My neighbor’s 50-something son has been without a job for more than three years.
The company he worked for for 20 years downsized, and he was laid off. For at least the first year, he lived with the hope that he might get called back to work. That never happened.
Fortunately, his wife worked part time, and her salary, along with his unemployment check, kept the family afloat.
Then, about the time he lost his unemployment benefits, his son joined the Marines.
The neighbor’s son and his wife exhausted their savings and became concerned about losing their home. When they had an opportunity to rent out their house, they took it and moved in with his parents.
He spends several days a week job hunting and filling out applications, but so far he hasn’t had any luck.
As might be imagined, the first few months of the family's cohabitation were not easy. The loss of individual privacy was difficult for everybody.
When an incident occurred to one of the son’s friends, the family decided to look more closely at their own lives.
The son's friend was suddenly laid off. Before the friend had time to get his bearings, his wife took off with the kids and announced that she was getting a divorce.
This development hit my neighbor and her husband hard. For the next month, they hardly thought or talked about anything else.
More than anything, the situation made them realize how fortunate they were to have maintained their family. Without a lot of discussion, both husband and wife made the decision, for better or worse, to do everything within their power to make their household work.
First, they decided they needed more living space so they would not be constantly in each other’s way. They agreed to remodel the basement into an apartment.
Because neither the father nor the son were particularly handy with hammer and nails, the daughter-in-law — a part-time librarian — used her research skills to find free classes at a junior college and elsewhere so the two men could acquire construction skills.
Working together on a family project not only eased the family’s tension, but each member gained a greater respect and appreciation for each other.
During days of stress and hazardous economic times, these kind of stories make for the good medicine that heals wounded spirits.
Personally, I have found that some people are far more temperamentally suited than I am to live in a country divided by politics, religion, culture and race. I thought we had finally learned that we can live in a state of mutual respect, even if we don't like one another.
We have the kind of serious problems in America that require collaboration. People operating in little splinter groups that seek to divide and conquer will not feel good when they realize they might be left hanging on a limb by themselves.
More than likely, they are going to find that these "haters" talk a better war than they are able to wage.
Timing is everything. There is a time to reduce spending and a time to feed those who are hungry. There is a time to speak and a time to remain silent.
There is a time to stand firm and a time to compromise. And it takes a lot of years of living, lots of love, lots of faith and a lot of courage to persevere until the time is right for doing what needs to be done.
But first you have to grow up and put away childish things. Only then are you free to behave as an adult.
You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or sending her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.