My mother celebrated her 78th birthday Friday. A very nasty head cold was settling in my chest and kept me from making my usual pilgrimage to Cappy's for a card. It was better to call and just talk.
A little into the conversation we began to discuss the economic downturn and the ever-impending newspaper-business's demise. We frequently update one another on the the journalistic misfortunes of our respective local areas.
I don't have a wonderfully paying job at the paper. In Prepress we have humble Production positions that are lately being culled out, pared down and replaced by either new technology or cheaper, overseas labor. In advertising, however, there is no substitute for a sharp eye and a commonsense command of everyday printed English. That is what I have and what keeps me working.
When advertising drops, as it has--off and on-- for the last few years, then my job is less secure. When I mentioned this to my mother, she countered with the fear regarding the pension that funds their retirement. Pensions are being cut right and left, and mine will likely also disappear before I can tap it.
Then she said something that was very characteristic of her, and at the same time quite unexpected:
"Well, we'll all manage through this. We are tough."
The last time I heard this, I was going through a abysmally painful depression, haunted by thoughts of ending it all. My mother jacked me up with "We don't do that sort of thing. We are tough." At the time I responded that I most certainly was not.
You see, I was mentally ill--clinically depressed--and feeling quite fragile. Seemed a mean thing to say to someone who felt like the world was ending.
The world did not end. I found a wonderful psychiatrist who healed me with the proper antidepressants and entered a no-nonsense self-help program that seemed tailor-made for me.
These day, I am emotionally well, productive, and usually fairly happy. The crisis was overcome and the awful times passed into the realm of memory and experience.
We are all facing difficult times. The very worst could actually happen: loss of job, home and face, and that feels untenable and almost like the end of the world.
I know better now. It might be awful, difficult and soul-searing, but it won't be the end of the world. We will do what we have to do, and we will survive.
We will all manage, or stumble our way, through this.
We are tough.