God bless you.
Into each life, some rain must fall.
But sometimes, when it rains, it pours. As if my personal health issues weren't
already a heap, another burden has been added to my plate.
"Ijustgotlaidoff," she said in a tear-croaked moan.
That was the first sad sound I heard when I answered the phone beside my
hospital bed Tuesday morning, the day (March 17, 2009) I would be released from the
University of Chicago Hospital. I had spent a week there undergoing treatment to
temporarily strengthen my dying heart which, doctors tell me, will require at least the
implantation of a mechanical pump (a Left Ventricular Assist Device LVAD) real soon if
I hope to live out this year.
At first hearing, I thought I was hearing one word. But it was actually five. I at least
recognized that it was my middle daughter beloved, Noelle Victoria-Renee Banks, 33.
And I also knew it was something bad. But I could not understand what she was saying. I
just hoped she was not saying that something bad has happened to the baby, her son:
six-year-old, high-energy Caleb Emanuel Banks. Plus, I was hoping she had not gotten
physically hurt in some accident or attacked by some criminal.
"Wait a minute, baby," I said. "Slow down and speak more clearly because daddy
can't understand what you are saying."
"I just got laid off," Noelle said.
Yes, it then hit me and it hit me hot, heavy, hard and horribly. It hit home. It hit
my heart. I hit my head. It hit my gut. It hit my lungs and took my breath away. I hit so hard
that it stunned me. It hurt.
"What? Oh no! Lord, have mercy. Oh no," I said in agonizing amazement. Yes,
these economic hard time plaguing our nation finally made their way to my house and
pained me deeply, up close and personal.
I could feel her hurt, his fears, her anger, her anguish, her shock, her horror, her
grief and, yes, her prayers to God for relief and rescue in her tearful voice.
As soon as she reported to work Tuesday, at a nationally famous downtown
personnel consultant firm, she was called in, told that the company's economic hardships
were such that she had to be "laid off." Her year years of working for them had now come
to an abrupt, cold-blooded, heartless, thankless end. So they took her Blackberry, her
laptop, her ID card and promised her a courtesy care package of five weeks of severance
pay and five weeks of group medical insurance for her and her son and threw her out in
the cold to join the growing miserable, multitude of multimillions of unemployed headed
toward pennilessness and homelessness.
Noelle is a daddy's dream. She is sensitive, caring, sharing, loving and kind. No,
no. no.....I am not saying these things because she is my daughter. I'm saying these
things because that is who she really is. And all who really know her know I am telling
the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Noelle is a mainstream, Christian single mother, old-school to a fault. She has
never been married and has never been a party girl. And her love for Jesus, for her son
Caleb and for her church and family are unquestioned. Heck, she may be even more
faithful than me, her preaching daddy, whom she not heard preach in years.
She is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She is beautiful, witty, fun-loving and
very, very family-oriented. She suffered a brief academic setback at U. of I., but righted
herself through summer school and kept working until she recovered and graduated from
the U. of I. If there is anything her mother Joyce and I wanted to see done with each of
our three daughters, it was making sure that you got a college degree before there ever
got married or pregnant. God blessed us to have that happened.
Noelle has always been the most active Christian and the most talented musically.
She has the singing voice of an angel and has been a member of her church's praise
team for years. She wants a boyfriend and husband most dearly. But not just any ol'
boyfriend or husband. She'd love to have a Christian companion or just a decent, good,
hard-working many who will love and respect her and her son and appreciate her love
and her humanity in return.
Like so many of you other, good young women and men, she has played by the
rules, conducted herself as a lady and a committed professional. A couple of years ago,
she moved into a modest condo in the south suburbs, enrolled Caleb in a private school
and was enjoying a simple happy life of praising God, working her job and enjoying her
family. Then came terrible Tuesday.
"I just got laid off" was her tearful utterance. It has tormented me ever since and
will continue to do so until somehow she is restabilized as a gainfully-employed single
mother with restored self esteem and hope.
So what's a father to say to his daughter or son when he hears those words and he
knows that that child of his is a good person, a hard worker, an outstanding parent, a
strong Christian and a responsible, honest American?
"I love you," I told her. "God loves you. Your family is behind you. Please don't blame
yourself and beware of false comforters. Your family is here for you. But most of all, God
is here for us."
I'm sure the first thing she thought of when she got laid off, the thing that made her
cry the most, were thoughts of her son Caleb. You should see them. They are one heck
of a mother-son pair. They are truly a great American family. There isn't a day that goes
by without each of them calling out to the other at least a dozen times from room to room
to say, "I love you."
Her greatest joys are his happiness and good health. His greatest joys are her
happiness and good health.
So I'm sure she wondered, "What about my baby? How am I going to take care of
him, now? How can I now send him to a good school anymore where I can be confident
that he will be in a safe, wholesome environment? How can I make sure he gets good
clothes and food? And what if I get sick or he gets sick? Now we have no health or life
insurance. Oh Lord, what am I going to do?"
Well, thank God that she still has a mother and father who love her and are
committed to doing what we have to do for the long-term best interest of her and our
lovely grandson, who just loves his grandmother Joyce to no end. She loves him
dearly in return. And, yes, I love my grandson Caleb even though he often refuses to
talk to me when I call. My other grandchildren, Nicole's kids--Lauren, David, Timothy
and Nina--they'll talk to me any time.
So I have another burden to bear. And yet, I'm still thankful to God because you
know and I know that things can be far worse than they are and eventually they may
turn far worse. But by the grace of God and through our faith in God, we are going to
make it some way, some how. I pray that all is much better with you and your family.
God bless you and yours. Pray for us, please, and I will pray for you in return.
By the way, my youngest daughter, Natasha, is doing well. She just earned a
promotion and relocation to Atlanta, where she is trying to overcome homesickness.
Tashi is so sweet and caring. She checks on me several times a day. She really loves
her mom and dad.
God bless you.