My Uncle “Hobo Joe” Decided To Be Homeless. Yesterday, My Niece, Stephaney Did Too…

Update: Many people have asked me about a Mental Warrant. You MUST have an idea of where the person is located. Once you obtain a Warrant, two officers will actively search for the person for ONLY seventy two hours. Because of this timeline, YOU MUST also be searching for the person. Your search will take you into dangerous areas with desperate people if the person you are seeking is an addict or suffers mental illness. You cannot at any point when searching the streets or interviewing the homeless appear frightened or intimidated. Do not wear jewelry while searching. Do not open your wallet. Bring fives and ones and leave them in your console. Opening your wallet could get you robbed. Plan and prepare. Bring drinks and snacks as you will most likely be searching for 8-10 hours while taking calls from the officers also looking. Do not give money to someone who says they can help you for several hundred dollars because “finding someone is expensive. Follow me here. Meet me there.” Don’t allow your desperation to put you in the position of appearing desperate. This is the best advice that I can give anyone. My twin and I have been looking for her daughter over and over again for years. We are experienced and we never search alone. Do not attempt to interview homeless people alone. While many are friendly, others are Schizophrenic or Bipolar and highly unpredictable. 

Finding my niece living in a box was a horrifying reality Sunday evening. I begged her to get in my SUV and go back to treatment but, she was angry and confrontational. Her furlough detention warrant had also expired. Because of this, Fort Worth PD could not detain her and left the area after closing the missing persons case I had filed. I tried and tried to coax Stephaney out of her box but, I couldn’t. 

Driving away with my once beautiful niece who had a life of promise and opportunity now homeless and living in a box was so unexpected and horrific that I nearly wrecked my car. 

Choosing to be homeless and live in a box is something that no one sees coming but, my niece has drug us through nearly a year and a half of outrageous and unpredictable behavior.

Arriving back home in tears, my husband attempted to convince me to calm down and pour myself a drink. It was so hard to comprehend that my niece was less than ten miles away in a box and refusing to leave it that my shaking hands dropped the glass. 

Sitting down in my “ready for the holidays”decorated home, I anticipated facing the worst Christmas I can remember.  Stephaney’s twin daughters are now fourteen years old. They are equally shocked and now after finally locating Stephaney, more upset than when she was missing. 

My hope to locate my niece and get her back into treatment had failed. Walking the streets with other homeless people only to return to a box at night isn’t safe. 

Stephaney has never been living on the street. She’s always had somewhere to go even when squatting at the three home estate right next door to me. 

Stephaney lost her car in the rambling estate when the owner was called by police about a squatter. The owner emptied the guest house of all of her belongings and had her car towed. Why she was walking rather than driving her car I have no idea. Over and over again, my niece has lost everything. My niece makes bad choices and at 31, I’ve been told by police “she is an adult. Unless she has an active warrant or detention on file, there isn’t anything we can do. She’s decided to live in a box and you need to come to terms with that. If you can’t, get a mental warrant.” Not realizing that I could get a mental warrant, I decided to try.

Like Cindy, I’m angry that Stephaney has decided to throw her life away but, my husband elaborated on my kind heart towards homeless people as an example that (as usual) hit home. “You help strangers with food and water. Stephaney has decided to be homeless. She’s a family member. If you want to help her as you help strangers, take her blankets, toilet paper, food, water and clothing and stop being angry about her choice to be homeless. Accept it.” 

I decided that I should bring Stephaney a rolling suitcase so she can take items with her when she leaves her box. There’s a homeless woman that I see everywhere with two suitcases in Fort Worth. I always try to give her money or food. She’s well dressed and looks clean but, she’s weary of strangers. 

Deciding to be homeless because you only care about getting high or your next “fix” is something I will never understand or accept as long as I live. My niece has had opportunity after opportunity to get her life together and, my niece has chosen not to.

The streets are a dangerous place for someone who has never been homeless to decide to be. 

As a child, my uncle Joe aka Hobo Joe was my favorite relative. I should clarify that my grandfathers twin brother was also named Joe. Hobo Joe was the brother to my grandmother. The names Joe and Jerry are the most common names in our families.

Hobo Joe rode the rails in boxcars and he saw the world. At 6 years old, I didn’t realize uncle Joe was homeless. In fact, I didn’t know what homeless was. What I did know was that Hobo Joe was always nice to my sister and I. ALWAYS. 

There weren’t homeless people in Lompoc in the 60’s and 70’s. Today though, there are many homeless in Lompoc. Too many to count on a recent trip to visit my sister. Everywhere I looked in Lompoc, someone down on their luck was near a dumpster or outside a convenience store. I wondered where their families were? I no longer wonder after finding my niece living in a box. Perhaps families of homeless people give up or like us, have had difficulty locating their loved one? 

