Friday, September 21, 2012

Some Things Are More Important Than Money

Hubby tells tells me this often. He also says the phrase "you're going to have to do that thing" referring to how we have to complete tasks for social type reasons or to maintain respect. I always got his point but things didn't sink in completely until I lived with him. I can still hear him say it even though I'm so far away.

Usually he says these lines when he has to take food to the little old lady. (We cook for her often because we are the last family members she has left.) He also says it when his dad or uncle are sending him out on some errand. It's like he means he has no choice but to go and do the errand because it's his responsibility.

I've always agreed with and lived by this principle even before meeting hubby. I've always sent out Christmas cards to everyone, even if I didn't get one back from the person. I've always went to family reunions and dinners even if I didn't want to. I've always cleaned up behind myself whenever I'm at someones home. I drive my dad to the doctor when he needs me (including on my birthday this year lol). I go to visit my elders and I don't let my mom carry heavy things. These are all social type protocols in the US and India alike.

I don't always get the same in return and I've noticed something recently that just irks my nerves and made me think about these things. Imagine if i just stopped visiting my grandmother. How would that make her feel? It certainly would not help our relationship. What if I didn't make time to talk to my husband every day? I bet that would certainly unravel our close connection to each other. So obviously these are things "you're going to have to do" (or I'm going to have to do). Luckily I enjoy visiting my grandmother and making time for my husband so those aren't so hard.

There are harder obstacles. (And I'm starting to wonder if I'm rambling or not making sense now.) Let me use my niece as an example so I can hopefully illustrate this a lot better. I love her, I promise I do. She's book smart, but knows nothing about life - and of course she's at that age where she's sure she knows everything. She's a teenager so some of it can be explained by her age.

Now, her mother is too busy with her own life to be bothered with her half the time and her and my brother doesn't live in the same state. My niece is moving out on her own finally and hasn't got a clue about anything in life yet. So that leaves me. I'm the only one here to help her. So even though I'm on vacation, busy as can be, I've got to go help her. It's a thing I have to do. I certainly can't leave her out there on her own not knowing where to go for the things she needs and such. So I spent 2 whole days taking her all over town to get enrolled at the Workforce center and apply for apartments.

I got her set up with a bank account and all that comes with being an adult. Obviously had I not done all of this, she would have eventually gotten around to it on her own. Maybe. The world wouldn't have ended and life would still go on but I would always be known as an aunt that wouldn't help her and I don't want that. Thus, I had to do that thing. Are you following me?

Before going to India, I would think of these things as my duty, responsibility, etc. I'm her aunt, she needs help, I'm available, it's my job to be there for her. In India it seems to be no different though they don't always translate it into English that way. Each member of the family has obligations to be there. They go to each others weddings, visit each other from time to time, etc. All to keep the relationship maintained.

And what does money have to do with this? Well, that's part of why I had to take her. A couple people didn't have gas money. Others didn't want to get roped into helping her pay deposits, etc. I had my brother's back though. He couldn't be here to do it for her and so I did it. I borrowed a car, drove to her state, picked her up, ran her around and got the job done. Now it's settled and she'll be moving soon enough and can start her life. That is more important than how much money it cost me to drive her around, take her out to lunch while we were out all day.

(Oh, she does have her own car but can't drive it right now because it needs work done to it so it can pass inspection. Funny how her grandfather on her moms side is a mechanic but hasn't helped her with that yet. I know she doesn't know anything about cars to do it herself. Must be that money issue again.)

Now, I was obviously raised to have this kind of attitude toward family. BUT, I don't see the same coming from some of my family members. Yes I know life cost money, gas is expensive, blah freaking blah. But why is it that I - the one family member here right now with no car - have to be the only one with enough heart to go down there and do this for her? Where is the sense of loyalty and obligation?

I did it because my family treated me just like her. They couldn't/wouldn't help me when I was young and trying to get my life started. It affected me in a way I wouldn't want any other young person to have to experience. It's quite disheartening to feel so much stress when you don't know what to do and no one will guide you. Also, I didn't pay for anything for my niece other than lunch. I took her where she needed to go, I showed her how to take care of her business and get things done. She didn't cost me anything really. I offered lunch, she didn't ask. 20 years from now I won't remember how much gas cost, in fact I've forgotten it already.

I wish more Americans would adopt this sense of caring and obligation toward our younger generation. I understand that some things they need to learn the hard way but I also understand just how difficult that can be and how alone you can feel when no one is there to provide you guidance.

End rant for the day - I think. ;)


  1. i used to notice this in the states. its more individual orientated. sad!

  2. In some ways it is sad. There are good and bad points to it. What really is the problem is the pursuit of money above all else. It was not always this way but that seems to be a current theme in this and the last generation.