For the past three years my dad has been unemployed. This isn’t by choice or from lack of work, it is because he can no longer meet the physical demands his job requires. 34 years ago my dad began a career as a sheet metal worker. It is all he has ever done and all he has ever known.
For as long as I can remember, he has suffered from back and shoulder pain and although he rarely complained about it, I remember always being able to see the discomfort on his face. He has had multiple surgeries on both shoulders and tried nerve blocks, therapy and chiropractic methods to help with his back. None proved effective but he continued to put on his 10-15 pound tool belt each day and work his ass off. He eventually reached the status of foreman and no longer needed to carry such weight around his waist.
In 2009 my dad had a heart attack due to a 95% blockage of flow to his heart. He had surgery, which placed 2 stints in his chest, and he eventually returned to work. Shortly after he returned, however, he was laid off. He was laid off from a company he had loyally been employed with for 14 years because he was a “risk” after his heart attack. He then began work for other companies but, because he was no longer a foreman, was required to put that 15 pound tool belt back on his continually worsening lower back. This lead to even more issues with his back and he was forced to claim disability for his lower back/lumbar issues.
Once he was no longer working I noticed that the pain never got any better. I’d see him grab his lower back while walking or have to sit down after walking for prolonged amounts of time due to intense back pain.
In 2012 my dad started noticing other health issues and, once diagnosed, was told he had Type II Diabetes. Not only did this add more debilitating health problems but it also added more cost for medication on top of his already needed heart medication.
In March of 2013 his disability ran out. Because of his back and the new problems that came with his heart issues and diabetes, returning to work was not an option. At this point he had absolutely no income and was having to use money from his savings alone. This would have been enough for him to live off of for quite some time, but I attended a 4 year university and he paid for the entire thing on his own. I did not receive student loans nor could I offer him any money I earned while working, for I used it for everything else required to be living on my own (rent, bills, groceries, etc). My education was not cheap by any means and he used his own nest egg to make sure I acquired a degree. Because his savings were now so low and he could not possibly return to work he attempted to claim permanent disability. He has now been waiting over a year and a half for that hearing.
He then chose to opt for early retirement. His retirement, however, was not granted. The board declared that my dad was 6 months shy of his required time spent working in the union. I’m unclear of the details, but some sort of discrepancy occurred which incorrectly documented his time spent working and, had it been correct, he would be eligible for the retirement. He has been forced to wait for over a year to get his chance at an appeal and it may be many more months before he is given the opportunity to present one.
To add to his already overwhelming and costly health problems, he recently injured his knee – tearing his meniscus and MCL. The MRI and x-rays alone have been expensive but the treatment (either surgery or months of therapy) are beyond anything he can afford.
For the past year my dad has been attempting to sell his possessions on Ebay to try to earn some sort of income. It has saddened me to have to watch him sell things that I grew up seeing around the house, whether they were hanging on the walls or sitting on the mantle.
I recently visited home and was dismayed by what I saw in the kitchen. I remember opening the fridge and wondering how on earth he’s functioning. It was practically empty beside half a cantaloupe, some tomatoes and a jar of jelly. The freezer consisted of a bunch of those frozen 39 cent burritos. The countertops were covered with cans of tomato paste and canned beans which he later told me he got from a food drive at the local homeless shelter provided for low to no income individuals.
This is not the life I want for my dad, nor is it the one he has earned. He is the hardest working individual I have ever met and he worked as long as he possibly could. With having to pay for his medications, mortgage, self-paid insurance, bills and living essentials he will not last much longer on his savings. I wish I was in a position to be able to support him as well as myself but I am unfortunately not in the point in my life or career where I can do so. It pains me enough now to see the way his lifestyle has been forced to change and I can’t imagine what it would be like if it was forced to change much more.
Please help me support my dad and pass this along to friends and family. Any amount will help and be enormously appreciated. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.
Dad - I love you.
DonationsSee top donations
- Cheryl Strausburg
- Shellayne Runner
#1 fundraising platform
More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more
Expert advice, 24/7
Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more