Buddy and I crouched in the breezeway of the old farmhouse. This one-on-one attention from him was strange and a bit scary. Mom's boyfriend was a very intense man. He had the body and temperament of an overly stretched rubber band. I listened intently as he spoke. "You must keep this a secret. We will work on this together. It is better to put thought and effort into a gift instead of spending money."
Money wasn't something we had anyway. I didn't know or care. Living on the farm was rich with new experiences and the type of wealth that has nothing to do with money. We had food to eat, clothes to wear and a warm place to sleep at night. Simple. Beautiful.
The theme that permeated every minute of every day was that of economy and self reliance. Nothing was ever wasted, and what was gained was only through hard work. One day Joseph (Buddy's son) and I tore pages from a coloring book to make a pretend fire. We wadded the pieces and threw them under a quilting frame because it looked like a fireplace to us. We were pretty proud of ourselves. When Buddy saw what we had done, all our toys were taken away for a long time. I never wasted anything after that.
From behind his back Buddy produced a small dingy object for me to see. Mom's birthday was approaching and this would be her gift. He handed me an old toothbrush with some goop on it and showed me how to polish the box. As I scrubbed, ornate details of silver scrollwork emerged from the tarnish of ages. An old silver soap box eventually came back to life...and what? I don't remember. Did I give it to mom? Where is it now? Not important.
I remember the important things from the experiences.
Waste Nothing. Use Thought and Effort.