Several weeks before moving day, my father-in-law painted the interior of the house and did some minor repairs. At my request, he measured all the rooms and sent me the dimensions. I took graph paper and mapped out the bedroom and office, the only two actual rooms that would allow for furniture.
I made little cutouts to scale of the furniture that would fit into the tiny spaces in the little house. With much rearranging, I could shoehorn the two beds with a bedside table between them, my sewing machine and an easy chair in the bedroom. My little office would hold a bookcase, one of my two filing cabinets and DH’s desk. The postage-stamp size enclosed front porch would house the étagère and a wicker chair. The other rooms were the kitchen and bathroom. There was precious little storage in the kitchen so my father-in-law had moved in a utility cabinet. My dining table would take up most of the rest of the space. I had my own refrigerator but no range. A cousin found a usable kitchen stove at the dump. The oven door had to be slammed shut to stay closed but it worked.
With our big black cat in the animal carrier and Kat the Dog in the back seat, DD and I headed out for our new home. Not long after we got there, the movers arrived and started unloading. I specified what was to go to our little house and my in-laws had made room for the rest either in their house or in a storage shed next to the garage. The piano and organ were to go in their living room. At least they would be close by and I’d be able to play them whenever I wanted.
My FIL was 84 but he was carrying boxes right along with the rest of them. The men were amazed. That pleased him and my MIL.
I had it a lot easier than usual with our waterbeds. The movers set them up and that was when we found a problem. I hadn’t allowed for the bookcase headboard when I’d measured. It would have to go. Someone got a saw and took the ends off the frame that held it up. The bookcase went beside it along the wall. We could walk through but it was a tight squeeze. It was totally different from the house we’d left behind.
With everything unloaded and where it was supposed to be, the movers left us to our unpacking. Many of my “treasures” had to be stored away.
My mother had sold her home she’d held onto for most of my life. It was a mere three miles away from where we were living now. She and DS2 moved to North Carolina into a small but (to me) spacious doublewide. It was strange to pass by the house I’d lived in for so long and not pull into the driveway. Life had changed in many ways.
DS1 was still living close to the university campus but he’d had to give up on attending classes there. Reality had set in. He was allowed to stay with the men’s chorus and he toured with them as often as he could. We weren’t the only ones affected by circumstances beyond our control.
Food was a necessity but my FIL’s garden was in full swing. We had green beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers—you name the vegetable, my FIL grew it. He had grape vines galore and a raspberry thicket big enough to supply the county. I’d be in hog heaven now but, at that time, we had other needs as well. My MIL took DD and me to the supermarket. While she shopped, we trailed along behind. My store of cash had long since dwindled to practically nothing. She encouraged me to put what I wanted into the cart and I finally relented enough to get some things for DD’s school lunch. It was frustrating and embarrassing.
My plans to homeschool DD had to be discarded. My in-laws had made it understood they would pay the first year’s tuition so she could attend the school operated by their church in the valley. Transportation would be no problem since the teacher lived past us on the mountain.
After a few more trips to the supermarket, it was obvious I couldn’t handle my MIL paying for our food. I made an appointment with the local Department of Human Services, put on my nicest clothes, swallowed my pride and went in to apply for food stamps. With my situation, DD and I qualified for over $100 a month. I felt like I’d won the lottery! We went shopping and stocked up on what we thought we needed. It was so nice not to trail along and want without being able to satisfy.
Next order of business was to find a job. I went to the Employment Office and signed up. They sent me on several interviews but nothing panned out. I decided to go out on my own and made the rounds of the industries in the hope that I’d find something. Some places, like McDonald’s, I’d pray before I’d go in, “Dear Lord, please don’t let this be the place I’m supposed to work!” He always answered that with an “Okay, Tommie.” That wasn’t where I was to shine.
My FIL needed to have cataract surgery. I was his designated driver and mouthpiece. Later on, he would tell people it was an answer to HIS prayer that I was available. Everything was falling into place.
In October, I finally landed a job at a manufacturing plant. It was one of the primary employers in the area and I felt fortunate to get a job there. I was put on a line making ice crushers and was soon making production. When that run was finished, I was moved into molding and then to boxing up blenders. That last job left me with shredded skin on my hands and arms the first day. A nice lady showed me how to cut the ends out of tube socks to protect myself.
There was a store connected to the plant that gave discounts to employees. I did early Christmas shopping and felt so blessed!
Not many weeks later, the group I’d been hired with and I were called into the office and told we were being laid off. A $2,000,000 contract had been lost and the plant would eventually close. We were the first to go.
It was back to pounding the pavement. What did God have planned for me?