The reality is sinking in that Richard is home full-time now. As of April 22 he was “resigned in good standing” at the Missouri Veterans Home as is their policy when a person enters long-term disability. The maximum time of disability support will be four years given Richard’s age. At that time he will be rolled over into early retirement without penalty at age 62. Since his time of service within a state agency was only eighteen months, his state retirement will be quite small, significantly smaller than disability. Also his retirement from any other sources will not kick in until he reaches 65 or older.
Anticipating a gap in income, we see a time to take stock of our future by looking at the past. We recalled that Richard had received a parcel a few months before his incident that led to his diagnosis and brain surgery. The parcel was from Jane Hillhouse, a cousin and graphic design artist.
Back in 1994 he had been corresponding with Jane about publishing the patterns he had developed while he was in seminary. In the 1980s during his seminary years he had supported the family with a home-based tailoring business specializing in ecclesiastical garments. He had developed his own patterns for albs, cassocks, surplices and other components of the clergy wardrobe.
In 1994 he was seriously seeking to publish the patterns but even with Jane’s help he could not find a printer to reasonably produce an affordable product. Botswana then came into our picture and Richard told Jane, “Thank you, but we can forget this. It isn’t going to work.” Jane set the parcel of samples aside.
In 2010 Jane was cleaning a closet and found the parcel. She posted it to Richard. He looked at it and placed it on his I’ll-get-to-it-later shelf, dismissing it at the time.
As is the natural nudging nature of a wife, I reminding him of the pattern parcel when we were waking up to our financial future. He pondered it a few days and then declared, “I’d like to try my sewing business again. I’d like to be my own boss.”
We have embarked on the new journey back to tailoring. This time I am more intimately involved because Richard is not certain about managing the financial and marketing side. We are not living in a seminary community, thus we will have a different challenge in connecting with customers.
To assure himself that he can do it, Richard decided to construct some test garments to confirm that he can manage the patterns. It looked like watching a man take to a bicycle after years of sitting on the curb. He was a bit wobbly at first, but then the momentum grew. Soon he had the small, medium and large albs completed. What a blessing that the Lord so conveniently provided models for test fitting them. He was even able to try different styling features on each one. Voila!
MAN OF THE CLOTH is born again.