Thursday, December 1, 2011

What Money DOES Buy

"There is only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor. The poor can think of nothing else."
~Oscar Wilde~

I don't have a lot of time to write because we're finishing up loading the truck and cleaning the house. Leaving New Hampshire is heart-wrenching even though we're going back to Cape Cod, my favorite place on earth.

One thought has been consuming me as I've been studying the lives of Thomas and Hannah Earles' children. I'll get back to studying more about Miles Earles, the next in line of their 11 children to get a story. But, for now, an observation:

Some say money is the root of all evil.
Some say money can't buy happiness.

I say money is whatever you think it is until you don't have any. And then you know how important it is to keep you housed, clothed and fed, and give you hope for an education of any kind.

Money buys you freedom from discomfort. 

The Earles children, so far without exception, worked very hard to provide for their families. The boys all married younger women late in life and died relatively young. From what I can see so far, their families were left fatherless but comfortable. The widows never list an occupation on any census record. And unless she moved to be with family, she stayed in the same house that she'd lived in before her husband died.

Bits and pieces of family stories are starting to make sense as the puzzle pieces are put into place. I remember talking to my dad about his mother Evelyn and some mine she owned with her sister, Elizabeth. Now I read about Michael and Miles both being involved in mining (as well as lumber) and wonder if when Evelyn's father Michael died her uncle Miles provided for the family by investing in the mine for his nieces' sake.

I'm seeing patterns, comforting ones, of how families, at least this one, took care of each other. There seems to be a calmness as I study their lives. I see how they lived, what they did, and what was going on in their lives when they died. But as traumatic as a death is and the upheaval and temporary chaos it can create, there still seems to be peace in this family. There's a palpable "flow" to their lives.

My conclusion? 

Money bought part of that for them. 

When I catch myself wondering if that's true I think back on times in my life that money would have smoothed the way for grief to be "enjoyed" fully. 

Money is symbolic, of course. Today it feels like there was a perfect balance between men living their passions and providing for their families' comfort while living and after they passed. 

Just something to think about while driving home!


  1. My grandmother always said "Your health is your wealth." I say, If all things are equal, with money is better.

  2. Hi Betsy! Happy Moving Day!
    I know what you mean when you say "There seems to be a calmness" in the families of the past.They did seem to flow more, accept circumstances and move on. I wonder if it was because they were closer knit families? I love that old wisdom that says Life Goes On.
    Hope its' a nice drive!

  3. Moving out, huh? Cape Cod sounds like a good place too. I've been there once in the off-season but we still had a good time.

    Back in the day, it seemed like families knew how to do whatever it took to make it happen for them. A lot of times it wasn't easy and they had to do it themselves, but they were strong like that. At least that is how I know it was in my immediate family; there certainly were not a lot of luxuries from what I could see.

    Good luck on the move and see you soon, right?

  4. I've never been to Cape Cod, but it sure looks like a great place to live. Best of luck to ya with the moving though.

    Tom Brokaw was being interviewed on a local radio station today and he was talking about the values of the past. A lot of what he said had to do with contributing or playing a part, esp with the WWII generation, but there was discussion about money. I guess there was less of a focus on accumulating it and more on just making due and moving on with life. Earning so your family would be better off and your kids would do better than you. Anyway interesting discussion about how dramatically things have shifted, especially in the wake of this worldwide economic crisis.

  5. Thanks Lori. We're here . I kept wondering about how hard/easy it was for our ancestor to move. Coming home has felt so good. I'm very independent and still got pretty emotional when I looked around town and realized that there really is nothing like family. But I don't think we're as close as we could be if we put forth more effort.

  6. Claudia,
    These days I'm seeing how valuable our health is! But the lack of money does wear on a person's health, too.Never mind their frame of mind. Right? I agree with you 100%!

  7. Hey Bill!
    Moving is the worst! I thought I might just attempt one post before the Internet was turned off. Just got back on mid-morning.
    I think we've all become a bit spoiled AND overwhelmed by our stuff! I got rid of so much and still couldn't believe how much we believed we needed to keep. And THEN my friends and family are bringing MORE stuff over when we just moved in!
    And I don't think they knew just how strong they were. We went a few weeks w/o a washing machine while it was being fixed. With 9 children at home it got too expensive to go to the laundromat and too burdensome to ask friends and family after a while. So we did them by hand. That was hard. But they got cleaner than by machine!LOL!

  8. We may be be a bit prejudiced. I don't know. But my husband has known a lot of Irish immigrants and says he has never seen a harder working group of people (in general). And the Earles were Irish. I really wonder sometimes about how they felt about the balance we are so concerned about with work and family. Was it even an issue like it is now?

  9. Betsy, this was such a reflective post! I really like Bill's comment about how: "families knew how to do whatever it took to make it happen for them." I see that often here in Peru. Yes, people complain that they don't have enough money, but at the same time, they seem to always make ends meet somehow.

    What brought on this move, by the way?! =) I'm moving to the coast next March and am anxious about it!

  10. Money may not buy happiness but it certainly provides opportunities to find peace of mind.

  11. Exactly what I was going for Jack. Thanks!

  12. Samantha,
    I have a few friends who have very strong families. They come from Bolivia and just take care of each other. I watch them and how there is a peace about them. It's something I aspire to recreating. It's hard when it's not part of your culture anymore. There's a certain mindset of cooperation that needs to be bought into. No? I wonder...
    We were renting and the house was sold. We tried to stay where the job is, but no luck. So we came home and my husband commutes to NH every day. Fun! Which coast are you moving to?

  13. Bolivians are a great example! They are one of the poorest and therefore humblest countries in Latin America, and family values are still very strong (as I hear), just like here in the Andes. I think it's definitely tough to take on the mindset having grown up with other habits, but I think we can, and for me, I think it helps that I live here. =)

    Bummer about commuting, but that must be so exciting about the move! We're moving to the Peruvian coast on the Pacific, 8 hours north of Lima! Should be exciting to be only 10 minutes away from the beach! =)

  14. desperation, a yarn to match. I scurried down to my local yarn store and it was there that it was suggested to me that I try a Sirdar yarn called 'Snuggly Bubbly' Silmukkamerkit


What do you think? I'd love to know.