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TinLizzy
  • Rank:Diamond Member
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  • From:Canada
  • Register:11/07/2008 01:17 AM

Date Posted:04/10/2009 17:44 PMCopy HTML

 
Do you know anyone who can afford to be poor?
 
While everyone pays off their mortgage...usually amassing enough equity to, at the very least, gain financially when the time comes to move on to bigger and better housing....renters face the problem of coming up with first and last months rent...
 
Rent that is very often more than the mortgage payments, taxes etc.
 
They rarely can settle in to living in a house and making it home....They are subject to the whims of the landlords....When house prices are on the rise,  the landlord may suddenlydecide to sell the house..The renter never knows if the perennials they planted, hoping to enjoy the following year, will be ripped apart by the new owner of the house who brings in landscapers to turn every nook and cranny in the garden into clinical perfection...
 
All the love and care that went into creating 'home' is wiped away to make way for the 'perfect' house...A showpiece for the 'rich'.
 
Memories  are gone forever....You have to move on and build more in another tempoary' home.
 
 
*********************************************
 
One thing that those of us, that have struggled to make ends meet, share in common is appreciation for what we DO have. What we HAVE had.....and what we WILL have.
 
Does anyone with 'money' have any idea how expensive it is to be poor?
 
May I share some examples?
 
HYDRO....It's tough to keep up with monthly payments and sometimes they can get out of hand...
 
Before you know it there is the note left at the door...Pay $500 by Thursday 10am or your services will be disconnected....By the way, a service charge of $30 is added  because of a personal visit to drop off the 'letter'.
 
For those that can come up with $500 within two days, there is that comfortable feeling of knowing there will be lights, TV, fridge, stove, microwave  etc.... at least for another month or two.
 
For those of us that cannot come up with $500 immediately and have no chance of it being available within the next week then its just a matter of days before the lights go out...before the fridge no longer can hold food for any more than a day or two...before the TV goes dead.....
 
So, how long before you can come up with the $500?..A week? A month?
 
Don't worry...it's not worth manipulating the budget to attempt to get back what everyone considers a necessity, but which those of us know is a luxury...By the time you have some money to pay...the bill is no longer $500 +$30...
 
The meter would have been read, and in addition the current bill would be added also....
 
$500 very quickly turns into $800...Already getting beyond the capability of even those with regular income...never mind those struggling...
 
But...it doesn't stop there....
 
BECAUSE you are struggling and couldn't pay the bill...there is a DEPOSIT required... $800...in ADDITION to the bill!
 
$1600....How many people can afford that?    
 
'Poor' people have to!
 
How do they cope?
 
Entertainment consists of battery powered radios...that is IF you can afford the batteries.
 
Lighting will be by candlelight...IF you can afford the candles....
 
Reading by candlelight may be fine for those blessed with good eyesight but for many of us its an impossibility.
 
Cooking is a challenge....How can you cook meals without a stove or microwave?
 
Eating 'out' is not an option...
 
You can barely afford to keep the basics in the fridge under normal circumstances.....now, with no fridge, you have to buy day-to-day...one or two things at a time..and without a car there is the added cost of $5 for bus fare each time you visit the superstore, or you are faced with exaggerated prices at the local Hasty Market.
 
Winter without hydro is not a pleasant experience!
 
Nothing to do but sleep after it gets dark...5pm until 14 hours later when you watch for the sunrise so you can see where you are going without stumbling over everything.
 
How do you get ready for work in the dark?  Candlelight may be flattering at night but does nothing for the application of make-up that will be scrutinised in the daylight.
 
You no longer have a washing machine to wash your clothes....Using the launderette is an option, but by this time money is so tight for the basics, like food, that it gets pushed aside until it becomes out of hand and accumulates on the basement floor in plastic bags, leaving only a few basic pieces that you have to wash by hand....
 
Without a dryer, you have to hang clothes out on a washing line, but as everyone knows...Although it smells lovely and fresh...it's wrinkled and needs ironing...but...with no electric...you can't iron it!
 
All this, (and more) until you can come up with the $1600 needed to reconnect the hydro!
 
GAS...
 
You come home one day to find your gas has been disconnected....
 
Your bill was $500....but once it is disconnected it immediately has the current bill added and the amount used until disconnection day.....before you know it, the provider is asking for $800...and lets not forget the added charges and of course the deposit...(payable before reconnection)..another $200...
 
You now have to pay $1,000 for the luxury of  hot water and, in the winter....heat!
 
How long will it take you to get that kind of money together?
 
No heating, which in summer months is not a problem
 
To stay warm in the winter, you may need to use electric heaters to keep the chill off the room...of course lets not forget the cost of running those things....before you know it your hydro bill gets out of control and you risk losing your hydro too!
 
The circle is never ending....
 
You try so hard to keep paying the priority bills that sometimes the smaller bills take second place and fall under the radar...That is until you suddenly arrive home to find your WATER shut off!
 
Life without water in a household is very difficult.
 
Taking a shower is out of the question...Washing hands is no longer an option except from a bottle of spring water...
 
You pray for rain...so you can gather some water to use in the toilet tank....or give to the cats so they don't die from dehydration....or to wash your hair.
 
No running water leads to many problems that most people cannot begin to understand....its like camping without the equipment and without the 'lake'...
 
Toilets no longer work
 
Its a total challenge...
 
***************************************************************************.
 
Everything about being 'poor' is a challenge, but it gives you something others will never understand..
 
Appreciation....
 
Once you've lived without HYDRO, GAS and WATER you never take anything for granted...
 
Hot showers are a luxury you cherish..
 
Cold drinks from a fridge..Ice clinking in the glass is heaven...
 
TV becomes a comfort, even if only the channels received from 'rabbit ears'...
 
Clean clothes...free of wrinkles...
 
Being able tio flush the toilet....a luxury
 
The list is endless.........but lets not forget , what I believe is the most important aspect, that is often not recognised by those that have never had the challenge of being without the 'essentials' and needing help.
 
The generosity and caring of others!
 
People DO care.....but they need to know!
 
The perception that everyone is so self involved that they don't 'give a darn' about the less fortunate is a fallacy....
 
From my experience, I have found how wonderful everyone is....Once they know your plight, most people love to help, but until they are asked, or made aware, they are oblivious to it all.
 
