Not By Choice
Even though the weather was hot and humid, the minute I arrived home from work, I decided that I needed to prepare my fair entries for delivery to the Central Wisconsin State Fair. I looked forward to relaxing when that job was finished.
Allowing myself a few minutes of respite from my scheduled labor, I sat down at the desk and checked my email account. I found a message from the company that owns The Buyer’s Guide, a weekly advertisement newspaper that I’ve had a column in for the last 25 years and three months.
My eyes widened as I read, “As you may know, we are undergoing some changes in how we allocate editorial resources for the Hub City Times. As part of this, we have moved away from a paid columnist structure. Effective immediately, we will no longer be able to pay for the Lifelines column.”
I thought, “What?” I knew that the paper had moved away from publishing just advertisements and my column to having local news stories and other columnists. Since I never go to the office, I hadn’t known that my column was at risk.
Picking up the telephone, I called my daughter, Tammie.
“What’s up, Mom?” She asked.
I said, “The Buyer’s Guide just fired me via e-mail.”
In the days that followed, I noticed that I was grieving the loss of my column as if I was grieving the loss of a beloved family member. Losing the extra income from my writing was a blow, but after twenty five years, Life Lines was a daily companion that I enjoyed sharing my thoughts with.
My co-workers at the hospital where I work as a Certified Nursing Assistant disagreed with me when I told them that I’d been fired. One of them said to me, “They just said they were going to stop paying you. That isn’t being fired.”
Giving her a quizzical look, I asked, “If the hospital told you that they would no longer pay you for your work, wouldn’t you call THAT being fired?”
My mind slowly rumbled though all the different, but familiar stages of loss; denial, anger, bargaining, depression. In the last eight years, alone, I’ve lost not only my 56 year old husband, but also my 42 year old son-in-law. The loss of writing a weekly column is trivial compared to them, but it is a loss that hurts nonetheless.
The main thought that I’ve been having the past few days is realizing how very fantastic it has been to have this column for all of these years. How many people get to have this sort of forum? What fun I’ve had with it! The responses from my readers have been wonderful.
The final stage of grieving is acceptance. Okay, so my column in the paper has ended. That doesn’t mean that I have to stop writing and sharing. Where does that leave me? Writing isn’t anything without readers. That means that I will have to contact editors of magazines. Another idea is to put my articles together into a book. E-publishing is another possibility.
I’ve decided to share my stories in a weekly blog. I will continue to write about life as a woman living in the Midwest. It was not my choice to end the Life Lines column in the paper, but I am moving on, I hope you, my cherished readers, will move on with me.