June 15-20, 1970
Nate, Baron, and I arrived back in Champaign facing a big change in our relationship. In one week we would swap roles – I’d become the student, and he would be the breadwinner.
Since none of his job applications had borne fruit yet, Monday morning’s first order of business was for both of us to donate blood – an easy $50 (half-a-month’s rent). But after my schooling began, I would be busy morning (student teaching), noon (classes), and night (lesson prep), so Nate really needed to find work.
He combed the newspaper for opportunities, but the best he could do was the chance to join a construction crew. He knew very little about that but was confident he could figure out whatever they assigned him.
A local union hall invited men to show up for a day’s work with a day’s pay, and Nate decided to try it. The two of us prayed God would give him a job, and he drove to the designated parking lot to sign up. A crowd of other men were already there, but he remained optimistic.
When he walked back into our apartment by mid-morning, I was surprised. “All the jobs got assigned,” he said, “but a bunch of us didn’t get called.” He wasn’t discouraged, though, telling me he’d show up every morning till he was called.
Mom and Dad, always encouraging, offered to lift some of the pressure we were both feeling by taking little Baron for a while. It was becoming more and more stressful to have him outside yet keep him hidden, though we loved him to pieces. Besides, our landlord had always been gracious to us, especially when our rent was late, and it didn’t seem right to sneak around his pet-rule.
Although Baron was as much a stress-reliever as a problem, we decided a little time with Mom and Dad would be OK… just for now. Dad made it clear they weren’t officially adopting him, and we made it clear he wasn’t up for adoption.
By the end of the week, Nate’s name hadn’t been called even once. Our bills were mounting, we still needed a car to replace our noxious Mustang, and my summer school tuition was due.
When Saturday came, we decided to drive to Wilmette where the folks had accumulated a few more items for our apartment. “Rent a van at our expense,” they said, “and you can take all of it back at once.”
We arranged for the cheapest one we could find, a well-dented, hollowed-out thing with only one seat – the driver’s. So while Nate drove, I sat on the floor holding Baron, unable to see out the window – and quickly got car sick. But I wasn’t the only sick one.
The van was sick, too, continually threatening to overheat. So our 3 hour trip took 6, and by the time we walked in at Mom and Dad’s, both of us had sunk to a new low.
“Delayed hope makes the heart sick.” (Proverbs 13:12)