It's hard to admit to being so 'poor' that you cannot afford what others consider to be the very basics of life...but once you recognise that no matter what the circumstances that got you into that position, (and very often through no fault of your own) that it is important to not be embarrassed to ask for help.
 
It's a challenge, but with help from others it is possible to overcome the adversities and emerge from it knowing that you know what life is all about...
 
Maybe one day YOU will be the one that recognises the signs of helplessness in someone else and be in the position to help them face the challenges ahead.
 
Although money is the 'problem'..it's the caring that helps to motivate those less fortunate.
 
 
****************************************************************************
 
Nothing is impossible...
 
Once you find yourself in the position of having to cope without the 'essentials' its important not to 'give up'.
 
There is a way around every challenge you may face...whether it be asking for 'help' from others or training yourself to be resourceful.
 
Keeping a sense of humour helps also!
 
Thankfully I was blessed with that!
 
***************************************************************************
1989
 
As a single mother of two toddlers, self employed, with sporadic, (though lucrative) seasonal income it was hard to budget....
 
Child care 20 years ago cost $1,000 a month, though, thankfully they were well looked after in a private home and often fed, so by the time I picked them up I didn't have to rush to start cooking evening meals.
 
Rent was $1400 with the usual monthly payments of $100 - $150 for gas and hydro and $35 for water.
 
November 1989 income started to deteriorate due to the looming recession.
 
My services to customers are considered a luxury...I was mostly working in high end homes....but the recession hit with avengance.
 
Cheques  being post-dated was myt first clue....Some cheques bounced and I knew the problem was going to be far greater than I imagined when I was asked to stop halfway through a job.
 
The homeowner had received the mail that day.....They were in trouble financially and as a consequence could not justify paying me the full amount to complete the job.
 
The recession had started and I knew I was in for a rough ride.
 
*******************************************************************************
 
It wasn't long before the bills became overdue ......the telephone was the first to go...
 
As a result, it was impossible to generate any work or receive the calls from the customers that could afford to use my services.
 
Car payments, rent, hydro, gas, water became increasingly difficult to keep up with and it wasn't long before they started to be shut off.
 
Thats when the fun began!
 
******************************************************************************
 
LIFE WITHOUT HYDRO....
 
Its dark...very dark...
 
I remember the first night....We had a tremendous thunderstorm as if to warn us of the 'storm' to come...
 
Initially, I had enough money to buy candles....Garage sales were a good resource, but candles burn very quickly and before long I found the local drug mart had them, 4 for a $1.
 
I remember the cashier looking at the quantity I was buying so frequently....I passed it of with telling her about how I often enjoyed candlelight suppers...but there comes a time when the volume bought goes way beyond normal and before long she was giving me that 'knowing' look!
 
During the summer months, lighting is not too much of an issue...
 
The kids were in bed before dark and bedtime for me was dusk.
 
However, as winter drew in I found myself going to bed at the ungodly hour of 5pm!
 
My pink cassette/radio, given to me for my 40th birthday, became the focal point of our entertainment.
 
4'D' batteries used only for the radio lasted a month or two, and I quickly became an avid listener of CFRB talk show radio station.
 
Midnight was a new show with John Oakley and his off beat humour and outrageous guests were a delight.
 
I recall lying in bed with a candle flickering...listening to the radio and thinking how 'comfy cosy' it was!
 
A moment to treasure despite the hustle and bustle and struggle of every day.
 
**********
 
No hydro and two young children is a challenge to say the least.
 
I was fortunate that they never complained about no TV and were happy to spend time out on the verandah singing and listening to the music on the radio.
 
It was because of this I now have 'recordings' of them both singing....Most parents of 4 and 5 year olds are still working on Jack and Jill and child friendly songs.
 
My two knew 'Paradise by the Dashboard Light' word for word and I still have the recording to this day...Priceless!
 
Vera Lynn...Ethel Merman....Willie Nelson....became part of their extensive repertoire of songs they could sing...with, of course, help from their mum as back up, urging them to sing the songs from an era not known by many children their age...Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Backseat' was priceless being sung by my four year old son...as was 'On the Road Again.....My daughter excelled in her rendition of 'Paradise...as well as Randy Travis' 'On the Other Hand!
 
How lucky we were to have had that opportunity and to have had enough battery power to record those moments and still have them to this day!
 
How lucky I was to have children that appreciated the very basics that many others take for granted!
 
 
**********************
 
No money at Christmas was a definite challenge...
 
Fortunately, throughout the year I was able to 'save' a few articles.
 
One Christmas I spent $8 in total for presents....
 
I bought a doll's pram for my daughter...A little paint and it was just like new.
 
Someone gave me a 'monster' house complete with all the figures, for my son.
 
Other things included a 'suitcase' of Barbie dolls and accessories, which I carefully sorted and dressed...GI Joes were my sons favourite...(The new 'Dick Tracy and Ghostbuster figures were not on our list that year...but he knew they were for special occasions as he pointed out to another little boy who was screaming for his mum to buy one for him in 'Toys 'R' Us'.)
 
All the relatives came and a friend, who himself was in a very unfortunate position, arrived for dinner wearing a Santa outfit and with a little 'santa' filled with sweets for the kids.
 
His outfit was a little rough round the edges...with cotton wool dangling where it shouldn't but the kids were in awe that they had Santa come to dinner!
 
That was the best Christmas ever...!
 
 
***************************************************
 
Prior to that Christmas, the bill collectors had been knocking at the door....Every curtain had to be pulled and the children warned to not make a noise if they heard the doorbell ring...
 
Vacuuming was done late at night when there was no chance of anyone visiting and hearing you were home...
 
Some even came round the back of the house....shining a torch into the family room to see if you were home.
 
I recall Christmas Eve....Opening the front room curtains for the first time in ages...Sitting in front of it singing Christmas carols with the kids...It was heaven!
 
Car payments were way behind and the bailiff was due to take the car.
 
Every day I remember looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was following...I made room in the garage to keep it overnight. The lock didn't work so I lodged the door shut with a piece of wood and left through the side entrance, locking it securely.
 
To this day I have no idea how the bailiff managed to open the door and take the car.....but they did! ......Its not a nice feeling to go outside and find your car gone!
 
Transport becomes a problem..especially when you don't have the money for bus fares!
 
Shopping is an impossibility with two young children on the bus...
 
