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Keep key to happiness in your own pocket
Senior Moments
Rich DeLong is the executive director of Station Exchange Senior Care. - photo by File photo

Over the past couple months we have been taking bags and bags of clothes to Goodwill. Shopping for new clothes has obviously caught up with our available closet space.

I’ve never been one to throw away old clothes, let alone get rid of an item that I deem wearable. Clothes were hard to come by when I was a kid. Having no brothers, mom was always on the lookout for a good bargain. And if a neighbor came by with some extra hand-me-downs, you can bet they landed in my dresser drawer.

Mom was also a good seamstress – no, make that a great seamstress. She could fire up the old Singer in no time and stitch just about anything. Jeans, shirts, slacks, socks – they were no match for Mary.

Mom was also great at getting the most out of, well, just about anything. Pants didn’t wear out, they became defective. Mom could test the patience of the best salesman until he agreed that maybe the slacks were lacking some integrity, and the next thing you know, we were walking out of the store with a brand new pair – at no additional cost mind you.

Mom loved shopping with the L.L. Bean catalogue. Stuff that came from L.L. Bean was guaranteed for life. I had a pair of deck shoes that had certainly aged over the past six years that I had worn them.

Mom asked one day, "Whatever happened to those shoes I bought you from L.L. Bean"?

I told her they had become worn. She asked to see them and the next day they were in a package on their way to Freeport, Maine.

Less than two weeks later, I had a brand new pair. Even Cinderella knows a free pair of shoes can change your life.

A few months ago, I was looking at some old photographs with mom and it was quite amusing to see the different styles of clothes and hats from that era. I remarked how dad must have had some of those shirts he wore for 20 years or more.

"We didn’t have a lot of money back then," Mom said. "But we always had food in the refrigerator and smiles on our faces."

Today, Feb. 8, is the birthday of our oldest daughter, Kaitlyn. Twenty-six years ago, this little bundle of joy came into the world and our lives have never been the same since – well almost.

While looking at a picture of me holding her in the hospital, I noticed that I still have the belt I was wearing the day she was born. Wow!

I do have to mention that it is an adjustable belt.

They say that over time you become your parents. A closer look into my closet revealed sports coats, neck ties, a sweat suit and a few sweaters ranging anywhere from 15 to 30 years old. The sweat suit even had a tag that read, "L.L. Bean."

Obviously, this was a Christmas present from my mom. And sure enough, we came across a picture from Christmas 2003, and there was the sweat suit.

There’s much to be said about living a frugal life. In a world where new is king and old is not, I’m proud to continue and carry on what my mom taught me so many years ago – don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.

Stay thrifty my friends. And happy birthday, Kaitlyn!

 Contact him at 912-531-7867 or

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