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Thursday, August 27, 2015

So You Want To Live Like Grandma Did?

Today a young student made the decision that she did not want to continue onto College. She just didn't want to go to school for four more years. Instead, she wants to work at fast food, meet a successful young man, and then stay home, and be supported.

No amount of my generation sharing their knowledge was going to change her mind; she has it figured out. She absolutely brought the conversation to a halt when she said, "I want to live like Grandma did!"

Let me tell you how grandma lived. I knew her. She was my grandmother who came over from the "Old Country" to a foreign country. She met and married my grandfather, and was immediately owned - no opinion, no rights, and no wants or needs. Her wants and needs became his and what he wanted.

Due to the fact that my grandfather had a difficult time holding onto a job (they were headed for the Great Depression), she worked the field with a baby on her hip and one inside growing. Their meals were simple as she tried to make ends meet. The only time a doctor was consulted was on the day she delivered the baby - at home. By 1929 when the Depression hit, there was no work to be had for Grandpa and they had seven children.

She did everything she could to keep food on the table, but it came to a point where they ate one meal a day, everyone taking turns. Did you want lunch or supper? You couldn't have both. For years, she stood behind everyone at meal time and her meals were two pieces of bread that she scraped the plates with - she ate the leftovers and the juice from people's plates. It wasn't until the children started leaving home that she sat down for an actual meal.

Life became so difficult that she suggested (not requested - that wasn't her place), that they accept government help. My grandfather said, "No!" She reminded him that their children were dying. He said, "So be it. All of you can die before we accept charity." And he almost succeeded. My mother, and her closest brother and sister walked down to the bakery every day and ate what they threw out in the garbage. She told me that moldy frosting was her favorite.

I don't know how long it was that they lived that way, but there was not one child that was not affected physically from the impact as an adult. Their bones didn't grow correctly; they were unable to bear their children normally. Grandma finally did get her way when Grandpa took a job for three weeks out of town. She sent the children down to the welfare office to get food. And they did. Did they eat great? Heck no! But they ate two meals a day, everyday for the first time in a very long time. 

Can we say that everyone that does not go to college will meet such a life? No. But the fantasy that past generations lived a charmed life because they didn't work outside the home is exaggerated! They waited well into their 40s and 50s for items this generation wants now out of high school. They worked seven days a week. They worked all day and still did without. A roof over your head and food on the table was the best you could hope for in this life.

Don't dismiss the power of a degree when it comes to competing for jobs. It's only four years of your life! And on another note, money seeks out money. Doctors and lawyers don't go to McDonalds to find a bride. Don't fall for the fantasy that sitting at home is going to bring you the same rewards as those who paid their four year dues. 

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