This part takes place after my father in law passed away.
After my father in law passed away, the families and friends came and went, we slowly got our lives back together. We lived in that house for a little while, but decided it was time to move on. My husband was working, I did some, but mostly was a stay at home mom. The house was falling apart and we couldn’t keep up. I swear, when Richard died, the house went with it. The air conditioner, the tv, washer and dryer, all decided to go out all around the same time.
My husband decided he was going to go to Motorcycle Mechanics Institute (MMI) in Phoenix, AZ. We had sold the house, packed up, and went on an adventure to AZ. We had friends that lived in El Paso, TX and ended up staying with them for a night. That was also the first time I had been to Mexico. Juarez, Mexico is on the other side of the Texas border and we ended up having a pretty good time. Ladies can get better prices in the markets so we ended up with a few things, ate some amazing food, and no, we didn’t drink the water.
We finally got to Phoenix and found an apartment on what money we had left. He went to go check out MMI, and decided it actually wasn’t for him. He ended up going to Arizona Automotive Institute and was doing well. But, we on the other hand were not. Two apartments in 6 months, with a 3 year old, who turned 4 there, just wasn’t working. I had jobs, but it wasn’t worth it. We couldn’t get state assistance because we had not been there 6 months. I think we had been there 4 months when we had tried to file for state assistance. When you take 2 people that had lived in a small town all their lives and put them into a major city, culture shock was at its finest. We had some pretty low times. There were times we all were eating ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My husband and I would skip meals just so we could make sure our son could eat. My son’s birthday and Christmas came and needless to say, we found an angel there that made sure our son had something for them. He was amazing. I don’t remember his name, but I remember his heart. We had probably the lowest point there of all times was when our son got sick. The first round was hand foot mouth disease. Ran its course, and he was fine. Then, not long after that, he ended up with a double ear infection. We took him to the ER and they gave us a prescription and my husband drove us home, and he went to go fill the prescription. The total was more than we had in cash. So, he said just to give him the amount he could pay for and he would figure out the rest. Cue second angel. The pharmacist paid for the difference so our son could get better. That is when we realized we probably should come home. We got to our 6 month mark and it was also our last house payment that we were going to get. We made the decision to run back home. We knew after that, we were going to probably end up homeless. So, we packed up again, and came home. We had another adventure on the way home and stopped in Tombstone, AZ. We saw some things that were amazing on the way home, and others, well we could have done without. Oh and throw in a 4 yr old who had a stomach virus along the way… that was so much fun.
We lived in Arizona from October 2004 to March 2005 . We ended up living with my parents for a while until we were able to get back on our feet. The reason I said all this, is because if we had been better prepared, I think my husband would have been able to finish school. Don’t get me wrong, Phoenix was amazing to a degree. We learned a lot about ourselves and also found an amazing church where my husband found God again. Those 6 months really shaped us for the future.
The next 10 years were pretty uneventful. My son went to school. My parents got to watch him grow. Mom and I always went out. I worked. My husband worked. One of the jobs I had was a caregiver for an at home assisted living company. I had a couple of patients that had Alzheimer’s. One lady I had, she was super sweet. Her whole family was amazing. She, I guess, was my training for mom in hindsight. I remember one day I was coming home and I called her to say hi and quite frankly to keep me awake because I was so tired. I told her, “Whatever you do, please do not come down with dementia.” She was like ok. I went on to tell her about my day and how heartbreaking it was to see someone suffer like she did.
I said 10 years because when my son was 14, in 2015, that’s when I started noticing some changes in mom. It wasn’t anything major, but it was concerning. I didn’t want to say anything to dad because I was hoping he would notice and say something to me. This is where I wish I had known what I know now about being an only child caregiver.
Mom would always drive over to get me, then I would drive us around. I never thought anything of it and I actually preferred it that way. But, there was one day she drove and that day changed everything. The road was one that we crossed frequently. It was a day I would never forget. It was a 2 lane each way loop that went around town. Each 2 lanes was a one way. Cross one side, wait, cross the other side. Well, she didn’t look the way she needed to and almost got us killed. At least I would have been killed. There was an 18 wheeler that was coming and I had to yell at her to stop. I probably went completely white because I was scared beyond anything I have ever felt before. After that, I told dad I had started noticing changes and told him about the near death experience we had. To this day, it still sends me to a bad place if I think about it. After I told dad about that, he had told me that he had noticed her repeating herself more. I had noticed it too, probably for a year or so, but I guess it was just denial on my part. Being an only child, you don’t have someone else to talk to. Yes, I had my dad and my husband, but to have another person who grew up with you, it was much needed. I craved that so much in this journey with mom.
It wasn’t long, maybe a few months, that mom had an appointment with her regular doctor. I knew I needed to speak up but I was so unsure how to. But, my oppertunity came when mom had gone to the restroom. I grabbed her doctor and told her what dad and I were seeing and about the near accident. She agreed that there was reason for concern. We scheduled an appointment soon after that and that is when life began to change.