NESCONSETT, NY — June 15, 2022 — When I was a teenager, I didn’t think about the price of things. For example, I didn’t think about whether I would have enough to eat, or if our home, which was small, was different from the homes of others. I just went along living my life because I had two parents, and they always managed to make things work for us. There were times when I would take my mom to the store to shop for food and I always winced at her bringing coupons and checking the prices of everything. After all, that was for people that were poor, so I thought. She was also very careful where she shopped. There would be one store for the staple items, and another for meat that was of better quality. A&P was the lesser expensive store for vegetables and some of the staple items, like bread, (wonder bread with the red and blue balloon designs on the package). Bohack was the Tom Thumb of that era, with higher priced items, and their meats were of higher quality. My mom was very careful about the meats we ate.
My father made me cringe when he would ask my older sister, who lived across the street from us, for her newspaper when she was finished with it. I couldn’t help thinking, why can’t he just buy his own! It just seemed to me that my parents were always watching their pennies very closely. I never gave a thought to what it was like bringing up 4 children with only one breadwinner in the family. Of course, in those days it was traditional for mothers to be the homemakers, taking care of the kids’ needs, paying bills, and keeping an eye on the budget. Fast forward to today! I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things for breakfast and got the shock of my life when some of the things I typically could purchase for a reasonable sum had tripled in price! I was jolted back in time.
Although I never had to raise a family, and never had to watch the pennies because I only had myself to take care of, it suddenly occurred to me that there are so many people that are really struggling to make ends meet and this inflation is just eating them up alive. In fact, while I was shopping, there was a tiny elderly woman that was, I would say, a bit on the skinny side. At least that’s what I saw when she raised her arm to reach for a loaf of bread off the shelf, which she examined closely to determine price. I couldn’t help but think, here is a person being chastised for something she had nothing to do with. Why? She is probably one of the people you hear about that must make a choice between medication and food, and it pained my heart to think of that.
When my parents were just starting out in their married life, they had to go through the Depression, which I believe left a mark on their minds forever. Those of us who are post-Depression children were spared that painful experience because life improved immensely in the country by the time we came of age. When I was first married, there was no thought of the price of things, at least not for me, because again, I was taking care of myself. My former husband, being a frugal German, believed in each of us taking care of our own things. He paid the mortgage, but all other expenses were paid according to the needs of each of us, individually. It was okay because I wasn’t hurting, and we had plenty of do-re-me. However, when I was on my own again, I could plainly see how being a bit frugal, or I prefer calling it self-conscious of how you spend, made more sense in the long run.
The economy we keep hearing about every evening on the news, never seems to improve, and the thought that there are Americans who are truly in need, not because of their actions, but because of the actions of a socialist-inclined administration in Washington, makes one fearful of the future. Add to that the onslaught of illegal immigrants flooding into our country, being given free food, baby formula, housing, healthcare, education, etc., and you start to wonder if our elected officials are on our side or are they purposely trying to harm us. I always had enough faith in our government to believe that, although there were differences between political parties, they were all patriotic Americans, so they’d work together for the good of the nation. I’m not as certain anymore!
Getting back to my parents, they always seemed to handle things with courtesy and kindness. Even when unexpected company would drop by, they’d have more than enough to whip up a dinner for them. And, more importantly, they never accumulated debts, preferring to save their shekels until they could afford the items. How did they do it? As I think back, they would always give to others and took little for themselves.
Carlos and Esther Rodriguez didn’t have many material things, but they knew how to make the most of what they did have. Rather than complain about the price of things, they learned how to budget their income and be more prudent in their selection of items. Yet, I believe it was more than that, I think it was their strong faith in God that turned a stumbling block into a steppingstone. I feel eternally blessed by the principled legacy they passed on to me and my siblings.