Are you happy in your life today? I pray that you are.
I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying that a man who loves his work never works a day in his life. I believe that’s partly true but I also believe almost every job has aspects to it that almost everyone would find annoying, boring or just plain onerous. Still, if you like your job more than you don’t like it, you’re one of the fortunate ones.
When I was a young woman, I lost the only well-paying job I ever had because of a pregnancy. Today, nobody can fire you for being pregnant, but they could then and they did. While I was still pregnant, I began working another job that was physically arduous, uncommonly boring and low paid. There as I lowly, factory worker in a filthy run-down small town manufacturing facility, I labored for the next seven years.
I was reasonably intelligent and was certainly capable of doing an office job, but I was stamped with the image I was living. No one would give me an opportunity to break out of the factory.
I will never forget a conversation I had with the bookkeeper of the factory one day after I had already worked at that factory for five or six years. She said this: “You girls are always griping about your jobs and I don’t understand it. I love my job.”
I don’t remember what I actually said to her, but I remember what I thought, “I’d love YOUR job too.”
Shortly after that, I began to have some strange spells with my head that even today I can attribute to nothing but stress. It was a feeling as if my brain was being nudged. Once it was so severe I felt like I had been slammed in the head. When my head stopped spinning, I looked around to see if someone had actually hit me. It was clear that the factory wasn’t good for me but I needed to make a living. I had been remarried a couple of years to a wonderful man, but he was at the beginning of his career and we needed two incomes to support our family.
Perhaps it was my dear aunt Emilina, to whom we were both close, who alerted my cousin Betty, an illustrious professor at a prestigious university, about my situation. Betty invited our family to dinner. After dinner she told me she wanted to pay for my education and give me money to live on so that I could get out of the factory. I realize now that she could have well-afforded to do just what she said. I could actually have completed the three years I needed to graduate college; but at the time I was as proud as I was poor. I embarked on the quickest mode of education I could discover, a nine month course as a secretary.
Betty bought me a state of the art typewriter and sent me money every month which I used for tuition, gasoline and babysitting. We were careful and my husband’s income took care of everything else. I kept track in a small notebook of every cent Betty sent me.
I enrolled in the business school along with about fifty other students. All but two students were in a government program available at that time that paid them to go to school. Ironically, because I had been gainfully employed at a job that I doubt any of those other forty-eight people would have done, I was not eligible for that program. Along with one student from Africa, I was paying my own way—with Betty’s assistance.
It was a hard time for me. Because it would save a substantial sum of money, I made up my mind to get through the course in record time, so I did two proscribed lessons for each class every day, while taking care of my two small boys and an ailing father. Although a severe case of pneumonia forced me to suspend my classes for four weeks, I still finished the nine-month course at the end of six months.
When I found my job as a bookkeeper a few weeks later, it paid a little less than the factory job I had quit earlier that year but there was the promise of raises to come. I immediately began sending checks back to Betty and in the end, I repaid her in full—all except for the cost of the typewriter which she insisted was a gift that she would not allow me to repay. I bought her a present in return.
It is to Betty that I owe the fact that today I can say that I enjoy my life. If you don’t enjoy yours, I hope someone will help you find a better life as well. More importantly, I hope in some way I am passing along what Betty did for me to others I meet along the way. I am not so successful that I can put someone through college, but I am successful enough to give aid to people that need it when I perceive their need. Whenever I do so, it is in memory of Betty.