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.