I've got a list of things that need to get done. Not the least of which is a presentation for a meeting tomorrow. But hard as I try, I can't make myself focus on things like ownership, long-term implementation, steering committees, and global governance. I keep thinking about my sis.
This week I sent her an email. "You guys gonna come down next month?" Seemed like a simple question, particularly since I was planning to buy their tickets.
She replied within a few hours. "Don't think so." Seems due to a policy oversight on her part at her job, she ended up costing the store extra money when the place was robbed and the night deposit was still in the safe, rather than the bank. While the robbery was not her fault, the store suspended her without pay for not making the deposit according to policy.
One week of pay for her is not that much in relative terms, but with it she supports two kids by herself. Their slug father is not a reliable source of support, and has a wife and two other kids to support. But to be honest, most of you might drop this in weekend in Vegas at the poker table and/or bar, and take nothing away other than a few bad beat stories and a wicked hangover. We spend more on dining out in a week than she makes.
But for her, that week's pay is everything. And on top if it, she'd just raided her savings account to pay for new winter tires, leaving her with not much in savings.
She kind of shrugged it off and said she just wanted to focus on saving up her money again. She mentioned I should call her cell phone from now on because they were about to cut off the home phone. I got a little freaked out and called the Dr. Like the good man he is, he said "no family member of mine gets their phone cut off" and ordered me to pay it. I called her back and told her I'd help with the phone. But when I asked if she had the money to pay it, and I could pay her back, she kind of choked up. She didn't even have enough for that.
I called the phone company. Autopayed the back due amount, plus her current bill. Called her back and told her I was sending some money for a "cushion". She tried to protest, then tried to make promises about payback. I told her to not worry, and that if she felt obligated, she could put it toward a college fund for my niece and nephew.
We're a proud family. We don't take handouts or expect handouts. Since she's been on her own, I have always made significantly more than her, and yet she's never asked for or expected my help with anything. That's not true - once she asked for help with car repairs until her IRS refund came. But the IRS came through before I got to the post office - so she called back and told me not to send the money. She will graciously accept our offers to pay for dinner and such, but never before offering her fair share.
She started crying. And it all came out. How stressful it was to try to prioritize, knowing you had no back up plan. How it came down to eating being more important than the phone and internet. How much work it was to try to think of a second job she could take to supplement her already meager income.
I realized how fortunate I was. We were. When my biggest stress is not being sure I've saved enough to be able to vacation all over the world when I retire. Never having to worry about whether I'll have enough money for new tires AND the phone bill.
I got off the phone, promising to have her some "extra" by the end of the week - really just intending to make her whole for the week she lost. When I called the Dr. to let him know, his only instruction was "double it."
I am grateful. Grateful to be part of a family that values independence and self-sufficiency enough to not ask for help. Grateful to have the means to help my family when things test our self-sufficiency. And grateful to have a husband with a heart of gold for whom "double it" is a better answer than just the status quo.