We’re all in this together.
I learned this from a source few people would expect, my badass mother Barb. I’m going to tell you why you would not expect this lesson from my mother, and in the end, you will also see why my mom really was badass!
Born 8 months before the stock market crash of 1929, Barb was fortunate enough to have landed in a very wealthy family. One that did NOT feel the affects of the crash. She grew up with white gloves, fur coats, pearl necklaces, diamond rings, mentions in the “society papers”, and riding in Cadillacs. She went to the right college, pledged the right Sorority, and married the right man. She was a stay at home mom, while dad ran his own business. Big house in the suburbs, 3.5 kids, days at the Country Club, vacations at the condo in FL on the gulf side. A card carrying Republican, I can’t imagine that she ever voted Democrat. Not a bon bon eating “Rich Bitch”, but always prim and proper. Dammit was the only “cuss” word I ever heard out of my mothers mouth, and in her world, farting only existed in the men’s locker room, and it’s not something we talk about!
How in the world is THIS woman a Badass?? And we’re all in this together? Far from the inner city, and pretty much no blue collar acquaintances, and other than keeping an immaculate house, not having to work a day in her life and wanting for naught? Sounds much more like an us vs them type of gal! It never was with my mom (or my dad). So, let me tell you how I realized and understood this.
I was in my early teens in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Every March the Yarn Barn at the mall would have a big closeout sale. She would bring me along, and she would buy out the store. Seriously, we put the seats down on our mile long green (with fake wood paneling trim) station wagon, and fill it from front to back and top to bottom with yarn. Sometimes we made two trips.
Then, my mom started knitting. She would knit watching TV, while on the phone, in bed, at the park, at the beach, in the car (NOT when she was driving, though i think she could have pulled that off). If there was spare time, she would knit. 100 – 200 pairs of matching winter hats, scarves and mittens. Then, in the fall, we would gather up all that she made, and drive into town to the Boys and Girls club, and drop off all the boxes of hand made kids winter accessories. Each with a note – “Stay warm, Love Barb”
One day, feeling particularly teen angsty, I approached my mother while she was knitting, and finally asked, “Why on earth do you spend so much time and effort, knitting all this stuff for people you don’t even know? I KNOW how much this bothers your arthritis. Why do you do it?”
My mother set her knitting in her lap and looked up. She didn’t look at me but just looked straight ahead. She just had a blank stare on her face. Not like she was in contemplation, but more of a “I can’t believe you are asking me that question” sort of blank stare.
Then, she looked me in the eye, and without changing her expression, and as matter of factly as she could said:
“Because they need them.”
This was no holier than thou, or look at me, or showy sympathy, or charity case project she did. It REALLY was that simple. It was something she could actually do for others that were in need. And THEIR NEED was the only motivation.
Now don’t get me wrong, mom certainly gave plenty of scratch to various charities. And yes, some went to the Republican party, but mostly it went to The Salvation Army, Purple Heart, the Rescue Mission, Easter Seals, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the Boys and Girls club.
As I got older, I spent more time with my parents friends at the country club. Most of them were Presidents of banks or companies, lawyers and doctors. They all lived in the suburbs in nice houses that were bigger, but not McMansions. If I had to guess, pretty much all of them were Republicans. But here is the thing: They too had this “We’re all in this together” sort of attitude. If you were here, you were a part of the team. People fall on hard times, and need help. Yeah, there were the “Commies” to worry about, but even there, it wasn’t about killing them at all costs. It was a little more about just being prepared if something were to happen.
Somehow, somewhere we lost this as a country, and in reality, what has changed here in society doesn’t seem to warrant this “US vs THEM” vitriol I see out there. We ARE all in this together, whether we like it or not. Let’s bring that back as a base attitude in our life.
Yeah, my mom was a badass in her own way. A way that most didn’t really see. I’ll take her lesson of we’re all in this together and keep applying that to my daily life. I hope you do too. Cheese puff anyone?