Some of you know that I am the product of divorce, back when it was still a trendy, movement. As Gram used to say, I am from a “broken home”. My home really was broken; Gram had no idea. My father was a lunatic and everything, sooner or later, was broken.
My mother gathered her courage and swallowed her pride to save all of us kids, back in 1970. She left my father and ran to her parents for help in restoring her life. She taught kindergartners during the school year, she raked blueberries and packed fish in the summer, and she still found time to drive 240 miles round trip once a week on Thursday nights to get her masters in special ed. She worked her ass off.
It didn’t matter how hard she worked, or that we had a huge vegetable garden feeding three families, or that all of our meat was purchased as whole or half critters, to be butchered and frozen in the deep freeze, for meals through the winter. A lot of our clothes were cast off or hand me downs from our betters. We just couldn’t make it without a little help.
We got free food, USDA surplus. All of us kids liked the cheese and the apple juice. The peanut butter was good too. It didn’t have all the additives peanut butter is routinely disgraced by now. I did not care for the canned pork or any of the canned vegetables but I ate them. When you are getting food for free, you do not waste it and you don’t turn your nose up at it.
I was reminded of this by a post my brother has on his FB page. Lots of kids we grew up with chimed in. They’re responsible adults with decent jobs and growing kids of their own. I had forgotten how many of them ate free food, USDA surplus. One of them, Mikey, recalled the free food in his mom’s fridge and pantry. His mom worked at the school cafeteria, housekeeping for other people, and cooking at a local restaurant. He was raised by his older siblings while his mother worked her ass off.
Mikey lamented the powdered milk. It was icky but moderately okay poured over cereal. Mikey extolled the virtues of the cheese calling it the “best cheese ever”. It came in 1 lb. blocks and made grilled cheese sandwiches that were positively sublime, macaroni and cheese that was the entree of choice.
Our mothers were independent, free thinking, hard working women. They weren’t dependent on government and they didn’t believe they were victims. They were far from entitled. Those women, in working their asses off, instilled in all of us a work ethic and independence that no one, not even robber barons and thieves, can take away from us.
In working her ass off, my mother taught me to be LOUD and PROUD as I tell Mitt Romney to kiss mine.