Journal to Christa—(from May 22, 2009)
Everyone has regrets. I wish I hadn’t’ spent so much time worrying about money when I was young. I could stir up money worry as fast as the Santa Ana winds can fire up a fury—an inferno of anxiety that climaxed the first two years we lived in Colorado Springs. I wish I hadn’t wasted so much time fretting over maybes.
While in our 20s, Jay had one of the better unskilled jobs in Chattanooga, at a local food distribution center. He began picking orders, then drove a forklift, and finally ended up in middle management, which was perfect in those days because the pay wasn’t too shabby and he was still hourly, getting time and a half for his 15-20 extra hours a week. That allowed me to stay at home.
The spring, soon after Chris was born, someone at Red Food decided to cut all overtime. Jay, being rather innovative, bought a second old used lawn mower and decided we would mow yards to make up the difference. We started out with five yards. Each week as Jay packed the lawn gear into his old Datsun truck, I packed babies (Chris just 3 months old) in the car. We deposited the babies at Maxine’s on the way and proceeded to our mowing.
Soon it became apparent that Red Food couldn’t function without the overtime. So as the overtime returned, thankfully our customers dwindled—all except two older widow women who were neighbors. They probably weren’t nearly as old as they seemed to me. Youth has a way of viewing age through its own unique lens. But they were dear ladies.
Jay laughs about the pine cones flying through the mower and across the yard. One of the ladies always insisted that I take a break with a glass of ice water at the concrete table and benches that Jay hated weed eating around. Since Tennessee evenings are hot and muggy, it wasn’t my favorite job, but their yards were flat and square, and the mowing was easy. Amidst the hum of the mower, it gave me time alone to think, and thinking is good. That summer and into the fall, we mowed the widows’ yards, relieved when the winter clouds and rain, I so despised, finally brought our obligation to an end.
By the next summer, with Jay’s overtime secure, I was again great with child and spent most of that summer in the air conditioning. I wish in my thinking I’d decided not to fret so, but some lessons take longer than a mere summer.