I think about childhood sometimes. I was aware we didn’t have a lot of money. Our clothes were mostly handed down and we lived with a clothes line, much less expensive than the dryer. When I was in early junior high and my brother got married, we couldn’t afford the dresses that actually FIT me, so Mom thought it was a brilliant plan to buy a “pretty” floral nightgown and call it a dress. I WAS IN EARLY JUNIOR HIGH, OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER THE TRAUMA. And she was SO proud of herself for her brilliance, she just had to share it with everyone at the wedding. Forgiven, but not forgotten, Mom. She could make a pair of pantyhose last a year, because when a leg got a run that couldn’t be salvaged with fingernail polish, she cut the whole leg off and wore two pair of one-leg-pantyhose.
I’m actually surprised we ever had trash, because she was the most resourceful woman in the history of the world and used EVERYTHING for some worthwhile purpose. Toilet paper cardboard rolls, empty cans, broken this’s or that’s; I even remember Christmas decorations made out of Rainbo Bread bread sacks, another made of disposable cups, and of course, the favorite baby food jar tree. A favorite childhood memory was the tire swing, not purchased, but created from an old tire.
We ate what was put in front of us. If we “accidentally” put our hamburger in the dog’s dish and Mom found it, we all got the paddle, EXCEPT FOR THE CULPRIT AND I WON’T NAME HIS NAME BUT DWIGHT, ANGELA, AND I KNOW WHO DID IT AND WE HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN AFTER 45 YEARS. We learned to like bologna and leftover mashed potatoes made into potato cakes. If cheese was a little moldy, Mom made us cut the yucky and eat the rest. She used sour milk to make pancakes. If toast burned, learn to scrape the black. If her Christmas peanut brittle was left in the oven a little too long, she served it anyway and apologized while eating the first piece as an example that it wasn’t so bad. When a recipe called for tomato sauce and there was none in the cupboard, ketchup would have to do. You didn’t throw away sandwich bags or other storage bags until they had a hole in them. They were forever drip drying over the faucet after dishes and bags were washed in the sink. The zipper kind were for the rich people.
Our cars were always needing Dad’s help. Angela and I drove to school for awhile holding the passenger side door closed with a rope. Mom sacrificed a snowy cold January Friday evening to take my friends to Wichita to go ice skating – without heat – and I spent the 45 minute ride constantly wiping the windshield so she could see out, because young happy girls create foggy windows.
But we had a very rich life. And mostly knew no different.
I am grateful that we were not so privileged that we didn’t learn to appreciate.
So, thank you, Mom and Dad, for our very rich life.