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In Times of Trouble...

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be. There will be an answer, let it be. I awoke at 4:00 a.m. the other day to Paul McCartney’s gentle voice singing that in my head, and I cried.

I had been harboring intermittent anger and sadness for a month, ever since my son received notice that his job at a large, family-owned local oil company was being terminated as a result of a mammoth and swift corporate takeover. It was his fourth job in four years to be eliminated through corporate decision, fallout or closure. He is 22 years old. My encouraging responses of “This is happening for a reason, the Universe has a better plan, that means better things are on the horizon,” sounded lame even to me, losing meaning with repetition. Each time they came true, but now it was happening again. He lost his health insurance. When he tried to apply for unemployment benefits, a phone system failure prevented him from obtaining a pin number, so he went in person to the office where a woman apologetically told him she is helpless to start his application without the number. He called me and pleaded, “Mom, I just want to work.” I know. He hasn’t stopped moving since he was two years old and discovered his mechanical skills and passion when he was three. He has a strong work ethic, starting on a farm shoveling manure and stacking wood when he was fifteen and has been working and honing his mechanical aptitude since. He blows the millennial stereotype right out of the water. His managers all love him, yet they are powerless. So I keep on digging deep into my cheerleader phrase basket.

Meanwhile, until I heard the song, my inner voice was screaming, “What are we doing to our kids?” That thought was uncharacteristic for me, and it gained volume as I drove around town watching the takeover happen before my eyes as every day another gas station in the neighborhood changed to the takeover corporation. All I could think of was how many other people lost work, too. I heard the voice again when my son told me his company kept half of his promised severance. When he called to report the error, the phone lines to human resources had already been disconnected. His former boss is helping, bless him. I understand that high on the list of life’s greatest traumas is the loss of a job. I experienced that once in 33 years. He’s experienced it four times in four years.

My heart aches for my son and his girlfriend who are working so hard to get ahead. I remind myself of Mark Twain’s quote that I often shared with my kids when they were young and complained that life was unfair. “The world owes you nothing, the world was here first.” Then I heard my mother’s voice, “As long as you have your brains and use the talents God gave you, you will never starve.” Let it be. I sit on that for a bit, growing calmer. I will miss the photos of the sunrises and wildlife finds he would text me from the field when he was working, because he knows and shares my love for nature. Hawks, baby bunnies, snakes, turkeys, geese. He will miss the work that he loved doing. Most of all he will miss the daily contact with his small team of buddies and his boss who took him under their wings and treated him like family.

My son calls to tell me he learned that the remaining workers are being moved to a swing shift schedule. His Dad worked that, and my son remembers the toll it took on his body, mental state and family life, so he said he never would’ve stayed. There will be an answer and there it was. All will be well. The corporation will go on thriving without my son. Meanwhile, I remind him that as low man on the totem pole, he held up all those above him, and eventually it will collapse. I free myself from his lamenting and frustration to take my rightful place in his support army…lending resume help, answering job search questions and making word of mouth connections. He has brains, work ethic, talents, skills and one more year of work experience under his belt. Best of all he has his own angels looking out for him ready to show him the next better step on his journey.

I rephrase the question. “What are we able to do for our kids?” Support them, love them, encourage them and deliver words of wisdom.

Let it be.


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