Talking to my mom the other day, I had a revelation, a big one. Well, it was for me, anyway. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up. I went over summers and lived with them for a year. So they shaped a lot of who I am. I can still remember the silly songs my grandma sang to me that her mom sang to her. Looking at my mom and at myself, I can see the lessons I learned that came from her parents.
Work ethic is big in our family. You work for what you get in life. Always work your hardest. Now this was never really said as much as it was modeled. My grandpa had a job and a side job at all times. I can remember helping to clean offices with him. Even when he moved to NC, he still cleaned a church and sold stuff at the flea market, and that was after he retired. Even now, he goes out there occasionally to see what is going on. He is in pretty good health for 94. I guess all that hard work paid off.
If it’s not yours, don’t touch it. This is a great rule that I have passed along to my own children. It does not matter if it is mine or your sisters, if it does not belong to you, don’t touch it. This is a great thing, that again was never really said, just implied. I asked permission to play my grandma’s piano, to play in the den. I never assumed what’s your’s is mine.
Don’t waste money or food. Depression era folks are big on this one. My grandparents always had a pantry stocked with canned goods. For a long time I thought everyone had that. Don’t take more that you can eat. You can go back for seconds, but don’t waste. My grandpa was an extreme couponer before it was cool, or even really a thing. I remember trips to the store when I was able to get whatever I wanted (joys of being a grandchild), and my grandpa pulling out his huge stack of coupons. It never occurred to me to be embarrassed, it was just how he saved more money.
Mean what you say. Your word is your bond. This has become an antiquated idea, but one I try to live by. I do my best to not make promises I can’t keep and to be truthful in my speech. Being honest and trustworthy are important.
Mind your business. You don’t tell the world your problems. So, maybe I did not learn this one so well, seeing as how I share my life here on this blog. Keeping your personal troubles in your own house was a big thing. You did not tell anyone about your fight with your husband or kids. You did not go telling everyone why you got grounded. You kept to yourself.
Heads down butts up. Silly sounding but something my grandpa still says. When walking down the street ,keep an eye out for money on the ground. A penny saved is a penny earned. I smile when I see my husband or my son do this. I married well!!
I look back at the time I spent with my grandparents, listening to stories and such as happier times. I miss my grandma but see her in my love of reading and music. I don’t get to see my grandpa as often as I like, but I think of him when I hear my son relay the exact amount of money he has saved, and how it sucks that he is too young to get a job. I am proud to have learned the lessons of an older generation, they were hard working, family centered, and honest people, and our children could do worse than to learn these lessons.