Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dirt Poor and Still made it!

Recently my Uncle Howie wrote his memoirs from early childhood through his marriage to Aunt Marilyn. Howie was my father's youngest brother. My father passed away just weeks before my 6th birthday and I never really knew much about his life. What I thought I knew turned out to be his creative mind illuminating the fantasies he must have lived as a child. My dad told me he was part native american only to find out he lived near an indian reservation. He told me stories about Kentucky, but never lived there.

Through Uncle Howie's memoirs, I think I understand a little about my dad's vivid imagination. My grandparents were dirt poor, lived in a house without running water or inside plumbing of any kind. The outhouse was less than spectacular and the wood stove only warmed whatever was within 2-3 feet. It was a treat for them to have bread and milk pudding made from stale bread. This was in the early 1940's!

Amazingly, like others surviving the Depression, my dad and his younger brother succeeded in life. My dad joined the Navy, earned a degree in Physics and taught at the Capitol Radio Engineering Institute. My uncle went George Washington University where he earned his PhD.

What made me realize the sacrifices my dad went through to get where he did in life, to provide for his wife and family of 7 was Uncle Howie's story. I thought about that once again this morning after a story about poverty in Appalachia on Good Morning America.

How can you express the gratitude in your heart for the suffering and senseless poverty that exists still today when many of us are in turmoil over cutting back gas consumption or losing cable tv? I express my gratitude each time a bill arrives because it reminds me that I have something of value to pay for. I take a moment to talk to a "down and out" man collecting change at the intersection. He has never asked me for anything. He blesses me each time I see him and ask how he is. I thank those who provide security to my community-police, fire fighters, etc.

I am grateful that I have so much to grumble about if I choose. Imagine not having much of anything: what would there be to grumble about?

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