Tuesday, June 05, 2007

No One Needs You More Than I Need You

I have mentioned before that I was poor when I was growing up. I don't think that people actually realize how poor we really were and at the time I didn't realize how poor we were either.
My dad left when I was 10 years old. It was pretty difficult as my dad was the primary bread winner and my mom only worked part time for extra spending money. He left our house and moved back into his parents house while our roof was half off being replaced. The fact that he and some friends were doing it and all just up and quit was another blow to my mom.
So, here we were, mom working part time with half of our roof torn down to the joists, no money and no help. My mom called on the bishop of our church for help. My dad had been attending the church for a few years longer than my mother and it seemed like everyone who was his friend (and he had a lot of them) refused to help. It ended up being the bishop, his wife and my mom and my aunt Minnie on the roof. She wouldn't let any of us kids up there.
We ended up living in the family home for another year without paying the house payment, because we couldn't afford to, until we were evicted.
During this time my mom started working full time as an assistant manager at 7-Eleven. We received food stamps and federal health care. I don't know if we received money or not. My dad paid $525 per month in child support and then with my mom's income of maybe $400 per month we didn't have much.
My mom made the difficult decision of going back to school to become an R.N. because she knew that she couldn't make it on the income that she was bringing home. That meant that we rarely saw her because she was either at work or at school.
My sister, Maria, ended up being in charge of the house. She was about 15 or 16 and had to do all of the shopping and get after my brother and I to do our chores. She had so much responsibility heaped on her at a very young age. She had to figure out how to feed 4 people and a dog on $100 per month. Not an easy prospect. We ate a lot of pasta and high carb food because it was cheap. It was better to have a belly full of not so good food than no food at all. This was also at the time where 7-Eleven sold sandwiches in addition to nachos and hot dogs. My mom received permission from the manager to bring home the expired sandwiches every day and that was our main day to day food. Everyone would fight over the chicken sandwiches and no one wanted the BBQ beef sandwiches but my mom always brought all of them home because she knew that they would get eaten.
At one point I only had one pair of shoes. It was a pair of sneakers. I got it stuck underneath the bathroom door and totally ripped the top of my shoe halfway off. My mom couldn't afford to get me another pair of shoes so I went around for a couple of weeks with duct tape wrapped around my shoe.
I used to go to visit my mom at work. I would ride my bike over a mile to the store and I would hang out, drinking Slurpees and eating nachos. It was really the only time that I got to spend with my mom and so I was there a lot. I missed my mom but I understood the sacrifice that she was making.
Once we were evicted from our house we had to find another place to live. My mom found a house for us in the neighboring town, which meant that I had to change from one school district that I had been in since kindergarten, to the rival school district. It was hard on me but it ended up being a great change. I had the best school year of my life that first year when I transferred. My grandmother had just sold her home and so she moved in with us to help out with the bills and taking care of us kids so that my sister didn't have that burden anymore.
The really difficult times lasted about two years until my grandmother moved in with us. Her being there, cooking and helping out with everything made such a difference that things seemed to change overnight. No longer were we fending for ourselves, but we now had that parenting figure again to take care of us.
I cannot imagine how difficult this was for my mom. She did the best that she could with the hand that she was dealt. Not only was she working full time, going to school full time and trying to raise three kids, but she also never turned her back on any of our friends and it seemed that if someone needed help that she was there for them even if it meant that she was going without sleep.
My mother graduated from nursing school when I was 16. It took her 5 years to achieve her goal of being able to provide better for her family. I have the utmost respect for my mother. To this day I don't know how she did it. She is truly my hero.


Tara said...

That is such a wonderful story, Rachel! Heartbreaking too, to find out how much you all had to fend for yourselves and how much you all went through, but you all sound like such a strong family.

Babybull40 said...

Your Mom obviously wanted a better life.. And not making it hard for her to achieve her goal was admirable of you all too..Not having money can often make families come together and become stronger..

laughingattheslut said...

How did your older sister get along with your grandmother? Or had she moved out by then?

Rachel said...

Tara ~ My sister was 14 or 15 and I was 10 so we did OK. It was tough sometimes though and there were times that we were wild.

babybull40 ~ I know that there were times that my mom was ready to pull her hair out in frustration because of some of the stuff that we did. It was pretty rough sometimes.

laughingattheslut ~ When my grandmother moved in I was 13 and my sister was then 18 so I think that she had moved out by then. We lived in a house that had 2 apartments in the back and my sister lived in one of those.

mielikki said...

Your Mom sounds incredible. Though times were tough, she set a great example for you. A truely strong woman. And I am sure her patients are grateful for her tenacity as well. Cheers to your mom!

Sizzle said...

what an amazing story. thanks for sharing that.

Dennis said...

It is amazing how little we realized when we where younger. I think all good parents make more sacrifices that we realize and it is only when we get older that we start realizing what they went through when. Most of the time we put them through it. Rachel, your mother sounds like the typical hero mother. I hope you have told her how you feel.

Mom said...

Thanks for the kudos. I think you are a great mother too and that you sacrifice a lot for Devon. It's just part of being a mother.
Don't forget that Aunt Minnie also helped with the roof.
I love you all.

Rachel said...

Mielikki ~ My mom has worked at the same hospital since I was in high school. She has certified in oncology and Med/Surg. She makes a LOT more money than my dad ever did.

sizzle ~ Your welcome.

Dennis ~ I tell her all of the time how great I think that she is. I don't know what I would do without her.

Mom ~ I added Minnie to the post. I forgot that she was up there almost every day too. I remember how crazy it all was.
When I compare what I have done for Devon to what you did for us in the way of sacrificing, my sacrifices pale in comparison. I love you Mom!!!

Churlita said...

What a sad, but inspirational story. Your mom sounds incredible.

Ambulance Driver said...

Truly inspirational, Rachel. Thanks for sharing that story with us.

The Diva's Thoughts said...

Your mom is amazing.

egan said...

Thank you so much for sharing such a great story. I'm so impressed with what steps your mom took to try and give you a better life. Growing up poor is very tough and learning how to adjust on the fly. I really think it's great you're so candid about this. My family started out middle class, but after a divorce, things were really tough and my mom made things work. Moms rule!

Rachel said...

Churlita ~ She is incredible. It was a tough time but we got throught it just fine.

A.D. ~ Thanks. It was a joy to write about how great my mom is.

Diva ~ Thanks. I hope that I grow up to be just like her.

Egan ~ It sounds like your story is similar to mine. We had a nice house, nice cars and then after my dad left there was nothing extra at all unless it was given to us by someone else. I don't know how some parents do it. My mom had my grandmother. There were times when we were worried that we would be homeless.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for letting us into another part of your life. What a wonderful tribute and story.

Freckle Face Girl said...

What a wonderful role model especially in a tough situation.

l.b. said...

Great post, Rachel. I think it says a lot about all of you that there doesn't seem to be much bitterness about the way your dad behaved. You, your sibs, and your mom are by far the winners in this situation. Your dad walked away a much diminished person.

Not so little Woman said...

Wow!! Your mom really is wonderful. My mom worked a lot for me too, three jobs at one point. They are really amazing!!

No wonder D has such a great mother in you. You had great example!!

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