Thursday, October 24, 2013

Poor Man's Raman

Yes, I know it is spelled "Ramen". It's a play on words. Today is my sister's birthday and though she passed on in 2004, I talk to her often still. I also talk about her a lot, especially to her children. We both enjoy reminiscing, whether it is about the good times or the bad. It helps us forget about our own worries for a little while.

Today I am quite aware of my own isolation, with no children, my parents, sister, and partner gone, I spend a lot of time thinking about the past.

My nephew, Almon, recently called me and we talked for a long time, always feeling better afterwards. Both of us. He's the only one that calls me and it means so very much when it happens. It's like he knows. I know he's calling to lift his own spirits or ask for computer help or some other such advice but I find my own spirits lifted tremendously.

And then of course, there are the stories. We both tell tales that the other didn't know about his mom, Arlene, my sister.

A recent story centered around money, a subject we often talk about. We somehow got on the subject of food (a favorite of mine!) and Almon mentioned that his mom use to get him to sell ramen noodle soup packs at school for 50 cents. That was probably a quarter profit on each and I don't recall how many he sold each day but it did emphasize how tight money was for them.

My parents were the same way. My mom actually lived for a time without electricity and got water from a stream. I don't recall where or when this was but it made a lasting impression on her. My dad was more fortunate but he too wanted my life to be better than his had been.

They always encouraged me to do well in school in the hopes of getting a good job. My mother often told stories of how poor they were and gave what she could to those in need. She hardly ever TOLD me I should do this, she just did it and by example, I did too.

Since my sister was 16 years older than I, she wasn't around long and we soon moved to Saudi Arabia and left my sister on her own. Her boyfriend (and future husband) was a hard worker and they did well early on. Eventually they split and my sister struggled to care for the kids on her own.

There were times when I've had to struggle too and that's where so many things came together. I had always liked Ramen noodle soup and in those times when I've had to watch my pennies, I've learned to make even the simplest meal, like Ramen soup, tasty and cheap.

Someone had commented on a big container of mushrooms I had purchased and it made me think of a meme I had seen.

Did that person think that box of mushrooms was a meal or did they realize how many ramen soups it would be spread across? We often see others on a limited budget and begrudge them the enjoyments we may take for granted.

I realize that if you're on a limited budget you need to be careful with your money. It may take you years to save for something another buys in the blink of an eye. But we all are entitled to as much happiness as we can squeeze out of life and I remind myself of that when I find myself judging others.

Instead of harsh words, I try to find more words of kindness and encouragement. It isn't easy in a world where the successful have NO IDEA of the struggles of the poor. People make mistakes and once on the bottom, it is so terribly hard to get back up. I see some of my friends post the cruelest things while they are up on top. It would definitely change if they had to walk in someone else's shoes for a day.

So, here's to all the poor folks that kept going. I am not sure if I could have had the same strength!

This is a picture of my sister on the last visit I had with her at her daughter, Elia's house.

Since I didn't see her often, I brought all kinds of gifts for her to enjoy. She was in a wheelchair and didn't get out of her house much so I tried to find things that were very personal. She liked electronic gadgets and that's one of those electronic pets you carried around on a keychain. You can see how interested in it she was! The box of chocolate covered cherries is already opened, something I use to get her almost every Christmas we lived near each other.

In the background is a jar of pennies. She loved doing things like rolling money and cashing it in. I never carried pennies so I put them in a jar for charity. What better charity than my sister? After she passed, I started saving my change for the Ronald McDonald House and dropped it off at McDonalds.

This became one of my charities because my sister had had a daughter that was in the hospital a lot and she did not get to see much of her before her daughter, Elisia passed on. It was my way of giving to folks who might be in that same predicament.

I understand now Sister. I wish I had done more. I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART!

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