This was written on April 25, 2004. I have not had time to finish it, but it will be good for a lot of people to read. It may hopefully explain some of my bitterness. I will get it finished one of these days, and post the result.
"Tim, I need to talk to youÖ Have you been okay? Youíre not the same person you were two years ago."
This is what a close friend confronted me with a couple of weeks ago. At first, I didnít really know what he was talking about, but as I thought it over, I realized what it was.
In the past 2 years, I have been through a lot. Iíve seen my family grow, but at the same time drift apart, Iíve seen my parents struggle with health issues, Iíve seen my entire family struggle to make ends meet financially, and Iíve seen myself enter a life of no sleep, no rest, and all hard work. In all this, I have experienced nearly every emotion possible; anger, fear, sadness... The only one I have not experienced is happiness.
Many people donít realize what money has to do with life, other than a means of sustaining economic status while at the same time maintaining health. I want to explain how this is wrong.
As a young child, we had no idea what money was, yet we would get excited when our parents would give us a quarter for the gumball machine. All money was to us, was a key to getting something sweet and tasty. As time went on, and we got older, we learned from our parents that if we took care of certain tasks around the home, that we would get a small reward for it: money. Typically, this reward was in the form of a weekly allowance. Our parents attempted to show us the worth of a dollar, by showing us what it took to get it.
As we got older, in our later teenage years, it was time to start driving a car. In most cases, our parents would have given us a car and helped us out with the payments, but when it was time for repairs, or license plate renewals, it was our responsibility. When we needed to put gas in the car to get from our home to school every day, we were the ones responsible for paying that. In many cases, to fund all this, we would get a job at a local fast food restaurant or department store. This employment continued to show us the value of a dollar, in that, we would not be able to drive our own vehicle without it.
Later on, when it became time to further our education, we used every bit of money we had saved up to go to college. Sure, in many situations, we were able to get assistance from the government or from other sources to pay for our tuition expenses, book expenses, and living expenses, but when it was time for us to go out and spend time with our friends; we would have to find some means of paying for the activities. For many of us, we would find a means of employment much as we did in our teenage years, working long and hard hours to have that little bit of extra money to fund our relaxation.
Unfortunately, I have not had such an experience with money. While I have seen what it takes to earn it, I have also seen how it can discriminate and destroy lives. My family has not been the highest income family ever. I remember as I was younger, having to eat pancakes made with water instead of milk, eating tomato soup made from ketchup, or eating a bowl of cereal in the morning without milk, because we could not afford the simple food items. I remember being sick and not being able to go to a doctor. I remember having to wear clothes that were worn out from years of use by other people, as well as me.
I had always been under the impression that "poverty" meant you had to rummage through dumpsters, you had to live without heat, or you had to go without shoes. My parents had done a superb job making do with what we had, and I will be forever grateful to them for that. However, I know what stress and suffering they went through to do that. I know what sacrifices they made so that my sisters and I could have a decent Christmas.
I have been in college for the last two years, attempting to make a better life for myself than that. Knowing what it took away from my parents has given me the motivation to make a better life for myself. Along the way though, I have seen what money is truly worth. I have seen how it is unfairly given to some, while others nearly have to sacrifice their own life just to get enough money for a meal. The old clichť, "College students have no money, "has proven itself to me, time and time again. In all honesty though, I have no desire for money.
To be continued...
I completely sympathise with your situation as I was in the same situation with my family many years ago.
My mother and father separated in a few blazing arguements when I was about 3-4, it was horrible because I can still remember them to this day. Well my mother was left to bring up two kids with a job working at a bar and some friendly neighbours to help look after us.
My mum did the best from a bad situation, she worked as often as possible, we recieved state help e.g. free milk, school dinners etc to help out with certain costs. My mum would buy our clothes from the local charity shops, looking through photos we did a damn good job.
Luckily my mum had met my stepdad befrore my mum and dad split up, he managed to convince her into trusting him, she didnt at first but eventually did.
Ever since then we have enjoyed the values of being in a tight knit family, my mum now runs her own business and my stepdad still continues to work copius amounts of overtime at the police station to help afford little luxuries at the end of the month.
I havent spoken to my father in like 2 years now, its a shame but I dont miss it, my stepdad does a good enough job (does that sound harsh?) The morals that my mother has passed to me have stuck, I have always tried to find work as she refuses to support me (currently I am jobless perhaps im looking for the perfect job) I hate it when my mum nags me to pull my ifnger out but in my heart of hearts I know she is right.
Tim, I dont know really what to say but I hope you will get some luck going your way soon.
- Posted by Matt (Guest) on June 25, 2004 at 12:23:50PM