Into the mix of a particularly difficult summer – losing Mama and helping Daddy readjust, while meanwhile trying not to become clinically obese – yet another card has fallen. It’s a particularly painful card and all the more painful as it was unforeseen: Wendel’s lid plant, once owned by Anheuser Busch and lately, Ball Corporation, is closing.
If you’re counting, that makes two deaths this summer.
I have always been a remarkably cheap specimen of Cracker and do not expect Wendel’s premature retirement to land me in the poor house. I will not be able to tip as well as I used to, and won’t be able to finance the “mommy-make-over” a local plastic surgeon advertises, which (believe me) would make the world a more aesthetic and pleasing place, but have too many irons in the fire to be extinguished by any one event.
Having said that, I will confess the obvious: I’m scared.
We all are, as it is something of a ground-shaking experience to see employees of my husband’s ilk unemployed. They in no way resemble some caricature of the lazy American worker, but are local men and women who have put in 12-hour, 3 days on and 2 off shifts for many years, working on their feet for most of those shifts, so that they are experts in not only lid production, but which work boots best survive solvent-spills, stair climbing and two seasons a year of all-nighters (Red-Wing boots, by a blow-out.)
To see them undone is to see America undone, and the only advice that comes to mind is a Divine intervention that happened to me a few years ago when I was a new and aspiring writer, and realized that in these modern times, writers are required to speak publicly and frequently, introvert or not. I was a volunteer mute as a child and didn’t speak to strangers until I was about twenty years old, and only then under duress. The idea of speaking to a roomful of strangers seemed the most impossible thing, as did all the other rigors of book tours: the cocktail parties and travel and especially the airports – oy, the airports. I’d never flown on a plane in my life till I flew to SIBA in Mobile in 1997. I shook the whole way and as the trips got more complicated, I finally failed in courage and thought for a while that I’d have to give it all up: writing, speaking; the whole gig.
I was ruminating on it one night when the words of the old hymn, Amazing Grace, came to me, as clear as spoken voice: “Twas Grace has brought us save thus far, and Grace will lead us home.”
I could not deny the wisdom of the epiphany, and so far, 15 years into it, His grace has been sufficient – so sufficient that I am emboldened to say that it will lead all of us – all 127 employees of Ball Corp and their assorted families – onto other jobs and other training and futures unexpected, but no less blessed for that. In fact, more blessed for being unexpected, because the very concept of expected is an illusion. One of the last things I ever told mama that made her laugh was the the old saw: if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. Because plans are all about us; what really happens is all about Him.
But this Grace thing, it does abide, thick and thin, seen and unseen, and where ever it leads you – even as it leads you – that place is home.