Since I’ve been asked where Stephaney is, I’m adding the location for friends who want to try and talk to her or take her food. She’s in a ditch located off HWY 80 near Las Vegas Trail behind a car wash at 3429 Brandon Lane Fort Worth, Texas. Yesterday, she was agitated and violent though and until I visit her box today, I have no idea what her temperament might be. 

Uncle Joe was an embarrassment to most of our family but, not to me. Every winter uncle Joe rode into Lompoc on a box car with gifts he’d found in trash cans and alleys during his travels. 

Uncle Joe was the ONLY relative that gave us gifts when he came to visit which may be why his gifts were such a delight to my twin sister and I. 

When you knew Joe was coming, you knew he would have some amazing gifts with him. Joe never showed up empty handed. My grandmother wished he would. “His dirty trash trophies aren’t real gifts. A real gift isn’t dirty or broken.” I recall one Christmas that my grandmother gave Cindy and I a pumpkin for our birthday AND Christmas? Uncle Joe might not have given us new gifts but at least they were interesting. 

My grandmother was selfish and narcissistic. She loved to shop but, the shopping was for herself. I doubt my grandmother grieved Joe’s passing because she never had compassion for others throughout her life. Six brothers treated her as a Princess. My grandfather followed suit. 

My grandmother never cooked or cleaned. She was above such things and, she had twin granddaughters to handle the chores. By 6 years old, Cindy and I were maids. Maybe sooner but, I can’t recall. “Make yourself useful. Go wash those windows.” My grandmother kept us outside washing windows over and over because she could. We washed dishes even when we went on strike and skipped dinner just to see if we would still have to wash dishes. We did.

Grandma never felt sorry for the less fortunate which may be why I do. My mother was a heroin addict. Perhaps she suffered from mental illness too but, I’ve never been told this by anyone and don’t want to give her the excuse of using mental illness as a crutch for her addiction. Drug abuse can actually cause mental illness which might shock you but, drug induced psychosis is real. 

What if parents were aware that by having a child they would face a 50/50 chance of enduring a lifetime of either drug addiction, mental illness or both? Cindy would have never had Stephaney had she known that for 31 years of her life we would consistently be hurt over and over again by her actions. But, Cindy had no idea that mental illness is often an inherited trait. 

My sisters second husband was unstable. Her first husband was violent but, Larry was completely unstable and unreliable. How unstable? He had an entire other family throughout their marriage. By the time he decided to choose the other family, Cindy had given birth to Stephaney. 

Larry was enraged that Stephaney wasn’t a boy which is why her name begins with Stephen. Larry chose it before walking out of the hospital. Because Cindy didn’t give birth to a boy, Larry also left her for his other family. 

I flew from San Diego to pick up Cindy and her two children left abandoned by Larry and brought them back to San Clemente to live with me. Cindy was devastated to find herself alone and by moving her to California, I could have never known that Larry would file for divorce claiming to have Stephaney and effectively “skirting” paying child support by doing so. 

Larry was a bum but, a different kind of bum. He had a job and earned a living but, when it came to supporting his child he was a bum. Larry also wiped out their home in Texas taking Cindy’s clothes, her children’s clothes and toys, you name it. Larry left nothing. Not an ice tray not a spoon in the drawers. Nothing. Larry came into the marriage with a bed and a tv but, Cindy had lived with me in a fully furnished home that Larry wiped out for “his other family.” 

Larry forgot one item though. The car Cindy was driving. I flew into Texas on a one way ticket not knowing if Cindy would leave Texas or how long it would take me to get her settled. Cindy and I decided to drive back to California with the kids. The car would be the reason Larry hunted Cindy down.  

Cindy went to school in California and eventually rented her own apartment a few miles from me. One day while at church, Larry broke into her apartment after locating her address through operator information. Cindy and the girls were with me in my car. Larry ransacked the apartment after kicking the door in and taking what he wanted. Then, he loaded everything into the car with two car seats and strollers and drove the car back to Texas. Larry had devastated Cindy all over again. 

Looking back, we should have left her phone number unlisted but, Larry who left nothing to Cindy in their home in Texas, waited until Christmas two years later to come back and steal everything Cindy had replaced for herself and her daughters again. Larry left the tree I had bought Cindy with none of the gifts under it. 

There’s a special place in Hell for Larry and one day, I hope he pays for the things he put my sister through. Cindy was eventually blessed with her wonderful husband, Steve Daniel coming along and raising Leigh Ann and Stephaney as his own children. Stephaney was a difficult child while Leigh Ann never was. Steve was the perfect father to the children who had never known their own fathers. 