To be honest, I cant remember how I managed....
 
For the next three years or so I hung on to staying in the house but, of course, the utilities were often shut off..sometimes all at the same time!
 
 
*************************************
 
How do you cope without gas??!!
 
Its VERY cold in Canadian winters...-30c is very often the 'high' for that day.
 
Kerosene heaters were useful to keep the chill off the house...and a blanket placed strategically across doorways helped to keep the heat in the areas needed.
 
They were also a useful cooking surface....Many a meal in our house was cooked on top of the heater...and a big pot of water was always heating for when needed.
 
Of course....it cost a lot for the kerosene...and a car was needed to fetch it...so those heaters were not always used...
 
We needed alternatives.
 
We had a fireplace, but with no logs it does not have much use for heatring. Sometimes as a special treat I would buy a fake log from the store and sit in comfort until I would watch the last of the flames burn out...usually within a couple of hours....
 
Then it was cold again...
 
I tried to burn old telephone books...not very successfully I may add!
 
During the summer months with no gas was a lot easier but having no hot water is a definite problem for any family...never mind when one has a job that includes sanding doors and painting etc that can leave you with a layer of dirt that even a hot shower would take a while to remove.
 
July 1.....Canada Day.....The kids were at my mums and I had taken the opportunity of working.
 
I remember arriving home, looking forward to a much needed 'bath'...
 
With no hot water the 'bath' became a dunk in the kids paddling pool...soaping up and then jumping back into the pool for a rinse...
 
Well thats fine when there are kids around...but this day there wasn't....and next door, being Italian, had a hoard of visitors...many of them in the backyard!
 
I decided to wait until it was dark and then I would leap into the pool to get the days grime off me...
 
I moved the pool to an area that was not easily viewed by the neighbours, filled it, and waited....Around 11pm I went out to see if the coast was clear to jump in the pool without looking like an idiot, but in the dark I could see the neighbour was still out in the backyard with some guests....
 
I had to wait longer....
 
Finally at 5am I decided noone would be around and I could take my 'dunk' in peace....On went the swimming cozzie..I grabbed the soap and stepped into the lovely clean water....
 
Then I realised....Splashing around in water at 5am when everything is quiet and still can raise weird suspicions from any neighbour that wakes up...
 
I carefully rinsed off but, in addition to looking like an idiot, should anyone have seen me, it started pouring with rain...a very quiet rain, but very wet...Handy for a last rinse though!
 
*************************************************
TinLizzy Share to: Facebook Twitter MSN linkedin google yahoo #1
  • Rank:Diamond Member
  • Score:1225
  • Posts:693
  • From:Canada
  • Register:11/07/2008 01:17 AM

Re:Begininnings of my 'Book' Can you afford to be poor? Part 2 MY STORY

Date Posted:04/10/2009 17:52 PMCopy HTML

No money at Christmas was a definite challenge...
 
Fortunately, throughout the year I was able to 'save' a few articles.
 
One Christmas I spent $8 in total for presents....
 
I bought a doll's pram for my daughter...A little paint and it was just like new.
 
Someone gave me a 'monster' house complete with all the figures, for my son.
 
Other things included a 'suitcase' of Barbie dolls and accessories, which I carefully sorted and dressed...GI Joes were my sons favourite...(The new 'Dick Tracy and Ghostbuster figures were not on our list that year...but he knew they were for special occasions as he pointed out to another little boy who was screaming for his mum to buy one for him in 'Toys 'R' Us'.)
 
All the relatives came and a friend, who himself was in a very unfortunate position, arrived for dinner wearing a Santa outfit and with a little 'santa' filled with sweets for the kids.
 
His outfit was a little rough round the edges...with cotton wool dangling where it shouldn't but the kids were in awe that they had Santa come to dinner!
 
That was the best Christmas ever...!
 
 
***************************************************
 
Prior to that Christmas, the bill collectors had been knocking at the door....Every curtain had to be pulled and the children warned to not make a noise if they heard the doorbell ring...
 
Vacuuming was done late at night when there was no chance of anyone visiting and hearing you were home...
 
Some even came round the back of the house....shining a torch into the family room to see if you were home.
 
I recall Christmas Eve....Opening the front room curtains for the first time in ages...Sitting in front of it singing Christmas carols with the kids...It was heaven!
 
Car payments were way behind and the bailiff was due to take the car.
 
Every day I remember looking over my shoulder to see if anyone was following...I made room in the garage to keep it overnight. The lock didn't work so I lodged the door shut with a piece of wood and left through the side entrance, locking it securely.
 
To this day I have no idea how the bailiff managed to open the door and take the car.....but they did! ......Its not a nice feeling to go outside and find your car gone!
 
Transport becomes a problem..especially when you don't have the money for bus fares!
 
Shopping is an impossibility with two young children on the bus...
 
To be honest, I cant remember how I managed....
 
For the next three years or so I hung on to staying in the house but, of course, the utilities were often shut off..sometimes all at the same time!
 
 
*************************************
 
How do you cope without gas??!!
 
Its VERY cold in Canadian winters...-30c is very often the 'high' for that day.
 
Kerosene heaters were useful to keep the chill off the house...and a blanket placed strategically across doorways helped to keep the heat in the areas needed.
 
They were also a useful cooking surface....Many a meal in our house was cooked on top of the heater...and a big pot of water was always heating for when needed.
 
Of course....it cost a lot for the kerosene...and a car was needed to fetch it...so those heaters were not always used...
 
We needed alternatives.
 
We had a fireplace, but with no logs it does not have much use for heatring. Sometimes as a special treat I would buy a fake log from the store and sit in comfort until I would watch the last of the flames burn out...usually within a couple of hours....
 
Then it was cold again...
 
I tried to burn old telephone books...not very successfully I may add!
 
During the summer months with no gas was a lot easier but having no hot water is a definite problem for any family...never mind when one has a job that includes sanding doors and painting etc that can leave you with a layer of dirt that even a hot shower would take a while to remove.
 
July 1.....Canada Day.....The kids were at my mums and I had taken the opportunity of working.
 
I remember arriving home, looking forward to a much needed 'bath'...
 
With no hot water the 'bath' became a dunk in the kids paddling pool...soaping up and then jumping back into the pool for a rinse...
 
