Then last summer things started unraveling
. Your Dad and I had a really rough year. As you know, he lost his job
when the government cancelled the rest of the contract and the plant was shut down. They said it was temporary, but nobody believed that. Back in the old days, the union
would have given him some protection and at least continued our medical insurance, but now all he got was two weeks of severance pay. Two weeks. I don't need to tell you that we didn't have much in savings either.
Some of the union guys still hang out at Sully's. None of them have been able to find jobs. They all filed for unemployment, but were told they had to be on an 18-month waiting list before even they'd be considered. Good luck finding any jobs. Nobody's hiring, and now that unemployment is at 17% here, there's no way they are going to hire some old guy with an injury when they could hire a kid or just have the parts made in Mexico or something.
We filed for Social Security after Dad lost his job, and it was okay after those first couple of months when they had shut everything down. I went down to the Social Security office every day until they finally took our application, and then of course it was another couple of months before we got our checks. I was kind of shocked at how little money it was after all the money we paid in.
When Dad had his stroke, I figured Medicare would take care of most of the costs for all the doctors and the medications, but it turns out that we had to pay a lot of it ourselves, and as you know, with what's left from Social Security after those months when we got nothing, well, we don't have that kind of money. I did sell off some of my gold jewelry, since gold has gone up so much, just like Mr. Beck said, but that barely covered the cost of the funeral and it hasn't made a dent in the bills.
It was just a week before Dad died when I got the letter from the bank saying that we had to pay back our home equity loan in full in 30 days or they would take our house. I didn't want Dad to worry, so I didn't mention it to him, but he could tell something was wrong. I hate to say it but I think that letter was what killed him, even though I never showed it to him.
We had been worried sick since Mary and Vince lost their house right before Christmas. Ray and Hope both lost their jobs at the community college and can't sell their house. Down the street, a bunch of people have just abandoned their houses and stopped paying their mortgages. Some of them even left their pets. Other people have just taken over the empty the houses and started living there with their families, like squatters. This place is going downhill fast and I don't think I will ever be able to sell the house now. Frankly, I'm afraid to go anywhere after dark.
I was so stressed out at that point that I ended up getting in a wreck and totaling the car. I can't get a new one because it turns out that the insurance company went belly up and even if I had the money for a down payment, I can't get a loan now because of our tarnished credit. The people in the other car had no insurance, since they couldn't keep up with the premiums.
I've thought of moving in with Larry and Denise, but they have their hands full since Denise had her hours cut back and Larry's research grant was eliminated. It's always great to see the twins, but I wonder whether I could handle life as a live-in sitter. Last week when I talked to Denise, she was worried they might have to move in with me.
I don't mean to go on and on about my problems, Joanie. I just want you to know how very sorry I am that I was one of the people who helped bring down America. All I wanted to do was get out of the house and meet some nice people, get involved in a cause, and do some good. I didn't understand that the Tea Party was just a front for some rich people who were just using us.
I thought it was something really patriotic. We all did. In reality, it was anything but patriotic. What makes this even more sad is that, in the end, we helped bring about the events that hurt so many people. I guess it's only fair punishment that we were hurt too.
Joanie, I know I don't deserve your forgiveness, and I wouldn't blame you if you never wanted to see me again. You and Jamal and the kids are in my heart every day. Please call me, even just to let me know you got this letter.
Your mother who loves you
How will Joanie react to this letter? Sadly, we won't know for a while. She and Jamal are out of town, helping Jamal's brother, an Iraq War veteran, relocate to their home where they can help him get continuing care for his physical and mental wounds since he can no longer rely on the government.