At fifteen, Stephaney became pregnant with twins. Since Cindy was still trying to get the deadbeat dad to pay child support, Larry filed a petition that Stephaney was now an adult because she was pregnant. Cindy and Steve had bought a new house and subsequently, missed the ONLY hearing on child support there would be regarding Stephaney. 

Larry never paid one dime of child support. Steve and Cindy gained custody of the twins after Stephaney left them in the hospital and disappeared for over a week. We couldn’t find her and had no idea where she went. I helped Cindy hire an attorney and told Stephaney “if you cannot be a mother to these twins, you need to sign this because if you don’t, the state will take them.” Stephaney signed the paperwork. On her first arrest after the birth of the twins, CPS came to pick up the twins. Cindy showed them the documents to prove they were no longer Stephaney’s children. We saved the twins from Stephaney and foster care because we knew quickly that Stephaney would never be the mother they deserved. 

The twins father is a deadbeat just like Larry. Michael has rarely paid child support and even when he does, it’s a paltry amount of $40-60. Just enough to stay out of jail. Michael owes over $40k in arrears on Maryssa and Makenna. 

I knew very little about homeless people as a child. In California, people picketed but no one panhandled. My uncle Joe was homeless although it would take years for me to realize it. 

Uncle Joe always paid attention to my sisters and I. He told us stories of his travels AND he brought gifts too. The gifts were trash to the person who had originally discarded them but, uncle Joe found beauty in things that others didn’t. 

For me, uncle Joe was the one person who never ever told us “children should be seen and not heard.” Uncle Joe had no children. He would find a rock that liked odd or a flower that was blooming and show us how nature was the purest beauty. He looked at things differently than anyone I have ever met. He didn’t yell at us or get angry at my chronic stutter as everyone else did. 

Uncle Joe patiently waited for me to spit out a question. He wasn’t in a hurry or preoccupied. No one else other than my sister could attempt to listen to me struggle to speak without becoming angry or agitated. 

At seven years old, I stopped speaking and Cindy spoke for me. Music and leaving home is actually how I finally put my stutter away unless of course, I was nervous and then the dark stranger that disabled my ability to put my thoughts into words returned. 

Stuttering is disabling. But, for thirty plus years now, it rarely disrupts my life anymore. Singing along to songs helped me more than anyone realized. 

Uncle Joe always gave me or my twin sister the most memorable gifts you could imagine. A pillow in the shape of a sun with the rollers that had blonde hair still on them inside a zipper or a rusty key or even old clothes he had found somewhere. 

Whatever uncle Joe had found was surprising and to a child, delightful. An old can of peas with a photo on the label or even a piece of wood in an odd shape. An apple he had picked walking near a orchard. A doll missing her head. A toy car without one wheel. Uncle Joe would tell us how he had “saved” our gifts through small towns and rural areas riding the box cars. 

Uncle Joe wasn’t alone on the rails. Other hobos often stole from one another and Joe was always proud to tell us how he had kept from losing whatever previous item he had found to bring to Lompoc for the twins. 

My grandmother hated these “nasty gifts” and often threw them away. I took them back out of the trash and treasured them. Uncle Joe was a character. He had hilarious stories and we loved having him around for a month or so before he hit the road again riding out of town on a boxcar. 

As a child, I found uncle Joe’s worry free life fascinating. He didn’t have chores or a bed to make or anyone telling him what to do. I’m guessing uncle Joe worked when he had to but, didn’t actively seek employment because uncle Joe liked to drink. 

Alcohol wasn’t allowed in my grandmother’s home but, Joe would dig through trash cans and drink whatever was left in a beer can or wine bottle. Joe was an alcoholic. 

Addiction is an embarrassing statistic for family members who continually try but fail to “fix the problems” their loved ones continually bring into their lives. 

Joe was the only one of my grandmothers brothers who chose the life of a hobo. Everyone else went to work and provided for their family. Joe was a renegade. 

One year as Cindy and I continued to look for uncle Joe riding in on a boxcar day after day for over a month, my grandma told us that uncle Joe wasn’t likely coming. For two years we waited. 

At 12 years old, I finally accepted uncle Joe was never coming back to Lompoc. I believe my grandmother was relieved uncle Joe would never visit again. He embarrassed her in his raggedy clothing and unkept appearance. 

Uncle Joe like uncle Ronnie didn’t believe in personal hygiene. Uncle Joe also dug through the neighbors trash making his appearance as embarrassing to my grandmother as his drunkenness after finding whatever left over alcoholic beverage he could get his hands on and staggering back to our house. I thought he was dancing during these drunken moments but, he was actually intoxicated. 

