JEN’S ZEN – Rich

Driving to school the other morning, we passed a new shop opening in Old Town Saginaw. 

The owner is a youngin’ of about 22, good friends with my little brother, venturing into business in a unique and somewhat lost trade. He is a cobbler, by definition: one who mends or makes boots and shoes. I’ve talked with him, heard his passion for working with leather, listened to what he hopes to achieve.

My ten-year-old, excited at driving by his new shop, said, “Is he going to be rich?”

Will he be Daddy Warbucks-rich, she was asking, MTV- and Hollywood-rich?

Rich …


I thought of a family at her school, a family lead by a husband-and-wife team of doctors who my children explain live in a mansion (though they say maaaaaansion). I’ve never been to their home, nor have my children – we are not close, though I gather enough about them, and their humility, that they would probably be embarrassed at their home being described as so. Yet, I thought of them, and the fact that they have left an extremely rich impression upon me…though not related to material wealth. 

At a birthday party recently, a man keeled over. As a worker exclaimed, “Call 911!” these two doctors left their daughter’s birthday party and went directly to the man…and saved his life. They brought a man who was dead – no pulse, not breathing – back to life

Actually, on a regular basis, they save lives, 

a richness that finances or luxury items rather pale in comparison to.

I thought of a husband and wife couple I know, who, too, live in a mansion. And while fancy cars, never-ending shopping sprees, and silver platters are certainly this wife’s way of life, she talked one day about her greatest fantasy. 

She pretends in her mind that while she’s doing the dishes,
her husband simply comes up behind her

and holds her, gives her a hug.

The emptiness, a loveless marriage – or perhaps worse, a one-sided marriage – is the truth she bears. That with all of her riches, she simply cannot buy…love. 

I thought of a young woman I saw, waiting in line at a bus stop in one of our recent sub-zero winter mornings. Reliant on public transportation, standing and freezing for lack of a vehicle, she could certainly be deemed poor. And yet, cuddled-in and zipped right inside of her coat, in the warmest place that mama could provide, was her baby. As I drove by, the woman was rocking back and forth, kissing her sweet bundle’s little hatted head, and I thought of how she held the very thing another woman I know has spent literally thousands to have, yet in vitro offers nothing but barrenness, time and again. 

I thought about a woman who writes a devastatingly truthful and beautiful blog, Mundane Faithfulness, whose recent post described the hospital bed arriving, signaling yet another corner she’s turned as she approaches death from cancer. This young wife and mother of four wrote two books, “the hardest peace” and “Big Love”. Yet, what she talks and writes about missing the most when she is gone…is hardly the royalties from her books, or the box she lives in, or her car. 

She is saying goodbye to the rich, rich life she is leaving, the downy heads of her small children, the warmth of rolling into her husband’s place in bed after he gets up to make their morning coffee. 

Rich is simply not black and white when you’re no longer 10.

I thought about…

“Mom!” My daughter was staring at me, her eyes imploring me to answer her question about the cobbler.

“Will he be rich?”

“It’s hard to say, babe. I don’t know the financial situation behind the cobbler trade, so if you mean rich in finances, I do not know. I doubt he’ll have paychecks like a brain surgeon or a lawyer, I suppose. But you know, going into business for himself in a trade he has chosen based on his passion, with a lifetime ahead of him to hone his trade, further his craft, continue his artistry…to show up daily to a business he’s built, spending his days doing something he loves…I’d say he certainly has a fair shot at being happy.”

“At being rich?”

“Yes, I suppose, at being … rich.”

"Because the damn dishes are never done. Laundry is a cruel joke. And because children are beautiful lessons in patience and counting. 10, 9, 8, 7 Breathe…"

Jen W. O'Deay