I Didn’t Know We Were Poor

I didn’t know we were poor.

I had a long conversation today with a friend from my childhood. Her reflections on her growing up years reminded me that I knew back then what I still know now; her family was poor. They lived in a house without paint or plumbing.

I wonder what justice would have looked like then? I am sorry, in hindsight, that we didn’t share more of what we had, but then it seemed that we needed what we had.

In addition to life long financial stress this family has had more than its share of illness and death. Even today her medical history fills pages while mine is almost blank.

How is this fair?

But an even more perplexing question is why does she laugh more than I do?

When asked directly, my friend acknowledges that a glass “half-full” attitude is not always easy to maintain. But, she adds, my mother was somehow able to do it.

We had a wonderful childhood, she said. I would not have been able to tell you we were poor because I didn’t know it. I knew we ate a lot of potatoes but for me, everything was just fun.

I am left with two deeply personal questions. The first is, now that I have more than I need, what do I give to her? The second is, how and what do I receive from her?

Do I know that I am poor?

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