Well thats fine when there are kids around...but this day there wasn't....and next door, being Italian, had a hoard of visitors...many of them in the backyard!
 
I decided to wait until it was dark and then I would leap into the pool to get the days grime off me...
 
I moved the pool to an area that was not easily viewed by the neighbours, filled it, and waited....Around 11pm I went out to see if the coast was clear to jump in the pool without looking like an idiot, but in the dark I could see the neighbour was still out in the backyard with some guests....
 
I had to wait longer....
 
Finally at 5am I decided noone would be around and I could take my 'dunk' in peace....On went the swimming cozzie..I grabbed the soap and stepped into the lovely clean water....
 
Then I realised....Splashing around in water at 5am when everything is quiet and still can raise weird suspicions from any neighbour that wakes up...
 
I carefully rinsed off but, in addition to looking like an idiot, should anyone have seen me, it started pouring with rain...a very quiet rain, but very wet...Handy for a last rinse though!
 
*************************************************
 
Earlier that year...in the spring, the water had been shut off. 5 weeks without water and two children is, once again...somewhat of a challenge.
 
I used the new 2 litre plastic coke bottles filled with water (filled at my mum's) as a shower. A rubber shower head, originally used to put on a sink tap,  was a great way of conserving precious water but allowing for an all over wash.
 
The kids...eager to play in the nice weather wanted me to fill their pool...The best I could manage was a baby bath with another coke bottle filled with water poured into it...It didn't last long before the bath was empty, but they had fun while it lasted....
 
I boasted about being the only person on the block that put their washing OUT when it rained....Ever tried washing clothes in a bucket? No rinsing water...Rain becomes a much needed friend.
 
Of course...you take every opportunity of getting water.....When next door was watering his lawn, I would carefully move the baby bath to catch any extra spray that came into our yard....I don't think they ever noticed!
 
******************************************************
 
Hydro was turned off around that time too....
 
I had a TV interview to prepare for...Now that was fun!
 
I couldnt use my electric rollers......I had a crease down the centre of my skirt but couldn't use the iron...
 
No problem...We had the barbecue!
 
I wrapped my rollers in foil and took them outside in tongs ready to put them on the barbecue...I remember my daughter telling the neighbour we were going to have a barbecue lunch....I didn't say a word!...If only she knew that the foil contained my hair rollers!
 
They worked to a degree but as can be seen from the recorded interview...there was a definite lack of curl compared to what I had been hoping for!
 
The iron wrapped in the same tin foil sufficed to get rid of most of the crease in my skirt....No-one watching the program would have ever guessed what it took to get ready for the cameras!
 
Around the same time I had a photo shoot for an article in the Toronto Star newspaper...
 
11am appontment.....I completely forgot to allow time for my hair to dry as I couldnt use the hairdryer...I tried usung my daughters battery operated 'Barbie' hair drier...but to no avail....Fortunately the weather was nice and I used the little wind that there was to dry it as much as possible in the time available.
 
The barbecue had run out of propane but I managed to 'boil' the hair rollers in a pot of water over a few candles.
 
The picture published, is evidence that didnt work too well!
 
*********************************************************************
 
 
Time moves on and the landlords decided they were going to be moving into the house....I needed to find another place quickly...
 
I remember asking everyone I met if there were any available houses in the are so I could keep the kids in the same school.
 
I approached one chap who was just standing in his driveway, to find that he knew of one just up the road that hadnt been advertised yet...so I was in with a chance!
 
It was $1100 a month...Much lower than the $1500 I had been paying and only $25 a week more than a tiny townhouse...
 
I moved from the big backsplit filled with my 'junk' using only my car.
 
After many, many trips later with only the help of a pickup truck to make two trips with the sofas and bed....looking after the children and working throughout I finally managed to move into the new house...
 
A new start...Things were bound to get better....The recession was over, but I still had a lot of catching up to do!
 
I was soon to find out that some things never change.....
 
**************************************************************
 

(Thursday, 16 October, 2008)

 
1993
New start....Different house...but once again...sporadic income becomes a challenge when you can't plan ahead.
 
After trying hard to keep my head above water..the inevitable happened and things started to go downhill...
 
I can't remember how or when, but car payments were an issue....Personal visits from the leasing company demanding payments..
 
I respected the employees having to do their job, but yelling on my front doorstep was not the recommended way to get any money...
 
I had none so nothing was going to work...I was more concerned for her blood pressure...I remembered telling her that.
 
I tried to be as responsible as I could and I certainly could understand her frustration, but I was frugal with money, I did not feel guilty , I wasn't short of money because I had made extravagent purchases...I had arrived at that place with a lot of hard work and no 'cushion' to help me along...
 
All I could do was my best and no-one should ever be  ashamed of that!
 
 
********************************************************
 
Doing your best doesn't pay the bills, however, and once again I was faced with disconnections...
 
Gas was off again....It was fun to have gas while it lasted, but..all good things come to an end and we found ourselves back in the loop of minimal utilities...
 
By this time the kids were 9/10. My son took a cold (REALLY cold in winter) shower every day before school...
 
Neither of them ever complained....which helped make it easier to cope..
 
This gas disconnection lasted two years....As usual the bill was not so much the problem as all the charges incurred once the last current bill and the deposit were added.
 
Throughout the winter we used electric heating....not very cost efficiaent and threw the hydro bill sky high and up for disconnection....
 
Once again...we coped.....The electric wasn't off for too long... though I can't remember exactly...just a few months I expect.
 
1995
 
In the fall of 1995 I decided the kids were old enough to be left on their own after school, with supervision from the 'stop lady' Sally who offered to be there for them should they need her...so I attempted to launch a phone blitz to generate some work...knowing I was free during the day to travel to the other side of town and not be rushing back for 3:00pm
 
One of the calls was to Home Depot....
 
They advised me that anything to do with 'finishing' doors had to be through the company they dealt with. I was a company I had dealt with 10 years earlier and planned on visiting them to offer my services...
 
Those calls were not to happen...At that time anyway....
 
*************************************************************
 
MUM's STROKE
 
Within a few days my mother suffered another stroke. She had previously had a few mini strokes but this one left her cognatively challenged and she was finding it increasingly difficult to dress and  used 'hallucinations' to rationalise what she was unable to do...
 
Little children messed up her bed....A cushion would become a 'baby' etc and we decided it was best for her to come and live with us...
 
