December 29, 2011 – This year has been incredibly difficult and I’ve thought long and hard about writing about my trials and tribulations in this blog. I don’t want to complain or appear negative, but in the end I feel that writing about my experiences is cathartic.
I know I’m not alone. Many have muddled through in crisis mode all year long and perhaps like me they anxiously await a fresh start in 2012. So let’s get started:
Approximately 10% of Americans started January 2011 just like me – unemployed. I had been unemployed for a year and a half by this point, the economy was still sluggish and the job market wasn’t improving one iota. As bleak as things looked, I tried to believe my next job was right around the corner.
A few weeks later driving home from an interview, I totaled my car. I’ve had a few fender benders in my life, but this was the first I was responsible for and it stung. I’m still puzzled by how it happened. I was stopped at a red light and then I plowed into the back of a truck that was stopped at the same light. I don’t consciously remember flooring the gas pedal, and since I don’t drive a Toyota, which has been known to surge forward while stopped, I still can’t explain it.
After coasting through the next several weeks a little poorer because I had a car payment again, my mother was hospitalized with a severe lung infection. She spent her 79th birthday in a coma unaware that family and friends surrounded her. Thanks to the help of wonderful doctors and a great nursing staff, she recovered.
After a month in the hospital, she was off to a rehabilitation center to gain back her strength. The facility was nice, but she begged to come home every day. Making things more difficult, she temporarily lost her memory. While she did amuse us by saying the funniest things like, “What am I doing in rehab, I haven’t had a drink in weeks,” there were also plenty of tears. She didn’t remember, for example, that many of her family members had passed away. She would talk about her mother and father coming to visit with her brother, and when we told her they were gone, it was as if she was hearing it for the first time again. How sad is that to have to live through every day?
My mother’s release from the rehab facility at the end of June coincided with a major move for me. Still jobless with no prospects on the horizon, it was back home to mom and dad for me…temporarily. It wasn’t easy admitting failure and moving back home, but I am grateful that I had my parents to turn to. Still the jokes were made as friends lovingly referred to me pulling a George Costanza.
Little did I know, we’d soon be in store for round two at the hospital, as my mom needed to have some minor surgery due to complications from the first illness. But due to her age and health, it was touch and go. Thankfully it was a short stay.
A week or so later, an interview for a part-time job turned into one of those curve balls life likes to throw at you just to see if you’re paying attention. I first saw the ad in a local paper, had a phone interview, and then received a phone call asking if I would be interested in working from home. I said I would consider it although it wasn’t my first choice and was told that they would send me petty cash funds by mail to purchase a computer and software that was needed. The check arrived the next day with instructions on what to do with it and where to buy the equipment. It seemed like an odd process, and I asked why they just didn’t send me what I needed instead, but they explained that this was their process. I was leery, but I didn’t think it would hurt to deposit the check and see if it cleared. I waited three days to make sure, and when the money showed up in my account I followed the instructions. The bank contacted me a few days later and told me the check was fraudulent, and that unless I covered the cash, I would be arrested for fraud. The police and FBI started an investigation, and although I wasn’t held criminally accountable, it was a mess and I’m still trying to straighten it all out. So here’s something everyone should know: it takes 10 to 14 days for a check to actually clear. Banks simply make the funds available a day or so after deposit for their customers’ convenience, which turned into a big inconvenience for me.
In the midst of my bank crisis, my mother was hospitalized for the third time. After trying to treat an infection known as c-diff, it spread to her colon, and after a few days, the doctor explained that there was no alternative. Surgery was necessary to remove her colon if she was to survive. The doctor was honest with us that most patients in her condition normally do not survive the major surgery. But my mom, proving that she’s much tougher than I ever imagined pulled through again, and she came home in early November.
I should also mention that at the beginning of October, I received a good job offer and returned to the workforce ready to go, yet a little weathered.
I won’t be sorry to see 2011 go, but I agree that the year ended much better than it began.