I Am Rich

Mom was the first to rise. I would peel open an eye to catch her brushing on mascara while Dad snored. Our one bedroom smelled of Shiseido moisturizer and the coffee that pulled her from fatigue into her day. The breakfast rice swelled on the stovetop. I went back to sleep.

I remember the colors of Christmas. We never had a tree, for the lack of space and the frivolity it was. But the lights we did, tiny red and green bulbs a scant garnish on the rail of my top bunk. Every December I’d tramp through grey snow slush to Woolworth’s with my cousins, the giant five and dime that offered everything under the New York sun. Chocolate, Maybelline with all her wares, Arrid roll-on deodorant, lines of nail polish. Instead of walking out with Christmas presents for friends and family, every holiday jaunt I would leave the store thinking, “I’ll have some money next year.” And it took me 14 years to realize next year never came. But my parents still came through.

Mom would do what she had to, ride as many subway cars as she needed to procure what her kids asked of her. Resources on the state of Maine for a school project, the cheesecake her girl loved. One call to the restaurant where she waitressed, and she came home arms full with shiny travel books and the box from Zaro’s bakery on Grand Central. She kept our home tidy between and around the 14 hours of work; and though she could’ve better discriminated how she fed us, my brother and I were never in want of food. She asked nothing of me, not even the dishes, except that I do my best in school. Like many of us, I grew up with no iGadget, the closest thing being Atari. Yes, I want it, Daddy. I could feel the weight of the purchase on his shoulders in the store. I got so good at the video game, I could play Froggie upside down. I lay, hair fanned out on the carpet, chin to ceiling, and steered the frog on the TV screen across the perilous highway whole and happy.

My mother woke resolute every morning. She worked so hard I wonder if she even had time to be afraid. I sacrifice sleep not to keep clothes on my son’s back but for the gratification of my art, the joy of writing in these secret hours. Although I’d rather do without it for spiritual reasons, it meant everything to me to be able to get the tree five years ago – not only Tennyson’s first Christmas tree but cmastreehis parents’ as well. One taller than we are to help make for our boy fuller memories of tradition we never knew. We had afforded him something to decorate and bring alive into the magic of the season.

I am seeing how the question of sufficiency impacts the choices we make and how satisfied we are. Do I make enough, have enough? Is he good enough to marry? From all the jokes on the last post, is she good enough to keep? Does my child? Have I lost sufficient weight? Are my grades up to par? Were my parents enough? Am I smart, capable, healthy enough for the project, job, race? Have I accomplished enough? Each question makes for a post, if not a book.

The resentment I held my parents to much of my life was the assertion that they were deficient. While they did lack greatly in some respects, I am seeing with the years that they did not have much by way of emotional resources. They did what they could with what they had. For me. Although my husband asks little of me, it is when I want him to do or be more that I become discontent. My child comes to me and expresses his grievance when I wound him but he always returns to the place of forgiveness. I am astonished to find that to him, his father, and my parents, I am more than enough. I also have deeply loyal friends. And here you all are. I am so unworthy. No need to correct me; I didn’t say worthless. You would unfollow if you knew the thoughts I spin sometimes. We don’t know one another’s unfiltered story. But this I can tell you.

I am so very rich.

129 thoughts on “I Am Rich

    • Thank you for the gift of your time and for attending to this testimony, Mona. Had planned on visiting soon. I appreciate your beating me to it. As the gift for my family, it is the very least I could offer.


  1. Beautiful and heart felt. Thanks Diana. You seem to be more vulnerable lately. Congrats. You describe what I view as the eternal struggle between human limits and spiritual potential, and how to integrate them. blessings, Brad

  2. Only God knows our deepest darkest thoughts, and He is the only One still capable of loving us throughout it all. I know you believe that as well.
    This was such a beautiful post. Reminding us to have forgiveness, gratitude, and to persevere through hardship. Thank you.

  3. My parents never had a Christmas tree at home because it wasn’t in our religious tradition so I also refused one to my daughter. However, she so loves the music and atmosphere of Christmas that she begged for a tree. My wife, who was born in Eastern Europe, came to the rescue. In Russia it’s not a Christmas Tree but a New Year Tree. So now we always have a New Year Tree and everyone is happy.

  4. Beautiful post Diana. I’m so speechless I have no coherent thought right now.
    But needless to say, your unfiltered thoughts would still make you worthy; we are all worthy of love irrespective of what package we deliver ourselves in πŸ™‚

  5. Funny how it takes decades as an adult to realize that your parents did the best they could with what they had. I suppose it will take that long for our own kids to reach that realization, as well.

