Eastern Kentucky…..the land of poverty. Also the land of memories and beauty.
Living in poverty is never an ideal situation. Unfortunately a large percentage of Eastern Kentuckians have never known anything different from living in poverty.
As I have mentioned before…I am the result of a young marriage. My parents were babies themselves when I came along. Like most young marriages my parents ended up getting divorced. My father stayed in Ohio (where we lived when my sister was born) and my mother returned to Kentucky. Being a single mother of two (and being a teenager…19 I believe) my mother is the epitome of an amazing mom. We never went without! She was a very hands on mom that always made us feel loved.
Then our two brothers were born (things were still good) but we could see that it was harder on mom. She was working two jobs and pretty much killing herself to provide for her children. Sadly our mother was killing herself and we were barely “scraping by.” That statement is almost a motto for most families in Eastern Kentucky….”just scraping by.”
Just a quick note….one thing that I can honestly say is that we may not have had the newest or best things but our mom made sure we had love. Love is far better than any material possession!
So how did living in poverty make me a better person?
It gave me a sincere feeling of gratitude.
It taught me to appreciate everything! No one in my family had money….no one. Usually you hear about people having a rich uncle…not me….we were all poor. With the Wilder’s, Christmas time and birthdays weren’t filled with big expensive gifts…but we were perfectly fine with that. My grandparents really lived in poverty…they lived rough. I remember one of the gifts they gave me as a child was a $1 doll from the dollar store. Even as a child I was very thankful for that $1 doll because it came from my grandparents. I learned at an early age that “it’s the thought that counts.” You should be grateful for everything you get because no matter how small….that may be the only thing that person could afford. They took money they didn’t have to make sure you had something. If that doesn’t instill gratitude in someone, I don’t know what will.
It also taught me to be thankful for everything I have! All around me I see people who have to do without. I do live in what is considered the poorest county in the nation. It’s heartbreaking to see the way that some people live in Eastern Kentucky. So the next time you want to complain about the cost of groceries, gas, your heating bills, or your rent/house payment….stop and be thankful that you and your children have food in your belly, a vehicle to drive, a warm house, and a place to lay your head down at night. Not everyone in this area is lucky enough to have all those things. Be thankful for everything you have because no matter what…there is always someone else that has it harder than you.
How to enjoy the “little” things in life.
Oh the little things. I would love to relive my fishing memories with my Papaw Herbert. Or lay in bed with my Granny Judy and fall asleep to the ticking of her pacemaker. People take for granted the little things that matter the most. Going on expensive vacations and cruises won’t matter to a hill of beans if you can’t appreciate the little things and memories you have. Enjoying “lightning bugs,” bonfires, star-gazing, and home cooked country meals are little things that you can’t get in bigger cities. My dad will be the first to tell you that he misses home cooked country meals. Every time he comes to visit he wants his cornbread and milk. Those who still live in Eastern Kentucky take that for granted and we shouldn’t….we should enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy the finer things in life too…but I’ll take the simplicity and beauty of Eastern Kentucky any day.
Family is everything.
Lord child. If this is the only thing that you take from this post then my work is done. Family….family…family. Without family what do you have? Your family should be your rock…your key support system. When you don’t have two pennies to rub together your family will still be there. If living in poverty has taught me anything it is that! I was lucky to grow up in a large family. My uncles and extended cousins lived with my grandparents for a long time. When my sister and I would stay with them on the weekends there was always a houseful! It was not uncommon for there to be 10-15 people at my grandparents (quite a few of them lived there). I loved all the commotion! That’s when my need for family began. I love when a bunch of us are gathered laughing and telling stories! We didn’t have the money to go out and do a lot of things so we would sit around and talk. This is still true to this day. Who needs to go out and spend money when you can spend time with your family and make memories for free.
My family has played a key role in who I am today. I have been lucky to have a very good support system and personal cheerleaders up to this point. I don’t know what I would do without them. They have taught me the meaning of life. Taught me that you can be happy even if you don’t have a lot of money or material possessions. You can be happy being yourself. Don’t get me wrong….they can get on my ever-loving last nerve…but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.
Like I said earlier, living in poverty is never an ideal situation but sometimes you just have to suck it up and find the silver lining in everything.
Can anyone else relate to this post?