If there is any doubt about the importance of unions just ask my 92-year-old mother. Her husband was a proud member of the 49’ers and knew there was value and power in numbers. He gladly paid his dues knowing his union fought for workers rights and on the job safety. It also made sure its retirees could live with dignity thanks to pensions and healthcare.
My step-father has been gone for ten years, but my mother continues to reap the benefits of his union membership. While the pension is small the health benefits pack a powerful punch in paying for needed care not covered by medicare.
I spoke with my mom today and we agreed that life would be a lot difference for her, had it not been for the 49’ers. She lives comfortably in her own home and receives the care she requires to remain independent.
Today I am thankful for unions and the efforts they have made to protect working men and women and their families in America.
He and his friend were parked at the curb. There was something about him, something familiar. As I walked by them our eyes met, I nodded and said hello. I stopped and he rolled down the window. How are you, I asked? Not good, came his reply.
He told me about his dialysis at a local hospital, how all their earthly belongings are now carried in his car which they keep running to stay warm. He pointed to the woman riding shotgun and told me how she was going to apply for unemployment and how they were checking Craig’s List for a place to live.
I asked whether the hospital’s social worker could help and he explained they offered assisted living, but she couldn’t be with him. After 30 years or more they were not willing to separate.
They were both Native American. I asked about their affiliations with a tribe or band. To far away he said…but they have friends locally who do what they can to help. In this case, friends who didn’t turn them in for parking near the business.
Love or comfort? He chose love.
Ours was a brief encounter on a lovely late summer afternoon in Northern Minnesota. I was in a hurry to get to work. As I left them I promised to send up a prayer for them.
Today, I am ashamed I didn’t do more than listen and pray. Ashamed that I didn’t get his name.