Monday, October 5, 2009

A Family United

Patty's family is not unlike many families in the valley, or even throughout the state. She is working a full time job trying to keep the family afloat. Due to an injury on the job, Bill, Patty's husband, is on the disability. Two weeks ago, one of their three grown children moved in with Patty and Bill. After being laid off from his construction job and unable to find work anywhere, their son, Brett, humbly moved his wife and two small children into his childhood home.

Although Patty is not one to complain, having four more people in the house to care for was a bit overwhelming. In addition to the added housework, increased food bills, and diminished lack of privacy, Patty wasn't sure if the family could get past the hurt and bitterness of Brett's sudden departure from the family home years previously. Brett's teen years of rebellion, drug experimentation, and complete irresponsibility had taken their toll on both Patty and Bill. It wasn't until Brett married and started a family of his own that Patty and Bill found some common ground on which to build a new relationship. Still, the tension was in the air even though no one spoke of it.

At a community play over the past weekend, a friend of Patty's bumped into her. They actually ended up sitting next to one another. It didn't take long to catch up, both filling the other in on all the changes in their lives. Both were experiencing the stresses and strains of the broken economy, of unwanted changes, and of untimely sacrifices. As Patty began sharing the story of Brett moving home, she found herself smiling, even laughing.

Patty described how all six of them, even the little ones, had settled into a comfortable routine. Brett was outlooking for work every day and finding odd jobs here and there. His wife was up early each morning feeding the kids and getting Patty's breakfast and lunch ready. When Patty got home from work, the house was clean and dinner was on the table. Patty started to chuckle. She described how the children, ages one and three, were sharing a bedroom. Just a couple of nights ago, after everyone was asleep, they all heard a loud thump, a small cry, and then giggling. As the adults all raced to the children's bedroom, what they found was precious. The one year old had learned how to get out of her crib, drop to the floor, and climb in bed with her sweet brother. Telling the story, Patty felt her heart swell with joy while her friend handed her a tissue.

As the lights dimmed and the music began, Patty wiped the tears from her eyes. Difficult times had brought about imposed change. A family united was reaping the rewards.

Wellness tip: Economic hardship is hitting us all. Seek to find ways to move through it with grace and dignity. And, ask for help. Allow others to do so.

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