Freelancers & No Paid Time Off

If I don’t work, I don’t get paid.

This has never been something that bothered me, as I have long been the type to work more than necessary and then bring my laptop on vacation and do an hour or two a day while we relaxed.

I have no problem doing a bit of work. After all, I still get the vacation — I sleep in, eat great food, don’t work out, and explore new places. I have fun with my husband and enjoy the trip. I also get a small amount of work done.

But this week.

This has been the toughest week of my life so far.

My grandfather was hospitalized, and he had been sick for a while.

I flew down on the day of Thanksgiving. We canceled the family get-together at my brother’s house and my brother and I booked last-minute flights to go see Grandpa.

We all assumed he’d get better. He spent 2 weeks in the hospital before he went to hospice and died peacefully, in his sleep, while surrounded by all his children and grandchildren. That was the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

He was lucid just 2 days before.

It’s been horrendous.

My grandpa was larger than life. He was a builder, a fixer, and a creator. For as long as I’ve been alive, one of my most vivid memories of him has been seeing him out on the mower or the tractor or any other of the heavy machinery littering his garages and driveway.

He was always under a car, tinkering. Or building something. He would pretend to be reluctant, but he adored helping any of us 3 grandkids fix things. He picked out my first car. He built us a treehouse when we were 8 or 9, then handed us nails and some wood and tried to teach us how to make furniture for it.

He was a self-made man who lived the true American Dream. He started with nothing and created a business of used truck parts and a junkyard, and grew it into an empire. He and my grandma got to live the retirement they wanted, traveled often, and loved us all.

He and Gramma were married for 61 years since they were 18 and 21. I can’t even imagine that type of relationship.

The funeral was Tuesday.

He would have hated the funeral. He didn’t like being the center of attention or religious ceremony. He would have hated seeing people get so emotional and cry over him.

But I guess the funeral isn’t meant for the dead, but for the living. To say goodbye, to pay respects, to have something to see, to hold on to.

I’ve never lost anyone so close to me before.

It has been a blur of family, tears, and yes, even some laughter.

When all the cousins get together, we enjoy it. We love hanging out and haven’t gotten the chance to see each other much as we got older and moved away and started new traditions.

We played Grandpa’s favorite game — poker — with his own poker chips.

We drank his favorite whiskey and we shared our funniest stories of him.

It won’t get easier for a while, but it will someday. He continues to live in my heart and his name will leap off my tongue at the oddest moments. “You know, your great-grandpa used to love this…” to my niece and nephew and to my own hypothetical children.

And while I mourned and grieved and ate bagels with my family, I still had to pull out my computer and do some work here and there. Do the tasks that I do daily to keep my business running and my clients happy. I let them all know what was going on so that they could cut me some slack for this week.

But the stress of this week, the anxiety of the flights, the breaking of my meticulous routine, and the worry over not doing work for my clients has been a bit overwhelming.

I smoked some cigarettes even though I quit over a year ago. I drank even though I’m not a big drinker.

And I didn’t write. This is he first thing I’ve written since it happened.

I will remember Grandpa as the Godfather of our family, I will continue his legacy by living by his teachings and by telling his stories.

Hey, have I told you about the time he took me fishing and we caught a shark…?

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