This fall has been a remarkable time of transition for people in my life, notably three men of different generations.
One died, one lost his job and found a new one, and one had an epiphany that is causing him to pursue a new path in life.
I attended the funeral of the first, an 82-year-old who died of complications from a stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.
As I listened to the minister’s eulogy — remarkably pertinent, considering she didn’t know him — I thought about this man, the grandfather of my children, and about how little I knew about him.
We got along well enough, but were never close. He liked hunting and fishing and, in retirement, that’s what he mostly did. He also loved to chop and stack wood for fuel in the winter. We’d see each other on holidays. There was no hostility in our relationship, but no real affection either. We led parallel but separate lives. It was what it was.
As the eulogy continued, I thought about how careful he was with a dollar. He got that from his mother, a parsimonious little bird of a woman who raised him to be as conservative with spending as she was.
Before his illness, he and his second wife enjoyed driving to Montana and staying for a few months with his younger sister and her husband. The hunting and fishing opportunities were golden. He drove a route that took him through part of Canada.
One year, when gas prices had surged and were even higher in Canada, he filled containers with gasoline and loaded them into his travel-trailer for the trip. I was sure we’d get a call about a big fireball over Lake Ontario and that we’d have to drive north to identify his incinerated remains, but it never happened.
Earlier this year, another family member — this one a man of “upper middle age” — lost his job in a paper mill.
It’s never easy to be told you’re no longer needed or wanted at your workplace, but it’s especially hard to swallow when you’re no longer of an age that allows you to slide quickly into another job.
Though you hear that some employers recognize the value of an experienced worker, the truth is most tend to shy away from someone who might be close to retirement.
The good news, in this case, is that he’s landed a new job, and he did it on his own, with no help from the state agency that was going to find him a position.
A counselor had assured him that, with his experience and his status as a veteran, he’d be able to find him a job quickly.
He was heartened by that assurance, but nothing ever came of it.
On his own, he found a position in the field where he had started his working life — the food industry.
He won’t make as much money as in his last job, but I think he’ll be a lot happier.
The last man on my list is in his 20s and recently gave up trying to please a demanding, unreasonable employer. He stuck it out for a long time and then simply walked away.
He did a lot of soul searching and came to the conclusion that he needs a better education if he doesn’t want to work in awful jobs like the last one.
In January, he will start college. He’ll do it with the help of a legacy from his grandfather, who knew the value of a dollar and remembered his family generously.
Irv Dean is the Gazette’s city editor. Reach him by e-mail at email@example.com.