    Beautiful post, Diana. And just so you know, no matter what your thoughts, I would never unfollow you. We’ve all had thoughts we would never share with anyone else.

  6. “They did what they could with what they had.” This, I have found is not only true of your parents, but also of mine, and many of the people I have come to know.

    You are rich, and so are we. I for one become a little richer whenever I read a post like this.

    • Yep. It’s hard. REALLY hard, that willful part. I was stuck on that much of my life and hate reading of/seeing people on welfare and the like being incompetent parents strung out on drugs and not being able to manage resources even for their kids. But even in those extreme cases, the willful is trapped under the helpless. They are products of their past and their own parents’ inadequacies and don’t know (and often don’t want) how to flee the vicious the cycle of habit. So much of it is mental and emotional, not even the physical resources we have to come through for our kids. The ability to quit replaying old tapes and self-talk that only keeps them down.

  7. It’s natural to want to give our kids what we wanted and didn’t get, but it isn’t always really good for them – problem is, we don’t realise that until we see them trying to give their kids what we didn’t give them! Vicious circle! A little bit of deprivation is good for the soul πŸ™‚

  8. They did what they could with what they had. As do we all, Diana. Some of us have much, much less than others. Some of us are making up whole parts of life as we go along, never having had it shown to us. Most of us actually. The mantra of modern women – not enough, not enough. I am enough, you are enough, we are enough. Xo

  9. I don’t have anything new to contribute, but thank you for this post: your appreciation for your mother is beautiful — this makes me want to be a better mom.

  10. Lovely memories and perfect tale for the holiday season. We are all rich and surrounded by treasures and it’s easy to forget it. Your post is a reminder to take stock of those who guard us, love us, tolerate us, and give themselves to us.

    • Appreciate the read and your reflecting it back, Cindy. And please feel free to delete the link I shared earlier. I forgot – in writing through the small notif window – it was your thread, not mine.


  11. Your mother was rich too, Diana.

    As I said before, there is no such thing as loving too much. It’s funny how these truths take time to catch up with us, filtered or unfiltered.

    And I suppose we’ve all felt at least a little like Froggie sometimes: overwhelmed by a number of uncontrollable factors shooting left and right, but still having to make it across. But you know what? At least we made it out in the end. At least you made it out in the end.

    • “no such thing as loving too much” This is awesome, E. I take this truth into my day with me.

      And you have NO idea how I am Froggie. I hadn’t seen that!! Except I usu. don’t make it across in one piece. But blogging has been a dream, as I wrote recently. This is where I defy the highway.

      Thank you dearly for enriching this journey. You rock.

      And that was one sweet word on my mother.

  12. My parents came out of the great depression and that shaped their ways and thinking. It is only now I realize what sacrifices they made to give their children a better start in life than they had. My wife’s parent were migrants and had to claw their way up too. They were similarly shaped by their experiences and did the best they could under the circumstances.

    • It was this year, starting from the Race Around the World, that I realized just how vast and global the immigrant struggle has been, Ian – beyond the diaspora out of Asia. And it was recently I saw Australia received many herself. I think the rich heritage of suffering was the seed for the kind of character that was instilled in you, in addition to your faith.

  13. I came home very tired last night and did not go online. And I am very happy that I did not ‘skim’ over this post just to clear my Inbox.. Instead I am sitting here with my morning coffee with a smile on my face as I read your wonderful post. Love to you, Diana.

  14. I believe that one of the blessings (and benefits) of getting older is the insight we gain through living life. To embrace family for who they are and to love them despite for who they aren’t is a precious gift to them and more importantly, to ourselves!

  15. A very fine reflection in this season of Advent, of looking forward – since it seems impossible to look ahead without looking behind. We hold these two together, past and future and their tenuous character seems to leave us in a vulnerable place. Of course, the more vulnerable we are, the more we deny it but every now and then the light shines and we ‘fess up, sometimes surprising even ourselves.

    • Interesting you bring up the vulnerability that one of the first commenters did here and that I’ve been thinking about. Thanks for taking the time to bless as you faithfully have, Allen. I am grateful to share in this season and journey with you.


  16. The way your words so often stir emotion in one who’s feelings have been pronounced all but clinically “dead” is simply astounding. You are an amazing individual. Not only are you rich, but you enrich others with every word you write. Thank-you.

