" The moment I held the money from my first paycheck at 14, and experienced the high of having worked and received the fruits of my labor, I was hooked. Money became my god. My desire for money grew into a love-hate relationship, to the point at times I could not get out of bed to earn it. It was then that I knew something was wrong. Why had I reached this point? Where had my desire gone? Why had I lost my zeal to make money?
In search of answers, I ended up in the past, on the doorsteps of my father’s parents’ property in North Carolina. I was seven. My parents had split and left us in their care. It was a life without the technology of lights, T.V., etc. I remember my grandfather doing strange things like offering me money to go out into his garden late in the evening to pick a vegetable. He did other strange stuff like putting a dime wrapped in brown paper in each shoe. I once asked him why and he told me it was to ward off evil spirits.
Just when I had accepted my parents’ absence and was starting to feel pretty secure, my grandmother died. Because my grandfather had a stroke in his right side, earlier in life, there was no one to cook for us. After grandma’s death a lot of our meals came out of cans. Not too long after grandma’s death, we were moved to my mother’s parents’ house. They had a black and white T.V., radio, living room furniture, and electricity. I looked forward to mealtimes. The table was always filled with a mix of meats, vegetables, and desserts to feast on. Even though there was plenty, we were often frowned upon when we requested seconds.
As I look back, that grandmother’s relationship with money was puzzling. I knew she handled the money. I would observe her telling her neighbors and visitors the story of how she wasn’t getting financial help to take care of us and how hard it was on her. Pricked by her story, those folks would give to the cause. She never seemed to have enough. That story was repeated over and over. I will never forget the letters my father sent with maybe two or three dollars—how she would open the letters, take the money, and give me the letter. In my heart I knew there was something wrong with what my grandmother was doing. I grew to dislike her practices of taking the money my father sent.
The relationship between the two of us got worse when I accused her daughter of stealing my aunt’s cosmetics from next door. Telling the truth caused me to be sent to live with that aunt. At first I felt rejected. But once I got next door and discovered color T.V., snacks, having my own space, a telephone—I thought I had gone to heaven. I could eat until I quit. My cousins seemed to have so much. I was happy they were willing to share. I envied their lifestyle. I remember wishing I had a father like theirs.
I had experienced three views of life in a very short period of time: a little, extra, and abundance.My uncle’s family life appealed to me. I vowed to myself that would be the type of life I would have when I grew up. The environment around us sends messages all the time. As you grow up into adulthood, you never know how such will influence your journey through life."