Paul is coming home early, perhaps tomorrow. (Yeah! for me) He’s trying to get home on standby. The fishing was incredibly bad. Paul said that he couldn’t have known, but still … it must be hard. He took a chance.
It just didn’t pan out.
I thought of my husband out there working on a 34-foot boat with two other guys, eating Ritz crackers and cheese out of a can, learning how to tie knots, and being poked fun at because he’s the newbie, and shoving fish below, and shoving fish into the ice, and showering once a week or so, and pooping in a bucket, weathering the wind and the rain and the sub-40 degree weather in the middle of summer…
all with a master’s degree. He’s 39. He said,
It’s really humbling to get out there and look around you and see all these 19 year olds who have just as much experience as I do.
Bravo to him for being brave and doing all sorts of things to support his family. He’s dug ditches and felt the judgment behind people’s eyes as they pass by him:
What’s a guy his age doing here — digging ditches? Drugs, perhaps? Drinking? Hmmm.
He’s done some construction jobs. That’s what he did 14 years ago, the summer after he graduated from the university. He got offered the foreman job from the contractor, but he was happy to say that he had secured a far better job, teaching. A job with benefits and a salary … a career.
Now, he’s back to the beginning, thankful for the offer of a foreman job.
He’s subbed for teachers with less experience. He’s drummed up interest and taught art classes for kids.
He’s taken unemployment until he got pissed off at it and swore it off.
He’s traveled three hours away for work, lived in a tent trailer parked in someone’s barn for days at time, endured the moniker of ‘barn boy’ (though lovingly said), ate leftover meals I packed, and brought home all the money to his woman and his girls.
What a man.
And he’s not the only one. I just found a website that tells other people’s stories of how they’re surviving unemployment: downbutnotoutletters.tumblr.com. There’s a lot of good men and women out there, doing all they can for their families. They’re being creative and fighting hard. I love to hear about those who stick together, those who draw closer during these hard times.
Sometimes, Paul will say something like,
I can’t believe you haven’t left me, yet.
I think, why would I leave you? I married you, not your job or your ability to get one or to make money or any of those things. I married the man who pretended to catch a fish when the river ran through our tent.
But the weight of unemployment must weigh on him heavily for him to say such things. Perhaps he needs reassurance. I plan to reassure him with everything I got.
I have another Arent We Lucky! statement for Maria Von Trapp:
If we hadn’t lost our jobs, I couldn’t have known to what extent my husband would go to take care of us or how deep our love goes.
My grandparents will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary at the end of July. I try to picture Paul and me, married for 65 years. When I put my wrinkled hand in his, and he grips mine with that familiar little squeeze he always gives me, we’ll look at each other and smile. That little smile that passes between us will hold all the sacrifices we’ve made for one another, all the fights we got through, all the times we made up, all the struggles we overcame, all the dreams obtained and dreams lost, all the chances missed and chances taken, all the children raised, all the aches and pains, the sicknesses and health, the afternoon delights, the meals eaten, the dishes done and dishes left, the car rides, the vacations, the laughter, the tears, the dances, the lessons learned, the prayers prayed, the labors, the vanities, …
and this time of unemployment, when covered in love, will be glorified and sanctified, and take its proper place as one more way to say,
I love you.