Friday, September 10, 2010

Birthday Rumblings with The Polished Pebble

Picture from vacation in Wyoming 2010

Hello is my birthday. And I have a few thoughts I would like to share.....I am old, but not THAT OLD. Not old enough to get the Senior Discount or collect Social Security - but old enough to have a pretty good grasp on things. So, you can continue reading or not...your choice.

I was born here in Bakersfield, CA to my parents Don & Rose. Hard working, middle class people that wanted what most people do. A home, family, friends & a comfortable living for which they were willing to work for. I was the first of three daughters. And for the most part they found what they were looking for and lived the life they wanted. That is not to say they didn't make sacrifices or didn't do things they didn't want to do - they had their share of problems, but overcame them.

My parents were raised in a much different world. My father started life on a farm in Oklahoma, one of 5 children. They eventually became migrant farm workers - yes, there were WHITE migrant farm workers. At 14 his mother kicked him out on his own. He worked odd jobs and worked his way to California looking for his father who had left a year before. Thru all of this he still managed to keep going to school and graduated from High School. Today, over 1/3 of the current High School students will drop out & never return for a diploma.

Working & saving he made his way to Bakersfield because of the agricutural jobs. Working side by side with many different people of different backgrounds & races. The work was the same no matter what your skin color or where you came from. Throughout his life, he only saw a person by their deeds, if they were honest & trustworthy or not. While working as a farm laborer, he came in contact with the birth of the United Farm Workers Union. He was never impressed with their attitude or their tactics. And one thing that always came thru, if you weren't "Mexican" - you weren't a TRUE farm laborer. They created a very hostile situation that affected everyone. While their efforts gained much needed improvements, they also caused many harm.

My father had a chance to escape the fields with a job working for Western Electric. But he had to pay his union dues up front, before they would give him the job. So, he was working picking cotton (I have a cotton picking sack that my dad saved from those days) at the time...cutting back his eating to one meal a day for a month he was able to save enough money to pay the dues. He worked for Western Electric, AT&T and finally Lucent Tech. (as they changed their names) for 43 years. How many people can do that today?

My mother on the other hand, came from a very different upbringing. My grandfather came over from France on a boat with his family. He was the baby of 6. They made their way to Bakersfield and my grandfather became a local police officer. My grandmother was a very indepenent soul & their marriage was rocky. They split when my mother was a teen. But she still had a very sheltered life. Private school was a struggle to afford - but they did. After graduation she went to work for the Telephone Company. And that is where my parents met.

From my parents world was formed. Add the goings on in the world & it is easy to see where my opinions lie. We had a pretty comfortable life. My dad made good money, while my mom did her best to spend it. But my dad was always keeping some back. He lived too much of his life with so little....until the day he passed, he carried over $1000 in his wallet. He hated credit cards & always paid for his things in cash.

Mom did the PTA & girl scouts stuff. Volunteered where she was needed. We grew up pretty spoiled, but were never allowed to take anything for granted. Dad always made sure of that. And to add to my grounded nature, I spent most my free time with my grandparents. And their view of the world colored my evaluations even more. Sadly, they are all gone now. The world has continued to change & I'm not happy about alot of it.

I raised 4 children of my own. They have all graduated from high school. We did scouts, both Boy & Girl Scouts. Two sons earned their Eagle Scout rank. I ran day camps, resident camps, adult trainings for other leaders & so on. We all did band & colorguard. Traveling to competitions, helping out & being a parent to the kids who's parents didn't have the time. Would I have done thing differently, somethings - yes. But overall - no. You do the best you can & hope it takes. My children are out on their own now. They were over Monday (Labor Day) for barbeque & tonight we are going out for my birthday. But I worry....

Times have changed - but more importantly...people have changed. Everyone seems to be in such a great hurry. And they have to be constantly available. Leaving a message is not acceptable anymore. Heck, I can remember when if we called anyone on the phone & they didn't answer...we just called back later. And you know what? It was OK - the world didn't come to an end.

But for all the problems we all face, if we could get past this one thing the world would be a much nicer place to live. What is that thing you ask.....ENTITLEMENT. It seems that everyone today thinks they are entitled to do or say or even act any way they see fit without any concern for how it affects others. WE have become so absorbed in what we want that we don't even look beyond to the bigger picture of how our actions affect others.

So here's my birthday wish.....May you find happiness in the little things...may your day be full of good thoughts...may your work be light and your life be peaceful...but most importantly, may you make the world just alittle bit better place to be.

Connie - The Polished Pebble