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Hang On by Michael T Smith

Hang On by Michael T Smith

Life brings many storms with high winds. I know it well. Ive been through my share of lifes trials. I struggled with an alcoholic dad. I managed to grow through it. The experience strengthened me. It could have turned me in another direction. I could have turned bitter, but I refused to let it happen.

I hung on.

I married and had children. Like most young couples, my wife and I struggled with finances and the stress of young children.

We hung on.

We added an addition to our home. It caused more financial stress. I worked my regular job, came home, and put all my free time working on the addition. The hours I worked pushed me to my limit of endurance.

My wife came to me, Michael, what are you doing?

Im laying the parquet flooring, I replied.

Michael! Its 3 AM! I looked at my watch. She was right! What was I doing installing flooring at 3 AM?

I was hanging on.

My job of fifteen years disappeared. I went back to school. It was a year and a half before I had a job offer. It was in another city. I took it. There was no choice. I moved to my new job and left my wife and children behind. She would sell the house and move to me.

It took a year for our house to sell. We saw each other for a few days every three months.

We hung on.

Three years later, I moved to Ohio. I left my family behind. I flew from Canada to the USA. I was in a new country, a new job, and once again without my family.

I hung on!

My wife and children moved to be with me three months later. I had a home ready for us to live and a new car. Things were good. We were happy.

I worked in the telecom industry during the Enron years. Work was plentiful. In the year 2001 things changed. A year later, I was out of work.

One of my clients offered me a position in New Jersey. I moved and left my wife and children behind again. My daughter was in her senior year of high school. We didnt want to disrupt her.

We hung on!

While I was in New Jersey, my wife got sick. Every time I went home, she looked worse. She moved to Jersey to be with me a year later. She arrived in a wheelchair. A month later, my daughter and I held her hands, as she took her last breath.

We hung on!

Eight months later, the company I worked for went bankrupt. I was out of work. It took over a year to find a permanent position. During that time, I met a wonderful woman and remarried.

I hung on!

People ask me, Mike, how did you do it? How did you get through so much?

I dont know, I tell them.

Theres a maple tree shading one corner of our deck. A finch-feeder hangs from one of its branches. Its a cheesecloth bag filled with thistle. Sitting on our deck, I watched the finches clinging to the side of the bag, pulling the thistle through the fabric. The wind blew hard. The feeder swung wildly. Those not feeding, clung to the branches. The tree bent precariously. The branches bounced up and down. The wind gave the finches a good ride, but they had faith in the tree. It bent and swayed, but they stayed in the tree.

They hung on.

The question people have asked me came to mind, Mike, how did you do it?

I know the answer now. I had faith that things would be OK. I believed things had to get better. I clung to my branch and rode the winds of life until the storms were over.

I hung on!

Michael T Smith


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