By: Terry Burgess, Midlife Coach for Men
God tells us to trust in him and his plan. I believed in this and kept reminding myself of this as it appeared my life was going nowhere but down. My mother-in-law’s stroke resulted in my wife taking my stepson and moving to a town 45 minutes away. I was told there was no room for me in their house. My two jobs were in the town I had lived in for the past 16 years; therefore, I stayed behind.
Little did I know at that time what that one event was going to trigger in my life. I saw it as an ending but God saw it as a way out and a start of a new beginning. I ended up moving into the house of the fraternity I advised at age 42 and began to make a revised plan to continue to survive.
The first issue was transportation since my wife took our only vehicle with her. I was fortunate that my mother bought me a bike. I also could get rides to my full-time job for free because it was a perk since I was employed part-time by the transit authority. This was during the summer and there were only 2 other Brothers living in the house at that time. My mom reminded me the significance of God looking out for me even before by placing me in both the fraternity and in the transit authority job.
I was fortunate that within 6 months of my wife leaving to have the ability to get a loan using our vehicle as collateral. This loan is what I used to pay the deposits down on a small one-bedroom apartment in the center of town. I did have to ask my church and another local charity to help me with the first two months’ rent because my job was not able to cover those with the other bills I had at that time.
Yes, I had to work a lot of overtime at first but my goal was to get my loan paid off, save up for a vehicle, and eventually get my personal life back together again. Yes, my mother helped me as much as she could but I can tell you it was God who took over my life. God provided me with a vehicle in April of 2012 for a very affordable rate of $1000. Yes, the vehicle did not have air conditioning but it was good enough to get me around town and to work. I figured out by July of 2012 that my efforts to try to maintain my marriage were not going to work out. However, I could not afford an attorney to fight my divorce. My wife would agree to a divorce with one exception that I would not agree to which was to pay one half of her student loans. I prayed to God about the situation and became content to wait out the situation until the time was right in God’s eyes.
I waited and wondered when things were going to be right. Well I got my answer in November of 2013, I sent a message to a female friend who I had met through my step-son’s time in the Boy Scouts. She was looking for a vehicle because her van was totaled in an accident with a drunk driver. I told her about a mini-van that I saw in town on my way to work. We began to talk more and more. I found out that she was divorced and we talked a lot about our situations. One night I asked her out for dinner to a local restaurant. Little did I know that one dinner was going to change my entire life and outlook for the future.
This wonderful lady was so caring and wanting to help in whatever way she could over the next year. She was a single mother with two children and working two jobs. She listened for hours and helped me through many low moments as I waited. She also helped me to develop a plan to not only get my loan paid off but to find an attorney who would take my divorce case for $1500 and fight for my rights in the divorce.
New Year’s 2015 arrived and I just had a feeling this year was the year my life was going to change. Boy did I hit that one out of the park. This lady friend got me a pre-paid cell-phone for Christmas. This would allow me to get out of my cell phone plan with my wife since it was a family plan. I notified my wife in March of 2015 that I wanted a divorce and I had an attorney. She stood by the same issue and I said my attorney would fight that in my favor. I knew that if it went to court the judge would rule in my favor since I did not have any responsibility for the loans since they were not for my education.
After a series of letters between our attorneys my wife asked me why I was pushing for the divorce so quickly. She knew that I was dating this young lady and she thought that was the reason I wanted the divorce so quickly. I shocked her when I told her that my mother’s health was declining rapidly and the one thing she wanted was for me to be divorced. She agreed to the divorce after her attorney advised her that the judge was going to rule in my favor. We signed the paperwork, I got my grandmother’s quilt back which was sentimental to me since it was the last Christmas gift I received before she died. God had provided and saw me through this period.
When I called my mother to tell her that I was divorced, she cried and then told me that she did not want me to get married again. She said that my female friend, named Melissa, was a good person and that she liked her. However, she did not want to see me hurt anymore like I had over the past 4 years. I told her that I had been praying and God had revealed to me that Melissa was the one for me. I told Mom, I was planning to ask Melissa to marry me. My mother said she had told me her peace and it was my decision and my life. I then asked Melissa to marry me. She said Yes; and we planned our wedding for the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Mom’s health was deteriorating more rapidly. I was afraid that she was not going to make it to the wedding. My mother entered the hospital on October 1, 2015 after a visit to the emergency room. While we were in the room that day, my mother asked for only me and Melissa to be present while she talked to us. Mom knew this was the beginning of the end. My mother looked at Melissa and I with her “stare” that I had gotten to know over the past 46 years and she then addressed Melissa. “Melissa, I want you to know that I told Terry that I did not want you two to get married. However, I want both of you to know that out of all the females my son has brought home to me as his fiancé, you are the first, I could ever call my daughter. I know you love him and will care for him. I don’t know what the future will hold but I do know I won’t be able to come to your wedding. However, I do know under no circumstances and I mean no circumstances are you to cancel that wedding for any reason! Do you understand?” I knew at that point God had been working on Mom and I knew that blessing was her way of saying welcome to the family. I also knew that my mother would not be returning to her home ever again.
I spent as much time as I could with my mother from October 1st onward. I saw her health declining. I was just hoping she would be alive to see me married. I even tried to set up a video in her nursing home room the night of the wedding but she would have no part of it. Right after Melissa and I said “I Do” and we walked back down the aisle to the dressing area we called Mom. She did not answer because she was unavailable. She called back during the reception and left a voice mail. My mother was crying and said “Please tell me it happened, please tell me your married. I Love both of you.” I did not get that message until Melissa and I were back at the cabin we had rented with our wedding party for the weekend. I told Melissa that night, “this is what Mom has been waiting for me to be divorced and to be happy with a good family to support me.” I knew deep down in my heart that my mother would leave us very soon and I even said it would surprise me if she was here in two weeks.
If you have a story of dealing with rediscovery and rebranding yourself after a career change or job loss due to termination or layoff, I would love to talk to you. I would love to have your insight as I prepare to write my book and it would allow me to share other’s experiences. Please feel free to contact me.
Terry is a Personal Leadership and Midlife Coach for Men with Upward MC in Benton, Kentucky. He can be contacted via e-mail at Terry@upwardmc.com or by phone at 270-493-0967. His website can be found at http://www.terrypburgess.com