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So poor we were

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Salt and pepper

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I like to imagine that I was abandoned at birth to one of the poorest families in our section of the Province of Saskatchewan, northern Saskatchewan. I like to do this because it gives me so much more ability to say or write humorous things.

Like, I have said, when I was born, I was born at home, almost before my time. I was born soo ugly, that when my Mother looked at me, she fainted and they took her to the hospital, and, left me home, alone with my seven other siblings. They didn’t know what to do with me, and, as newborns do, I started to cry, or, was it scream. One of my brothers approached me cautiously. He started to scream when I got his thumb in my mouth. He shook me all over trying to get his thumb back. His comment this many years later was that he knew back then that I wouldn’t let go of anything I started. And, as I grew older, I was always staring at his thumb.

We were so poor,  I remember it well, that my hand-me-downs had patches over patches, and, the pants had shrunk so much that even a forty inches tall, everyone thought I was wearing short pants. Yet they were large enough in the leg that it looked like the pants were doing the walking. They were several waist sizes beyond my ability to hold them up. So, Mom, every morning, tied them onto me with binder twine. I looked cute with the two yellow bows on my shoulders. The shirt I wore had all of the same characteristics as the pants, and, I was thankful for the extra bulk it provided in my pants. I looked like a midget muscle man.

We were so poor that when Mom called us to the table for supper, one brother was given the only knife we had, the other, the fork, the third, the bowl, and the fourth the soup. When I had finished licking up the soup, we all had to wash the dishes.

We were religious people. Mom told us to pray for the families that had nothing, who went to bed hungry, and who could wake up the next morning with nothing to look forward to. She inculcated into us the desire to better ourselves. And we all did. However, we never forget those days. I still wear short pants with a belt that is much too long for my waist. The shirt I wear on the outside on my pants. I don’t like consommé soup.

My brothers, as well, show signs of the imprint our childish lives: one brother makes his own beer and wine, sharing the sediment of the wine with us, and, accepting very easily the beer we find we must bring to his place. Another repeatedly reminds me that as I was the last of the brood (really it was a mob) I got more than anyone else.

I chuckle at these things as I realize that we are all the product of our early years, that often we can not ever disassociate ourselves from it, and, it is better to accept it, and, laugh at it. For sure, it has also given me the ability to understand how and why many people from a variety of origins feel about their lives.



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