celebrate the 80th birthday of our dear friend Mrs. Ruby Pinto. She had informed us excitedly about her upcoming birthday festivities 6 months ago and in jest, threatened to take her own life if we did not show up.
The big day dawned, her family and friends in attendance. There was prayer at her favourite Mother Mary’s grotto in the school where Ruby has been doing social service, followed by an intimate party at the Sports club.
Looking elegant and shiny on her special day, Ruby was joyous that her loved ones were present to share her life’s milestone and wish her the best for the years ahead.
Great accolades flowed for Ruby, with one padre telling the audience “Ruby always asks us why pay great tributes to someone after his death when he cannot hear all the good things being said about him. Instead, why don’t you say nice things to people while they are alive?”
When it was time for Ruby to speak, the shy person that she is in front of an audience, she said:
Thank you all for coming to my 80th birthday. It is nice to have you with me. 80 is a good age, it’s really not a bad place to be! I wish you live your life well and don’t waste time.
Wow! That was it? –For 80 rich years, just a few sentences? No flowery words, no long lecture.
I have known Ruby for the last 17 years. She is a free spirit, often irritatingly inquisitive and child-like, practical, habitually positive, a bit crazy and cracks jokes that can turn anyone beet red.
Having moved to the middle east soon after her wedding, this small town girl and her husband worked hard to build their finances. She shared that most of the time she did not know if it was day or night as apart from work, she also had to care for her two little sons. One thing that she always recalls fondly is the beautiful beaches where she spent the leisure time with her sons and playing sports at the club, free of cost. With many years of diligent savings, Ruby and her husband bought a beautiful house in Bangalore, parallely funding her childrens’ education in a boarding school in India.
I was however, introduced to Ruby only after she retired and her husband was no more. She made do with her savings wisely invested and renting out a couple of rooms in her bungalow to paying guests. Her sons and their families had moved out of her home by then.
Ruby would cross my parents’ apartment on her daily walk to the club to play snooker or ping pong, and shout my name out from across the road. Or ring the doorbell and stay for tea and snacks. There were times we walked in the parks nearby enjoying the greenery and bliss and she would rue about the fast declining green cover and water in Bangalore, stating ‘Water is the next war!’
Ruby loves and thrives in the company of young people. She fails to identify with the old ladies talking about their jewelry, material possessions and domestic help. She’d rather beat the teenagers at ping pong or snooker and was an acclaimed sportswoman in her club. Later she learnt to play golf and moved to a quieter, greener neighboring city to pursue her passion.
Some of the value propositions that Ruby holds dear and we could learn from are:
Hard work and a persevering attitude to save enough to provide for her family in their growing stages and for herself after retirement. Always one for asking questions and learning about new developments, Ruby’s carefully-researched investments through her Adviser keeps her active and mindful of her spends and savings.
Ruby would often tell us when we were newlyweds starting our financial journey together – ‘I can live well with Rs.5 or Rs.100 in my pocket. I have seen it all.’ What an inspiration!
Choice to be independent, detached and see things from a larger perspective. Ruby chooses to live alone and thrive in a schedule she chooses for the day.
She sold her spacious bungalow few years ago and shared the profit with her family, not waiting for them to see her legacy in her Will, after her death. “Let them enjoy in front of me when I’m alive and not wait for me to die,” she said.
All these values in action give Ruby greater freedom to exercise her choices and make a difference where it is needed the most. As an Indian woman, I am truly inspired by Ruby and I keep telling her I wish to be like her when I am 80!
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Continuing with Ruby,
She focuses on her all-round physical, mental and spiritual wellness. Being particular about having locally produced, nutritious food and consistently playing sports helps her maintain her health. Spending time with young people keeps her young at heart and also enhances her learning of current trends in technology and the internet, thus probably postponing dementia and memory loss associated with old age.
Her spiritual side is demonstrated in her prayers and contemplation with lighting a candle and doing yoga and meditation everyday. She prays for anyone’s wishes to be met or will carry home cooked food to a friend’s family member in hospital or do whatever she can to make you feel better when you are down. “When you pray for someone; someone, somewhere prays for you,” she says.
Ruby’s goal in the last 15 years has been ‘I want to walk to my grave’ and we wish her a healthy, fantastic life ahead and when the time to leave draws close, ‘to walk to her grave.’
So tell me, are you going to be or not be, a Ruby 80?
Cover image – Pexels, Rajreeta Sen