Broke, Broken, and Out of Work
January 1988

“Broke, Broken, and Out of Work,” Ensign, Jan. 1988, 51–52

Broke, Broken, and Out of Work

After graduating from college, my husband and I had both taken minimum-wage jobs to survive, so we were greatly relieved after fifteen months when Roger finally landed a “real job” with a newspaper on the East Coast—the opposite end of the continent from our families in California. Our joy was somewhat overshadowed by a fear of the unknown, but with a mixture of hope and trepidation, we packed our few belongings to move the 2,300 miles to Norwalk, Connecticut.

Roger went first to find an apartment and get settled in at the newspaper. I followed three weeks later with our two sons and the cat, towing all our earthly belongings in a trailer behind the car.

We were frightened to go where we knew no one, but the Church members in Connecticut responded with love. The bishop, who drove fifty miles into the middle of Manhattan to pick Roger up at 2:00 in the morning, had arranged for him to stay temporarily in the home of a vacationing family.

The members’ kindness helped us feel welcome and loved from the beginning. However, one thing still prevented me from enjoying the full sisterhood of Relief Society. The Sunday block meeting system had not yet been instituted, and since Roger took our only car to work each day, I had no way of getting to Wednesday morning meetings.

Five weeks after we arrived, we met some LDS neighbors and one of them, Sally, offered to take me to Relief Society.

Sally picked my boys and me up the following Wednesday. It was a stormy morning and the pavement was extremely slick. As we rounded a turn in the road, a large van went out of control and slid into us head-on. Instead of going to Relief Society, we were taken to the hospital.

The Relief Society sisters were there even before Roger. One of the presidency, a high-fashion model, had cancelled a hundred-dollar-an-hour photo session to come to our bedsides. Within hours we had seen all the presidency and both of my new visiting teachers.

Unlike Sally, who had to spend the next eight weeks in traction and an additional eight months recuperating, my children and I were able to go home the following day. But we weren’t without problems.

Aaron, my two-year-old, had been thrown into the dashboard. His jaw was broken, and he needed special soft foods and plenty of care.

Adam, only a week past his first birthday, had very nearly died in the accident. He had suffered a badly broken nose that caused profuse bleeding.

My face was cut as I crashed into the windshield. I didn’t look very good, and the accompanying concussion left me confused and unable to care for my children or keep up with basic household responsibilities.

Church members filled in. Sisters took away our dirty laundry and brought it back clean and folded. Others brought in meals. Still others were there to “babysit” all three of us during our first days home.

But the auto accident was not our only trouble. Three days after the accident, Roger received a phone call from his office: “You know that newspaper we just put out? It’s our last.” After 128 years of publication, the paper was going out of business.

There we were: broke, broken, and out of work. It was one of the lowest moments of our lives.

The members of the Church saw us through. During all of that frightening autumn, we continued to receive hot meals, dinner invitations, “care packages,” and many other expressions of kindness and concern.

As soon as I was back on my feet, I took temporary clerical work, but it was barely enough to meet the rent. More than once, the kindness of the members pulled us through when we didn’t have enough to eat.

Sometimes, our loving friends almost overdid it. When Thanksgiving came, we had two turkeys. During the weeks before Christmas, we received two Christmas trees, another turkey, and a large box of dinner trimmings. The Laurels quilted blankets for the boys, one family brought two tricycles, and slowly our Christmas took shape. During all of this our testimonies grew stronger through watching dedicated members of the Church live the teachings of Christ.

On Christmas Eve we received another gift—another local newspaper offered Roger a job. We often refer to it as “the best Christmas gift we ever received.” However, we really know that the best gift of all was the love and service we received from the Connecticut Saints. They not only saved us temporally, but helped deepen our commitment to the gospel.

  • Susan H. Aylworth teaches English at California State University at Chico and is a Sunday School teacher in the Chico Fourth Ward.

Illustrated by Larry Winborg