Help Yourself

Seek strength from inside yourself. canstockphoto0648164

Seek strength from inside yourself.

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And the hall light came on and Tom, lying in his bed, braced himself.

His dad came slowly into the room and sat on the bed.

“Is she gone?” Tom asked.

“I’m afraid so, son,” his father half whispered.

And they cried silent “men tears” for the mother and wife they each lost.

Her hard fought battle with cancer was finally over.

Cancer won.

And there was a funeral.

And people consoling Tom.  Telling him they would be there for him.

Telling him he could count on them.

And his father overheard all that and later told Tom it wasn’t true.  No one else could be counted on.

He needed to seek strength from inside himself.

He told him he loved him but a 17-year-old man doesn’t usually get a second mother.

And the reality was he was on his own now and needed to be resourceful, focused and strong.

And Tom listened.

And the following Monday Tom went back to school with a renewed resolve.

He found out he could get college credit by taking some college level courses at the high school.

He took as many as were available.

And he graduated high school with good marks.

And that first day of that summer he walked into the office of the man who did the grounds-keeping for the local community college.

And he got hired as a landscaper for minimum wage but as an employee of the college, he was able to take classes at half price.

So he combined the classes that he took in high school with the discounted classes at the community college and got himself an associate’s degree in less than two years.

By continuing to live with his father his living expenses were minimal.  But he kept the house tidy and neat as his mother would have if she were there.

He did that out of respect for his mother.  Out of respect for his father.  Out of respect for the life they made for him and the spirit of its continuance.

Most evenings he was home early enough to make dinner for he and his father and he would pack them each a decent lunch every night to take the next day.

He knew his dad was going through a lot as well.

They seemed better able to handle the challenges without mom by staying organized and focused.

And they prayed an evening prayer before their dinner.

And they went to church on Sunday as father and son.

And in time they began to smile again.

One day in the grocery store a rather rude and nasty shopper pulled something off the shelf and a box of cereal hit her in the head.  Tom looked over at his dad who was laughing at the sight of it.  A sound Tom hadn’t heard in years.  In that moment they shared a smile and acknowledged their slow but real recovery.

And Tom took his associate’s degree and got a front desk receptionist job in a large business office.

He dressed sharp.  He arrived early.  He worked through lunch.  He left late.  He was always willing.

Soon, there were managers fighting over who would get to take that “bright young man from the front desk.”  Tom accepted a position with the manager whose habits he had been most impressed with and made him a sort of mentor.

When he accepted the position he asked if there was a tuition reimbursement plan.  There was not.

He asked if he could create one.

They were willing to let him do so.

Tom created a plan and followed through by graduating with honors.  By accomplishing his bachelor’s degree, he was ready for bigger challenges in the company and he accomplished a promotion within 6 months of graduation.

The move up included a benefit plan.  He asked if there would be any plans that could include his father who was now ready to retire.  There weren’t.

Tom asked if he could approach the company insurer about some option like that.  The company allowed it and Tom’s research benefited all of the staff who had aging parents.

And Tom got good at what he did and soon was in charge of a substantial staff.

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