My father was 93 at the time...He was deaf and blind but was quite happy (and capable) to stay in their apartment.
 
I moved much of mum's stuff in to the house, leaving dad with the essentials that he would use....and visited him most days to make sure he was OK.
 
Meals on wheels was a godsend...He looked forward to the visit every day...but sadly...and to be honest...quite outrageously, he was not eligible for any home care...
 
He was however, very active and walked  2 kms every day...using the same route around Shoppers World...and in the winter would walk up and down the stairs of the 15 floor building....Chatting to everyone along the way...
 
He had 15% vision in one eye that seemed to be enough to tackle his walks without any problem and he could hear familiar voices if you shouted.
 
As with any senior it seems.. ...he told me of the 'old men' that sat on the benches along the way...(20 years younger than him|!)
 
Dad was an inspiration to me...
 
He couldn't read or watch TV...He couldn't hear and when I suggested it must be very frustrating, I remember his exact words.."Its a little bit of a nuisance luv but I've got my mind!'
 
He lived every day in his mind....He must have had an ongoing calendar as on Jan 4th I got a phone call from him wishing me Happy Birthday....How he KNEW it was my birthday was a shock but to remember it with no outward indications of the date is amazing!
 
When I popped over to have a birthday drink with him, he handed me a box of Black Magic chocolates.....When I opened them they were in one big clump!..He had gone out in November, before the snow and then kept them next to him all winter...until my birthday...
 
Trouble is...He forgot that his electric fire was right next to them! Of course it didnt matter one bit that they were in a clump and I managed to find a loose one to give him so he didn't know what had happened!
 
What a treasure he was!
 
***************************************************************
LOOKING AFTER MUM
 
Mum however, was having a tough time.
 
The geriatric clinic called me for an assessment....She had agreed in the initial two hour interview that mums condition was due to the strokes. An MRI (I think) showed no signs to indicate anything else.
 
After the 2 hour interview the nurse came to their home to give her a 2 hour 'test'.
 
Dad was oblivious to it and sat in the chair while I sat at the table and watched.
 
When it came time for mum to do the 'clock' test , used to test for Alzheimers Disease..she was having difficulty.
 
I reminded her that this is the test we did all the time..and until now she had always managed to get the 12, 3, 6 and 9 in the correct position. She was having difficulty communicating with the nurse...the test wasn't the problem.
 
At that point the nurse informed me that because I had used this test on my mum beforehand I had sabotaged the process...which left me quite astonished!...I would have thought that the testing relied on a lot more than just doing the 'clock' test for the first time...
 
Apparently not...In speaking to the doctor after she had sent the report, he confirmed that she had advised him of this and regardless of her first telling me that mum did not have Alzheimers, she now decided that she was suffering from that disease and recommended that the doctor take her off 'Zoloft' as patients with Alzheimers do not benefit from 'anti-depressants' or similar.
 
She added in the report that my dad had it too which was FAR from reality, as agreed by the doctor...At that point the credibility of that report went down in my estimation.
 
***********************************************
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Re:Begininnings of my 'Book' Can you afford to be poor? Part 2 MY STORY

Date Posted:04/10/2009 17:58 PMCopy HTML

LOOKING AFTER MUM
 
Mum however, was having a tough time.
 
The geriatric clinic called me for an assessment....She had agreed in the initial two hour interview that mums condition was due to the strokes. An MRI (I think) showed no signs to indicate anything else.
 
After the 2 hour interview the nurse came to their home to give her a 2 hour 'test'.
 
Dad was oblivious to it and sat in the chair while I sat at the table and watched.
 
When it came time for mum to do the 'clock' test , used to test for Alzheimers Disease..she was having difficulty.
 
I reminded her that this is the test we did all the time..and until now she had always managed to get the 12, 3, 6 and 9 in the correct position. She was having difficulty communicating with the nurse...the test wasn't the problem.
 
At that point the nurse informed me that because I had used this test on my mum beforehand I had sabotaged the process...which left me quite astonished!...I would have thought that the testing relied on a lot more than just doing the 'clock' test for the first time...
 
Apparently not...In speaking to the doctor after she had sent the report, he confirmed that she had advised him of this and regardless of her first telling me that mum did not have Alzheimers, she now decided that she was suffering from that disease and recommended that the doctor take her off 'Zoloft' as patients with Alzheimers do not benefit from 'anti-depressants' or similar.
 
She added in the report that my dad had it too which was FAR from reality, as agreed by the doctor...At that point the credibility of that report went down in my estimation.
 
**************************************************************************************8
 
1996
 
With no respite from looking after mum...as well as having the kids, it was a welcome break when my sister took mum to stay with her for a week after Christmas...
 
A few days later she called to tell me she couldn't cope..
 
Mum was very agitated and she needed to bring her home.
 
For the next week or two mum did not stop sobbing...It was almost impossible to do anything...she needed to be near me at all times...hated for me to be out of her sight and didn't like the noise of dishes in the kitchen...so it was quite a challenge making supper every night...
 
I needed a break, and called a friend to chat with her for 5 minutes while I watched the news and had a cig...
 
I called the geriatric nurse who was not the slightest bit of help, so I tried to 'hypnotise' mum and succeeded for the matter of seconds....
 
I took her to the doctor to see if there was anything he could do...I'll never forget him leaning back in his chair and saying 'In retrospect, we should never have taken her off the Zoloft...and immediately issued her a prescription, but that type of pill takes 3 weeks to work.
 
Gradually mum calmed down...During the prior week or two I saw a sudden change in the way she was...very slight but enough for me to recognise another small stroke.
 
I had been sleeping in an armchair at the bottom of her bed for months (5 in total) as she was constantly getting up in the middle of the night...I was scared of sleeping and not hearing her as by this time she needed help to get to the washroom...
 
I put up cardboard to make it difficult for her to get out of bed without me hearing and paper on the floor so I would hear if she walked on it.
 
 
It was a '36' hour day and not one hour of help from the community Health care!
 
I hadn't paid the hydro in ages...My income was down to zero so I had to register with Social Services, but that barely covered the rent...
 
Mum and dad received their pension...which was less than $1200 for the two of them...so there was very little money to spare.
 
I tried to get mum the things she loved...fresh strawberries  and goodies but it broke my heart to tell the kids I couldn't afford to get any for them...They were disappointed but I believe they understood.
 
