Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Company Man!

The labor of the body relieves us from the fatigues of the mind;
and this is which forms the happiness of the poor.
                   Duc Francois La Rochefoucauld


This rocky shore produces memories which bubble to the surface, float into the air and burst, revealing things I had long forgotten. I sit on this huge fossil filled rock, my feet propped upon another rock looking to the calm lake and the island on the other side, I am across the road from a tired skeleton looking plant, a plant that stirs my emotions.

I remember coming to this very spot and swimming as a child, I also remember the front lawn of that old plant and the annual “family” picnics that were held there every summer. The plant would want to show their workers “family” appreciation for their loyalty and hard work. This was a plant where our Dad and others worked, long and hard trying to keep food on their tables, and a roof over their heads for their families. There were all those very early morning shifts, or those midnight shifts when my Dad would leave in the dark while I was supposed to be sleeping.

 I could hear my Mom standing at the table packing his lunch; two slabs of stale bread with sometimes a piece of meat that had been left over after twelve people had had their share that night for supper. I wonder now what part of that piece of meat could have possibly been leftover and slapped between those two stale pieces of bread. I now think most times it may have only been those two pieces of stale bread. My Mom would pour coffee into an old red and black thermos, she would hand my Dad the thermos and an old bread bag containing his sandwich, they would kiss and my Dad would always say “See you in the morning” and then the front door would close. He would head off to share a ride with other company men driving to this mysterious job that would have him sleeping during the days and tired and grumpy most of the time. He would never complain even though I heard many years later from others, tales of how the constant high pitched piercing sound would produce a ringing in the ears that would last for days, the extreme heat making your body sweat and sometimes your hands would shake, and the air was thick with fibres that settled deep in your lungs with every breath you took. I do remember him telling me once that people were not meant to work shift work, and I should try very hard not to get into that kind of work.

The “family” picnic was always one of the highlights of our summers we would get so excited just hearing about it. Our Dad came home from work early one Saturday morning from the midnight shift; he would try to nap behind the curtain of silence, we thought of as a door, while all of us would try to contain our excitement and be quiet. Later in the afternoon we would all cram into the car, one layer upon the other in the back seat, the youngest sitting on the oldest lap. The new babies would sit in the front, Mom with one on her lap and Dad was driving. The drive was very noisy, we would all be talking about the games, the races, the prizes and the enormous amounts of food that would be waiting for us. When we arrived we all poured out of that car and grabbed one another's hands and merged into the crowd of other workers and their families. Some of these workers we knew from the little village, some of them we did not but everyone had one goal, fun and food.

It was always the best day and when it was over we would all pile back into the car, we were sunburned, tired and some of us had aching full bellies from eating everything we could. We would drive up to the door of that old house, the oldest would tuck the young ones into bed, and our Dad would go and lay down for a nap. After a few hours while I was supposed to be sleeping I could hear my Mom making that sandwich for my Dad, pouring that coffee in the red and black thermos, that kiss, the familiar “See you in the morning” and the door closing.

After decades of those sleepless days and nights. After all those stale bread sandwiches, and those thermos of coffees poured. After all those kisses, and “See you in the mornings", and all those “family” picnics, our Dad worked his way up that company ladder, we were so proud of him. Being no longer protected by the union he fought so hard for the workers to have, always believing everyone deserved to have decent wages and benefits to keep their families safe and protected, our Dad was let go to try to find another company and to start all over again.


Sitting here with my feet propped up facing the lake with the old plant behind me I am left to wonder; was that any way to treat “family”? Thank you Dad, we will never forget your sacrifices.

Later.

17 comments:

  1. Sounds like we had the same kind of upbringing...our dad's must have been tired all the time. And guess what..B5 was the numer I won on! Ha!xoxo

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  2. Your dad sounds like he was a wonderful man. I'm glad he was able to rise up the corporate ladder so he could help others out too.

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  3. A very touching post. Your dad sounds like an outstanding, gentleman of a man. The world needs more men like him.
    xo

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  4. It seemed like Dad never slept.....they were a tough breed back then.

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  5. Your Dad sounds like an honest, hard working man. I think it's wonderful that you have these memories of family and fun times together. Things just aren't like that so much any more!

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  6. I think this is my favorite of all your posts. You paint the memories so clearly, and I feel the same appreciation and admiration for your dad.

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  7. it's nice sit back and reminisce...and to be able to put these memories into words that flow...

    (sorry...don't know how behind i am...seems as though i always am. trying to do a little catch up this morn, but now i have to get to work...i'll be back later on...and dive farther back!) =)

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  8. Precious memories. Your dad made so many sacrifices for you all.

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  9. sadly the story of many families, i think.

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  10. B, this brought back a flood of memories ....though my Father worked day and night in the farm fields..hence having a massive heart attack and dieing at the age of 42 while plowing ...this was for "family" me and 5 siblings..and after his passing the "family" fell to pieces....he was our "Rock"....
    ~~Blessings~~

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  11. Your Dad must have been a wonderful man. But, your Mother too, for I hazard to guess that she too never complained and was always there for him...packing his lunch and coffee.

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  12. Your dad sounds like a wonderful man and, no, that is NOT the way to treat "family"...

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  13. Such beautiful memories...Amazing that we really can't appreciate all our Dads do for us until we are adults. :)

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  14. Oh that is such a lovely tribute...families that work so hard and teach the children...so much hard work. Good for them. Good for you.

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  15. A favorite post of mine this is. What a wonderful captured memory(ies)!

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  16. You wrote about this beautifully B. Your poor dad working all of those horrible hours. My dad also worked shifts - going out in the middle of the night and sleeping all day. I can also remember having to try and be really quiet so that he could sleep. I don't think I could work shifts like that.

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The mind grows by what it feeds on. J.G. Holland

Thank you so much for your comments, they mean more to me then I could ever express. Hug B

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