Money, whether we have too little, too much, or just enough, is intriguing. It saves lives and costs lives ; it makes us generous and makes us greedy; it improves character and destroys character; it protects families and separates families ; it brings happiness and it brings regrets . The one thing it does not do is—————-NOTHING !
Thinking back on Byron’s and my personal journey and the role that money played along the way touches my heartstrings. We were pretty typical young marrieds in the early 60s : some college-educated, some military-enlisted/drafted , some job-trained , but almost all , making our own way financially. Parents, for the most part, had given us both roots and wings, which meant we would fly solo when it came to marriage and money ! Not a bad thing; not a bad thing at all !
So, we were poor ! Byron was out of the Air Force and into college, thanks to the GI Bill. I was a UGA grad, looking for work. After a couple of fits and starts, we became residents of Winder, he commuting to the University, and I, teaching English at Winder-Barrow High School. Indisputably, some of the best days of our lives.
Did we struggle financially ? Absolutely ! Did we have to buy a small jar of mayonnaise because we couldn’t afford a large one ? Absolutely ! Did we fill our empty gas tank to the full mark ? No way ! Did we purchase our very first dryer ( because Chuck was in the works ) on the ” pay-as-little-as-you-can-by-the-month ” plan ? Of course !
But we managed and we grew in independence and cooperation. We learned how to make choices and how to compromise. And we learned the hard lesson that sometimes being poor is no fun !
Time moved on. Byron got a real job as a salesman in textiles. I had two babies and stayed home with them until we moved back to Lavonia, opened a jean store on the square——–and we were poor AGAIN ! Tommy Beasley, my life-long friend and our accountant, informed us that we were poor enough to fall in some category that made the government feel sorry for us. Pretty scary time with a 12-year old and an 8-year old. And because we had some 15 years of marriage under our belts, the earlier compromise and cooperation became more of a challenge.
But opportunity presented itself. Byron went to work in Operations for Bulldog Trucking and later, Adams Motor Express, and I was called , out-of-the-blue, to take a position at Franklin County High School teaching English due to an unexpected resignation. And our money situation changed again, this time in the right direction.
From poor -to- stable>>>>>>>> and then poor- to -better ! Looking back on these 62 years of marriage, I am intrigued by the role that money played——-and plays , and not just for us, but for everybody : rich , poor, or simply comfortable. It is not the driver ( nor should it be ) but , in many ways , it is the navigator. If you can’t attend an event because a rental tuxedo is too expensive, then that’s money. If you can’t get medical help because you have no insurance, that’s money. If you support your local church, the animal shelter, and other charities, that’s money. If you go out to dinner instead of making a sandwich, that’s money. If you can’t afford for your child to take private lessons, in music or sports, that’s money. If you reach out to a family member or friend who has a special need, that’s money. If you can’t hear and can’t afford hearing aids ( or can ) , that’s money.
Byron and I have been blessed. Our marriage survived the poverty . We are comfortable living in our woods, being able to fill the gas tank ( even in this frantic time ) , buying big jars of mayonnaise , and paying for new central air at the time of installation. We have moved into the world of plastic and checks only and we are not burdened by overwhelming choices.
But, most important of all, we are extremely grateful that we can , in our own small way, give back. Supporting others , as we recognize a need , continues to remind us of our own journey, with and without money, and fills us with gratitude for the lessons learned during the hard times and the comfort of the easy times.
Money IS the great equalizer. If you have been fortunate enough to move from poor-to-better, then reach out in whatever way you choose. Count your blessings, as Byron and I try to , and PASS IT FORWARD………………………
We are all blessed in some ways. Having grown up in small town USA has given some of us reasons to keep giving back to those we know have fallen through the cracks. Thanks for sharing your journey so others will remember and be blessed.
Thank you, Ron, for reading and for your perceptive comment. Our years in our joint hometown were truly a blessing. Remembering the struggles is a vital part of life’s lessons. Byron and I are grateful that we weathered the storms and can now truly appreciate the journey, obstacles and all.
Thank you for hearing your memories !
Missing you and Bob ! What a treat for us.
Oh yes, the early years were lean. We didn’t even get the dryer. We did get a washing machine, but I hung the diapers on the line to dry and in the cold weather took them to the corner washeteria to use their dryers. We have Friday night bridge games, where the couples brought their children and a covered dish to share. We played cards and the kids just played until they fell asleep on the floor. I think that these were some of the best years of our 65 years. Yes, it’s nice to be comfortable now and not have to pinch every penny, but golly we had a lot of fun back in the day. Thanks for reminding me of how we got to where we are now. Money is truly the “Equalizer”
Thank you for reading and responding, and I never cease to be amazed at how similar our backgrounds are. We, too, carried babies and covered dishes to different homes to play bridge with couples, and it was special. So many rites of passage ! Aren’t we blessed ?
Don’t suppose we could interest Byron and Gus in a game of bridge ?
No doubt but that money does provide the test of the character of many marriages. We all have seen that money shortages have created many arguments between an otherwise happy couple. The test of the marriage’s character is whether the two parties decide that the problem involving money is one that can be managed through an effort of cooperation, or, the pair simply continue to blame one another until they decide to divide and go different ways.
Likewise, most of us have observed the “problem” of a couple having life too easy because of familial wealth and the pair will sometimes have so much time and money that they are not challenged to pull together as a marriage, as defined in the dictionary. So yes, money will always be an active participant in human lives.
Well said. Byron’s and my story is not too different from thousands of other married couple, as you have so succinctly stated. And, all’s well that ends well. Thank you for your interest and perceptive comments.