Don’t worry. This is not the same post as “My sister is a peach..”
My husband and I need to come up with a large amount of cash in a short amount of time. We found this out on Tuesday at a meeting which my husband attended. Roxie, my peachy sister, had asked me to call her when the meeting was over to tell her the outcome, so I did.
My sister is not rich. Far from it, in fact. She and her husband, Scott, (they’re not actually married, but they’ve been together for 29 years, so I’ve given up calling him “the man my sister lives with”) live in a very nice little house which is next door to a rental property which is the bane of the neighborhood. It’s not a terrible neighborhood, but it’s not great, either. People who live next door regularly, for instance, cause Roxie and Scott, as well as other neighbors, to call the police. Once, one tenant stabbed another in Roxie and Scott’s front yard in the middle of the night. You get the picture.
Anyway, before we even got back home, my sister had called me back to say that she has money in savings that we can have if we need it.
I wasn’t surprised by this. This is how things work in our family. If she needed money, I would give it to her as well. I would give her all my money if she needed it. But then I started wondering how many other people would do this, and I decided it might not be very many.
And that all lead to more thinking, about how money affects people, and how it seems that sometimes, the less money someone has the more willing they are to part with it. Woody Guthrie once said something about this. I don’t remember the exact quote, but while he was advocating for the homeless in California during the depression, he said something like “The poor will give you the shirts off their backs, while the rich lecture you on being self-sufficient.”
Anyway, this is why I love my sister and why I would give her all my money if she needed it. And it’s why my cousin, Sarah, lived in our basement apartment rent-free for two years while she was doing her pre-med classes. It wasn’t any hardship at all, and it never occurred to me or my husband to charge her rent. We had the place and she needed it. But many people thought this was an extraordinary kindness on our part. It wasn’t. We love her. And she was easy! Now we miss her like crazy.
So my conclusion is this: If you’ve never really had very much money, you look at the world differently than you do if there’s always been plenty of money. And if you’ve never had much money, or sometimes had none, you think back to the times you needed some help, and whether or not someone helped you. And then you pay it back or forward, whether or not it’s the same people who helped you out to begin with. Otherwise, what’s a life for?