I have things to complain about, I suppose, but I am also incredibly grateful for many blessings. Most recently, of course, I am grateful for my beautiful granddaughter, and for her sweet and loving parents. And I give thanks daily and repeatedly for my supportive family - my parents and sister, my siblings-by-marriage and darling mother-in-law, my cousins and aunt and uncle, all of whom have kept me going when I otherwise would have fallen and given up. And nobody could ask for better friends, both near and far (you know who you are)... I depend on you, and you never let me down.
But right now I want to acknowledge the support and kindness that I and my wonderful husband (who I cannot thank enough, or live without) have gotten from all the folks at Ameriprise Financial. From the beginning we have been surrounded by the thoughtful friendship of co-workers, the kindness and understanding of managers, and the supportive assistance of the human resources staff. It's been a tough journey, but you have made it doable.
And quite frankly, although financial resources cannot help but be strained by the unbelievable expenses of fighting a losing battle with this horrible disease, we would have found ourselves homeless and broken without the excellent benefits package that Ameriprise provides its employees.
When our son was born with serious health issues, my husband was working two backbreaking full-time jobs, and yet he had no health benefits, no paid holiday or family leave, no insurance. Than, and later when my husband was injured and unable to work for an extended period, we would have lost our home and ended up on the streets if I hadn't at the time had a retirement savings to liquidate. Even so, because of those circumstances, we found ourselves in a financial hole that we still had not entirely escaped at the time I was diagnosed. If Scott was still working in the food service industry, I would never have had access to the health care services that have been essential in the last few years. We would not still be living in our own home. Scott would not have been able to have the surgery last year that narrowly prevented a massive heart attack. I probably would not have lived long enough to hold my granddaughter in my arms.
As hard as this journey has been, it could have been so much harder. And it is so much harder, for the countless folks who work every day for minimum wage and little-to-no benefits in the retail, hospitality, and food service industries.
So I want to thank the folks at Ameriprise for keeping us warm and fed this winter. And I wish with all my heart that things will change for the many, many folks who find themselves in my position but who are not lucky enough to work for a company that has either the resources or the sense of responsibility to its employees that Ameriprise has. We've been lucky - but people's lives shouldn't have to depend entirely on luck. The USA should not be a place where we are so comfortable with the term - and the reality of - 'The Working Poor'. We should not allow companies to pay their CEO's millions of dollars a year while the people who clean their offices go without decent health care. We owe ourselves and our neighbors - and our employees - more.