Every Last Dollar

Wedding bells in 1935. For my parents. Well, not really any bells. Or white dress, or flowers, or wedding party, or church. Two people who loved each other, in front of a judge.

You know what else was happening in the ’30’s? The Great Depression. I remember asking my mom what it was like to be newly married during the Depression. She said they had no money to lose, so it really didn’t affect them. Just life as usual on their little farm where they were self-sustaining with chickens, a few cattle, a vegetable garden. Even with the horrid Dust Bowl happening, they managed to be just fine. No complaints.

So the no money thing became a long lasting trend in our family. We were totally comfortable, though. All our needs were always met.

Savings account was just a dream for my two hard-working parents. Life insurance wasn’t an option either. Paycheck to paycheck. No worries.

When Dad became ill and had to quit work, Mom was the sole provider at her retail job with the auto parts store. Somehow we managed financially.

Dad passed when Mom was 57. She was left with no life insurance, a minimal paying job, a teenage daughter (me), and a special needs 34 year old daughter who would forever be her “little girl”. And two grown daughters not living at home. We managed financially. No complaints.

Mom almost never…..let me correct that….. she NEVER spent any money treating herself to anything special. But she had the most generous heart of anyone I’ve ever known. Every one of her four daughters can attest to that.

The woman never ever in all her life asked her three married daughters to help her pay for anything.

For several years Mom was in need of new dentures as hers didn’t fit well. But, in true Mom fashion, she didn’t complain. “I’ll be fine, I can still eat. One of these days I’ll have the money to replace them.” She never asked for help to pay for them. My goodness, why didn’t her girls offer? Probably because she never gave any indication of being in need. She was content. No complaints. She operated under the No Whine plan.

And then one day she found out she’d been named in the will of a distant quite wealthy cousin. She called to tell me and I could hear the excitement in her voice as we speculated together how that would all work out. Dollars and cents flashing before our eyes. I think her share of the proceeds was projected to be quite small, but still. Pretty exciting for my mom.

But the years passed and nothing ever came from the inheritance. No complaints from her, though. Just life as usual for Mom. She didn’t even follow up and inquire what had happened with the cousin’s estate.

When I was 37 and Mom was 77 she sustained a fractured hip from a fall. The next few months were a struggle as her health started to decline. But in true Mom fashion, she remained independent and recovered from the fracture enough to walk pretty well though her heart was still weak.

In May of that year, three months after her hip fracture, my phone rang. Mom was pretty excited. The mail came that day and in it was a check for $15,000.00. Fifteen thousand dollars. The forgotten inheritance. We could not believe it and I drove right away to her home to see her gingerly hold that check, her smiling face happier than I’d seen it in some time. “Mom, I’m going to call the dentist right this minute and make an appointment for you to get new dentures!!”. I picked up the phone and started to dial the number. Her facial expression changed. “No, let’s wait a bit. There’s no hurry.” She wouldn’t relent and let me make an appointment. I really didn’t understand.

Less than one week later Mom’s health had deteriorated to the point that she needed to be hospitalized. Three weeks later she went to heaven.

The inheritance check paid for her funeral. It paid off the small loans she had. It tied up all the loose ends of her financial life and left a small amount of money for each of her daughters.

And she is enjoying the endless riches of heaven, far more precious than anything money can buy. In the presence of a loving generous God whose specialty is providing for every need we have.

What did I do with my small part of money left to me? I spent every last dollar on this:

Since 1993 this table and chairs bought at Sears in Salina Kansas has been used often as various members of Mom’s family sit around it to eat together. Or play dominoes. Or Qwirkle. Or cards. Or just sit and visit. On our deck. It’s been moved to three different homes and I have no plans to retire it. The glass top has never broken. The love that bought it remains.

Thank you, Mom. Your incredible attitude and easy contentment was such a treasure to your family. Your generous spirit and loving heart will never be forgotten.

Sometimes I sit at this table solo and remember that love. It’s like she’s here with me. Oh how I wish she really were. Well, actually, it would be cruel to wish for anyone who is experiencing the amazement of heaven to be here doing the 2020 with the rest of us. Just save me a place at Jesus’ table, Mom. Can’t wait to see you.

8 thoughts on “Every Last Dollar

  1. This is a beautiful post. The table and chairs are a wonderful reminder of a life well lived. What a treasure. It sounds like the best of your mom lives on in you. That is honoring her. Enjoy your day – and your deck!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we have brought nothing into this world, and we will take nothing out of it. 1 Timothy 6:6-7
    This is such a beautiful story, Benita. All the times I was at your house I don’t remember you mom complaining or asking for anything.

    Liked by 1 person

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