Things Aren’t Always What They Seem… (Part 1)

I’m wondering if I should alter my blog title, as it seems that I am almost unable to move past my ever-increasing fascination with our country’s first President. The more I learn about him, the more I want to learn! So…I apologize if my repeated articles on George Washington are making some people wish I’d move on! But, be warned, I may be standing on the corner of George Washington Avenue and Revolutionary War Boulevard for awhile….the view is riveting.

I love hearing, or reading, about triumphs against all odds. Who doesn’t? We all have come from and through some kind of deprivation or hardship, if we aren’t in it right now as well! A mistake, though, is believing that you can’t achieve your goal because of what you haven’t had, what you don’t have now, or who you think you aren’t and can’t become.

Some years back, I had a friend named Debbie, a divorced single mom who held down a full-time job as a maintenance (wo)man at an apartment complex for seniors. Most of the time, her garb was clunky work boots and a drab work shirt and pants. She saw herself as drab. Her life, in her opinion, was all about responsibility: her job and caring for three pre-teens. She didn’t see how any man could find her attractive. She was single, but she wanted to be married. She rented a townhouse, but she wanted a real house. She had to work, but she wanted to stay home.

I told her that it was in fact those very qualities and conditions in her life that the right man would find admirable in her, and attract him to her.

A year or so later, the man she married was a divorced father of three! Their wedding ceremony (I was in it) was lovely, outdoors in a small field near a brook. The bride and her maid-of-honor (that would be me) arrived there in an open, horse-drawn carriage. Which was awesome. And she moved into her husband’s almost new home in a back-woodsy area, which was just as awesome. (I know, because I visited.) And, she stopped working!

So I guess I don’t need to point out the moral of this story?

But I digress…

The first President of the United States came from a disadvantaged background. He was fatherless by age eleven. Though he had two older half-brothers, they were out on their own by then. Young George was the eldest of the five children still at home, and as a result of that, he became, in a sense, the male head of the household. Not a delightful, carefree way to finish growing up! By all accounts that I’ve read, his mother was a strict, commanding woman, so it seems that George would have had to dot his i‘s and cross his t‘s. Her possessive nature demanded her son’s presence and attention constantly. Again, not so carefree. (Even as President, according to author James Thomas Flexner in Washington: the Indispensable Man, his mother complained “violently” that her son was ungrateful, neglecting his “duties” to her!) (Sometimes, you just can’t win!)

With his father’s death came the loss of any chance for a good English education. Any extra funds were needed for regular household expenses. As for an inheritance…too little, too late. After his previously mentioned brothers had received their portions, only an insignificant amount of land and slaves was left for this third son. Not enough to matter.

No father, no ‘college fund’, no inheritance waiting, not much money, four (probably whining !) siblings underfoot…against the backdrop of a difficult mother who held the reins tightly. The divine School of Hard Knocks was in session for young George Washington.!

Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you’ll return for the second half of “Things Aren’t Always What They Seem”.



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