I could never have got through that difficult time had they shown any signs that made me feel guilty for not giving them the atention they so deserved. A lot of life lessons were learnt around that time.
 
I remember driving them in the car and yelling at them....I had always encouraged them to let me know if they felt I was being unfair. I was being very unfair that day and I realised that the stress of seeing mum have a bad day was causing me to take it out on the kids.
 
At that point I told them to ask me every time I yelled if it was them that was responsible for my temper or if it was Nana...More often than not it was because mum was having a tough day...though occasionally they were the ones it was intended for!.
 
I always say I am a lucky mum!
 
After about three weeks of taking her new prescription, mum suddenly went quiet...just stared at me for half an hour...Finally the pills had kicked in!
 
Every night I would take her into the front room where I kept my extensive record collection and play her all the songs she loved and we would sing along to them...Vera Lynn songs...Old piano sing alongs...Lily Marlene...etc.
 
Johnny the Clown (a friend in his 70's that played in the Brampton Clown Band every Christmas, had given me some cassettes of the old time songs so we played them too...Danny Boy was mum's favourite song.
 
I had not been able to go to Karaoke for a long time but it occurred to me to take mum!
 
She was welcomed and fussed over by some of the regulars and loved the evening out...I had to beg her to leave at 11:00!
 
That was her last outing...
 
She went into hospital shortly after, with what they thought was a perforated bowel...
 
I was often told by family that I should put mum in a home...she would be looked after by professionals....as if my 24 hour care, being there at every moment of the day was insufficient...I ignored their advice.
 
Once mum was in the hospital I remember calling to make sure she was OK...I heard a bell ring as I was on the phone and apparently it was mum...She had fallen!
 
Never in the time she was with me had she fallen.....confirming to me that I had made the correct choice.
 
I was unable to be in the hospital for lengthy periods as I had the children to care for. The lady in the bed next to mum told me that she helped feed mum...
 
No-one had cared to check if mum was eating...They dropped her food off and picked it up untouched....Thanks to that lady mum was given her food! Apparently hospitals are not like they used to be!
 
Mum needed to stay in hospital to moniter her problem but she was told she was coming home...they were short of beds and at that point I couldnt refuse her...We brought her home on the Wednesday afternoon before Easter.
 
She was happy to be home and to see 'her' children and they in turn pampered her with attention and 'neck massages'.
 
The following day she started to have pains again....
 
The hospital wouldn't take her...They had closed down the ward she should have gone to...I would have to take her to 'emerg' where there was a probable wait of about 24 hours.
 
By Friday she was still in pain..The VON came but gave no indication that she could be admitted to hospital...The surgeon spent a long time on the phone explaining to me that he couldn't admit her without going through emergency and in mum's condition that was not an option.
 
I took her to the doctors on Saturday morning. As we wheeled her through to the Pharmacy they took one look at her and asked why she wasn't in the hospital...It was a dreadful situation...
 
I felt she would be more comfortable at home until I could be assured by the emergency nurses that there wasn't a long wait.
 
She sobbed uncontrollably throughout the night...
 
My best friend knew it was tough and sent me two large shots of vodka in a pickle jar delivered by her son...
 
I drank one and decided to save the other for another day.
 
Sunday morning was Easter morning....I hadn't had time or money to shop for eggs for the kids so I rushed out to the store and picked up a bag of tiny easter eggs...told them to go back to their rooms and did the Easter bunny thing...Hiding the eggs in every conceivable place....They spent the next little while searching them out while I called the hospital to beg them to see mum as soon as possible without her having to wait 24 hours.
 
I was fortunate...It was a slow morning....
 
I tried to get mum into the car but she was to weak so I called an ambulance and they brought her in....Within a short time it was established she was seriously ill and they took her into one of the emerg beds...
 
It was mid morning...Easter Sunday....
 
The kids were not allowed into the bed area and had to sit in the waiting room on their own....I asked those around if they could keep an eye on them while I attended to mum and for the rest of the day went back and forth between the kids and mum..
 
Finally at 10.30pm she was admitted....As I was leaving the nurse suggested to me that mum wouldn't last the night...I had no idea...No-one had mentined a word to me....Apparently she was severely dehydrated and her potassium levels were very low...
 
There was a chance she would survive the night so I had to leave and get the kids home but I stayed dressed and phoned the nurses often to check on mum. By morning mum was a lot better so I went to see her with my daughter.
 
As we were walking through the corridor the surgeon came up to us....With no tact whatsoever, and no regard for my 10 year old daughter standing beside me he told me that mum had about 48 hours to live!
 
I asked if there was anything that could be done...He said that there was one test that was at womens College Hospital that they hadn't been able to perform but maybe antibiotics may help the perforated bowel. I asked for that to be given to her and went to see mum for a while before taking my daughter home.
 
Each of their friend's parent welcomed them into their homes allowing me to go back to the hospital and stay for a couple of days.
 
That was Monday.......Wednesday morning mum's doctor had returned from holiday so I told him about the antibiotics that were given...
 
He took one look and told me there were no antibiotics being administered through the IV....The surgeon had 'forgotten'..
 
A few hours later, mum passed away......An autopsy showed that there was no sign of Alzheimers apart from the report the nurse had given me and that mum had died of a duodenal ulcer....Something which could have been helped with antibiotics!
 
I never pursued it further...Mum was at peace...It was April 1996
 
Dad was in shock as he was not aware of the gravity of her condition...
 
He was 94, deaf and blind...living in the apartment on his own and told us this was his new life now....He wanted to stay in the apartment as long as he could and would let me know if he changed his mind as he knew he was welcome to come and stay with us...
 
His pension went down to $700....
 
As long as he had his brandy he was happy....
 
 
 
*********************************************************************************************************
 
1997 - 1998
 
GIFT FROM HEAVEN
 
I spent the next year and a half trying to catch up.....The lovely lady at hydro had managed to keep our utilities on for an extraordinary length of time...She had met mum and admitted to me that had she phoned me she would have been in tears...
 
Alas...by now the bill was extraordinarily high.....and with no gas for heating the electric heaters had eaten up the dollars.
 
My brother came to my rescue somewhere along the way and somehow we held on...I was able to work again...so in between looking after the kids and visiting dad in his apartment I managed to keep the bill collectors at bay....for that year at least.
 
