Family Riches

In the warm summer month of June, 1975, children were home for summer vacation.  The breezy wind from the nearby bay kept the island comfortable even as temps began to climb.  Families in our neighborhood in Alameda, California, talked about their annual vacations, and some of the families decided to go south that summer and visit Disneyland.  In turn, excited children discussed their summer plans with the neighborhood kids.

Now our family was the largest crew on the block.  My family had five kids, and that year our ages ranged from five years to fourteen years of age.  With such a large family, we never took a family vacation.  Still, our parents gave us wonderful opportunities to explore our world.  We were all involved in scouting; our parents included.  At times, we had the opportunity to travel with friends and family, and one brother that had Type 1 Diabetes went to a two week camp every year with others that shared his disorder.  On top of that, we had wonderful day trips up and down the coast of northern California, and we sometimes visited the area’s amusement parks too.  Growing up, we never felt left out when others talked about their outings or holidays.

That year, however, my mom worried.  As she heard about all the upcoming trips, especially to Disneyworld, she wished that she could do more for our family.  Eventually the topic of Disneyland came about when two of the youngest members came into the house and broached the subject with our mom. 

The youngsters cornered mom while making lunch, and Keith asked, “How much would it cost for our family to go to Disneyland?”

Mom observed their sweet faces and admitted, “Well, for our family, it would probably cost about $1,000 dollars.”  For our family, it might as well have been a million dollars.

“Okay,” Keith and Danny answered in unison as they ran outdoors.

Turning to me, mom sighed, “I wish we could take a family vacation to Disneyland.  It would be so much fun, and I hate that we must always say no.”

Walking to my mom, I embraced her.  “You worry too much.  You have given us a great life.”  I promised her.

Still, the mother was not convinced, and quietly went through the motions of making lunch. 

She called in the boys to eat.  The two littles took their lunch to the backyard for an impromptu picnic, and mom helped them spread a blanket and carry the Kool-Aid.  Tommy took his lunch to his room, so he could work on his latest electronic gizmo while Dave curled up in front of the TV, watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island.  I waited in the kitchen so mom and I could share our lunch together. 

Although she tried to hide it, I knew she was disappointed that she could not find a way to take our family on a trip to southern California.  Still, she put on a brave front and kept our conversation light.

After the little brothers had eaten their lunch, they asked mom to help them clean up their picnic in the backyard.   Following her down the back steps, I went to help gather the items used for their picnic.  While we were cleaning, the two boys had one more question.  “How much would it cost to have a new baby?”  Keith quizzed his mom.

Smiling at her son, she replied, “Oh about the same as a trip to Disneyland.”

The two small boys smiled at one another in excitement and Keith told his mom, “Well, we have decided that since they cost the same, we would rather have a new baby.”

Laughing I looked at my mother.  Tears welled up in her eyes, but it was safe to say that she was no longer worried about trips to Disneyland.  Two pint-sized youngsters had eased her concerns, and mom’s world had balanced once more.  Often, she just did not always understand how much she had touched each one of her children.  She had taught us so much about life and what riches really mattered the most in this world.


Photo by Jorge Martínez, instagram @jmartinezz9 on Unsplash

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