Primo and I went to the state capital (capitol? I can never remember) for a concert and visited some of my Peace Corps friends, who live there, before the concert. Arthur and Betty are 92 years old. They have lived in the same house for over 60 years. It is a simple little house that they built when they got married. They don't have a bunch of junk. It is like the model house to Sly and Doris' Glamor Don't of a house. Arthur and Betty do not have any junk! Any!
Oh - some background. They joined the Peace Corps when they were almost 70. They had retired and weren't done working yet. Everyone in our group loved them. They are sweet, nice people.
Betty insisted on cooking dinner for us, even though I had told her we would pick up something at a restaurant and take it to their house. When I invite myself to someone's house, I do not want to create extra work for her. But she wanted to cook and I could not persuade her otherwise. I did, however, take homemade cookies - rosemary and pine nut, chocolate with ground pepper - and some pear jam I had made from the pear tree in our back yard.
She wrote me a note later - "What herb is that in the cookies? Rosemary? And the chocolate cookies taste very zippy!"
You can have a good palate when you are 92 and don't drink or smoke. Nope, there was no alcohol at supper. Arthur, Betty, and Daisy, their daughter, had milk, Primo and I had water.
They live modestly. Their house is on the lake. The neighborhood has changed since the first time I saw it 15 years ago, when the other houses were just as modest. Now, those houses have been torn down and replaced with McMansions - they are not building any more lakefront property - and neighbors who complain about Arthur and Betty's house as an eyesore.
It is not an eyesore. It is modest and simple and perfect.
What was my point?
Oh. So. Anyhow. My friends, whom I have known for over 20 years, and who have been retired for a long time and don't have a lot of money - Arthur worked for the state in a research lab at the university - wrote a check for $150 to Primo's campaign.
They are both passionately interested in politics. Primo actually met Daisy at some political events. He had already met Arthur and Betty, so when he heard that Daisy had the same last name as A and B, he asked if she was related. She was. Small world.
We spent supper talking about politics - not my favorite but they were fascinated by Primo's campaign and know who his opponent is. That's what they wanted to talk about and they are nice and polite and we were guests and they are my friends so even though I hate talking about politics, with them, we talked about politics. They talked, I listened.
And we told them the story about the donation from the Teamsters and how grateful we were because we had been worrying about having to pay ourselves.
A few minutes later, Arthur got up, went to the kitchen counter, pulled out his checkbook, wrote a check, and handed it to Primo.
I did not want them to give us money! I want them to use their money on themselves. I think they live an intentionally modest life, but I also think their income is not that much. I also know that Arthur has been having some spells of confusion and I most of all would not want to take advantage of someone's memory problems.
I pulled Daisy aside and said, "We won't cash it, OK?"
She smiled and said, "Don't worry. It's OK."
I hope she's right.
And I wonder about how it is that some people - my mom, Arthur and Betty - have not very much but are generous with what they have and other people - Sly and Doris - have enough to buy lots of booze every week and pay for a maid and a gardener and invest $280,000 in a restaurant - but won't even consider telling Primo that they would like to see him and would send him a plane ticket if he would just come.