My father teaches me nothing of saving. Only of the guilt that comes from not saving - from spending and buying, losing and loss. Coins slip from my fingers in ones and twos and I cannot see them falling; I only know they do not hit the ground in this dark and swirling pit of my own poverty.

It is a self-imposed sort of perniciousness. I know that there is money in there somewhere from all of those deposits he has made for me over the years. I make my own deposits now that I am working, but they never last for long. Clean bills. Crisp checks. I spend for quantity, and frequently fail to use those things I have acquired. I am simply so tired of being without.

Ours is a poverty of value. We only buy the things that are cheaper than they should be. Never the things we need.

Coins slip from my fingers, and I swear I never even knew that they were there.

As coins slip through my father’s fingers, though, he snatches wildly, violently to retrieve them. I wonder at the damage that comes from such care. I ponder the dark and secretive dance of bank accounts and coupons, brokerages and self-denial. Long trips designed to save the most on gas.

I reflect that perhaps it is not care but lack of care, for everything and everyone around him.

Years later, when my mother leaves him he swears he never knew she wasn’t happy. In the wake of this betrayal, he tries to tell me how much he loves me, but after 20 years of vicious penury, I do not believe.

As lives slip through my father’s fingers all he can remember is that loss. I think perhaps this is a lesson even I can learn from, and I spend and spend and spend of my time and (non-material) resources on all the ones I love. I make a wealth of this poverty and dream that someday I may give it to him, and explain to him what he has not known. A bank account that is brimming cannot account for a life that has been wasted.

In spite of himself, perhaps my father has taught me something about saving after all.