Bonnie had her stroke in 2007, June.
I was weeks away from taking my tests to become a licensed cosmetologist. I’d completed all of my hours and all I needed to do was test. The plan was to pack up and move to Reno, Nevada. The very first plan was Las Vegas, but the economy at that time and the proximity to the city where G was put the axe on that plan.
I figured Reno was still a resort town, and there would be similar opportunities for success and a 29 mile distance between he and I.
Frankly when mom had her stroke, I didn’t change my plans right away. I simply thought I would delay them for a few months. I didn’t think then that seven years later I would still be here, caring for Bonnie.
I’m proud of the progress she’s made, but I didn’t expect to still be here.
I needed to be here. She will always need someone to care for her and I am all that she has left. She does have one living sister – Valerie – who is evil to the core, selfish, and greedy. No matter how strained my history is with Bonnie, there was no way that I could leave her to the devices of Valerie.
I made the only decision that I could, I just didn’t know that it would take so much out of me.
I got a job at a social service agency, and for a good long time things were okay.
Even though the damage that Valerie did was still trickling in day by day, we were managing. I won’t lie and say that it was easy, it wasn’t. Not then, and certainly not now. We were managing though.
When I had to leave my job for health reasons – both mine and Bonnie’s – I did all the right things. I cut back on all of the frills and tightened our budget. For a while we still managed, until we didn’t.
We lived and live as much as we can, with what we have. It’s not a lot, but I figure it out. In the past three years though things have been rough.
Now that we are virtually out of it I can share HOW rough. Valerie left us in debt. In just those few months before I was able to assume control of mom’s health and well being she was able to do a lot of damage:
- A new mortgage on the home
- A new car for her daughter
- Thousands of dollars in AMEX charges
- Thousands more in payments to debts that were not my mother’s like the water bill on the house on 30th St
When I worked I paid, I paid a lot. The thing is though I haven’t worked for quite some time. All of that debt came crashing down on us, no matter how I tried to balance and manage things.
In the past 2 and a half years we’ve faced foreclosure on the home, weeks without electricity, weeks without gas, weeks without both electric AND gas, days where Bonnie & Clyde could only eat twice while I didn’t eat at all, and the perpetual deficit that comes when you have more month than money.
On more than one occasion I considered calling their respective social workers and telling them I give up. I felt like I was failing them and that I was causing them harm. I felt like the world was collapsing around me.
My shrink says I’ve been living in survival mode, and frankly he is right, but that is not a life. It’s turned my hair white and raised my blood pressure.
I soldiered on though, fueled by my love for them both.
October 2013 is the first month in almost 3 years that we didn’t begin with a financial deficit. I was able to pay all of the bills. It hasn’t left a lot over for other things, but the lights are on – the gas is on – the water runs & Sprout still plays on the television.
Sometimes we had help, like a neighbor who would let us cook or would invite mom over to watch TV to distract her. Like my friend Bishop who talked to me every day (when the phone worked) and told me silly jokes to raise my spirit. Like my friend L who appeared with a hot meal and $15 when there was no food or hope of food in the immediate future.
Some nights I would walk the hardwood floors of the first floor crying in silence because I didn’t want to wake them. Some days the weight of our predicament made me faint.
In addition to all of that, the love of my life The Man grew gravely ill and the one segment of sanity in my life – my relationship – crumbled.
I’m still standing though. My family is still together. They still smile at me even though I make both of them eat their vegetables at dinner and I am stingy with the ice cream.
We are not totally out of the woods. There remains one very large issue that is not yet resolved and I have no idea how it will turn out.
I do know that we’ve made it this far so we can make it just a little bit further.