When I first hear those words “for richer or poorer,” my mind goes automatically to the next lines of the vows “in sickness and in health.” As one who has had to deal with severe sickness for six, almost seven years, I have learned that sickness equals poorer. Just look at my bank account.
If it wasn’t for my husband who takes his vows seriously, I would be sick and poor. Unfortunately, I have seen quite a few cases of wives and even husbands bailing when they realize that their spouse would never get well.
One case. I knew this guy that dated my sisters a long time ago. We were friends. Let’s call him Jake. Jake had a motorbike that he liked to race around the country lanes in our “neck of the woods.” Okay… there were no woods because we lived in the high desert, but we used all of the Western slang at our disposal. There were a few times that I thought Jake would wreck his bike and hurt himself and his passenger. After a few escapades, my parents made a law “you will NOT ride on the back of Jake’s bike.”
About four or so years later he married and they had twins. A week later, he wrecked his bike and ended up in our small hospital. We heard the news that he would be a paraplegic. His wife spent about two weeks learning how to take care of a man with this disability. The next we heard, she was back home with the babies. The divorce was only a few months later.
Let me get this straight. I have been poor. When all you have in the cupboard is noodles and your only dressing is butter, that is poor. When there are nine children in the house with four boys who always seem starving, that is poor. When eleven people try to live in one single wide mobile home, that is poor. I know poor.
Even when I was in college, eating ramen at three cents a pop, I was NOT poor.
But because I have been poor, I worry about money excessively. I check my bank accounts every day, every hour to make sure that I have the same amount. I constantly worry about how to make pennies.
It wasn’t so bad when I could work. I would check the bank accounts once or twice a week when I was writing checks for bills. I would worry and then go back to work. No big deal. I don’t have that luxury now.
I even worry that my husband will get sick. What would we do if I am sick and then he is sick? He is the only one bringing in the dough. And since this economy is crashing like Icarus, you can understand why I get that little sick feeling in my stomach when I think that he might lose his job.
My grandfather went through the Depression. He used tell stories of making that extra penny or dime so that they could have that extra salt or butter. My great-grandmother Jane who I was fortunate to meet before her death used to tell us of homesteading. Her husband had left her with four children. With the help of her dad and brothers, she was able to make a home and feed her family. She never said much about that absent husband, but I know that he hurt her badly.
But, poor is just money. It is not a state of mind unless we let it become that … I know that as a child I had the most fun when we had nothing. We would play with our fertile imaginations. My sisters and I would put on variety shows and plays. My second sister would be the hero. My third sister would be the femm fatale. And I would write the plays. My fourth sister, just a baby then, would be the audience.
Yes, those were the days. It was fun.