I received a ticket for driving with an old sticker an because of non payment my license was suspended.....
 
I remember the day I managed to get the money together to pay, not only the $150 fine but the new charge added...$100 to reinstate a suspended license!
 
I was over the moon to have my car back on the road....
 
Unfortunately I couldn't drive it straight away...There was a flat tire and I had no pump....I didn't have the 25c to fill it even if I could inflate it enough to drive, so I took a bycycle pump and inflated it manually...Leaping up and down with joy when I finally acheived it!
 
The lady next door was just pulling out when she saw me dancing around on our driveway...so she pulled back in and asked out of curiosity what was wrong...
 
I told her ecstatically how I had finally got my car on the road and how disgusting that even once the fine for the ticket was paid that they had added a new fine of $100 to reinstate a suspended license.
 
I'll never forget...She looked up to the sky and then reached into her purse and pulled out $100 bill and handed it to me....I profusely refused to take it but she insisted.......I had a job booked for the following day and so I thanked her and told her I would return it after I was paid. She told me no... it was a gift from God but I knew I would find some way to repay her for her kindness.
 
She had no idea that we were out of food...I went straight down to Food City and bought the usual stuff you buy for kids when you are on a budget...Bread, milk eggs, hotdogs, peanut butter etc...The bill came to about $98.
 
We were in heaven!
 
The following evening at 8:00pm I was still working on a custmer's kitchen cabinets when a phone call came from my son. He wanted to know if he could use the $10 I had promised him for a haircut on buying some food for his friends parents...They had no food for themselves or their cat and no hope of getting any until the weekend and his friends mum  was in tears.....I told him of course and told my customer what he had called about.
 
She owned a petstore and so gave me several tins of catfood and a grocery bag full of tins from her cupboard...soup etc....People really want to help but until they are given the opportunity they don't know.
 
I arrived home about 9.30pm and went straight over to my son's friends house and asked his mum if she was in need of some more food....I went to Food city and quickly grabbed the essentials before they closed at 10pm...
 
As I was going through the checkout I realised that I had bought almost exactly what I had bought the day before...and spent around $100...
 
It was the opportunity of 'repaying' (by passing on) what was given to me...Unbelievable, especially considering it was the following day!
 
What wonderful neighbours they were....That wasn't the only time they 'helped' even though we barely shared more than a 'Hi' in passing....
 
One day I opened the door to find them both stood there...They wanted to give me some money to buy a washing machine....I was baffled..How did they know we needed one!?
 
Apparently they had seen the kids out on the lawn washing some clothes using the hose!
 
Once again I refused....It was sooo kind of them but I couldnt possibly accept...  they left...but the next morning I found a card tucked in between the front door and the screen door....In it was  $100 for us to buy a washing machine....
 
Moments like that not only warm your heart but prove there are many generous, caring people....I will never forget what they did and obviously how much they cared!
 
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Re:Begininnings of my 'Book' Can you afford to be poor? Part 2 MY STORY

Date Posted:04/10/2009 18:04 PMCopy HTML

1999
 
LOOKING AFTER DAD
 
By January 1999 I received a call from Dad.....He told me that if he thought he wouldn't last long he would stay in the apartment but he wanted his letter from 'Queenie' for his 100th birthday (2002) so he would like to move in with us.
 
I moved everything out from the dining room and set up his bed, chair and table as close to the way he had it in the apartment as possible...I managed to move everything out of his apartment...Took one last look...and left....
 
Initially he found it a little difficult with very little sight in unfamiliar surroundings but soon was able to manoeuvre around and even had his stationary bike set up which he would ride everyday...three times a day for 30 minutes at a time....I was worn out just watching him!
 
He loved his brandy and was as happy as anyone could be..never complaining.....
 
In the three years since mum had died the only time he came close to getting upset with me was when he breathed a sigh saying "Liz!..Wheres my brandy!'
 
As with mum I tried to give him al the things I knew he loved...cockles was one of his loves...Again...it was all at the expense of not sharing the goodies with the kids...Again they 'understood' but it can never take away the fact they were  disappointed.
 
Dad loved to 'give' and he wanted to give the kids $10 each....I couldn't tell him we were living off his $700 pension and any odd income as swallowed up in bills...
 
I only had $10 so I gave it to him and he in turn gave it to my daughter....She returned it to me and I gave it to Dad...who didn't realise it was the same $10 bill and he happily gave it to my son. Both kids got a giggle out of our little secret but once again...not to detract from the disappointment they must have felt...
 
Dad had a nasty fall and was admitted to hospital with pneomonia....The doctor allowed him a shot of brandy to be administered with his prescription and I made sure that I had some for him when I visited....Brandy is not the most secretive of 'smells' but when dad wanted something, he deserved to have it....I had long before resolved and was comfortable with myself to allow dad the brandy that was so important to him no matter what the outcome....He was 97 and I was not going to deprive him of his one 'luxury'
 
The nurses told me how dad would call out for me often...I knew it wasn't so much his 'lovely' daughter he wanted to see as much as what I had sneaked in in my handbag!After a week or two they released him but he would be bedridden for a while...
 
I took only a couple of diapers, not realising the predicament I would ultimately find myself in....
 
Unable to work....only dad's $700 to keep us going....it was a 'given' that I was in big trouble...
 
I tried to apply to Social Services but could not leave dad for too long and I had no phone....The phone interview would have to be done outside the local drug mart...45 mins was the average time....
 
Once completed they made an appointment for me to meet with a worker....I had no option but to leave dad alone..He was in bad shape but it was necessary to try to get some money for food and diapers.
 
I met with the worker who filled out all the necessary forms...including the one that even she was embarrassed to ask...
 
Because there is a clause that does not allow for a male to live in the home I had to sign a form to say I was not having sexual relations...It was disgusting to have to sign but apparently necessary regardless of whether it was my father.
 
The worker told me that I needed to sign to find work...I told her I was unable to do so as my dad was 'dying' and I had to look after him....
 
Apparently...I didn't qualify for any help if I didn't consent to work, and had to leave there with not a penny in my pocket and no hope of anything in the future no matter how much I pleaded with her for help....
 
I returned home in total despair....Since dad had been in the hospital they allocated a nurse...once or twice a week for an hour to help....I asked if she could help get me some diapers for dad....She apologised and told me, when she arrived the next time, that she could only get one....I had no phone...It was difficult to call around...I went to the drugmart to see if they knew anywhere...
 
