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Monday, November 25, 2013

On Being Thankful

On Being Thankful

I want to clarify that I am thankful every day for all my blessings.  I won’t list them for fear of leaving something out unintentionally.  I will however mention a few that are the core of my life.  Amongst the short list mentioned is: my faith, my loving family, my ability to provide for my family, our health, family friends, and the family that came and went before us (the foundation of who we are).
I’ve often said that in order to appreciate the peaks in life we have to experience the valleys.  In other words we all experience life’s highs and lows (imagine the image of a heart beating).  You can’t know when you are doing well unless you experience struggling through tough times.
I will relate a short story about being in the valley (low of life) and making something happen to reach the peak next.  This story is part of the content of the book I am writing (working title, “East Lincoln”): posted June 26, 2013 Unexpected Best Christmas,
The very innocent story I am about to relate happened in 1955.  We had stayed at the border town a lot longer than we expected in order to complete the transition of getting our legal permanent status to cross over to the United States.  My father had started a job but we had not yet caught up to where we should be financially, and of course as is usual, the children are never told anything about finances.
My older sister was busy when we were called to breakfast and I was the only one that responded. I sat down at the table and my mother served me a plate with scrambled eggs and refried beans with a couple of corn tortillas.  Like George Washington, I can’t tell a lie.  Anything my mother cooked was fabulous.  I ate with gusto, and when I ran out of food I still had a half of a tortilla, so I asked my mother if I could have some more food to finish my tortilla.  When my tortilla ran out I still had food on the plate so I asked my mother if I could have some more tortilla, and I must have repeated this at least a couple of times.  By the time my sister responded to the call for breakfast, there was no food left.  My mother sadly apologized to my sister and told her that she would have to wait until my father returned from work (and bring some money for groceries).  In the meantime my sister got a couple of warmed up tortillas with butter, and that was breakfast.
I felt very sad that I had eaten all the food we had, which meant that my mother also didn’t have breakfast.  I was only 8 years old but I walked over to small general store about a block away, and I walked in not really knowing what I was going to say.  The very kind lady that owned and operated the store, looked at me and mentioned that I had a troubled look on my face.  She also asked how she could help.  With teary eyes I told her how I had eaten (not on purpose) all the food we had at home and my sister and mother didn’t get to eat.  I also explained that my father had a good job, but I needed credit right now.
She extended me credit and I went home with a dozen eggs, chorizo (sausage) 2 dozen corn tortillas, and a couple other items to complete breakfast and lunch.  My father paid my bill that evening when he got home, and thanked her profusely.  After I was treated as a hero by my mother and sister, I got brave, and walked over to commercial bread bakery about 3 blocks away.  I wanted to see if I could put to use my new found gift of gab one more time.
I walked up to the man in charge of the bakery and asked him how many people he had working for him.  After he mentioned that 15 men total and sometimes more, I asked him if any needed to have their white uniforms washed and ironed.  I explained that my mother and sister had a business at home of washing and ironing for customers.  I walked away with 9 employees signed up and took home two large canvas bags full of white pants shirts and aprons mostly dirty with white flour.  My mother was mostly shocked but pleasantly surprised that I had created a business out of nothing.  Eventually other ladies from the neighborhood were recruited to assist in the new laundry business.
Something so small as the valley I created by eating all the food, and the success I had in getting credit, built enough confidence in me to carry me for a lifetime,  It also reminds me every day to be thankful for the little things because some day you will look back and realize that they were really big things.  Happy Thanksgiving 2013!  The best is yet to come….

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