Are you poor?

One of the hardest things I think I’ve ever done is be the personal representative for my mother’s estate.  I will never do this again.  I thought I was helping my mother and I’m sure that I actually was giving her some peace of mind, but I will never do this again.  I will let another family member do it.

Dealing with family and realtor’s is the pits.  My mother was the glue that held my family together.  Since her passing, my extended family has shrunk.  We no longer meet for Sunday dinners.  Where we would have made time because it was at Mom’s or Grandma’s, now our lives have moved on.  We no longer have the time for each other and in some cases, have found out we don’t really like each other and were only doing it for Mom.

My mother was a strong woman.  We lost my dad to a heart attack when he was just 51.  I was five.  Mom raised four kids by herself.  Working for fifty cents an hour as a substitute librarian, she managed to put food on the table and by making them herself, clothes on our backs.

We were what the neighbors called poor.  We didn’t have a lot of money.  Our house didn’t have indoor plumbing until I was eight years old.  I remember when my dad was alive, we would bathe in a big metal tub in the middle of the kitchen.  Mom heated water on the stove.  We kids bathed first and Dad last, just adding more hot water as it cooled off.  I sometimes wonder now, if Dad ever had a really hot bath or for that matter one that hadn’t been used by someone else first.

I didn’t know we were poor.  We had everything we needed and even special things, like a trip to bible camp for me.  We had lots of extended family and friends and neighbors.  All of us watched out for the other.  Even though it was in the mountains and our neighbors were far away, we still watched out for our neighbors and they for us.

All of us take a lot of things for granted.  For the most part if you are able to read this blog, you are not poor.  Do you have a car in your driveway, food on the table and in the pantry?  Do you have friends and family who love you and look out for you?  If you have any of these things you’re not poor.  You may not have a lot of money, but you’re not poor.  I definitely don’t have a lot of money, but I’m one of the richest people I know.

How about you?  Are you poor or are you richer than you ever imagined you could be?

36 thoughts on “Are you poor?

  1. I’ve always believed the true measure of wealth is in the friendships and love one cultivates through their live and cannot be measured in material things. After all, we can’t take it with us – can we? But the memories of a friend or a loved one or of being loved and cared for are what lives on.

    Great post and food for thought for the weekend. Thanks for posting, I need it as I look out at my driveway and see my car that needs a transmission. *sigh*

    • I’m so sorry that your car needs a transmission. I’m sending positive thoughts your way and prayers that you will get one soon.

  2. Wow, that’s really something to think about! I’m in the same situation, where I feel poor, but know I’m really not. Day after day, I watch the news and realize how lucky I am to have a home, modern conveniences that I take for granted and family.

    I had the same experience when my mom died two years ago. We all pulled together during her illness and after her death until her estate was settled, but now we only contact each other on occasion and rarely see each other, even though we live close by.

    And sharing a bath? That’s something I’d thought only applied to early in the last century. I guess I was never poor.

    • I’m glad that you never had to share a bath. Being one of the little kids I always got it first, so it wasn’t so bad. I remember though, we only bathed on Saturday nights. I can’t imagine going a week without a bath unless I’m camping in the woods, and even then I take PTA baths everyday and have been known to wash my hair in the river. Verrry Cold!!!.

  3. Lovely post, Cynthia! I too grew up poor and in a rural setting. I really believe rural poverty is a vastly different thing than urban poverty. I’d take the rural variety any time!

    And yeah, tough when you lose your last parent to keep the family intact. I was an adult with children of my own when my father died, and the family dynamics shifted radically. My mother died last a year ago this past February, and the bonds have loosened even further.
    Thank you for this very thought provoking post!

    • My mother’s sister told me that the children often scatter after the death of the parents. She and her siblings were close and in some ways still are. I guess that happened after my grandfather died that they drifted apart. My oldest brother and I are still very close, he and I are the only ones left. It’s the extended family that we aren’t so close to.

  4. I’ve made a lot of money over the years, but I always felt like I was in the rat race. Since I started writing I sometimes struggle to make my bills, but I’m much happier. I have a loving and supportive husband, a wonderful son and great friends. I’ve also found that other authors are some of the most generous people around.
    Marion w/a Ella

    • I totally understand Ella. I lost my job in June, and have taken the opportunity to write full time. I’m less stressed than I’ve been in years and feel better than ever. I know that I’ll have to go back to work, but this time for me and my writing is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’d be a fool not to grab it with both hands and no one has ever called me a fool.

  5. I love your post, Cynthia. It made me step back and re-consider. I grew up listening to my parents worrying about money, and guess I absorbed their fear. I’m not poor today, but admit to falling into the fear trap now and again (especially now). It’s time to step back and take stock of the things in life that really matter–family, friends, good health, and laughter, lots and lots of laughter.

    • As one commenter said, we need money to live, but beyond that what do we need it for? To leave to our heirs? They will be making their own money and with few exceptions, probably don’t need what we would leave anyway. What we really need are those things that you said Maureen, family, friends, good health and lots of laughter. The world is so much lovelier with lots of laughter.

  6. Cindy, I’m one of the richest women alive. And you my dear nailed it. What good is money, if you have no one to spend it with. Material things don’t make you happy, nor does keeping up with the Joneses. I’m so sorry about your mom. Just a suggestion, why not fix dinner and say, hey ya’ll, come on over?

