Friday, July 10, 2015

My Mother the CFO

Mother's Big Apple
My parents never went to New York. I doubt they even knew the city's nickname was the big apple. In our house, The Big Apple meant financial management. My parents worked hard in blue-collar jobs to make ends meet. Somehow they kept the bills paid and their spoiled-rotten daughter in Bobbie Brooks clothes and Bass Weejuns.

My earliest memories of payday found my mother at the kitchen table with The Big Apple. Inside were mysterious pieces of paper and the checkbook. I later learned the pieces of paper were bills to be paid or receipts saved for income tax filing. I knew The Big Apple was important because she kept it high on top the refrigerator out of my reach. 

As I grew older, I was trusted with The Big Apple. Mother would say "Get me The Big Apple." I knew that meant she had financial business. Either she needed to pay bills or organize receipts for our income taxes. Daddy deferred all financial responsibilities to Mother. He'd bring in a receipt and ask, "Want me to put this in The Big Apple?"

Years later, after I'd married and moved away, Mother and Daddy maintained The Big Apple method of financial management, and it apparently worked for them. With their spoiled-rotten daughter gone, they emerged from debt and even managed to save enough to retire. It wasn't until I was in my thirties that I saw another big apple at an antique store and learned it was a semi-valuable collectible cookie jar. Cookie jar? I doubt Mother's big apple ever held a cookie in its life. 

Both my parents are gone and my family has divided their few possessions. I am now the proud owner of The Big Apple. I don't use it for a cookie jar or a file cabinet. It sits empty in a place of honor in my own kitchen to remind me of my family "riches." Mother and Daddy may not have had financial wealth, but they gave my sister and me a secure, loving childhood that's worth more than gold.

Do you have something displayed in your home to remind you of your childhood? Do share.


Elizabeth Sinclair said...

I did. Sadly I dan't have it anymore. When I was 9, I had, what was called Yellow Jaundice back then. I was very sick and was told later that I almost died. While I was gravely ill, my dad gave me a gold cross on a necklace. I treasured it and wore it for years. My brother's stepdaughter stayed with us and when she left, the cross was missing. I never had proof, but it seemed very coincidental that they both left at the same time.It was the only thing I had that my dad gave me. But I soon realized that I had a bunch of wonderful memories of our time together and the lost cross became much less important.

Skyewriter said...

When I was 12 years old and helping my mother sort through stuff in the attic, I found a box with an old uniform jacket in it. My mother told me it belonged to my many greats grandfather and was a Revolutionary War uniform jacket. I tried it on and it fit me perfectly - I guess that grandfather was not a big man because I was still some way from full grown and I'm only an average sized woman of 5' 6" now. My mother had rescued it from things my father's mom was tossing when she and my grandfather moved from the only house they'd ever had into a smaller apartment. It was carefully folded back into the tissue and into the box for safekeeping. Years later when studying the Revolutionary War became a pastime of mine, I begged to have it. For a long time my mother resisted - not that she displayed it and I doubt she'd even looked at it more than half a dozen times. Eventually, my dad, whose ancestor it was, made it a beautiful airtight display case and it was presented to me for my birthday. I proudly displayed it in my library along with the commissioning papers for one Captain John Parker, signed by no less than John Hancock. By then I knew it wasn't a Revolutionary War uniform, but rather that of an officer in the Massachusetts Militia. The commissioning papers were dated 1783 and that particular ancestor had fought in the Revolutionary war as an enlisted soldier, first a private and then a sergeant. I miss having it in my library now because my brother, whose name just happens to be John S. Parker and who once served as a captain in the United States Army now displays it in his home with his own commissioning papers and his green beret in a case next to his many greats grandfather John Parker's uniform jacket and commissioning documents. I could claim membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, but I haven't. I do honor the roots from which I come and enjoy knowing that my brother is the keeper of the family heirloom and eventually his son Corbin Parker who also served in the United States Army will have it in his home.

Cheryl Norman said...

Wow, Skye, that's a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing.

Cheryl Norman said...

Elizabeth Sinclair, you are so right. The memories matter more than the object.