No luck...I had to be resourceful.
 
I had many old t-shirts so I placed a plastic bag in them and used them as a diaper....Dad was oblivious although he was still fairly coherent.
 
I was devastated and disgusted to have been turned down by Social Services for any help....Dad had worked voluntarily for the city for 3 years..He received a plaque from Bill Davies.... His hard work was monetarily worth $80,000 and here he was, the last weeks of his life with no help from the government to even supply him diapers!
 
Every birthday he would visit the mayor in his office and receive his birthday certificate....I decided to call Peter Robertson the mayor to ask for his help...It was difficult communicating with him with no phone, but after a while it was arranged for me to speak to someone of importance in Social Services... 
 
He was pleased to tell me that he had made arrangements and I would be eligible to receive a monthly income.
 
It was too late...dad had passed away a few days before.....
 
I knew one night that it was close to the end....I needed to know that he was not in pain and quickly popped out to the phone to call the 'on call' doctor.
 
I was told that the doctor could not come out until after he had 'passed' but they would get back to me. I had no phone for them to do that so I gave them my boyfriends mobile number and asked them to leave a message with him and I would call him later to retrieve the message...I returned back to sit with dad....
 
I tried to make it as comfortable as I could...He didn't seem to be in pain.....He managed to ask for his brandy!
 
I took a 'freezie' and dipped it into his brandy and he was able to suck on it...He wanted more...I took a straw and holding my finger over the hole, managed to get some in the other end and dropped it into his mouth....He again asked for more....
 
I put the straw directly into the brandy and put it to his lips...He was able to drink some of it directly from the glass.....
 
It was midnight....My boyfriend arrived with his mobile phone in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other....!
 
I excused myself from dad and went for a  a quick slurp before returning back to his side... He was able to lift his hands...He held them either side of my shoulders...then patted my face....
 
A little while later I told him I was just going to have a quick drink and I would be right back....Only a matter of a minute or so...
 
When I returned I could see he was nearly 'gone'.......I told him I loved him and that he could go to sleep now.....
 
He died happy...It was 12.50am  Sept 14th 1999...He was 97....he never made it to 100 to  get his letter from Queenie....
 
**********************************************************************************************
 
I went back to the living room to use the mobile phone to call relatives.....but my boyfriend, being very 'correct' decided that we should confirm dad's death before informing everyone...
 
He suggested I check his wrist... to see if I could find a pulse....I couldn't...
 
He wanted me to wait a while...just to be on the safe side....
 
We sat for another 15 minutes until he suggested I check for a heartbeat....I did....but no sign of one.
 
He persuaded me to wait just a little while longer...By 1:30am he asked me if I had a mirror....
 
Only once he had checked to see any signs of breath in the mirror did he feel comfortable that dad had passed away and that it was time to call the relatives....
 
I remember stood in the doorway saying to him that dad was probably 'up there' laughing at us...One thing is for sure...we could never get a job in a funeral home!
 
There was no disrespect to dad during that time...Dad would have seen the 'humour' in what otherwise was a very sad time...
 
I called the doctor and told them there was no need to rush out during the night..Dad was at peace and I was OK with them coming in the morning.
 
I never want to see a body bag again!
 
That day, the landlady came storming up the driveway....giving me an eviction notice....She was, of course justified and oblivious to what had been happening....
 
It didn't change anything however....I had to move again...
 
**********************************************************************************************************************
 
With no money available I had to arrange dad's funeral through Social Services....This time I was guided to a different floor and someone with a different attitude.
 
I explained to her what had happened previously and how I had been denied any help. She informed me there was a $500 emergency amount that I should have been given....But....that was then and I had to move on....
 
Dad's funeral was just like any other 'paid' funeral....
 
Scott Wilson, originally from the Region of Peel when dad did all the work on the courthouse, but now head of a neighbouring region gave a wonderful speech.....I managed to say a few words without breaking down...until the last line....
 
Dad was my Hero......followed of course by the Bette Middler Song....Wind Beneath My WIngs....Dad knew he was my hero...I told him many times and it always produced a little chuckle from him....
 
He taught me so much about life and about my profession....and that wil live on through my son and daughter who have also inherited dad's finishing technique.
 
**************************************************************************************************************************
 
Dad was cremated...There was a small conflict regarding where his ashes should be buried....
 
The obvious place would have been in mum's plot, but I remember dad telling me (as well as my brother) that he wanted his ashes dropped in the creek next to where they lived so his remains could go out to the lake...and eventually to England....
 
We compromised and asked for two urns...One would be buried with mum and the other we would reach a compromise as to where they would be scattered...
 
After the burial in mum's plot, we arranged to meet back at the crematorium the following Monday October 9th to make a final decision as to where his ashes would be scattered...It was Thanksgiving...
 
That meeting never happened....
 
That weekend, my nephew was married  and neighbourhood kids broke into our house and set fire to it...
 
Harder times ahead.....
 
to be continued
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Re:Begininnings of my 'Book' Can you afford to be poor? Part 2 MY STORY

Date Posted:04/11/2009 20:07 PMCopy HTML



 Liz,

Story is very compelling - hard to imagine what you have been through and still kept your good humor and your belief that things will get better!!  So awful to hear what little help you got with your mum and dad (even from agencies that were supposedly there to help - and the hospitals!   It is clear that you are all about FAMILY!   Hope things are better for you now.                       Barb
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Re:Begininnings of my 'Book' Can you afford to be poor? Part 2 MY STORY

Date Posted:01/06/2010 19:19 PMCopy HTML

Reply to BarbV_in_VT (04/11/2009 14:07 PM)



 Liz,

Story is very compelling - hard to imagine what you have been through and still kept your good humor and your belief that things will get better!!  So awful to hear what little help you got with your mum and dad (even from agencies that were supposedly there to help - and the hospitals!   It is clear that you are all about FAMILY!   Hope things are better for you now.                       Barb


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Re:Begininnings of my 'Book' Can you afford to be poor? Part 2 MY STORY

Date Posted:01/06/2010 20:07 PMCopy HTML

Think we lost the reply comment...lol

Just scroll down to the bottom of the page and enter it into the box for quick reply and then post reply xxx

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