Uncle Joe died riding the rails and most likely under mysterious circumstances that were never revealed to us. 

While our other uncles were successful businesspeople, uncle Joe was the butt of many jokes in our family such as “do you want to get a good job and have a nice life or wind up like Hobo Joe?” 

Personally, I think uncle Joe should have joined the circus. He was funny and loved to talk and also enjoyed animals. It might have been safer than riding the rails and actually paid a wage too. But, maybe joining the circus never crossed his mind? 

When you are young and think about what you want to be when you grow up, it’s often different from what you choose to do later in life. 

As a child, I wanted to run off with the circus. I loved peanuts and popcorn and the animals. The midway was a bonus for sure too but, I never ran off and joined the circus. My next dream job was to become a private detective although I never did. 

Cindy and I have been somewhat forced into becoming detectives when it comes to her daughter, Stephaney. We lose her. We find her again. We get her back on medication. She goes off it again. Stephaney was a difficult child. 

My niece, Stephaney at one time had opportunity and promise but, like Hobo Joe, she has made mistake after mistake and now today we learn that Stephaney has made the decision to live in a box. It’s a horrifying reality for my sister and I but, we cannot force her to get it together. 

We cannot force Stephaney to get a job, make a life for herself and find a husband or even a wife (we don’t care which) as Cindy and I have been forced to accept that occasionally, people prefer to be homeless. We don’t understand it. We can’t understand it. But, it’s not up to us to change it. 

I find myself wishing this past year after all of the drama and chaos my niece has put our family through that SHE WOULD JOIN THE CIRCUS so we could catch a break. Carnies come through town every year. They are gypsies of sorts. They aren’t bums. They work and don’t mind being drifters. 

My uncle Ronnie wasn’t homeless but, he was never home. Uncle Ronnie loved digging throug trash cans and dumpsters. Uncle Ronnie also hated bathing. It was a problem because whenever I found him walking around the city aimlessly and picked him up, getting the smell out of my car took weeks. 

Since uncle Ronnie didn’t like being alone at his apartment, he walked or ride his bike to occupy his time. Uncle Ronnies old apartment is less than a mile from Stephaney’s box. The irony isn’t lost on me. 

Whenever I couldn’t find uncle Ronnie, I drove surrounding streets trying to find him in the 90’s. If he wasn’t home, the only way to check on him was to find him. There weren’t cell phones but, I had bought him a pager that he disliked and often left at his apartment. 

Uncle Ronnie unlike uncle Joe was on disability. Uncle Ronnies mother never sent him to school. Because of this, uncle Ronnie never learned to read or write. 

For most of my life, Ronnie worked odd jobs as a janitor before leaving Long Beach to move to Fort Worth. 

Now and then, uncle Ronnie would have me fill out an application to appease my grandmother demanding he find a job and stop being a drifter. 

However, uncle Ronnies hygiene prevented him from ever obtaining a job after leaving Long Beach. I’m unaware if uncle Joe could read or write because he never discussed his education or lack thereof. 

I couldn’t make uncle Ronnie realize that bathing would have helped his social situation significantly. We accepted this hygiene issue with uncle Ronnie because my family really had no choice. 

If I gave uncle Ronnie soaps and cleansers, he gave them back. After years of this, I gave up. I finally accepted that uncle Ronnie wasn’t interested in being fresh or clean and that he most likely never would be. I couldn’t change him either. We all tried. 

Uncle Ronnie and Uncle Joe were outcasts to many members of our family but not to Cindy or I. They were funny. They would say anything and they somehow found beauty in things that no one else could see. “Trash or Treasure?” For uncle Joe, trash WAS treasure.

We all encourage our children to grow up to be doctors or lawyers but, the percentage of these “Dream jobs” is rather low. Not every child wants to be a doctor or lawyer and not every child is qualified for either career. 

Cindy and I left home at 15 and both had GED’s before our 16th birthday. College would wait until we were in our 20’s and could afford to pay for further education on our own. We both made 3.8 averages because when you are paying for something yourself- you put far more effort into it. We saw other students goofing off at their parents expense and felt bad for the parents buying fancy cars and paying high tuitions for people who didn’t appreciate it. 

When nothing is given to you and you are forced to earn it, I can promise you that it’s appreciated far more. 

My niece dropped out of school at 15. Stephaney never even bothered to get a GED. Although she was highly intelligent and could have easily graduated early, education was never important to her. 

Sadly, had she applied herself, Stephaney could have accomplished a great career years ago and had a full scholarship for college. But, we couldn’t control her then and we cannot control her now. 

