I took my dog out yesterday in forty mile an hour winds. Well, sometimes I took her out and other times, I huddled behind the glass storm door. I opened the door a crack to tug on her leash, and the wailing wind reminded me of nights at my grandma’s house when I was a little girl. As I huddled in a feather bed beneath quilts that weighed more than I did, I could hear the whistle of the north wind as it whipped around the house and through the ill-fitted windows.
This morning during breakfast, my husband and I talked about poverty. I said, “I never worry about being poor, because I’ve been there and it doesn’t scare me.”
“You know, we don’t really need most of the stuff in this house. We could live without cell phones, Dish Network, fancy TV’s, iPads, Kindles…,” he said.
After our discussion, I began to think about how life was so much simpler when I was growing up. Playtime didn’t involve deciding which toy to choose, because I didn’t have many. Instead, I would decide which tree to climb. It wasn’t hard to choose what to wear. I had two choices—one of my three or four school dresses, or the old clothes I wore at home. When I was little, I had two pair of shoes (school and play), and in the summertime, I went barefoot most of the time.
No one had heard of Alzheimer’s. When my elderly great-aunt developed dementia, folks just said she was “slipping.” We kids enjoyed her childlike behavior and loved her unconditionally.
After Jim and I married, we had a black-and-white 19-inch TV. We struggled to pay the bills, lived in rental houses, and bought clothes at garage sales, or I made them. For several years, we didn’t even have a phone because it was an extra expense. We had one old car after we sold the other to pay my hospital bill when my son was born.
We never obsessed about being poor. Just like my folks, we never resorted to food stamps, government assistance, or borrowing money to help us through the lean times. Instead, we saved all we could, so we could make it on our own.
Life was simpler and people were kinder. We didn’t have politics shoved down our throats twenty-four hours a day. We voted and then let it go until the next election. We didn’t have our friends and family insulting our intelligence on Facebook every day because we made different political choices. If someone mentioned a tweet, we’d have been looking for a bird.
Our social activity was visiting with family and listening to their foot-stomping country music. We went to a laid-back country church on Sunday. Family relationships were cherished, and we would never deliberately be unkind or critical of them.
Jim’s mom always said, “If I have food on the table and a roof over my head, I’m content.” Simple goals, important goals, considering she had temporarily lived under a tree, more than once, and under a bridge at another point in time. She never felt homeless and as long as she was surrounded by family, their love shored her up and made her fearless about poverty.
No, poverty doesn’t scare me. Sitting around the old oak table drinking home-squeezed lemonade seems much more appealing that working my butt off trying to keep up with all my obligations.
This morning, when I took the dog out for her morning walk, I told her, “Yesterday’s wind is gone, just like the simple times.” She stopped, tilted her head, and had that look on her face that indicated she thought I was maybe, just maybe, talking about the treat in my pocket.
Copyright © January 2019 by L.S. Fisher