Many lessons learned throughout my life

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By Rosie Preston

Some of the best books start with the words, “It was a cool and lovely day.” That is what I was feeling for sure earlier this week. The sky was cloudy with a bit of sunshine peeking through, which always brings a smile to my face. I’m one of those people who wants to put my head under my pillow and continue to ignore the outside world on cloudy and rainy days.

I’ve often wondered if this feeling goes back to my childhood. My daddy was a brick mason by trade, and on rainy days he could not work. I remember a time when it rained for five weeks straight and how that weather affected our lives. Mom was great at stretching a penny and could cook scrumptious and homemade meals that would make your mouth water. We experienced times of being poor along times of daddy being able to work and we were very aware of how his job affected our family. We learned to live within his income.

My Maw Maw and my aunts Irene and Ottolene (who were identical twins) were always buying me and my sister Luann new clothes when school started. The strange thing is I do not remember them buying us shoes. My daddy often took me to buy shoes, and he did not have empathy about what kind I wanted or if they fit me correctly. He believed that we were bothering the salesperson when we asked to try on more than one pair of shoes, so when I was young, I had to wear the first pair I tried on. I cannot explain how embarrassing this was when I was in school, because I attended with kids who had the name brands and wore best of everything.

For most of those years, however, I found classmates I could identify with and never lacked for friends, but the way kids divide themselves at such early ages surprises me to this day. I now realize that those well-off kids lived the way they were taught by their parents. I don’t think they intentionally left out the “have nots;” it was just a way of life you knew and understood when you walked in the classroom. Scientific evidence has shown that we size up people in the first 10 to fifteen seconds after we see them.

I’ve come to understand it better and I found this to be true as I grew older. People who live on a lower income cannot be expected to be best friends with someone who has much more in financial income, the reason being that it would be hard to share some things with them. For example, many people I grew up with took vacations every year, and at the first of each school year, a teacher would always ask us to stand up and tell us about our summer vacation. I wanted to melt into the floor, because my family had not ever taken a vacation.

I had a couple of friends who once invited me to go with them to the Florida beaches, and it turned out to be a wonderful time. To this day, I’ve never forgotten how important it was to allow my own children to include a friend when our family could afford nice vacations.

Friends have always been a big part of my life, and I’m the type of person who does not take them for granted. There is one vacation I took with my friend Rita Morgan. One night, her mother, Ruth, who recently passed away, asked me if I could paint her fingernails. Little did she know that I had been painting my Maw Maw’s nails since I was very young.

Mrs. Morgan was very pleased with my manicure job, and the next day we went shopping and she allowed me to choose a gift for myself, which was a pair of giant bright red sunglasses! I kept them for years, and even after reaching the age of 16 and driving my own car, I wore them for fun and often got the people in cars beside me to laugh.

When I think back to some of my younger years, I remember it was the friends I loved the most that I could laugh with. There is a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge that I’d like to share:

“Flowers are lovely; love is flower-like;

Friendship is a sheltering tree;

Oh the joys that come down shower-like;

Of friendship, love, and liberty,

Ere I was old!”

Contact Rosie Preston at rosie.preston@yahoo.com.

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