Sunday, February 8, 2009

My Grandmother Survived the Great Depression...Worrying, Not an Option

As crazy as generational family lines can be, all of us have ancestors who survived worse economic times than what we are currently facing. For me, worrying about the current state of the economy is simply not an option.

Fortunately, my grandmother shared many stories of being a poor teenager in rural Mississippi in the 1930's directly with me. All of her life, she lived frugally and made her own fashionable clothes/hats up until her last few years on the earth. She made most of my clothes until I was about 10 years old but later made my prom dress, a few skirts for work, and almost anything upon request. She never had much income but all of her basic needs were always taken care of and she shared what she had with others as she became very rich in other ways: My grandmother loved to cook and my mother shared stories of the dozens of the people my grandmother fed during her childhood of the 1950's. My grandmother, the seamstress, always had cash flow from sewing for clients and she stashed cash all the time!

In my 20's, my grandmother, who had given up driving when I was a child and knew how to use the fragmented public transportation system in LA County, directed me to drive her with sandwiches and soup she prepared for the homeless "residing" in downtown Los Angeles. She'd collected clothes to give away including some she handmade: She neither needed a government program nor a non-profit to feed hungry people. I will never forget the splinters of hope as we opened up the trunk and passed out what she had prepared. I can see it in my mind even as I write this blog.

I don't have the sewing talent or the willingness to periodically deliver food to masses of hungry people on my own but I did inherit the detachment of not buying if you can make it mindset from her as it was imposed by economics and limited access to education and opportunities. I also inherited trying to make life easier for others throughout the journey with my resources and abilities. I only realized what she really passed on to me in the last 4 years as I eliminated debt.
She ironically died on Valentine's Day, 2004 a few weeks before my 40th birthday: Ironic, because she wasn't the easiet person to get along with yet, turns out, she left the best gift ever! The woman with a 4th grade education turned out to be wiser than us all in home economics and taking community responsibility. She often warned me to not become an educated fool and although I did some foolish things with money that I know she would've never done, I am redeemed by returning to the forced frugality principles she lived by with a fabulous twist in my choice to live simply. Freedom!


  1. Hi
    I totally agree with you when you said about not worrying about the hard times we have now because people have survived worse.

    I personally think that the more we have the more we're affraid to lose, rather than live to live freely and healthily we tend to live climbing a ladder of money and possessions.

    Which is a lot to do with why we are in this present state!!


  2. This is one of the best posts on frugality that I've ever read. Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful soul. Thank you very much for sharing her/your story with us. I've learned a lot.
    Tracey McBride