Saturday, February 6, 2010

Mama's OCPF

There have been a few times when we've received money that we didn't expect -- $30 in the pocket of a pair of pants we'd purchased at a thrift store, a refund from an overpayment, a birthday check. We've had considerably more change in our wallets since the library dropped its fee for overdue books. One quarter in college I went in to pay my tuition, only to find that someone else already had! I never did find out who. From time to time I check the Washington State Department of Revenue website to see if anyone I know has any unclaimed funds. Today I found my brother, but, alas, not myself.

As a mother of five little kids, my mom didn't have a lot of discretionary funds. But she did have a savings plan. She called it her OCPF (Old Coat Pocket Fund). Whenever she'd end up with a little bit of money -- maybe a few dollars left over after paying for two full carts of groceries, or an honorarium from speaking at a women's luncheon, or a little babysitting money -- she'd take it to her bedroom and stuff it in the pocket of an old coat hanging in her closet. Then she'd forget about it. As far as I know, she didn't keep track of how much was in that pocket and would, for months at a time, even forget she had such a system.

Then one day an extraordinary need would arise. Maybe two or three kids all needed shoes at the same time, or there was an opportunity for one of us to go on a school trip. We'd bring the need to our parents and suddenly Mom's face would light up. She'd disappear and when she'd return she'd have a few dollars in her hand, usually just the amount that was needed. Her OCPF paid for lots of short family trips, like our Why-Not days (that's for another blog) or a night in a motel at Mt Rainier. Her Old Coat Pocket Fund got us through emergencies and bought us a lot of family fun.

I've checked the pockets of my old coats. What a shame -- all they have is holes.

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