Kaieteur News – A grieving mother who had just lost her son related to reporters what a good boy he was. According to the mom, the lad worked for $5,500 per week. Each week he would only keep $500 for himself and give her the rest.
Upon reading this, it struck me that long ago, your first pay envelope would usually go to your mother who would determine what you got as spending money.
It was a sign of respect then for sons who had just started to work to give their salaries at the end of each week to their mother. This would usually continue until the son was ready to get married or leave the home.
But once under the roof of “Ma,” a working son would be obligated to hand over his entire salary to his mother.
Over the years, this tradition began to be watered down. Eventually, it became a custom that only your first salary should be handed over to your mother. I was never comfortable with this practice but out of respect for the wisdom of my elders, I too followed suit and when I began to work, I handed over my first pay envelope to my mom.
She took out something and gave me the rest. I said to myself that from the second week, I would not hand over the entire pay package but would instead give her just what she had taken out, assuming this to be for my board and lodge. I felt that by handing over my first pay envelope, I had fulfilled the custom in those days.
The second week came and I was paid. As a responsible and obedient child, I carefully counted out what was for Ma and pocketed the rest.
Instead of going home, I decided to have a binge with the “boys” at the corner shop. We drank a lot that day but I made certain that the money for my mother was safe and secure.
When I went home, half-drunk, my food was waiting for me as usual on the table. I then took out the money and gave it to my mother. She counted it, looked at me, counted it again, and then asked, “What happen son, they short pay you this week?”
I explained in the best way I could that the money she had was for her and that I had the rest. I did not mention that a quarter of it had already been spent at the corner shop drinking rum. My mother gave an understanding nod and went about her way.
For years, I continued this practice of each week, taking out my contribution to the home and giving it to my mother. She always willingly accepted it without fuss. Whenever I got an increase in my salary or worked overtime, I would usually increase my contribution.
Also, on special occasions, I would ensure that my mother would get something extra. In those days, it was not unusual for us to give our parents money for their birthday, anniversary or at Christmas. I thought I was being a good boy.
This practice continued for years until the stunning Mrs. Tom walked into my life and I told myself that I had to get married. The plans were put in stream. Then days before my wedding, I went to give my mother the usual contribution to the home.
She held my hands and said, “No more, son! You will soon have a wife and the money has to go to her.” Then she did something that I will never forget. She took out a bankbook and gave it to me.
Puzzled, I opened it and when I saw the balance, I nearly dropped dead. With that sum, I could buy a house. I turned to her and asked why she was giving me the book.
She quietly and without much of a fuss said, “It is yours!”
“Mine?” I queried. “How is that so?”
“It is yours!” she said
“But mom! I cannot take your money. You have done enough for me all these years. I cannot accept all this money in your bankbook,” I told her.
“The bankbook may be in my name, son. But the money is all yours,” she said
I was puzzled. “What do you mean that the money is all mine?” I asked.
“Do you remember the money you used to give me each week from when you started working? It is all there.”
My mother had saved every single cent that I had given her all those years. She had saved it for me.
She never touched it. She never complained after that first payday about how I was no longer handing over my full salary to her. She never muttered a word of protest. All those years she was saving for me what I thought was my contribution to the home.
That day when my mother gave me that bankbook, I learnt a lesson in life. I had thought all along that I was my own “big man.”
I hate to see good traditions go down the drain. I hate to see young people feeling that they should be able to control their own finances when they begin working. I wonder just how much of the younger generation hand over their earnings to their mothers when the month comes.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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