    Hugs, my friend.

    • Unfortunately Donnell, I tried many times to do just that, fix dinner and have them come. It just didn’t work out for us. Oh well, life goes on and I can’t waste another tear for relationships that are gone. I have too many that are here and now and need my attention, but thank you for thinking of me. See you at the CRW October Tea.

  7. ((hugs)) on the lost of your mother. My mum died almost a year ago and I struggle with the loss almost every day. She was larger than life, and was our matriarch. My older sister has slid into the place mum once held, but it’s not the same. We sisters all pull together (there are 4 of us), but the other family members (cousins) for the most part, have faded into the woodwork.

    When it comes to wealth, there are many kinds, as you illustrate in your wonderful post. One needs material wealth of some kind to get by in this world, to pay bills and to eat and have a roof over your head. But once those needs are met, what have you got left? That’s where family and friends fill the void in our souls. I was blessed with 3 amazing sisters whom I love dearly. I was also blessed with two very special friends from my college years, who never lost touch, and finally, I have a great online sisterhood of like minds, women who know what it is to be a writer, to have these stories and voices in our heads and feel compelled to share them with the world. Each day as I st down to write, I think of my sisterhood of writers and know that I am not alone on this crazy journey. I share it with all of you and it makes the trip worth it. Bless you all for traveling this path.

    • I understand struggling with the loss of your mother. I feel very lucky to have had her for so long. All I can tell you is that it does get easier. You will never forget her, but it gets easier to live without her.

  8. Cindy, your post made me cry. My parents were poor. My Dad died when I was 9. We had 4 small rooms, a tiny bathroom with a tub, but the water heater was in a crate in the old detached garage. My Dad had been too sick to install it. My Mom heated water on the stove like yours did. We had a coal furnace in the basement that my Dad had dug by hand. He and friends then moved the tiny house onto the basement using railroad jacks. After he died, the men from church came and installed the water heater. My mom made my clothes just as she’d made my older brother’s clothes.

    Many people today have lost their jobs, their medical insurance, their homes. I look around and I remember, and I feel rich even though we’re not.

    Bob and I have lost family and friends this year, and that makes those who remain even more precious. I’m trying to contact them more often. I also try to remember all the good things, the new discoveries that promise better health, better living conditions.

    I’d better quit or get my own blog. Sorry I’ve been so verbose. Have a wonderful weekend. — Karalee

    • I’m sorry I made you cry. I know that you and Bob lost his mother recently and I’m so very sorry. It sounds like you and I have more in common than we knew. See you at the October Tea.

  9. Great post, and so close to home! Although, I confess, we always had indoor plumbing after my sixth birthday. Before that, can’t remember much, just loggers’ shacks in the woods, etc. I am very grateful for getting as far as I have in life, because my mother remembers picking peanuts and cotton as a child in the south! I was the first girl in the family to go to college, and it was a big deal for my mom. 🙂
    Today I have a group of friends locally we call the Sistahood [sic] of the Traveling Dogs, and we have become family for each other. Friends make it all worthwhile. 🙂

  10. My parents grew up poor and in a rural area, my father had 11 brothers and sisters and they were raised on a farm. I remember their being no running water and an outhouse for the bathroom when I was a kid. But like many here, none of us thought about it. Back then people bartered for services and goods, something I encourage and participate in today. That’s how we got our flatscreen television and other items, plus I sew and buy most of my clothes from the thrift stores, and most people don’t notice. There’s plenty of ways to be thrifty.

    • I didn’t know that people bartered any more. I’ve tried it but always seem to get shot down. Maybe it’s just that whatever it is I’m bartering at the time, is not needed.

  11. First let me offer my deepest sympathies on the death of your mother. My mother is my best friend and I can not imagine how difficult it would be to lose her.

    I grew up in a middle-class to upper middle class neighborhood and was very fortunate that we always had everything we needed and some of what we wanted. Unfortunately, what we didn’t get alot of was quality time together as my father worked two jobs to provide that lifestyle for us. So there really was an overall feeling of lack despite the monetary advantages we had. For the last fifteen years or so, I have been in the same boat, working hard to be able to have the things that I need and want. It wasn’t until recently that I realized how much I was missing in my life and have since changed my attitude and my way of thinking. I realized that while having material goods is nice, it is so much more important to have quality relationships in your life and to have a vocation that you love even if it means learning to live on less. That is part of the reason I have started writing again and hope that I can slowly transition out of my high-stress career into something more fulfilling.

    • I highly recommend getting out of a high stress career if you can. You’ll feel so much better, physically, mentally and emotionally. I don’t think we all realize just how much our jobs take from us, emotionally. We invest ourselves in our jobs and they often become who we are. Without them we are lost even when that job is killing us. It is truly better to have less money and more satisfaction.

    • I miss her everyday. I was blessed to have her for so long. She was 88 when she passed and though she’d lived a fulfilling life, she was tired, as she put it, and ready to go home. Thank you for your kind words.

  12. yes we are blessed we still have each other Sis ,we might still live a couple of Hours away but your Big Brother and our kids love you and Jim very much and that will never change.We are so very proud of you!

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