Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Less of a Life?
My Dad's mom never made it to Middle School, she had to work. I have no idea about my Papaw's education, my Dad's dad. Leroy was my mom's dad, left his family a lot. My mom said he killed her mother, who died the year before I was born. She talked about the poverty they had to survive in one room above a store. It was hard to recogize him as family. Leroy was educated but had wanderlust, always treasure chasing, the big score just another adventure away. Leroy would talk to me about hopping trains to travel due to no money. I felt no sympathy. My mom, her siblings and the grandmother I never met were starving and cold as he sought treasures. Then there was my inner conflict. I loved hearing about his adventures. Guilt would consume me as I pictured his travels. He was from the hills of Kentucky, different from Ozarks. I have no idea how they ended up in the Ozarks. My mom talked about riding in a horse drawn wagon with her grandfather to deliver milk. I could not picture my mom in a horse drawn wagon at all, much less working with her grandfather to devlier milk, it's not like it was 100 years ago. The Hills were just a little behind the rest of the world. Mom always wanted to reach higher, attain more, as did my dad. They didn't really talk about it, they just did it; both worked hard at what ever jobs they could get. Dad pumped gas, worked at a city waste water plant and eventually landed a state job that helped him gain more education. Mom always had her nose in a book while trying to raise 4 kids. I watched the little kids as she finished high school, went to college then got her degree, all while working full time. When she had to leave the state for two years to attend college. My older brother joined the Air Force and us younger kids were spread out between family members, as far away as West Texas. At that point, I don't think I had ever traveled more than 25 miles from our house. I was terrified mom wouldn't come back and I felt guilty. I was the only kid that stayed with a parent, my dad. Maybe none of the other family wanted me, I was handful and a half. But was it less of a life? I think it was a different life from other's but not less. I was blessed with riches, just not the kind that can go into a bank. I think my dad died content that he had done his best for all of us and mom. I didn't hear him complain about his life. Lots of other things, yes, but not his life. This is rambling, I know. A family member died this week and I got to thinking I am on the back nine myself. Do I feel I have lived less of a life as an adult? I seem to complain a lot like my dad did but I really have more than I ever thought I could attain. My kids are healthy, they have kids that are healthy. I have never been homeless, always able to find some sort of work and have traveled more than 25 miles from my hometown. As a kid I never saw past the front porch, even when Leroy would talk about adventure, in my mind that adventure was waiting in my back yard or down the street with friends. I was hooked on the books, Boxcar Children, but alwasy pictured their Boxcar home in the woods behind my house. Maybe my "elders" taught me how to appreciate what was on my plate, whether it was poking the tall grass beside a road with my toddler son for enough coke bottles to buy beans for the week or getting up everyday to go to radiation treatment even with radiation sickness. I have been on the edge of poor, living in a condemed house and feeling rich when I had enough cash to give my kids a nice vacation. I have been lucky to live in both near poverty and almost middle class, to hear about the very real poverty my family experienced and going to my friend's homes that had no indoor plumbing and the only heat was a wood stove stove in the middle of the house. I left their homes feeling greatful that our house had doors and an inside toilet. I feel lucky to be able to share what I have seen, learned and lived with others. It's been a different life, not less of one. Ramble ends.