Monday, June 30, 2014

Life Catch Up

HOLY CATS! I can’t believe it’s been a year since last I posted. So much happened this past year that I was unsure at times that I would survive. There is no real place to start, except at the beginning, and I shall give you a synopsis, ere this turns into a novel.

Last July, my husband was offered, and accepted, a promotion and transfer with his job. He was also given a slight raise in pay, but one that barely rises to the occasion of our new home’s expenses.

Our oldest son was a senior in high school, and so hubby and I decided that hubby would move to the new job location in Maryland, while I would stay with the boys in Florida. In retrospect, this is not a mistake we would ever make again.

My father, as part of a spend-down to get my mom into a home, had been unable to give my son his old car, a car which was in good shape. He had to sell the vehicle and claim the money as income; we did not have the money to buy the car. If I had it to do over again, I’d take a loan and get the money, especially as once Mom was in the home, Dad would be able to pay it off for us had he wanted to. But, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So, when he came to bring my younger son home from his summer visit in August, my dad went out and bought my older son a vehicle with the money he had gotten from the sale of his car. We thought it was a good truck, and it wasn’t bad, but it was not in the same shape that my father’s car had been in. Over the months, it became a real money pit, needing new tires, new brakes, a new clutch, and sucking down gas the way a drunken hooker sucks down booze.

Hubby’s job put him up in temporary quarters in a hotel, but that would run out at the end of September, after which, we would be paying two rents, two cable bills, and two electric bills, all off of basically one income. The oldest boy started a job in September, working in a hotel as basically a runner for the maids. Also in September, I started a part-time job at my friend’s store, covering for here assistant manager until that girl returned from maternity leave. When the girl returned, another girl had to take some family leave time, and so I covered for her. By the time she returned, Christmas season was upon us and I was able to stay for the holiday selling period. By Christmas, my son had had enough of his job—he would have to come in early, stay late, could never make plans to see his girl on the weekend, and all for the same rate of pay as the folks who were never there and did not work as hard as he did. The final straw came when he was falsely accused by his manager of stealing; in fact, it turned out the manager had been the thief, but by then it was too late—he was once more unemployed.

Also in September, I began the arduous task of preparing our recently purchased, barely moved into house for sale. We would have to divest ourselves of it anyway, as even if we managed to make it through the year with the two sets of bills, we would not be able to manage to do that for long once we were all together again. And so, while playing single mom to two boys who are highly intelligent but would make a sloth exclaim, “Man! That dude is laaaa-zy.” (at least when it came to their studies), I set about fixing and cleaning and moving things to a storage unit to make the house look less cluttered. Mind, I was working 20 hours or so at the store, as well as working my business still.

Two months later, we got a bite on the house that would pay off our loan and give us a small profit. We closed on December 23, but the new owners were kind enough to let us stay on (rent free) until the 2nd of January. Unfortunately, our apartment was not ready until the 3rd. So, everything went to another storage unit and on the 3rd, we brought in some friends and moved nearly everything out in one day, as hubby had to start driving back to Maryland on the 3rd, too.

Our rent went up by $200 per month from what I had originally been told (a total of $500 over what our mortgage was), but there was little I could do about it, having no place else to stay. I didn’t dare complain too much, as hubby had grown weary of the bachelor life and kept threatening to bring us all to Maryland; meanwhile the older boy was determined to stay in his school (or at least in Florida) come Hell or high water.

Sometime over the summer, the older boy had changed his mind about entering military service. Now, anyone who’s ever met him knows that this is a boy who is uniquely called to the military. He thrives on the discipline, and serving for a minimum of four years will help him mature and reach his overall goals. But, at any rate, the boy had decided to go to trade school, working full-time somewhere (no job at the time, just a nebulous “somewhere”) and get his mechanic’s license. Now, there is nothing wrong with this plan. IF he had a job. IF he had a place to stay once we left. IF he was any good with school when left to his own devices. IF. IF. IF.

As part of his rebellion while his father was gone, and seeing as he was now a “man” being all of 18 years old, he had gone out and gotten himself a tattoo in September; after his father left in January, he went out and got a lip piercing. I have nothing against tattoos or piercings, BUT if you’re trying to get a job, these things do limit your choices.

Long story short (I know, too late again), I finally went down and spoke to his recruiter, and between the two of us, we managed to get him to go down there and sign up for MEPS. Before MEPS, he was told to get rid of the piercing, that he could put it back afterwards. Luckily, the piercing closed during MEPS, and he was loath to have it re-done. Talking with his recruiter and going to MEPS rekindled his passion for the military, but nothing would get him to study and do well in school.

Right up until the last week of school, and in fact, the actual graduation itself, I worried that he wouldn’t graduate, but somehow, miraculously, and thanks to the patience and leniency of his teachers about handing in late work, he made it. I have never been so proud, happy, scared, sad, and relieved all at once in my life.

Now, during this time also, my dearest cousin, who had battled juvenile diabetes since she diagnosed herself (pre-internet, folks!) in her early teens, was found to have intestinal cancer. She had fought the diabetes so long, receiving a new spleen and even donating her eggs and her husband’s sperm so that they could raise two adorable children. We thought sure this was just another battle that General Jan would win. We were wrong. Two months ago, Jan passed away, fighting until the bitter end to remain with her family. Jan’s mother, one of my favorite two aunts, passed away only a year and a half ago.

Before and while this was going on with my cousin, my mother’s condition worsened. Alzheimer’s cannot be cured yet. She went from being able to walk to meals and take care of her own bathroom needs to sitting listlessly in a bed all day, having to be fed (liquids only, and not much of those, as she could not chew or swallow solids) and having someone change her like a baby. My poor Momma lost more than half of her weight in less than a year; she was so weak and fragile. Saturday morning, at 5:00, she won her battle with Alzheimer’s and crossed the veil to the other side.

Three months ago, I was also diagnosed with Type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. No wonder, considering that all of these conditions can have stress as one of their root causes.

I am not one of those people who writes when the stress is on, particularly not given the incredibly over-the-top amount of stress I was going through (there were, as you can imagine, multiple arguments with the teen and his father). To some people’s way of thinking, that means I am not a writer. So be it. There are a lot of writers out there, who respond in different ways. There are a lot of people out there, who respond to stress in different ways. My way is to become almost manically physically active between bouts of depression that have me sleeping long hours. Creativity at such times seems somehow self-indulgent to me. Not that I begrudge it of others, just not my thing.

At any rate, with Mom no longer suffering and the rest of life settling in, I might be able to get back to blogging soon. Mom and Cousin Jan would want me to get back to writing. And I know--*snort* “synopsis”. But this “is” the short version.