Mom claims my dad’s always been the last guy through the door before the opportunity closed.  I’m delighted it turned out that way, because this man grew up in a boxcar among the Irish railroad builders.  His mother died in childbirth with him, so he was under the wing of his grandmother, the camp cook.  To this day my dad says he has never seen such body-wearing hard work.

But he got himself out of there by enlisting in the Air Force.  He worked his way up the ranks and retired after 20 years- then he found a job in a factory and was the last man hired before the freeze.  He soon found himself working the jobs of three men.

The company began to go under, so dad scrambled and found a job at IBM.  One of my most vivid childhood memories was the night before his interview when mom dyed his hair.
Dad was terrified that he might be seen as too old to hire, so he allowed mom to apply the blue-black color to his hair.  For some reason the dye stained spots on his face and the entire family panicked.  But he got the job- again as the last man on before a freeze.

IBM fell.  At least it did to the workers who lost what was supposed to be lifetime employment if they did their jobs.  Dad was one of the last men given a decent severance package.  And so, between the military retirement and the small pension, they’re doing fine.

But mom and dad have noticed a trend among their children.  At first they thought it was just me being eco-nuts, so they brought slippers, sweaters and hot water bottles when they came to visit.  Then they went out of state to visit my brother and his family, and found they had to do the same.

My sisters house?  They put on extra socks and pullovers.  My other brother?  He uses a space heater for the room people are in and piles blankets on the couch for watching TV.

My parents are somewhat perturbed that thier children can’t afford to heat their houses.  But if my dad’s pattern continues then we’d all better stock up on wool:  He’s always the last man in safe before the freeze.

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