A True American Story
You come to the U.S.A at the age of 13 in 1956. You are one of the older children so it’s your responsibility to help provide for the family. This means that earning an honest day’s pay takes precedence over education. As such, you drop out of school so you can work and help the family.
You meet a woman and fall in love. Shortly after marriage you are happy to learn that you will be a father. Best of all, your wife is pregnant with twin boys. You were expecting a child not children so you take another job to save in order to provide. Your apartment is okay but not in the best of neighborhoods. You always knew this but with 2 children on the way you do not want them to live in the area that you have lived so you take another job and save enough money to you can purchase a home in a better neighborhood. You don’t make a lot of money but you know if you keep doing what you’re doing you will save enough money so that your down payment will provide you with a mortgage payment that can be paid. You know that it won’t be easy but you forge ahead.
You twin boys are now 6 and the time has come to buy your home. You’re tired of the drugs and gangs that inhabit your neighborhood and are glad that your family will no longer have to deal with living in these conditions. The house is in decent shape but needs a lot of work. Your fine with it as you know have a good paying job that will provide but things will be tight. It’s a nice place to live and it’s convenient. Schools, transportation, church and shopping are located within a few blocks in either direction.
Your wife wasn’t supposed to be able to have any more children with the difficulties in giving birth to twins. She had become pregnant a few times after giving birth but miscarried each time. SURPRISE!!!!!!! Your wife is pregnant. You have two children and a wife and although you make a decent living you wonder how in the world will you be able to provide for another child? You know that your wife cannot stand miscarrying again so you hope and pray that all will be okay. All is okay. You are now the proud father of a bouncing baby boy.
The neighborhood is changing. It used to be such a nice place to live. What happened? Everything you thought you left behind seems to be following you. The wheels of your car were stolen right in front of your own house! Drugs are crime surround you. You feel helpless. You can’t pick up and move as you simply can’t afford it. You hope that you raised your children to make the right decisions and be able to keep themselves from the temptation and influence that surround them each day.
BAD NEWS!!!! Your wife has been ill before but was able to beat breast cancer. She hasn’t been feeling well lately so she goes to the doctor. She learns that she has bone cancer and its spreading fast. It appears that the radiation treatment she received when battling breast cancer has contributed and may very well be the cause of this cancer. One of your children has developed a horrible drug habit and has stolen enough money from you that you really don’t know what to do. He’s your son and your wife is going to die. You’ve already lost both of your parents and 4 of your siblings. You feel totally helpless and start taking each day one day at a time.
Your wife has been admitted to a hospice and is given a few months to live. You go to work every day and on the way home go to the hospice to sit at her bedside and talk. Your youngest son has just graduated from college and is having a hard time dealing with his brother and his mother’s circumstances. You worry about him but know that your oldest child is there to help him through.
Your wife’s friend has been great. She often goes with you to see your wife. She has always been a good friend to both you and your wife. She’s a good person with a tremendous heart and although she doesn’t have much she is always willing to give and provide a helping hand. You begin to develop feelings for her as she develops feelings for you.
It is now what seems to be a normal day lately. Your wife is no longer able to speak and is in constant pain but you are there for her as you have been each day for the last 6 months. You are in her room with your youngest son and your brother. Your son knows the end is near and you don’t know what to say to him. He kisses his mother good night and leaves for the 20 minute drive back to his apartment. About 10 minutes later you look at your wife to realize that it appears she has stopped breathing. You call the nurse. When the nurse arrives they check her pulse but you don’t need to hear what you already know. You wife has passed………….
It’s about a year and a half later. It’s a normal day and you’re sitting in your recliner watching TV. You hear the front door open and in walks in your two sons. It’s a bit odd considering it’s not only late but the middle of the week as well. Your youngest sits down on the couch with tears in his eyes while your oldest begins to speak. You knew that if your middle son didn’t straighten himself out he would wind up either in jail or dead. Your middle son didn’t straighten himself and he isn’t in jail.
It’s been a hard life lately and you want to know what happiness feels like again. You decide you want to remarry and you do just that. Life is going good and you have 3 grandchildren but you are having difficulty in adjusting to retirement. You weren’t sure if you would ever make retirement but you did. You always enjoyed working on cars so you decide to buy a few clunkers and fix them up. On other days you go fishing by yourself or with a neighbor. Yeah life has thrown you a few curveballs but you managed to get by.
You’re a bit tired and decide that it’s time to go to sleep. Your wife hates when you come to bed late at night and knew you would be doing just that tonight so she goes to sleep in one of the spare bedrooms so you won’t wake her. You make your way up the stairs and into your bedroom. As you enter your bedroom you feel a pain like you have never felt before. You have no control of your body and fall to the floor. You cannot speak and you cannot move. You lay on the floor for what seems like an eternity before your wife awakens to find you. She calls an ambulance and you’re on the way to the hospital.
You are in the emergency room and you keep trying to get up but you can’t. You can’t move half your body and you can’t talk. You wife, brother and youngest son are in the room and talking to doctors. You’ve suffered a terrible stroke and the doctors don’t know if you will make it another day. You survive but you never are able to move your right arm or walk again. You try to speak but the only words that make it out of your mouth sound like gibberish. You are now bound to a wheel chair for the rest of your days.
Your wife could have left but she cares for you when your nurse aides leave for the day. She and the boys just don’t get along. You see both sides of the argument but are powerless to do anything about it. Everything you have ever worked for is soon to be for nothing. You think back to when you visited your father and his death bed when he apologized for not being able to leave you and your siblings with anything. You aren’t rich but have a few things. You have a JEEP that you restored, a motor home that was supposed to take you and your first wife across the country when you retired. You have a truck that you wanted for quite some time, an investment property and the home that you struggled to purchase so long ago.
The cost to pay for your care far exceeds your retirement income. Your motor home is now gone along with your investment property. Your life savings is flowing from your accounts like water. The only assistance available is for people who have nothing, not people who have something that will be left with nothing. You sit in your living room, unable to walk, move and speak and think about what you had, what you have and what will be left when it’s all said and done. You think about the past and the good times but today you simply sit and await the inevitable.
This is not a story about the American Dream nor is this a story of happiness. It’s nothing more than a True American Story.