They say that every picture tells a story, a 1000 words come to mind.
I grew up so poor that we were the family that the local church raised money for. My Dad, no matter how hard things were wouldn’t get state help no matter what, and we didn’t have groceries like most people. People might have thought we were starving, but that wouldn’t have happened. Some days he would bring home a pack of bread and a pack of hamburger because there was nothing in the fridge and we would grill out. Depending on the time of year we would sit on the porch and eat together, or while watching tales from the crypt around the living room.
We were poor. But not like most. My dad worked his ass off. If we wanted a Nintendo he would go through hell and high water to make sure we had one. If we wanted to go on a trip he would take us. I honestly believe that he would have taken us anywhere if we asked.
But we were poor, by society’s standards. We didn’t have tons of money. And my dad never cared about things. My dad often slept on a couch in the living room of our trailer or rented house so me and my brother could have our own rooms. Generosity and kindness was currency in our family.
Dirt poor. I can remember one bathroom not having knobs in the shower so we used a wrench to turn it on. But we stayed in the most beautiful cities and played on the most pristine beaches.
We were poor.
So poor. I know now that sometimes my Dad would borrow money before Christmas so that we never had to have a present less morning. We had the BEST Christmases! Seriously, every Barbie ever made. The newest game system, go karts, tamagotchis, whatever it was on the commercials that we pointed out during our Saturday morning cartoons. WHATEVER WE WANTED. Knowing that he would have to work like hell to catch up afterwards he would make it happen.
My favorite present from him was free. I’m sure I had been whining about a dog, like I did with the cow, the chickens, cat, whatever, because I always had a farm whenever I asked for one. He got me a dog. Her name was Princess. She was the best dog any one could hope for. She was loyal and kind, and wouldn’t harm a fly (except for all those chickens, she and her puppy ate every last one). I had her for the next 12 years and we went through every hardship, new home, new life, together.
My Dad would never look back and say that we were poor. We had each other. We had memories that lost adrenaline junkies would be jealous of. We went cave dwelling,we literally climbed mountains, we drove blue ribbon race horses to Oklahoma and I gambled with my brother at the Downs.
My childhood was rich.
How many people can say that a vet came to their dad and borrowed them to turn a breech horse? When I was 7 on a trip to the horse breeder in Oklahoma the truck hadn’t yet cooled from the trip when a vet spotted me with my dad and came to us and asked “can I borrow her for a second, she is the right height and has small hands”. I wasn’t the least bit scared and my dad must not have been either because 5 minutes later my arms were elbows deep in a horse and grabbing for hidden legs of a slippery foal so that I could twist it sideways to allow it to come out properly.
I’ll never forget standing on that stool that evening as I helped to birth that baby horse.
It was something that money couldn’t buy or replace.
I hope that I am able to allow my son and daughters to be rich, but in all the right ways. We didn’t have a lot growing up, but in many ways, we had everything.