I wouldn’t say we grew up poor, but if you asked anyone else the answer would be different.
We didn’t have a shower. My dad was always working extra jobs and working on the house. We rationed soap, food, hot water, electricity. I wore hand-me-downs from my older sister, who got them from our eldest sister, who got them from a thrift store with mom. It was all normal in our eyes. It didn’t hamper anything. We were happy.
In order to save on water and electricity, we would share the bath water (I know). It was actually a common thing to do in the old days way back: The eldest would bathe, then the second eldest, all the way down to the baby. Hence the phrase ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’ The thinking was, bathing first in clean water was a right held by the eldest. He earned it with the sweat and hard work of his years.
My dad bathed last. Every time.
I still don’t quite understand why. We honored and respected him. He deserved it.
I just don’t get it.
On Fridays, he would make me go with him to cook breakfast at our church at 4:30am for the mens breakfast. All the other guys would waltz in at 6am promptly. It made me so mad every time.
Oftentimes he would go above and beyond, helping people move and then denying any payment. He would volunteer my help, of course. We would drive home, I quietly upset at another weekend gone.
I asked him why he kept doing weird stuff: helping people and then not taking payment, bathing last, cooking at 4:30am on Fridays for ungrateful dudes. His answer was short.
“Anyone can do the bare minimum.”
What a fucking powerhouse.