I wrote this essay a few years ago and had it on a website of my essays. . . My Mom died when she was 80 and I miss her a lot. I am so glad she was my Mom and I couldn't imagine growing up with any other. OK, here's a bit of her wisdom:
I think I was already an adult when I finally realizd the whole truth about the money we kids found in our garden every summer . . .
Let me back up . . . I lived in the city of Pocatello (in southeastern Idaho) while growing up. My parents owned three lots and two of them were garden areas. We kids thought of ourselves as a "poor" family. There were 7 kids in our family and we all had to help out with the garden work each summer. Mom and us kids spent many long hours out there and then just as long a time, doing the canning but in the long run, we got to eat all that fresh produce and home canned garden goodies so I guess it was worth it even though we didn't appreciate the fact at the time. I remember I had to wash all the bottles because I had small hands . . .
I think we all hated for summer to come since we knew our friends would be off playing with other friends or doing fun things like going swimming at the YMCA or just hanging around -- something kids do best. We knew that we would be stuck helping out in the garden AGAIN!
Well, Mom knew we would rather be somewhere else and she tried her best to make up for it. One way she did this was to treat us all to ice cream cones from the corner A & W Root Beer stand restaurant. In those days, a cone was a nickel for a small soft serve and a dime for a large one. She would give a couple of us a silver dollar and have us bring back 4-6 ice cream cones - depending on how many were working that day. (Sometimes one of us would be babysitting for 25 cents an hour for a family we knew in the neighborhood.) It was always a double treat for the "runners" for the ice cream cones -- we got out of planting/weeding/watering for 10-15 minutes and got to actually LEAVE THE PROPERTY! This was a BIG time treat for us who were "almost slave labor!"
When we returned, Mom would give everyone a cone and she would place the change from the dollar in her shirt pocket and keep working. She never had a cone with us while gardening. We sat down and licked very slowly, trying to make the time go by faster but on those long summer days, that sun just never wanted to go to bed!
Every summer , it was the same thing . . . we worked in the garden and Mom treated us to an ice cream cone. But, one summer, something changed our whole attitude about working in the garden. We could hardly wait 'til the manure was spread and the garden was tilled.
You see, we found buried treasure and we were sure there was more "where that came from." No one really said it outloud . . . at first it was just a coin or two but when we found money EVERY summer, we knew we were really the lucky ones . . . and it was always in a different place that we found coins. Our whole garden must have been a robbers's hideaway!
We didn't get an allowance in those days -- "found money" was a godsend to us. It could buy lots of penny candy . . . I especially liked those cinnamon bears that were 2 for a penny and that chocolate licorice . . . so I was an eager beaver to beat my twin sister to finding the coins in the dirt . . . no one worked harder than me!
I will never understand how my Mom could keep such a straight face each time we found money in the garden BUT now that I am a Mom myself, I understand her wise ways. She knew exactly where that money came from the first time she treated us to an ice cream cone and put the change in her pocket. . . you see, it fell out of her pocket and got buried 'til the next summer when we were making rows again.
She could have told us and spoiled our fun of looking for "buried treasure" while doing our work in the garden but she was smart -- she knew about incentives and what a small price to pay for our eagerness in helping maintain the family food supply.
Today, some might think my Mom was too hard on us but they would be wrong. She was planting more than garden seeds. She planted love, strenghth to pursue a goal and unity. No, the treasure was not in the coins, ice cream treat or even the wonderful produce we grew but in the love of a wise woman called my MOM.