Friday, March 20, 2020

How Corona Virus Helped Me Understand My Parents

The picture above is my Mom, Juanita, age 79. Her birthday is just ten days away and she'll be the BIG 80! Happy Birthday Mom! My dad Clyde, beside her, is 82. Those beautiful little ladies are two of their three great-grandchildren, Lisette (l) and Milisende (r). My parents, born in 1940 and 1937 respectively, were reared by parental by-products of the Great Depression. I'm 56 years old. I didn't live the childhood they experienced and probably neither did you. I've never lived through a Pandemic either. While trying to stay socially distanced from everyone because my husband is high-risk, I had an epiphany of how Corona Virus helped me understand my parents.

I understand why my parents don't waste anything.

My Mom always says to me "Tammy, I could live on what you waste". In my mind, I don't waste THAT much money. She is referring to my behavior not aligning with hers.

She shops the grocery sale papers. I walk in and buy groceries.
She saves everything. I throw stuff out.
She is not an impulse buyer. I am.

My parents have fared well leveraging my mom's budgetary bones and my dad's side hustle of selling and trading. My dad's 5th grade education has not stopped him from making good life decisions concerning money.
He is industrious; diligent and hard-working. He's always saying "Can't sit down. Gotta keep going."  He drives mom to the grocery store every time there are sale items she wants to buy for them. She keeps their cupboards full.

The Pandemic of 2020 has opened my eyes to why my mom is always preparing and my dad is always helping her prepare. For the first time, I admitted to her I may be glad she's a freezing, canning fanatic in the summer so we can eat, and eat well, if this crisis lasts very long. I suddenly understand why she plants collards in the fall and guards them with her life when my dad starts to plow the garden for spring planting.  I've had my eyes on their 2019-2020 dull-green-leafy-crop for several days thinking about how delicious they will taste cooked with some bacon grease and a side of pinto beans and cornbread!

Steve and I have never been a fan of leftovers. I usually cook enough for right now and pour out the rest. Last night, facing a possible national shut-down, I could not bring myself to throw away the remainder of the mashed potatoes I cooked for dinner. You can see by the picture I even scorched them. As I deliberated over keeping the small bit of potatoes or discarding them, I heard my mom say "Don't throw them away. Make you some tater biscuits for breakfast in the morning". Now you know what I'm having for breakfast with a couple of pieces of bacon.

Since last week, I've tried my best to save all left-overs and even cooked some planned-overs knowing Steve and I would eat them later this week.

I understand why my parents conserve money.

Pandemic experts are advising Americans to conserve money. We should cut spending on non-essential items immediately. This is not a suggestion for my parent, conservation is their way of life. I used to tell them often "Go ahead. Buy it!" I tell them when they die they can't take money with them. They respond with "We may need it." This health crisis may very well be the time they need it. If so, all their thriftiness will not have been in vain. I used to worry that they weren't experiencing life as much as they could because it costs too much. I've realized they experience what they want to. They do what is important to them; taking care of their family the way they know how and doing it well.

My mom and dad's frequent trips to Dalton to buy groceries at the Walmart and gas at the BP on the corner suddenly seem more sensible to me. My mom says it's not wasting gas for the drive to the next county if you can pick up what you need less expensively and fill up for 10 cents cheaper per gallon. They'd shop local stores if local stores offered good prices. My mom keeps a watch on her receipts too. She knows the sale price. If you don't want to sell your goods at the advertised price, don't advertise them at that price! She loves rain checks too! I can never remember to get a rain check. She can't remember much anymore but she can remember to ask for a rain check.

They are the only people I know that built their new home in 1986, complete with in-ground swimming pool, with cash. My mom has had them out-of-debt as long as I've been an adult and in debt. She hates paying interest and I don't mind interest if the asset I'm paying for has a good return on investment. Different eras begat different thinking. The year 2020 finds our world on the edge of a new frontier in disease management that makes me smile at some of my parents' antiquated ways.

Today, I’m overly thankful for my upbringing and the example my parents have set for me and my family. No, I don't always agree with them. They drive me a bit crazy most days. But, I don't always disagree with them either. They help me regain my sanity many times. Searching for a rainbow during this storm cloud of extreme uneasiness, I can clearly see how corona virus helped me understand my parents. I'm keeping my eyes open. I'm sure I have more lessons to learn.


1 comment:

  1. My parents were like yours and I am thankful for the lessons they taught me as well.