My days were filled with taking care of the house and children, and still trying to be a perfect preacher’s wife. That was my identity.
One day, Ray, (my husband at the time) came home talking excitedly. There was a new concept in health care, called Medi-Centers. He had read about them in a magazine.
I failed to understand why Ray even cared about this, let alone be so animated. He informed me he was going to write and see if they had any new ones being built. He was leaving the ministry. He wanted to become an administrator of one.
He was giving up preaching! It was up to me to deal with it…no questions asked.
Events occurred rapidly and soon Ray was being flown to Memphis for training. I was left at home to pack. Groceries were purchased before he left…and I was told to “make do” until he returned in two weeks.
I ran out of food…and had no idea how to get more. My neighbor, Peggy, worked in a bank. Even though I had been told to have no contact with her (she was divorced) I was desperate.
I called her. “Peggy, this is very embarrassing for me, but Ray didn’t leave me with enough groceries to last until he comes back. Could I possibly borrow enough money to at least buy some hamburger and milk?”
I was shocked when her answer was an immediate “No”. It had been so very hard to ask. Now what would I do?
“Do you have a joint checking account?”
“I don’t know.”
“Just a minute and I’ll check”. Silence on the other end of the phone. I wasn’t sure what she was talking about.
“Yes, you do have a joint checking account. That means you have access to your own money”.
“But Ray told me he had used it all to buy me the groceries before he left”.
“Do you know how to check on your balance?”
“Do you know your account number?”
“Write these numbers down” and she proceeded to give me my account number. “Now I am going to transfer you to someone else. Tell them your account number and ask them what the balance is in that account.”
As I puzzled over what she had said, another voice came on asking if they could help me. I followed Peggy’s instructions. The voice told me there were several hundred dollars in that account. I said, “Thank you” and hung up.
Now what was I supposed to do? I pondered for quite some time. Then I called the number Ray had left with me in case of emergency. I explained everything I had done. What did he want me to do? Could I use a little of that money to buy some groceries?
After telling me off for involving Peggy, he said I could spend $25 of it, but no more. I thanked him profusely and hung up. I wouldn’t have to borrow after all.
The phone rang. It was Peggy. “What did you find out? Do you have any money in your account?”
I told her what I had done, including the phone call to Ray. She was furious with me…ordered me to stay put…she would be right there.
I was totally confused. Why had Ray said we had no money, when we did? Why was Peggy leaving her job in the middle of the day to come to my house? And why was she so mad?
Within minutes, she was at my door. She took me by the hand and led me to the couch. She told me I didn’t need Ray’s approval to spend our money to buy groceries for our children.
My responses seemed to irritate her. She got up and paced as she talked. Soon tears were streaming down her face. Her voice rose and fell as I listened…fascinated by the picture she was painting of a world different from the one I lived in…one where a wife was an equal…had a voice in decisions…and made choices too.
She knelt in front of me.
“Let’s go buy the groceries you need, and then let’s go shopping. Maybe you could spend it all on hats! We’ll go in every store.”
I could never do that. Maybe Ray needed that money for something else.
Her shoulders fell. I saw such sadness in her eyes…sadness I didn’t understand. “O.K.,” she said, “let’s go to the bank and then go buy your groceries”.
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