I’ll start by saying that I have had the extreme pleasure of being married to my wife for 40 years. We, like all couples, have had our battles and bumps along the way. We both have always worked, never made enough money so she could stay home with the kids like she wanted.
She loved me even though she knew I was not so nice in my early years with her. We were both very young and I was used to being a young hell raiser. I guess she saw something in me she liked (Thank God!). I remember when we were newly married and she was pregnant with our daughter, Stephanie. I was working in an aluminum plant -- 12 hours a day -- and we had one vehicle, an old beat old pickup 1953 Ford truck. It had had no floor board and I had to park on a hill so I could roll start it everyday. Sometimes it would not start, so I had to push it back up the hill to try again. From the window, my wife would see me struggling and she’d come down -- pregnant and all – and try to help. I couldn’t let her take the chance, but she would always climb into the truck and make sure it went where we needed it to go.
We weren’t married but a couple of months when I got really sick. It turned out I had colonitis and I almost died from that. She nursed me back to health and we went on our way. As the years passed, I moved up in the aluminum business, became a plant manager and we lived very nicely as she also worked in the restaurant business. She made good money, but worked very hard to do so.
We had two more kids, Ken and Nathan, and she raised all three of them to be wonderful people. I say “she” because I was hardly ever home and when I was, my time with them was always fun. I hardly ever had to be stern with them. She took care of everything -- shopping for the family, all of the house work -- and the house was always in tip-top shape.
We had a beautiful life and a great family. Then one day, after 33 years in the aluminum industry, I had to come home at about 9 am. My wife was surprised to see me, but she had a big smile on her face as she asked why I had gotten off so early. I was just standing there thinking, “Oh God, how do I tell her I got fired?” This was a big thing because she was working, but not for long as her boss had just told her he was selling his restaurant and the new owners would not be keeping anyone. I was expecting her to go nuts when I told her, but she looked at me and said, “You’re kidding, right?” I had to make her believe I was not. When she understood, she said, “Well, I’ll just have to get a second job.”
I thought to myself, “Wow, what a generous thing to say.” But I told her that I had several job offers in the past, so I didn’t think it would take long to pick up right where I left off.
Well, life never works out the way we expect and it turned out all those people who wanted me so badly before, no longer did. I searched for work for a long time, but the problem was my health had gotten pretty bad over the years and I was on a lot of medication. No one really wanted a man over 50 with medical problems in a high stress business.
Then, to make matters worse, I found out that I had cancer of the kidneys. The doctors removed the right one and left the other one even though it was only working at 20%. I became so depressed. I couldn’t function well and my blood pressure was really high. I was now a diabetic, taking pills and injections, and I had so many medical problems no one would hire me.
My wife was there, backing me up every step of the way. She never complained about working two jobs. She wakes up at 3 am everyday to work the opening shift at Starbucks, then comes home at 9:30 to change and arrive at her second job in a retail clothing store called Dress Barn by 10 am.
She has worked all her life, had three kids, did house chores and shopping, and she is often so tired and her body aches – her sore , sore back, and sore feet are a constant concern. But, she rarely complains at all. We would sit on the couch after she would get home and eat the lousy dinner I tried to make and she would fall asleep sitting there while she was eating. It made me cry, yes I said cry -- a big 6’2” 280 lb. macho man. It broke my heart seeing her so worn out.
I tried to get disability, but the government fought me all the way and refused to help. Even though my doctors told them I was disabled, the judge told me I was lying and I should still be able to flip burgers.
But did my wife complain? NO! She said that God would take care of us. No disrespect to our Lord, but my wife is the one taking care of us. She is my hero in the truest sense of the word. I should have taken better care of her. I hate seeing my beautiful wife having to go through this. But she wouldn’t let her family down; she has always taken pride in teaching her kids that life is hard and we need to trust in God and family, otherwise, life is nothing. God, I love this woman! Donna Kay Hall is my hero!
Thanks for hearing my story.
A grateful husband,