I didn’t think to ask Sal yesterday how she knows I’m so lucky. I’d love her, if she revisits, to tell me – in fact, please, anyone who reads this, am I lucky and why? Or do you perceive me as privileged, and is that the same thing?
I was chatting to a friend yesterday. She and her husband were farmers; they had inherited a small family farm. Sadly, the double blow of swine fever and foot and mouth disease in the country, though not on their farm, left them bankrupt and they lost the farm.
He got a job, but died suddenly last year leaving her widowed with three teenage daughters.
I found out in conversation last night that she suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, which first flared up in pregnancy, and left her nearly crippled for a time, with three infants.
“I’m so lucky though,” she said. “My family have always been so supportive, and the girls have been wonderful in this past year.”
I know a family in the village: there are four children, all of whom have learning difficulties, one with severe mental and some physical disabilities. They have a reputation, the children, as being a bit thick with short fuses (I report this reputation, I do not say I subscribe to it). But I admire this family more than almost anyone I know. Both parents have jobs, taken on at a time when they could have received about as much in benefits as they earned; they have worked incredibly hard and after about 20 years of marriage, you can see the affection they still have for each other. As a family, they all pull together and are protective of each other. The oldest girl is at college, and has nearly a 12-hour day, getting there and back on foot and by bus. They buy loads of fresh, cheap vegetables, so evidently eat as well as they can. I think they would call themselves lucky too, but to an outsider they would seem to have laboured under adversity.