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A Childhood Remembered - A Family Created From Love

Updated on February 9, 2013

We were a family of four, back in the 50's: a young family trying to make it on a slim budget. As a kid, I was unaware. I had everything I needed and more. They (my parents) never let on that giving me everything I needed was hard, real hard.

She was 20 when they married. He was 22. Neither of them finished high school but you couldn't tell. He was on leave from the Navy when they met and it was love at first sight. Soon they were married and planning the life they would have - together. They wanted two kids, a girl and a boy, and they had them, in that order. From that point forward, everything they did was for their children. It was like that then and it's like that now. It's all about love...

A Little History...

If there is one thing in life that is certain, it is that change is going to come. Change came for us in 1999 when my Mom had a stroke. Our lives are different now but not a one of us ever takes for granted the thirteen extra years we've had as a family. It could have gone the other way.

The inspiration for writing today was a memory, a memory recalled that is so precious to me, especially in today's economy. When I saw a Mom in the grocery store with a child in the cart and two hanging on to her skirt, I found myself wondering how she affords them. With grocery and gas prices so high, could there be anything left at the end of the month? That is when I begin thinking about my Mom and Dad and, how on earth they managed.

Young Love and a Family

Dad was a salesman. He worked hard and he worked long hours. When I was out of school in the summer time, I only saw him at dinner, most nights. He worked all day then ran home long enough to eat a quick dinner, then he was gone again, often until 9 or 10 o'clock in the evening. Now, don't misunderstand. He was the best Dad and when he was home, he was home with "us". We had his undivided attention, even when he was repairing or building things. I never once doubted that he loved me or that he wouldn't rather be with us.

My Mom was a stay-at-home Mom. She and Dad made the decision - together, for her to stay home and raise the children. We were a family of four surviving on a modest income but both of my parents worked; one outside the home and one inside. My Mom took her job seriously. just as seriously as my Dad did his job. Our house was spotless. Our clothes were clean and pressed. Mom had everything on a schedule. The bed linens wee changed and washed on Tuesday. Bath towels on Wednesday. dark clothes on Thursday and white clothes on Monday. It was a science she developed. There was no dryer in our house. Every load of laundry was hung outdoors to dry. Mom didn't want a dryer. She believed that those clothes just weren't fresh unless the wind had blown them dry. I guess she never thought about all the pollen.

Love Lives in Every Task

Mom wasn't just organized on laundry day either. She made cooking and grocery shopping a science too. She and Dad had a budget and they never stepped beyond its boundaries. There was a grocery allowance too. I hated shopping with her in the summer because she would drive all over town to four or five grocery stores to get the sale items. But even before shopping day, I have a memory of my Mom sitting in the den for hours at a time, clipping coupons and studying the ads in the newspaper. What an organizer she was. Every food group was in it's own little paper clip, sorted by the order of the stores she would visit.

Now that description might make you think my Mom only fed us budget beans and peanut butter but nothing was further from the truth. Mom was an incredible cook. Of course she was. She studied cookbooks just like she did those darn grocery ads. We always had something new to try for our evening meal and that's because Mom knew what was on sale and which cookbook she could find a recipe in that used that ingredient. I tell you, it was a science. More importantly, every dish was prepared with love.

It Was Good Enough For Us

Well time has changed things but it hasn't changed my Mom's ability to find a bargain. Even now, when one of us has to do the shopping for her, she hands us a list and a stack of coupons. We don't always listen but she will still try to direct the order in which we go from store to store. We just let her think she's still directing the show. It's better that way.

What I really want to tell you about my Mom is this. I was 30 years old when I learned what a genius my Mom was with her less than high school education. My Mom had learned through the years to pilfer a little money each week from that grocery money. We never knew the difference. But that money that she tucked away - somewhere, was the money she used to buy us something special. It might have been fabric for a new dress for me (which she sewed) or it might have been a new football for my brother. It might have been school supplies or a new 45 rpm record I was dying to have. Maybe it was the money we used for those weekend trips to the beach. We all loved the beach and Dad had found an efficiency room that only cost $3.00 a night. For $6.00 and a pack of bologna and a loaf of bread, we could spend two nights at the beach. We went to the beach - a lot.

I'll never know just what all Mom bought with that money she saved with those coupons but I know I never wanted for anything. None of us did. We didn't always have the best there was but we had something that was good enough.

Some Things Just Can't Be Duplicated

I've tried to be like my Mom. I've failed miserably. Coupons hate me. They are never where I am when I need them. Laundry is a chore, plain and simple. Even if I didn't live in the city where clothes hung outside to dry end up dirty again with traffic dust, my clothes just never smell as clean as when Mom washed them. And God knows I've tried to cook like her. I've followed her recipe word for word and it just never tastes as good. Many a day has been spent wondering why I can't duplicate my Moms work and have it turn out like hers and there is only one explanation. Mom did it with love. Her pots and pans tasted like love. Her clothes smelled like love. And yes, even those old coupons were clipped with love.

Today my Mom reminds me that anything in life is possible if it's done with love. Even discount food tastes like a gourmet meal if it's prepared with love. And yes, even the laundry, no matter how it's done, just smells better if its done with love.

My Mom and Dad gave us everything a child needs and more but the best thing they gave each other and their children was love.

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

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