Friday, June 12, 2009

Alen was Poor All His Life. It Runs in the Family.

Why is it that some family characteristics are handed down from generation to generation and some are not?

For instance, red hair pops up in my family, often skipping generations. Some of my grandma’s brothers and sisters had it, but then it was only passed to one of my cousins. Yet, two others of my generation, not red heads, ended up with a red-headed child.

Then there’s the infamous “Bailey head” as my dad ( NOT a Bailey) called it. The Bailey head is a bit large. And the Bailey nose is a bit wide. I was fortunate to be blessed with both. I don’t know where my little “chest” came from, but my unhappy daughters are also the recipients of this diminutive trait. However, these are all just physical attributes.

Sometimes poverty does seem to “run in the family”, but not always. Not in our family, though, or at least it didn’t use to. My parents were poor, both having been raised by single mothers. My dad’s father died when Dad was four. He had a ruptured appendix and gangrene set in before he could get from out in the country to Atlanta for medical attention. My mom’s father deserted his family on the side of the road when she was just a babe in arms. So, both of my grandmothers were the sole providers for their family. I never knew my dad’s mom as she passed away just before I was born. But my Grandma Bryan I did know, yet I didn’t understand how hard she had worked all her life until I was an adult. She worked in textile factories, raised five children, and would never divorce or declare dead the man who left her.

As a result, my parents knew what it was like to grow up without luxuries. They never went without food or clothes, but I know they often had very little. My dad would tell me about eating onion sandwiches. My mom was working and buying her own clothes on a $2.00–a-week plan when she was fourteen. They learned to work hard, make-do with little and do without a lot. As for myself, I never wanted for any necessities when I was growing up.

Dad worked hard to provide for us financially, allowing Mom to stay home and provide us with stability, security, and her time and talents. Their thrift allowed us to have a carefree childhood. We worked around the house to earn our allowance, but we were never worried about food or clothing.

We were very comfortable by the world’s standards. But, we were also rich in something that can’t be measured. That was the feeling of belonging to a family and to knowing home was a safe place of refuge. And love. We were rich in love. And love is one thing I want to continue to “run in the family”.

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