Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

What you value

with 4 comments

I was thinking today of Grandmother Ham, my paternal grandmother. (My maternal grandmother died when I was an infant.) Grandmother Ham lived “across town”, a distance of about 8 very short blocks, which I could regularly walk by myself from around age 4. (I knew to cross the county road that was Main Street for six blocks or so at the (sole) stoplight.) So in the course of things my grandmother and I spent quite a bit of time together.

And she was great: she had a vegetable garden for a back yard—quite common in those WWII days and probably before, from the Great Depression—so I could dig all the holes I wanted. (I don’t know why young boys go through a compulsion to dig holes, intensified in my case by tales of our soldiers digging foxholes on the front lines in the European Theater: suddenly the holes I was digging were foxholes!)

I wore myself out, harmlessly, digging an enormously deep hole (maybe 18″?). Grandmother would admire it, then bring out her bucket of coffee grounds, chicken bones, eggshells, slops, peelings, and such, dump it into the hole, and have me cover it up.

Today I got thinking about how she told me repeatedly, from first grade through college and into graduate school: “Get an education. They can’t take that away from you.”

That’s the way it was always said: with the tagline, “They can’t take that away from you,” with just a slight emphasis on the “that” to indicate how different this (education) was from other things—things that, by implication, “they” could take from you—and apparently were likely to do so.

I suddenly realized over her life—indeed, just since 1900, when she was 21—she had seen a great deal of “them” taking “that” away. Indeed, in the decade of the Great Depression that ended when I was born (no causality implied, either way), everyone had suffered, personally, and everyone had acquaintances and sometimes friends and indeed family (if not themselves) who indeed had had everything taken away. Literally. Left without a house, without a job, without a car: destitute, with nothing but what they wore and could carry. That was not unusual. That was happening and quite visible.

Obviously, it was also a time of great unrest: people don’t like to live under such conditions. And people became conscious that some people lost everything—that is, everything except what they wore and could carry and those things that could not be taken away. Things like: an education, a skill, a talent, knowledge, friends, networks of acquaintances, experience, status (even former status: those who Know Someone doubtless fare better than those who don’t)—these are the things that “they” cannot take. That’s what’s truly valuable: the things that cannot be taken away. Your house, your car, your possessions? They can always be taken away (and frequently are: repo is big business and Bank of America made a lot taking away houses from people who owned them outright). Money? Hah. Two words: Bernie Madoff.

The things of greatest value are those they can’t take away from you. The way you hold your hands… the way you sip your tea…

There‘s one’s true wealth. And so it makes sense to devote most of your time, thought, effort, and resources toward those things, for in doing so you build wealth that can’t be taken from you.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2012 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

4 Responses

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  1. Grandma Toye Mae always told us to, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, then do without!” She raised her five children during the Depression and spent one year of it confined to bed when the oldest child was about 12. She ran the home from her bed, allowed to be up only one hour a day. She had a hard life, happiness with her family, and great joy and perceptiveness. Nothing brought her more joy than to have the house crowded with family and a big meal coming off the stove while everyone laughed and talked. One of her daughters, my aunt, looks more like her every year. The memories of her strength and love are precious.


    23 March 2012 at 6:22 pm

  2. Thank you for that outstanding post, Leisureguy. It reminds one of what is truly important, things that are sometimes taken for granted.

    By publishing Leisurguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving, you have given wetshaving knowledge to many people. It is something that can never be taken from them, and will give them much enjoyment and pleasant memories. Kudos to you!


    23 March 2012 at 6:47 pm

  3. Michael,

    One of your best posts ever! Thanks!

    Joe at ItalianBarber

    24 March 2012 at 11:14 am

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed this post. Thank you for sharing it!


    27 March 2012 at 11:23 am

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