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Bad times? Most of us have no inkling

POSTED October 28, 2011 11:48 p.m.

These aren’t exactly the greatest of times.

Even those who normally would feel comfortable with a decent paying job have anxieties about the economy.

In reality, most of us still have it good compared to many.

And with the holiday season just around the corner, the pain of hunger at a time when people traditionally celebrate their good fortune of family and life becomes more acute for those who are struggling more than the rest of us.

Growing up I was fortunate. Dad died when I was 7 leaving mom to raise four kids on her own. We never went without food and — in my case — I certainly had a bit too much. By the time I turned 13 I realized we were lucky — very lucky. Mom worked six — sometimes seven — days a week and never less than 10 hours a day and often as many as 16.

There were times she was close to going financially over the edge. And it wasn’t because she was buying electronics, spending money on entertainment, or splurging. It was a struggle to feed, clothe, shelter and pay for everything from dental and optometrist bills for four kids to making house repairs. Myself and my two older brothers all started working when we were 13 to help out at the frostie my mom owned as well as other part-time jobs. It is how we bought clothes and paid for school-related items.

Even though it was a constant struggle, mom always managed to help others who were even in a bigger need than we ever thought of being.

She’d often feed kids —  teens primarily and young adults — who basically were hungry. And it wasn’t because they were bottomless pits. Their parents simply couldn’t afford to keep enough food on the table.

A lot of them were regulars at our home and more than a few stayed for several days at a time.

I didn’t realize how much she had helped make a difference — even if it was just helping a kid for a week-long period — in others’ lives until her funeral services. There were people, who spoke that I didn’t even know she had been helping.

My mom didn’t have much when she died in terms of what Wall Street types would call assets but it was clear that she was wealthy in ways that really matters when the curtain finally falls.

Mom had an excellent role model. Her mother was left with a ranch in the rolling foothills of western Nevada County and nine mouths to feed when many grandfather just up and took off during the depths of the Great Depression.

Even with all of the challenges grandmother had, she still went out of her way to help others less fortunate.

I cannot begin to fathom what it must have been like to be struggling during the Great Depression. I count my good fortune for living in such good times that I have including today.

I guess that’s why it’s a non-brainier why I don’t hesitate to write a $50 check for a local food program.

I can’t comprehend what it would be like to go hungry any day let alone holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas.

It’s not great times but I’m going to toss in another $50 if for no other reason than to honor the spirit of both my mother and grandmother.

Sometimes among all of our groaning and worrying we just don’t realize how good we really have it.

 

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