Once again, it was back to the employment office. One of my former clients at the beauty shop worked there. It didn’t really give me an edge but it helped to know I had friends in important places. I registered with the appropriate representative and hoped for the best. In addition to that, I prayed a lot.
After DD would leave for school in the morning, I’d set out on my rounds of the manufacturers and other businesses. I got to be on a first name basis with some of the receptionists. I camped on the doorsteps but nothing was happening.
Thanksgiving came and went with buying food from the supermarket and paying for it with food stamps. Christmas was the same. Fortunately, I had most of my Christmas presents bought early, thanks to shopping in the employee store at the plant before I got laid off.
We decorated the ornamental fig tree and celebrated the first Christmas without DH. Merry Christmas? We tried.
In January, my brother-in-law lost his battle against bone cancer. He’d been waging it for a long time. I got ready to go to North Carolina for the funeral. DD decided to stay with Grandman and Grandpa. She didn’t “do” funerals. DH’s aunt gave me $40 to help get me across the mountains and back. I felt like I had been handed a fortune.
Not long after arriving at my mother’s house (she and DS2 were living just down the driveway from my recently widowed sister), it began to snow. It snowed on and on for hours. The snow was heavy and wet, bringing down trees and power lines. We were without electricity and with no electricity there was no heat and no water from the well. What a blessing it was to move to my sister’s place where there was warmth from the wood heater on the hearth in the family room. Mother and I shared the hide-a-bed that night after we sat around in candlelight telling stories.
The funeral had to be postponed and I was pressed into service as organist if the official one couldn’t make it. DD was disappointed she’d decided against the trip. She wanted SNOW!
Buckets of melted-snow-on-the-stove later, the power came back on. Life got back to some sort of normalcy.
Originally scheduled for Thursday, the funeral was rescheduled for Sabbath afternoon and the organist could make it. I was off the hook. I would have done it as one last tribute to my brother-in-law but it was relief.
Back home, I listened to DD lament missing the snow for days on end. It wasn’t something I could go back and do over and she couldn’t, either.
My life took on a routine. I’d get up in the morning, study my Sabbath School lesson, then journal in the margins as if I were writing to DD. I fantasized that I would, someday, give him all my quarterlies so he could share in the happenings of every day. DD would reluctantly roll out of bed and get ready for school. After she left, I’d get ready and, once again, make the rounds.
On Sabbath afternoons, DD and I would take Kat for a walk—sometimes as much as six miles long. My February 1987 birthday came around on Sabbath. After my birthday lunch with my in-laws, we set out on our usual trek. We were ‘way away from the house on a back road when a small plane flew over. It went directly to the area above my in-law’s property and started doing lazy eights, chandelles, and spins. I couldn’t help but hope it was DH. I jumped up and down and waved my arms but I would have been a dot on the ground to the pilot. When I got back to the house (we cut our walk short) I found my father-in-law had stayed inside. I was totally frustrated!
One of DH’s friends got in touch with me and told me I should get passports for DD and me. When I asked why, he said I’d never know when I might need them. I have no idea where I got the money but I managed to get our pictures taken and pay the fees. Our passports came and were filed away in the filing cabinet for future reference.
Occasionally, I’d hear rumors about someone who saw someone who saw someone who saw DH. I was looking behind me and around every corner in the hope that I’d see him myself. I prayed for him every time I thought about him which meant practically all the time. I had an ache inside that was incurable. One morning, I met a pickup truck with a driver who looked eerily familiar. DD was scrunched down in the seat in her usual position. She seldom looked out the window. I didn’t say anything but I thought when the man touched the bill of his baseball cap, he looked more like DH than DH did. I couldn’t be sure either way. I drove on and didn’t look back.
Toward the middle of February, my rep from the employment office called and left a message with my in-laws to call him back. I returned his call (we didn’t have a phone in our house) and he said there was an opening in the office at the high school in the valley on the other side of the mountain. I hadn’t really thought about trying to find a job in that part of the country but I was willing to drive wherever I could find work.
I went to the high school and no one had any idea about anything available there. That was sort of embarrassing. I drove through town and ended up on a street that went through the parking lot of the local hospital. I felt like I should go in and apply there but I turned around and left. Driving through the valley to the next town, I stopped at a small hospital and asked if there were any work to be had. The girl in the office laughed and said no, that she was the only one left in the office and she wasn’t leaving. After a few more places, I went home. I was feeling utterly defeated.
The next day, the rep called and apologized. The opening wasn’t at the high school. It was at the hospital. I hadn’t gone anywhere that day because I was so demoralized. Quickly, I took a bath, fixed my hair and put on presentable clothes. I was off to turn in yet another application.