I’m 66 years old and I suddenly have two children.
I have to admit that it is a shock to my system. One day I’m home doing laundry thinking about projects, the next day I’m figuring out what to do with my grandchildren who have no home.
Sammy, 14, and Tori, 11, are amazing kids–and even more amazing is what they have already lived through in their lives. Their mother (Wade’s daughter) died 4 1/2 years ago. Their father died on February 3, 2014. We got a call from a frantic neighbor saying, “Bill is dead.”
Bill was only 42, and had been ill for the last few months. The only thing we can figure out is that he just couldn’t do it anymore. It is hard to imagine reaching that state of mind, but people do it every day.
What is wonderful is that we now have two young people to help finish raising–as they have been pretty much raising themselves for many years. What is hard is how difficult it is for them to work through all these changes. They want their old life back. They want their parents. They want to go to the same schools. They want something different.
It isn’t even that they don’t want us. They are grateful they have a home. It just isn’t the home they want.
So, here we are.
I spent the first three weeks waking up every few hours thinking of more details of what needed to be done:
Tori had to change schools immediately, so needed uniforms, school records, a bike helmet so she could ride to school. Then we had to get her new clothes, as she had outgrown most of what she had.
And Sammy needed a room. We already had one guest room we immediately converted to Tori’s bedroom, but Wade was using the other bedroom for his office. Until he could rearrange things, Sammy slept on the sofa in the den. The situation was pretty chaotic. Now Sammy has a bedroom and Wade is slowly getting his office thing worked out. Challenging.
Fortunately, Sammy and Tori have had a wonderful woman in their lives named Carol who tutored them over the last several years and had taken them under her wing–and she has had them over for weekends, visits, encourages them to invite friends, etc. It is really helpful to have a “co-parent” available. The kids love her and feel good in her home.
But this is their permanent home. We had to scramble to get Conservatorship through the court so we could enroll Tori in the new school. The system has rules, and we have to follow the rules.
Bill left no will, no money, no resources. It is a challenge, but we’re working through it. We’re into our sixth week and starting to breathe a little easier. Some things are becoming routine. Other things are still tough. Tori is dyslexic and didn’t really learn 3rd grade math. She is now at risk of not graduating from the 5th grade to go on to middle school. It is spring break and she is having to do math with us this entire week to try to catch up. She wants to go play. She’s 11 years old! She doesn’t want to work. Challenging.
We’ve tried talking it through, but mostly it has come down to making her do it. Not fun.
All that is the tough stuff. The really great stuff is that these are two of the brightest, most interesting kids I have ever met! I have conversations with them about all sorts of things. They are thoughtful, wise and extremely courageous. They stand up for themselves. They like themselves. Their dad was a fun guy who encouraged them to have fun with each other. They are very close, almost have a secret language between them. They stick together. I admire them. I love them.
They are our great gift. I wake up in the morning thinking about them, and I go to sleep knowing we have done our best each day. What else can we do?