A Silver Lining in a Factory Closing
I admire my father. He is a hardworking man, caring and one of my best friends. Without his teaching as a young child instilling me with a strong work ethic, and conservative mind, I would never be where I am today. He taught me how to save and plan for the future. Somewhere along the way I grew bold and wanted to take risk, to live life on the edge, to the extreme, something my father would never embrace. I left small town Iowa at the age of 20 and have only ever went back to visit, but not to plant roots. I grew wings, soaring high above the clouds, seeking adventure and experience.
I talk to my family every few weeks, to check in, and let him know I am alive and well, thousands of miles away across the great pond, the Atlantic. My father and I are very close, when we speak anything is fair game, from relationships to heart break, from comedies to motorcycles. As much as I look up to my father, I think he looks at me with envy. I have accomplished many things he could only in his wildest dreams envision doing. He himself made a comment that he finds it difficult to go into a bar and start up a conversation with a total stranger. I get a kick out of this, because in my experience some of the best conversations I have had were chance meetings, rare encounters with random strangers on the street or on planes.
My father has worked at the same printing factory for over 30 years. Not but two summers ago when I was back in Iowa visiting, my father asked if I was proud of him for this accomplishment, retaining a secure job for such a long time. I honestly told him, it was good for him. I could say I was proud, but it would never be my choice in life.
Over this past weekend, I was on Facebook, yes, one of the lamest and yet most addictive ways to pass time. I was on the site just looking over the news feed when I saw a post about my father’s factory closing its doors and what a hardship this would have on the community. Believe me, I know what an impact this will have on the rural town in the middle of the heartland will have. It will not be a pretty resolve, but in the back of my mind I could not have been happier to hear this news.
Before calling my father directly to congratulate him, yes, I said it I wanted to give him a high five. Before this, I wanted to message my brother to make sure dad was handling it well. In fact he was doing better than we expected. I could not have been more surprised that my father had read my mind. This undue hardship was a blessing in disguise. Since I had moved to Belgium over a year ago no one in my family had come to visit.
My brother informed me to my utter astonishment that our father was already making plans to come visit me in Brussels in March directly after he walked away from what had consumed the last thirty years of his life. This was a good sign, so I proceeded to call him and speak to him personally.
Ring, my father answered the telephone and said hello. I followed with, “congratulations,” his response, “you know, how do you know???” (chuckling) I told him Facebook, this from a man who has maybe two photos on his profile and only checks in to see pictures of his children. I understood he was taking things well, so I proceed to ask questions on what would be next. He was given a new lease on life.
If you want to know me, you may not, because I am the type of person that if you say jump, I say no problem. I will run full force off a cliff and zip line into a great abyss. This is an analogy I hold for all aspects of life, if something seems scary, I square myself off to it and meet the challenge. My hope for my father is that he takes this opportunity to do the same. To shake life up a bit and feel the rush of not knowing exactly what will come next, or having too many choices and just rolling the dice to see how it will fall. Sometimes it takes hardship to see the silver lining, but it is always there. There is always darkness before there is light.
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