There is a saying in our family. Usually said on a particularly good day. When things are slow. When not much gets done apart from a drawn out lunch, an afternoon snooze or sitting in the sun drinking wine.
In a quiet moment, when appetites are sated, skin is warmed and eyes half closed, ‘I wonder what the poor people are doing’ will be said. Dad’s voice filling the air.
The usual reply, ‘it’s a hard life’ from one of us.
Is there money? None to speak of. But wonder we do.
It’s a hard life.
It is part of the way we get by. Especially when things are hard. Because sometimes things are.
We are rich. In arguments and laughter. In that we love to be together and apart. Miss each other and piss each other off.
We are not perfect. When we argue people in the next galaxy know about it. Children and grandchildren hear more than their share of swearing. They hear a great deal of tear inducing laughter as well. It’s a hard life.
A few years ago my parents came to stay. I had a day off and the kids were at school. We drove into the hills and had a late lunch. We sipped red wine and sat in the sun. As a waitress came to our table Dad spoke, to no one really. ‘I wonder what the poor people are doing.’
The waitress took offence. ‘Well they are all at work getting paid I suspect.’
I wanted to go after her. Explain. How my children had been uprooted from everything and everyone to live in a different state. How my parents worked hard all their lives; how they still did though Dad was past retirement age. That this was a day off for us all. That if she looked, if she listened to the tone not the words she’d have known.
But I didn’t. I had a rare moment of being an adult child alone with my parents. I had a glass of wine and cake. There was sun. School pick up was an hour away.
So I sat. I sipped wine. Ate cake. I wondered what the poor people were doing. It’s a hard life I replied to no one at all.