Don’t Be Too Quick to Lend Money…

****Don’t get warm fuzzies from this lady? Well, for good cause. My husband’s mother was tough, headstrong, and committed, characteristics that allowed her to succeed in a new land. In addition, she was the reason her siblings succeeeded, as she paid for each of their transatlantic passages to America. They never thanked her properly, so I will. “Good job, Jean Moore Mellor!” (But this is posthumous praise, for she’s deceased now.)

Everyone recognizes that genius in writing is when an author’s thoughts transcend generations. William Shakespeare’s works easily fit that description.

Take this excerpt from Shakespeare’s famous “Polonius’s Advice to His Son,” said by Polonius to his son Laertes, on the eve of Laertes’s leaving home to travel:

“Neither a borrower, nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.”

How does a loan lose itself and friend? In many cases, the loan is never repaid. In fact, the borrower goes about life with little apparent memory regarding that obligation, as he makes other purchases. In instances where he does pay it back, he may grow resentful of the obligation. He or she puts little value on the loan, mistakenly thinking that everyone in life borrows money as easily.

Those who are afforded easy means to buy something they haven’t earned may never fully appreciate the loan, for they fail to understand how interest accrues in a normal loan scenario or they may not realize how the loan impacts the lender (money not available for his or her own needs).

These easy borrowers think nothing of the “gift” they’ve been afforded. My mother-in-law’s generosity proves this point.

She came over from Scotland, as a young woman, and worked years as a housemaid in Hell’s Kitchen, in New York City. Because she saved her meager pay, she could pay ship’s passage to America for each of her 5 siblings. In addition, she helped them accommodate to life in that bustling city, by depriving herself of her own wages.

In other words, she helped them leap the hurdles they faced as immigrant…. the same hurdles she vaulted alone.

That meant she went without that little dress she’d seen in the store window or the high-heeled pumps most girls “had to have.” She denied herself those items and many others, consumed as she was with her greater mission.

In earlier times (the colonial period), those same voyages cost penniless travelers many years of their lives as indentured servants, as they worked to pay back money loaned for that journey. Some never escaped their debts. But my mother-in- law was kind: She never asserted a fee for the loan, despite the fact it cost her in that she did without the interest on saved money.

What was their reaction to her generosity? They hated her. When they made it to the point they no longer depended on her largesse, they spurned her, insisting she was “too difficult,” or that she “demanded too much from them in return.”

What did she expect? More than anything, she wanted the respect she should have been afforded. But they chose to ignore the huge sacrifice she’d made for them. Sadly, it often appears to be the case of people who’ve benefited greatly from another’s generosity.

Ben Franklin had a wise saying: “If you think money’s easy to get, try to borrow some” (all the fitting in today’s cash-strapped society.)

People forget all too easily the folks who’ve helped them out. That was made all the more evident, recently, when we taxpayers floated the TARP fund loans to major banks. When they recouped, they turned on us customers, with usurious penalties and overcharges.

Short memories? You betcha…Sometimes people (and institutions) need to be reminded.

Got your own instance of a borrower who didn’t appreciate what was loaned freely? Did they not evidence respect? Share at Comments or Leave a Comment. You can always sign in as anonymous, leave your e-mail address (it won’t be shown–promise) and describe what happened. There’s a reason Shakespeare’s works are classics: He spoke universal truths.

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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