Pride is not something we discuss as a family. We mostly consider pride as an inflated ego. That was a bad thing. It’s was not bad for someone to be proud of what someone other had done, but to be proud of your own doings or of an individual independent of action was not a good thing in my family.
Years and years ago, after my first marriage exploded, our three children and I were left in the crater of poverty. To paint a picture of what type of person caused this explosion, I will tell you this much. We, the children and I, moved to a very small town ten miles from everywhere because that was the only place I could afford to live. He had two cars and a job, was ordered to pay child support, and lived in his mother’s home. He would not allow me to use either of the cars and he paid nothing on the support; however, this man told his mother than he was giving me all his paycheck so he couldn’t help her pay bills. He provided nothing to us, no money, no products, and no labor. I had to pay him to come out to the house to spend time with his children. We were alone in the world. Although my parents wanted to help, we were just too far away. My dad did buy me a cheap ($700) car however. It wasn’t the best car in the world but carried us toward future independence.
Although I was able to do very little during the first eight years, I did what I could. I saved money where ever I could, Christmas and birthday gifts from family members, proceeds from craft projects and rummage sales, and odd jobs. We were finally able to move to a larger town where doctors and grocery stores were available. (Our youngest was born premature and needed routine medical attention in his early years.) I studied books I borrowed from the public library. When the youngest of the children was old enough to go to daycare, I applied for, and received some grants and scholarships for college. Because I was raising the children alone, it took two and one half years to finish a two-year program.
The eldest helped to fill the void between the hour the children got home from school and the time I got home from college. She had a friend, who had an uncle. Still burned from the explosion, I was not looking to date and was against remarrying and so was he. But it happened. Then, I had the support I needed to finish the stair steps out of the crater. Financially, he was in bad shape, but my studying of library books and some of the college courses I took gave me the information I needed to help him climb out of his own private crater. After college, even though my mother beleived it wouldn’t happen, I found a great job and started earning real money. It did take some time, but he and I, working together, walked out of that crater…and kept on going.
Fifteen years after the explosion of my marriage, there was significant change. Where I had had no car at all, we now had three. Where I lived in a low-income, coal town, we now owned a home in a high-end subdivision. Where I had no phone, we now had two phone lines, four cell phones, and two pagers. Where we had not had enough money to cover simple bills, we now had a five-digit bank account, a savings, retirement funds, investment funds, and money for charity. It didn’t happen overnight; we worked for it, both of us…all of us.
When my parents came to visit, just after we purchased our home, we were barely moved it, I couldn’t help but tease them a little. I had been telling them what a great house we found and how peaceful and beautiful the neighborhood was. However, when I was taking them to the new home the first time, I had to stop to get mail from our old rental place. As I was driving down the street, I pointed at the worst house on the street and told my dad proudly, “That’s it, that’s our new home.” He looked at me as if I were crazy, but played the part of being excited. He started to get a little confused; I couldn’t help but laugh and confess. After we gave them a tour of our real home and property, we settled in the kitchen with coffee and there he said the words. “Mom and I are real proud of what you have accomplished.” Never would have believed him to say that word. Never. I understood what he meant. It wasn’t an issue of pride; it was an issue of amazement. Fifteen years prior to that visit, I didn’t have anything we needed; we didn’t even have enough food on the table. At that point we had everything we needed and a strong reserved to make sure that no one went hungry in our home.
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