Monday, September 21, 2009

The Coat

Tim started his new job here. It is amazing how that worked out. During his last period of unemployment, he applied at the biggest employer in town. He tested there in January, and heard nothing from them. When he called to inquire, he was told that he had not passed the test if he had not received a letter. We were doubtful of this. Tim is a very smart man. He is not gifted in words, but he always scores off the charts in math. Always. So we wondered, but you cannot argue with the faceless autocracy of the biggest employer in town. Disappointed, we went about our business, and eventually Tim did find employment in Olean, NY, about an hour's drive from here. He has been there about 6 months, and word came down that they were laying off their night shift. Tim works second. He was sure to be 'bumped' (meaning that someone on third shift with more seniority than he has would take his job). I'd just lost my job, remember. We both looked at each other, squared our shoulders and forged on. What else are you going to do? You pray hard and continue on and wait to see what happens next. What happened next was at 8 AM, one morning, our phone rang and lo, it was the biggest employer in town offering Tim a job.

You know, it's one of those times. It's just one of those times. Scary as all get out, but you hold on tight, because things are working out in almost a miraculous way: the daughter your heart grieves over has a full time job for the first time in years. You pray for another child, "Please, please, Cara is so smart. She deserves her college, help us to be part of that possibility"...and then your child, your petite child gently coaxes a confession out of a rapist (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and is being considered for a program that would give her a free education for as long as she stays at that university. Things are just happening, good things, in the midst of all the uncertainty. When Tim got his phone call, we just stared at each other in amazement yet again. God is at work.

Anyway, where was I? This was supposed to be a post about a coat. Tim has a rain jacket, but it is his nice one, and he did not want to wear it to his job, so my mission yesterday was to go to the Goodwill, and find a rain jacket for work. I love the Goodwill, so off I went. I did find him a rain jacket, a black one, and even better, it was on sale for 29 cents. Most amazingly, I found a rain coat for myself. Now you've got to understand, the last thing that I need in this world is another raincoat. Tim bought me a jacket from Cabela's for work, and Stacey bought me another for my birthday. I've got rain coats. But this rain coat was a shock. It was the exact same coat that I had found at a thrift shop in Michigan years ago, when the children were young. The same color, everything. I held that coat and I remembered our big house, and hanging that coat in the closet right inside the big wooden front door with the little window that opened behind decorative grill work. I remembered the tall window next to the door, with the 5' foot diffenbachia in front of it. The ceramic tile down to the kitchen, the glass fronted cabinets. Just all these little details that I hadn't thought about in years. And once I was transported back to the setting, I began to picture my children as youngsters, and smile at the little memories. Shrugging on that coat to take them to school, or Trick or Treating, or to the Tridge, or the playground, or Dow Gardens, or the library. Really, I stood in the middle of a crowded Goodwill store, clutching those two coats lost in my own reverie. I had to have that coat. I just had to. When I saw that it had an orange tag and was only 29 cents, I bought that as well.

That coat has been hanging on a chair since yesterday. I keep marveling that I found it. I touch it and remember. I must confess. There have been tears, because not all that time was good, and I find myself wishing that I could have a 'do over', a chance to raise my children again, this time with a man at my side who was not ashamed of me, who loved our children so dearly that harming a hair on their head was incomprehensible to him. A chance for them to be raised by a wiser mother, one with a little more self esteem, maybe, one with a clearer understanding at how quickly those years would fly by. Would it have made a difference? I think of them all. They are good kids. I am lucky there. I am blessed. Despite everything, I've got good children, with good hearts. I bury my face in that raincoat and I begin to rain. Hard.


Roxanne said...

What a beautiful post, Debby. Refreshing, cleansing rain is good for the soul. Hugs and Blessings. xoxoxo

WhiteStone said...

Well, there's Roxanne! It seems many of the blogs I follow also follow many of the blogs that I follow. Read it again. LOL

In response, Debby, to your post...yes, I, too, (lotta commas there!) also wish I could do-over. I think I loved my daughter well. But I wish I knew then what I knew now about the terrible things that would happen in the time interval before she and I left home. But God is in control of all of that and He will use all of that in all our lives. And so we must leave them with Him and set aside the regrets except for the lessons we have learned. Hang on to the lessons.

