Thursday, February 15, 2007



If you're born into a family that's poor and insecure, no matter how you fare and achieve success in your working years, you never completely outgrow the fear of poverty you knew when you were a kid. Your family did things then just to survive, to stay alive, to scrimp and save and stave off hunger. You were younger, suffered too. You did what you had to do, just like mom and dad and all the kids they had.

It's strange how nothing seems to change, how memories stay and shape the way you are. When you were young your family never owned a car. You never had new clothes. Even those that fit were hand-me-downs. Now you have two cars, wear the latest fashions from Fifth Avenue, take expensive vacations, lord it over relations that you climbed out of poverty into middle class society.

Although success is real and you feel secure, you never forget when you were poor and had to endure the pain and shame of poverty. It's like a scar that never heals, a greedy need that aches for more, a fear that life's revolving door that let you in will throw you out and what you've won could be lost.. In a hour or a day you could be on your way back to that day dad came home, turned to his wife and sobbed, "I lost my job. My pension, too." Mom replied, "Sit down, have a cup of tea. We'll see."

Mom held dad, kissed him as she never had before. He never worked again. Like other men of the Great in those days of Depression, he walked the streets, tried here, tried there. He could not hide his agony. He came home weary, kissed his wife, hugged us kids, went to bed. He closed his eyes. He was dead.

Mom survived, kept us together, weathered lean, mean days until FDR and the war brought solvency into our family. All the kids pitched in, a dime, a dollar. sometimes more. We all worked hard, some found success, some suffered pay check stress. More or less we all achieved beyond what mom believed we could.

On the fateful night we all were there. With pride she eyed us, one by one. "I done good, I'm glad," she said, She closed her eyes, now lives with Dad.


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