Tess Vigeland: For just a minute here, we’re going to move away from seniors and retirees, and talk about people who are still working, or at least, trying to find work.
Laura Doyle lives in the Oak Forest suburb of Chicago. She and her husband have both been out of work for many months, and it’s put a strain on her family, particularly her relationship with her teenage daughter. So Laura decided to write a letter.
Laura Doyle: Dear Daughter,
As you know, your father was laid off three years ago. I went back to work to make ends meet but I, too, fell victim to the Great Recession, and lost my job on your little sister’s birthday. Seven days before that, we lost our health insurance. But as parents, it is your father’s and my job to protect you.
When Daddy’s unemployment ran out, he withdrew funds from his pension to keep a roof over our heads. It took me an entire year to convince the Department of Human Services we were poor enough to qualify for welfare. I hope you never know the shame of that, or the shame of being 40 years old and having to ask your mother if you can borrow 20 bucks to put gas in your car.
I never wanted you to know that I spent my birthday money on your graduation dress, or that Daddy and I have not exchanged Christmas gifts for three years.
But what I do want you to know is that we are not the only people in this boat. Many people are unemployed, and every one of us is doing what we can to get by. You say our chauffeur services are at your disposal, just because all your friends’ parents have “real” jobs, whereas Dad and I “just sit around all day and watch TV” as you put it.
Who do you think cleans the house, makes dinner and mows the lawn? Leprechauns? And all those times that you cried your friends got to go on all those cool vacations and we suck because we never go anywhere? Did you know that I cried, too, because I was ashamed I can’t give you those things?
Every single thing your father and I do is for you and your brother and sister — if only for the sole purpose that you will one day leave this house better and stronger for having lived through it.
You are the reason I get out of bed in the morning. I love you more than life itself. I need you to respect that. I need your respect, period.
I need you to know that someday it will be better. Maybe not today, but someday.
Hill: It turns out Laura’s “someday” is just around the corner. Her letter was published a couple weeks ago in the Chicago Sun-Times. James McClelland, the CEO of a local property management company, read the letter and called her in for a job interview. She starts Monday.
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