Debby said...

Yep, WhiteStone, you'll find Roxanne here. We had a very nice conversation a few days ago. One of my 'treasured memories' of these days. Just like you are.

Nope. I cried, but you know, not all the memories were sad, so you grieve, and then once again, you accept, and you move on to the happier memories. That coat, that coat. It's a tangible link to a time that sometimes gets lost in a cloud of regrets. I'm hanging on to the lessons, just like you said, and my life is the better for them. But I'm also hanging on to that coat because when I hold it, the memories rush in vivid and real, and that surprises me. True story: I haven't even put it on yet.

Kelly said...

Ah, memories, memories. I've been swimming in them lately myself.

This is a beautiful post, Debby. God is so good.

Lydia said...

Thanks, Debbie. I appreciate you being able to say so many things that I feel. What a blessing.

And by the way, YEA! that Tim got the job!!!! I'm so glad for you both. It is wonderful to see the hand of God at work. He is really smart. ;}

Blessings to you!

quid said...

Debby - one of those marvelous posts that allows us to see inside the heart of the writer...with all that heart spread around the ordinary events of the day. The tale of "the coat" reminds me of one of my favorite songs... "This Shirt" by Mary Chapin Carpenter. Here it is:

This Shirt

This shirt is old and faded
All the color's washed away
I've had it now for more damn years
Than I can count anyway
I wear it beneath my jacket
With the collar turned up high
So old I should replace it
But I'm not about to try

This shirt's got silver buttons
And a place upon the sleeve
Where I used to set my heart up
Right there anyone could see
This shirt is the one I wore to every boring high school dance
Where the boys ignored the girls
And we all pretended to like the band

This shirt was a pillow for my head
On a train through Italy
This shirt was a blanket beneath the love
We made in Argeles
This shirt was lost for three whole days
In a town near Buffalo
'Till I found the locker key
In a downtown Trailways bus depot

This shirt was the one I lent you
And when you gave it back
There was a rip inside the sleeve
Where you rolled your cigarettes
It was the place I put my heart
Now look at where you put a tear
I forgave your thoughtlessness
But not the boy who put it there

This shirt was the place your cat
Decided to give birth to five
And we stayed up all night watching
And we wept when the last one died
This shirt is just an old faded piece of cotton
Shining like the memories
Inside those silver buttons

This shirt is a grand old relic
With a grand old history
I wear it now for Sunday chores
Cleaning house and raking leaves
I wear it beneath my jacket
With the collar turned up high
So old I should replace it
But I'm not about to try

Mikey said...

Awwww, that's so sweet! Don't you just LOVE Goodwill? Never know what's to be found there.
And did I miss something? Rapist confession? I KNOW I missed something there...

jkosborne said...

My husband and I had things happen to us like you described with the job and the coat...little coincidences that I think are not coincidences but GODincidences! So glad to hear about the job. Yeah!!
On the coat, it reminds me of something similar that happened to us. My daughter Leslie (who is 6) got really scared when I got diagnosed. My dad had a dream of me as a grandmother with a shawl around my shoulders reading a book to my grandchildren. I told my girls about it to encourage them and guess what? A few days later a woman gave me a shawl. Leslie wouldn't let go of it for days. She began to smile again. The woman who made it said she'd just been led to crochet it and give it to me. God is at work in your life. Look at these coincidences as hugs for your spirit. Praying for you.

Kerry Osborne

Donna said...

Debby, this really tugged at my heartstrings. A wonderful post. The coat, I could feel your flood of emotions. Coincidentally, on Sunday, I wished about a "do-over." If I could only be who I am today from the beginning instead of when they were 14 and 11. They weren't abused, but I was so unhappy with myself and in my marriage that it feels like I was oblivious to their needs and the things I should have been saying to them. I thought it for a while and you know what? Just like yours, they're great kids with great hearts. Maybe, just maybe, what I want to do-over, actually made them stronger, made them feel their hearts more, made them be better men, and one day, better parents.

If the end result is wonderful, who are we to argue? Some food for thought, anyway.

quid said...

This is what you said, Debby... all those words from the heart. And more from Donna. Inspiring.