Grieving for life around mill

Published 9:21 am Saturday, May 15, 2010

To the Editor:

The gray stacks have marked the landscape of this town for a century — the putrid smell constant, offering security to employees and community alike.

Daddy came home each afternoon, worn down from a hard day’s work and the troubles of keeping a paper mill running. He tried to satisfy my curiosity by describing his workplace, but I was unable imagine it. I just knew it provided the clothes I wore, the meals I ate, the vacations we took.

A papermaker’s daughter eventually became a papermaker’s wife. I watched my husband come home each day, worn down from the demands of shift work and sending paper out into the world.

I listened as he tried to describe his workplace to another curious young girl. She’ll never see inside the place where her two favorite men gave so much of their lives. The star Daddy made atop the Christmas tree that’s looked down over our community for years shone bright in the cool April nights. A final, rebellious farewell. The gray stacks now stand still.

Hard hats form a makeshift monument to the way of life that has defined us. “For Sale” signs pop up like weeds in every neighborhood, each day bringing more. Moving vans, instead of log trucks, rumble down the highway. Today, I grieve.

Eager for a new life, but sad to see the old one end. Wondering what God has in store, I fall into His lap as the tears begin to flow.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. -Matthew 5:4 (ESV)

Melissa Jackson


EDITOR’S NOTE: This commentary originally appeared an the author’s blog at