On My Own
Bev Vines-Haines



Back in ’81 when I was a single mother, my dreams had undergone the reality checks of abandonment, black eyes and poverty.   I faced a clear dilemma.  I’d grown up in a home where there was a ‘no tolerance’ policy with welfare.  I remember sitting at my family’s old wooden dinette table while my father preached the horrors of government intervention.  “If I ever lose my job,” he’d say, stabbing the air with his fork, “we will never go on the dole.  If the choice comes down to welfare or starvation, prepare to starve.” 

But I was suddenly alone with two little girls in a rundown house with a dirt back yard.  So I got a shovel and a wheel barrow and put those girls to work.  Took us a week to turn a 20’ X 40’ patch of thin grass into something that looked like a garden. 

We went together to buy the seeds.  The girls loved the pictures on the packets.  We were striving for perfection, fully expecting our corn, radishes and lettuce to pop up quickly, ready for consumption, looking exactly like those illustrations.

We learned to weed and pick.  We even learned to preserve.  We got seven plump laying hens.  I wanted a pig but couldn’t afford a pen.  Looking back I’m pretty sure those girls think of those times as me stabbing the air with my shovel and yelling, “No welfare.” Me?  I’m just kind of proud.

First published: May 2018
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