Saturday, September 03, 2005

There but for the Grace of God Go I

I took a hop from a post on Making Light to John Scalzi's Whatever. Here's what came to mind as I was reading.

My dad was an enlisted man in the Air Force. That means he made a salary at or below the official poverty level for most of his A. F. career. My mom didn't work, few military wives who lived on base in those times did. I had two siblings.

Because the Air Force provided a home and subsidized many of the rest of our basic essentials there was always enough for decent clothes and shoes, good food in the pantry and the occasional night out. We (the kids) never knew we were officially 'poor'. I can only shudder at reading the heartwrenching comments at Whatever at how close we were and how incredibly blessed.

When I was ready to go to college I didn't realize that the money from the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant fund that I was eligible for was money set aside so poor people could get a college education; I mean I wasn't stupid, I knew my parents weren't wealthy,I just didn't think of us as poor. I had other scholarships and it didn't cost my parents a dime after my first year -- because I also had on campus jobs for my leisure money. I lived on campus and ate my meals at the commons where it was paid for by that same grant and scholarship money.

I went to a Cal State college but my sister and brother got ROTC scholarships and went to USC. Again, we just didn't know we were poor and I'm glad. We moved into the world confident and secure, we had nothing to prove to anyone. I would describe all of us kids as successful,basic upper middle class, suburban professional types.

It was years after I'd graduated from college and married that my mom once mentioned that my father's W-2 income the year I went to college was less than 10,000. At the time of our chat I believe I was making three times that and married to a lawyer making 5 times that amount. We had bought a home, had two cars and ate out more than we ate at home. We went to theatre and concerts and had money left over. I really didn't realize that my lifestyle was such a leap from the one of my youth. I should have appreciated it more.


Jill said...

One of the things I love about blogs is how they let you learn about others. Thanks for sharing this post, Dawno. Sounds as though your family always made you feel secure enough and gave you enough love and care and security that you never believed you needed more or were going without. I will be lucky if my kids grow up feeling the same way, given how fortunate I am with what my husband and I can provide.

(I also didn't know we were both married to lawyers!)

Dawno said...

Thank you Jill. Sometimes it's important to tell one's story. In light of all the things being said about being poor, and not that I disagree with one of them, I had to say how two poor people suceeded and what their legacy is.

BTW,I wanted to be a lawyer, too. I double majored in English and PoliSci, I was fascinated in Constitutional Law. I even remember what res ipsa loquitor means(even if I can't remember how to spell it)

I think I would have been a good one. I love research and I'm a pursuasive speaker.

BTW, I'm not married to a lawyer anymore. He decided to trade me in on a newer model and I was only 31 a the time. *shrug*

Jill said...

I don't have to tell you, Dawno, he must be a loser.

BTW, I'm really liking your blog and your links and all. Just when I think I'm keeping up with keeping up, I realize - how I'm ever going to keep up?