This was posted a few years ago at another site that is now deleted. Mother is a phenomena that is worthy of sharing.
Mother always amazes and surprises me. When it comes to saving money, my mother’s an expert. She is naturally funny and never sweats the small stuff. There are so many amusing stories on her frugality I wanted to share one of them.
In 1953, my mother arrived in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario with two young children, a suitcase and twenty- four dollars. When she stepped from the train her expression was that of awe and wonder. She was amazed at the vastness of the land, green fields and forests and said, “No one should go hungry in this country.”
We emigrated from Germany, a country that was still healing from the wounds of war. Destruction and devastation was still evident everywhere. Hamburg, the city where I was born, displayed rubble and debris where buildings once stood. Jobs, food and shelter were scarce so my parents decided to start a new life in a new country . . . Canada.
My mother is the eternal optimist. She has an outlook on life like Auntie Mame and when she speaks, her accent sounds like Dr. Ruth. I don’t know which came first, the boards for our house or a shovel to turn over the soil for a garden.
Being new in the country, starting over, scrimping and saving; life wasn’t easy, but we felt like royalty in our 24 by 24 foot house. We had a roof over our head that we could call our own, food on the table, and in the summer we always had fresh vegetables and fruit along with brilliant blooms from my mother’s garden.
Today my parents are well off with a beautiful house with ocean- view property in Vancouver Island. She still watches every penny, turning it over a few times before spending it; an old habit that served her well over the years.
Her beautiful gardens are legendary and the envy of the neighbourhood. Mother’s fruit trees include kiwi, plum, pear, peaches and apples. She has tropical trees and shrubs, and multiple species of flowers surrounding the goldfish pond and fountain. Mother’s daily routine takes her to the back yard where her vegetable and fruit garden sits on the side of the hill. You have to duck your head when you enter the green-house to avoid clusters of fat, juicy grapes that compete for space with plump, saucer- sized tomatoes.
Mother has never forgotten the hard times and hunger during WW11. Even though she is well off and doesn’t have to worry about money or food, she is still very frugal. A couple of years ago mother called me from Vancouver Is. and said in her Dr. Ruth accent, “I can’ t believe the price of seeds. Did you know they want $1.50 for a small package of Roma tomato seeds? that’s ridiculous.” She went on to say, “so I bought a Roma tomato from the farmers market for about 4 cents, brought it home, sliced it, removed the seeds, made a tomato sandwich for lunch and put the seeds in small soil filled yogurt pots. I ate the tomato and got a crop of tomatoes all for 4 cents.” I laughed and laughed. That’s my mother.
My husband, daughter and I were fortunate enough to spend winter in 2010 at my parent’s place in Vancouver Island. When spring arrived, suddenly a row of small yogurt containers lined the window sills. I smiled, watching mother hover over them like a mother hen. The warm sun slanted in on the beginnings of that years Roma tomato crop.
My heart swells with love and pride at my mother’s passion and ingenuity. We’ve come a long way since we stepped off the train in 1953. I look at the yogurt pots on the ledges, thinking, “you’re right mom, no one should go hungry in this country.”