Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Fading Memories and Former Friends

Last night I was outraged that the daughter of my dying former friend Cathy was asking for roughly 10K. She claimed that the money was to fly her kids and husband out of New England to spent time with Cathy in her Montana home.

This morning after a little more reading through the pages connected with Cathy and her family I feel sort of ashamed to have been startled and annoyed with the monetary begging.

I've forgotten, forgotten what it's like in those old high-demand quiverfull cult churches that force women to stay home and raise a multitude of babies and men to work menial low-paying jobs because of their lack of education. I'd forgotten that it is a system that runs on poverty and poverty mentality. Sheer grinding poverty.

Even when I attended my old cult church I'd been effectively insulated from much of that type of poverty. My husband and I are college educated and we've both worked jobs with decent salaries. During my years trying to do it all, be a quiverfull momma, I also worked most of those years. We've also been careful with our money, which meant when the time came we were able to pay for all of our children to go to college.

I used to be nasty remarks, pushback, and be lectured by most of the stay at home and have babies crowd at the old church. I'd just state firmly that my husband wanted me to work and doesn't it say in the Bible that you're supposed to submit to your husbands leadership?

What I never said, the unspoken thing, is that I also loved getting away from the home and being around other adults in most of my work situations. I liked having enough money on my own that if I wanted to go to the beach for the weekend or buy a new set of shoes it was not going to wreck the budget and take food out of the mouths of anyone in the family.

We weren't rich then and we're not rich now, but we are comfortable. I still practice thrift most of the time. But we do splurge when the occasion calls for it. Last night as Jim and I lay in the bed drifting off to sleep I was telling him that I'm leaning towards a big purchase for our son's 28th birthday next month, a new paddleboard for surfing. I've been pricing them. I know he wants one badly to go with his new wetsuit.

Conversations and plans like that are beyond most of the families at my old church. The reality is that they are caught on a wheel of just existing, making do with whatever little they can earn.

To me that's tragic. You limit yourself and you limit all the possibilities of your children when you deny education and limit yourself to a small slice of the American pie by only being self-employed in a handful of acceptable occupations.

Back to Cathy. When I knew Cathy and Mike he held a good IT position with a large corporation that handles worldwide digital financial transactions. He made a very good salary. But they always struggled financially. More than once I brought groceries to Cathy because she would not spend money on food, or cook for Mike. I suspect Mike ate out many times.

What Cathy was passionate about and did well was buy and sell antiques. She filled their 18th century converted log cabin with all sorts of antiques, but I knew she was seriously straining their budget to do that. I don't think she really knew how to budget and plan.

In so many of these fundamentalist churches filled with people living hand to mouth it might be a good thing for classes in financial management would be a good thing. But then again most of these places pressure everyone to spend large chunks of their budget on the church itself.

Last night after I was busy acting like a judgmental cunt I saw evidence of how dire the financial straights are that Cathy and Mike find themselves in during her final illness. Their home is on the market, and so is a lifetime of carefully collected antiques. They are moving in with their youngest daughter, being effectively homeless. Now that is tragic, all the work that Mike has done through the years has come to naught.

Cathy is still alive the last I heard. She's gone from one faith healer to another many states away. She and her daughters are proclaiming that she is totally healed due to prayer and Chinese herbs. I hope they are right, but I fear that like the way fundamentalists handle their finances that this is willful ignorance.

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