My mom grew up in poverty: outhouses (when most people had indoor plumbing), old clothes, old cars, just enough food, few luxuries. As I grew up, my mom made sure I understood that growing up poor is not fun. There was never a push to own things or to live lavishly, we didn't. The gist was that if you are poor, life is miserable and opportunities are the exception rather than the rule. She was able to raise herself from poverty by taking a good paying factory job in the automobile industry. Now she lives a comfortable retirement. So, fear of poverty has always been a part of my psyche. I couldn't get away from that fear anymore than I could get away from my nose (if you see my nose, you'll want to get away from it. Lucky.). It's completely understandable and it's served me well many times. Buuuuuut...this fear can also be paralyzing, very paralyzing. Paralysis has kept me chained to corporate America for 21 years.
But this past Summer (2011), a couple of things happened that finally made me tell my fear to go fuck itself.
- My wife, Bridget, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
- I lost my job just a few weeks before her surgery...and my employer was completely aware of her situation.
I don't want to go into great detail about my wife, suffice to say we caught the cancer early, chemo is complete, radiation will be complete before Christmas, and all tests and statistics suggest that we should never have to deal with it again. For more info on Bridget's journey, check out Bridget's Boob Blog. Everything turned out fine. We had health insurance coverage through the end of the month and I found a new job at the very last second which prevented me from having to pay COBRA to continue health coverage. So it all worked out.
Now that we're almost through this ordeal two things are readily apparent:
- Life is precious and unpredictable.
- I'm tired of letting others control my destiny.
This has been a life changing year for me and my family. I hope we never go through it again, but coming out the other side has placed me firmly in the path of the watershed.
Bridget is a much more spiritual person than I am when it comes to fate and the universe. I've always been a pragmatic man who throws his lot with science. But maybe, just maybe, she's onto something, because I'm taking the Great Shit Storm of 2011 and turning into something great.
Stay tuned. Failure is not an option.