  17. This is such a well written and thought out post ~ from your parents to you being a parent, it is clear to see how wonderful and rich you are. Perhaps the best part is knowing that while you all strive to be the best and give the best, you understand that “it is when I want him to do or be more that I become discontent.” That sentence is perhaps where so much discontent and unhappiness (and loss of the real riches of life) begins… Shows just how amazing you actually are, which makes us as readers think ‘hey, maybe we can strive to be better a well…’

    A great holiday post ~ best to you and your family…and thanks for sharing the wealth πŸ™‚

    • You don’t cease to amaze, Randall. I’m not sure you’ve known how rich you help make friends to feel (on the blog but esp off, I imagine). Thank you feels inadequate but that’s all I have.


  18. Yes you are RICH. Through many years of recognizing That I have nothing to want or have that is outside of me. That everything is an inside job, people smile with the thought that they are enough and Rich as well. We are all that we have been looking for, creating in unlimited miraculous ways!. ageless timeless eternal beings in this cosmic soup of life, we discover that we share illusions of our separation. Heart to Reart Robyn

  19. Reblogged this on myatheistlife and commented:
    What you don’t know.
    My mother was born into a family with 6 siblings. They shared a one room dirt floor shack with their parents, her father a coal miner. My mother was the first in her family to graduate college, while I was in the Navy, cuma sum laude. My siblings and I did not know dirt poor, but we also did not know what a new car was, seldom knew what new clothes were. Almost every day I acknowledge to myself that I live like a king. No matter how little I think I have, I know I live like a king.

    In this time of year, consider how rich you are.

    Here’s a story (true? probably) that tells what so many of us know first hand. Today we live like royalty.

    While you’re reading, here’s a listen:

  20. This was such a beautiful read, and a very beautiful and truly honest piece of writing, D. You got me hooked from the first line. Shiseido moisturiser? I remember seeing my mum slathering it all over her face as I grew up, and she still does that today.

    Your mum certainly put her kids’ interests at heart. “She worked so hard I wonder if she even had time to be afraid.” Maybe she was indeed afraid, afraid all the time and it was fear that drived her to support her family back then. Fear that she will not be able to put a meal on the table. Fear that she and dad won’t be able to buy everyone a new set of clothes for the Lunar New Year.

    I’ve always held resentful feelings to my parents when I was younger – angry at them for not getting my that video game or Happy Meal from McDonalds. We never had a Christmas tree at home too. Though I must say my parents did get me some presents on Christmas days a few times. I always felt happy when I opened them. Like your parents, I’m sure my parents have always wanted me to be happy πŸ™‚

    • Hey, thanks so much for sharing how this one spoke to you, Mabel. Isn’t that something, that even across the globe we had common experiences in our upbringing? In our hopes and our parents’? I’m ashamed at our lack of gratitude growing up.


      • Almost every post I’ve read has touched me in some way, D. You do have a way with writing, so I understand why you stay up just to right. Sometimes I do that too and wonder if I’m selfish…like, I should be sleeping early so I can have energy the next day to work and support my parents in their old age. Take care πŸ™‚

  21. I really felt you here, Diana- your voice and memories pulling more forward needing to know..what happened next what happened next. Did your parents enjoy the tree you gifted them? I hope that they read this post. The love and gratitude you feel toward them is palpable in this post. And yes- that question of sufficiency- it really does drive so much, doesn’t it? I am going to have to sit with that some more. I have a feeling it propels more in my life than I am aware. (I’m heading toward another writing deadline so slowly catching up… you’ll be hearing from me soon. I see I have more of your stories to take in. xo Happy Holidays. xo)

    • So warmed by your reflections (and reflecting back), Diahann. I think you missed one part. I never got my parents a tree. I explained it’s our boy’s (and our first) that husband and I were able to get. I in fact wanted to get this translated for them for Cmas but my friend is working on Measure of a Woman and it’d be too much for her. I hope to get this one to Mom for her bday in Feb. =) I work through the translation, too, but couldn’t do it all on my own. (Quite interestingly, turns out my writing is difficult to translate – at least into Korean.) And yes, the ques of sufficiency is a book all its own, D. It drives virtually all aspects of our living and striving (and depressions and…).

      Thx so much for trying to keep up with those balls up in the air!


  22. People do the best with what they have. This phrase I learned this year after doing a counselling course. I had never really seen that before but a pre-supposition like that is simplicity in itself. There is no argument. I particularly enjoyed your post because I am constantly trying to send this message to people throughout my life. I am the eternal optimist and I too know that richness is not measured financially! Your post says to me that you are indeed a human of exceptionally high value. Peace and good will to all and long may it continue.

    • What wonderful feedback, Carl. So glad this post found you where you are in the journey. Your family and friends are blessed. =) Thank you so much for the follow. Welcome to this wonderful community of thinkers and artists.


  23. Pingback: The Land of the Living | A Holistic Journey

My Two Gold Cents in the Holistic Treasury

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