Homelessness is a curable illness in our society. It isn’t just mental illness. It isn’t just drug issues. It is poverty. It is life out of control. It is due to the fact that now every person can make enough to survive. And how most people don’t take the time to listen, because “we” have busy lives or “we” can’t do anything about “their” problems. They’ll figure it out. Someone else will help.
But there is homelessness. I know. That is what I am facing. What a dear friend faced for years and I didn’t know. The guilt I still feel overwhelms me fairly often, because she is still my mentor. My dear friend, and I could have helped her. I could have given a place to stay. It would have been tight and sometimes uncomfortable, because my ex-husband was “helpful” when it was convenient and he could get Buddhist points. He had empathy problems. One of the reasons he’s an “ex”. Good guy only goes so far in the real world.
I have an anoxic brain injury. Should I expect to be homeless? I did nothing wrong. I was just living life, trying to be a friend, a business partner, trying to start my life over again. Then we participated in a Christmas Faire in Sonora to showcase our business and the day after we got back from that successful show, I had a stroke. Drove myself to the hospital, because ambulances are expensive. I was in the hospital for 3 days. I don’t recall much of what the doctor said, other then I had had a stroke. My life ended that day.
And I came to realize that people don’t understand stroke. Especially when you’re 51 and you have one. And the overwhelming loneliness of having to do it alone with little help. The County doesn’t help, especially if you have a little money in the bank. They don’t care that is all you have and when it runs out, you have nothing. If you have no money, they may help you,but if you own a car you could sell it for money. I could be a hooker too, but that illegal. Besides, I would be lousy at it. Probably raped or killed and never making a dime.
That is the face of homelessness. Desperation while still clinging to life. There was a vet I saw at a freeway off-ramp in Banning. Little more than a truck stop on the wa to Palm Springs, but Mom called it home. When I would go to my storage unit (my stuff in Mom’s house? It wouldn’t fit in HER house.), I would see him. I stopped and talked to him a few times, gave him what money I had. I heard his story. He lost the lower half of his left leg to an IED in Afghanistan. He lived with his disabled sister. He was begging for money on the off-ramp because their prescription drugs were costly. His sister needed a helper because he couldn’t do everything he needed. His brother-in-law had left. She had two kids in High School. They were trying to keep a roof over their head. He was having a hard time finding stead work as an amputee. A lot of places said they would help, but their insurance costs, etc. I could get work 45 minutes away, not something he could do. His sister’s car was a stick and he hadn’t been able to master the clutch. They were a paycheck away from being homeless.
The local Boy Scouts did food drives on a regular basis to help the local food bank. I donated bags of healthy groceries. Everyone deserves a hot meal once a day, especially kids. Mom often scoffed at my generosity. “You need it more than they do. They have to learn to take care of themselves!” I didn’t learn compassion or charity from her. She was a selfish bitch. Couldn’t even spare a $1 if someone was begging outside of Carl’s Jr. “They’ll just use it for drugs!” Not always the case, but she was always right. She wasn’t always that way. She changed when I was a teenager. Everyone was out to get her then.
I took care of her the last few years of her life and she physically abused me and accused me of horrible things like stealing her house and her money. She put me through hell for decades, but I took care of her because I promised Dad. Had I known the depth of her lies and deceit, she deserved to die alone. I gave her so much, so much time and money, so much more than most kids do for their parents. Everything was never enough. There was always something more I could do, in her mind. I was her property, never a daughter. Just her possession.
There are many reasons for homelessness, but in our society we have to make it that person’s fault. They are at fault, Period. They did it to themselves. They don’t want to “get better”. What if they want to? What help do you get then? Nothing that I can see. So many programs with their lists to qualify for services. Fill out this packet and if you qualify, we’ll send you a letter. Drive to the next place. Fill out another packet and are you trying to qualify for another program? If you qualify and don’t get approved for that program, we’ll send you a letter on the next steps to get you registered. Stop. Rinse. Repeat. It’s endless. And if you have money in a bank account, even $100, you won’t qualify. And no one listens. Just a form where they give you a number. It’s human prison without the lock up every night.
This isn’t everyone’s experience, but it happens. Too often. When I have a 5 year old asking me for money with Daddy just a few feet away doing the same thing, why should I have any hope? I want to change things, bring more awareness to this plight, the difficulty in taking care of the elderly as an adult child. I want to write a couple books outlining my experiences dealing with her end of life and what ma become my end of life. I want to live. but it’s getting too hard. I am so scared. I just cry now. That is something I have done alone for nearly 20 years. I’ve gotten good at it. I can do it noiselessly.