May 14, 2012

Master of the House

M, Master of Structural Engineering
Some things are not easy.

My husband has a lot of experience in this department.  He had a position that was just this close to his dream job, at a firm that supported him through brain cancer, through our wedding... his boss was a friend, mentor, and ally.  And then the market crashed, investors pulled the plug on the thousands of construction projects, large and small, that kept M's industry going, and he lost his job.  That was a few weeks before the girls were born. was also three months before he had enough work experience to take a major licensing exam that would improve his prospects exponentially.

For a year, my husband searched and searched for work.  He even had a job for a day- one day- when his employer learned that he was on anti-seizure drugs as a result of his brain surgery... and he lost the job.

He finally got a job, right around the girls' first birthday.

We didn't bring the girls- it was cold and rainy.
And that job was Hell.  He would wake up at an ungodly hour, drive to Gary, IN of all horrific places, spend all day in the steel mill inspecting reports of inspections of things that nobody would repair, and making photocopies.  His office was a masterpiece of inefficiency.  He was the only person who knew how to use Excel, and ended up- thanks to his intimidating size- being wrangled into acting as security every time his boss fired somebody.  He was yelled at daily for things like looking at other people's desks- which he had to do in order to scope out available work stations.  Because in the fifteen months he was there, he never got a computer to do his work on.

He worked seventy to eighty hour weeks.

I managed to sit where we could make eyes at each other
And on top of that, the same month that he finally started working, he also started working on his Master's.

He left our house at four in the morning, worked all day, and then drove past our house, back up to school.  And he stayed there and studied.  And then he came home, slept for about four or five hours, and did it again.

On weekends as well.

When he finally got a job that took him out of Gary and put him back into his actual field and area of expertise, it was in a chaotic crunch for a deadline.  He went from working seventy hours a week at the mill to working seventy hours a week downtown, engineering what I believe will be the second tallest building in Europe once it's completed.  He loved the work, but it gave him so much less time to study.  There just weren't enough hours in the day to keep up the pace.  And still, he kept at it.

I love this man.
During last semester, my husband held three different jobs in two states.

For a remarkable amount of the last year and half, my husband has hardly seen his children.  They all live under the same roof, but more days than not M has been out of the house before the woke up and didn't return until well after bedtime.  But whenever he could be he has been here, and his children have never doubted for an instant that they are the most important thing in his world.

My husband is a brain cancer survivor, and he still has some problems relating to that cancer.  He has a lowered seizure threshold.  He has nerve damage in one leg.

What he accomplished would have been a remarkable feat for anyone.

On Saturday, my husband received his Master's degree.

M with Grandpa and Grandma
He says he doesn't feel like it's a big deal.  He sees it as just another step he needed to take to get back to where he wanted to be before the floor fell out from under us.  He thinks that he could have done better, he could have prioritized his time better, he could have done more.  Already, he's pus aside any pride or excitement about his degree, in order to focus on that licensing exam coming up in the fall.  It's been three days.

Nobody could have done more.  Nobody else could have been everything that M has been to this family.  Nobody besides him could have possibly believed that with all of the things he had done... all the work, all the studying, all the sleep deprivation.... that it wasn't enough.  That they didn't do enough.

It was more than enough.

I am more proud of my husband than I can say.

Congratulations, M.  You earned this.

You are enough for this family.  And we are so grateful to have you back again.

And we love you more than you can possibly know.

I love this man.
...he is both a giant and a genius.  And he is the most important thing in my world.


  1. 100% true. Plenty of people I know complain about their son-in-law, but I just brag about mine.

  2. ^^ A+ First comment!

  3. that's incredible. The both of you are such perfect examples of modern day parenting at it's finest; setting real life examples for your children on hard work, determination and never giving up on the dream. He should be proud, but if he's relucatant to be so, at least he's got you to be so proud of him.

  4. What a great achievement! Congratulations to you both!

  5. That's a true engineer right there - putting it aside until he passes the PE. Go M go! Now if he doesn't brag in 4 months when he passes the PE - have him checked out ;).

  6. I don't even know you guys but the love and survival in this story first gave me goose bumps then made my eyes water. Congratulations Master of the House and also well done you for your writing. I admire everything about this story. Also I used to live out there and know exactly how horrific Gary, IN is.



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