The call came on the last day of my vacation.
“Hi Jeff. It’s ….. I guess you know why we’re calling.”
Hmmm. To tell me you’ve missed me?
To say take another couple of days off. You’ve earned it after all those years of working the night shift, extra hours and no sick days.
Just to be nice and say hi?
“No. Not really,” I answered. But I knew it couldn’t be good. In 16 years I had never received a good call. Same as most of my peers.
“Well, we’ve had to make some moves and we’re letting you go. We appreciate everything you’ve done for us, trying to keep us whole and ……”
I didn’t really hear much more. The rest was less about my new circumstances and more about his. Something which I really didn’t care about at the time.
Up until that phone call, this had been one of the best non-beach vacations in my life.
One of my nephews was graduating from boot camp at Parris Island. Instead of just doing a long drive straight there and back, Natalie and I planned a road trip with stops along the way.
A drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and along some scenic back roads took us to South Port, N.C., for the first night. A beautiful old coastal town near Wilmington, N.C.
Next up was a two-night stay in the historic district in Charleston, S.C. Beautiful homes and streets. Delicious food. The friendliest people. When we were leaving I was already saying I wanted to come back.
And then it was on to meet the rest of the family in Beaufort, S.C.
We had rented a home on the river so all of us could stay together for Trevor’s graduation. Parents, grandparents, sister, aunts, uncles, friends.
Emotions were high. Tears and goosebumps were everywhere over the next two days.
The final run and Thursday’s family day gathering and picnic gave us our first chance to see Trevor in months. The boy had become a man. A Marine.
Friday’s parade ground graduation ceremony was seen through big old tears.
I was so proud of him, of his dad and mom, his sister. Proud of our family.
It had been a tough year.
We were coming up on the first anniversary of Mama’s death. And although we were all trying our best to do what she asked, to carry on, to help each other … it had not been easy on any of us.
It had been almost a year of waking up every day and wishing it had all been just some bad dream.
It was wearing on all of us. Pops especially.
Trevor’s boot camp graduation was just what we needed. Something good to celebrate.
We returned home on Saturday and I was scheduled to return to work on Wednesday. I had some things to get done around the house before then but a big part was just to rest from the busy week and get my body back in night shift mode.
Tuesday afternoon my phone rang. I glanced at it and almost didn’t answer. It was a work number. But maybe someone had called out and they needed me to come in a day early for the night shift.
No. They didn’t need me. And would no longer need me.
Letting you go. Reducing staff. Thanks for everything. Going to be hard for us. Blah, blah, blah. The phone was handed to someone from HR. More blah blah blah and your package will come in the mail.
Two months later, I’m still feeling dumped and discarded … but I’m fighting back.
This will not get the best of me.
It has tried. There have been days I probably should have talked to someone about depression and help for it. Still may consider it.
I will never again tell someone to just snap out of it. It’s not that easy.
Luckily I have a wife and family who love me. I have good friends who listen to me. I have a dog who appreciates me and a cat who tolerates me living in his house.
With their support, I’ve got this.
It may have taken me a little while to step into the ring. But I’m here now.
And the gloves are off.