Saturday, April 8, 2017

From Rags to.....well, DISHCLOTHS!





I certainly would like to say "Riches", but I am a Yankee, and with that moniker, I am simply happy to be in a place where I never thought I would be, let me explain.

Ever since a child during the late 60s on into the late 70s, I knew of no time that I needed anything. We grew up fluctuating between having very little money to on top of the world. Because of various decisions my father made that brought us at the poverty level at times, I(along with my siblings)never knew our finances and life was on an even keel while growing up. Our parents had the mindset that children should NOT know how much money we had, how much food was in the cupboards or whether or not bills were being paid on time. Their only concern was our welfare, financial and emotional.

We never went without a meal, clothes, games or happiness because it was my parents struggle to give us what we needed in all areas of our growth.

It wasn't until I could think on my own and through talking with my father that I became aware of struggles in our childhood. And even then, he never wanted to admit any faults he may have had, bad decisions he chose or how(because of their cheap price)we ate pot pies many times sitting around the supper table.

For that, I will ALWAYS hold my mother and father at the highest esteem!

I worked my tail off ever since the 7th grade in the kitchens my parents ran. Not only did it give me a work ethic that is unparalleled(to this day, I honestly have never met anyone in the kitchen that can stay as busy as I can)but it saved my parents money so that they could keep the restaurants in operation.

I also got a feel of what it was like to be in a situation where there was no money, and thank goodness I didn't have children to consider during this time.

There were many times in my life that I found myself homeless with no cash, food, clothes or many friends. I have slept under a thick bush in one state while trodding to a Catholic church for 2 bologna sandwiches they handed out once a day.

I have found myself sleeping next to a river, in the thick woods with absolutely NO food for days on end.
These instances, and many more, were through no fault of anyone but me! Spending my money on beer and partying and only working to accomplish these two goals were decisions I made as a young adult.

Although I had family that helped me many times over this time, for some reason I STILL didn't learn from my mistakes. I think my downfall was that I was truly a handsome young man and I thought that my looks would get me whatever I wanted. I can sit here now and remember in great detail that I would be thinking how handsome I was while sitting at a homeless shelter eating whatever they offered. Talk about being blind to the truth, LOL.

I remember other times "mooching" off my siblings for a couch to sleep on, even when I was working full time. I would get a paycheck and instead of offering them some money for their kindness, I took it, bought me and friends of mine beer and off to the local dance club to party all night. I often found myself in a strange home, in the early morning hours, continuing to drink while others around me were doing drugs. The only consolation I can think of was the fact that I NEVER did those same drugs. Sure I smoked a little marijuana and tried cocaine once, it just wasn't for me. Liquor was my downfall, just as it had been for my father, grandfather and others from a generation back. And I couldn't be happier that this cycle of alcohol cycle has stopped. I don't believe I was an alcoholic during this time, I simply wasted money on beer instead of being financially responsible.

And the damndest thing was, at any given time throughout my lowest times, I could easily have changed everything because I was truly the best line cook around....honestly.....thanks to the training I received from my parents!

So when you have experienced that side of the track, and pulled yourself up, you have nothing to fear other than one thing. Having children of your own is the only time that poverty fears come back to me, and at a consistent frequency.

Since having children, I find myself looking toward the future, not only long term, but the following week. I have an obsession, you might say, about making sure my kids do not go without. An obsession in making sure that bills are paid, food is in the cupboard and never EVER saying we don't have the money for this and that. I don't believe I have ever said "We don't have the money" for anything because my parents never said that to me. Which is essential in maintaining a healthy, mental "even keel".

So having given out what may be too much information, the whole premise of this post is that this Yankee is happy to have what I have, not to constantly irritate myself with what I don't.

I am the exact same person now as I was during this rough time in my life, albeit maybe a tad more compassionate and priority driven.

My children have issues at times when I tell them the same thing, but I am afraid that it is partially my fault for spoiling them the way I have. Whenever they ask for something, sadly I give it to them. But there have been times when I have explained to them that they, too, should be happy with what they have and not what they don't! THAT, my friends, is not an easy task!

I am not rich but I do have that "warm blanket in which to cover my children with" as I mentioned during my Dads eulogy.

Sure, keep striving to obtain more, but at the same time, be content with what you have. If you fall below that comfort zone, it is time to assess why you are there, stand up and take that other road. But above all, if you have family that is helping you, understand that you really do need to help yourself if someone else takes the time and resources to help you.