For Cindy and I, this decision to live in a box is so horrifying to consider that we are still angry about Stephaney’s decision to not return to psychiatric care that it took me hours this evening to accept the reality that my niece has now chosen to become homeless. She’s chosen to be a bum. What is the difference between a hobo or a bum? There actually is a difference. 

A hobo is a migrant worker or homeless vagrant, especially one who is impoverished. The term originated in the Western–probably Northwestern–United States around 1890. 

Unlike a “tramp”, who works only when forced to, and a “bum”, who does not work at all, a “hobo” is a traveling worker.

What do you do with a family member who refuses to work and support themselves? The best you can without enabling them. 

Tonight as I packed up mittens, scarves, blankets and hoodies for my now homeless niece, my heart broke at her choice to choose the wrong fork in the road. 

Perhaps uncle Joe’s mom felt the same way? I never had the chance to ask her. Everyone frowned on Joe and Ronnie both because they never fit in. 

Uncle Joe’s lifestyle was wildly different from anyone in my entire family. Everyone went to work. Everyone went to church. 

If my uncle Joe ever walked into a church in his life it was most likely as a child. Uncle Joe frowned on church and “organized religion.” I have no idea why. 

Many churches help hobos like uncle Joe was. Many churches feed the homeless. I know this because while searching for my niece on East Lancaster, there were several vans serving hot meals to the homeless this afternoon. 

I also noticed that the homeless all talk to each other. They are friends of sorts. There wasn’t any fighting or violence. Some lived out of cars that looked as if they hadn’t been driven in months. 

Others lived on the streets. Many were helpful looking at flyers of my niece and trying to decide if they had seen her or where.

Sadly, Cindy and I were on the South side of town where Stephaney had disappeared while in fact, Stephaney was on the West side of town. 

When Officer Davis called me today and told me he had “found Stephaney in a box,” my first question was “is she dead?” I couldn’t understand why she would be in a box? Officer Davis gave me an address. 

I called Cindy to meet me on Las Vegas Trail at the address provided. How could a box in a ditch even have an address? But, the address on navigation took us straight to a ditch with a large box that looked new placed in the gulley. 

I sent photos to my husband who replied “I’m so sorry about Stephaney but, that’s a really nice box.” I sent a text back with a question mark. What? A nice box? I looked again. He was being honest it was a nice box. 

Cindy was so angry about Stephaney in this box that she took photos to text her husband. The photos would prove helpful in obtaining the mental warrant. You need proof. We’ve learned this. Stephaney has been committed numerous times but, Officer Davis wouldn’t file an emergency detention because “she’s not suicidal.” 

Tragically, I was forced to leave my niece as she refused to leave her box. The fact that the box and the ditch had an adddress made it far easier for me to email JPS Psych Ward to advise them of Stephaney’s location.  Tomorrow, I go to file marriage Licenses in Tarrant County after taking my niece provisions for her new lifestyle choice. 

How on earth I made it through my wedding ceremony today without breaking down crying after days of searching for Stephaney and assuming she was dead I have no idea but, I’ve become an excellent actress. Invited to enjoy the wedding reception, I had to politely decline to go to soup kitchens, homeless shelters and emergency rooms instead looking for Stephaney. 

Cindy and I were exhausted from lack of sleep and no desire to eat this past week. Stephaney is killing us. She’s robbed us of any joy in life the last 14 months. But, Stephaney only cares about Stephaney. What she’s doing to our family never even occurs to her. 

Being a hobo isn’t nearly as fun and adventurous to me today as it was forty years ago when watching uncle Joe ride the rails. 

I learned at 15 that to have nice things, you must work for them. I’m an overachiever. I work several businesses and I’m on staff at numerous venues. I would never even consider not working. But, maybe I’m cut from a different cloth than uncle Joe or uncle Ronnie or even my niece. 

The life of a hobo no longer holds the same fascination it did for me as a child and neither does joining the circus or a carnival  but, for some like my niece Stephaney, the glitter of the circus or life of a carnie or even the freedom of being homeless is as far from glamorous or fun as you could possibly get. Convincing my niece of this however and talking her into treatment isn’t easy but, it’s the only choice I have. 

She was beautiful and funny and articulate. She had talent and promise but, my niece has lost everything and is now at the lowest point in her life. 

On Thanksgiving day, Stephaney was fine. How did we get here? I have no idea. I cannot understand it. I may never accept it. Stephaney’s daughter, Maryssa wanted to see Stephaney Thanksgiving day but, her twin sister, Makenna chose not to. Stephaney’s behavior is so erratic that while Maryssa hoped Steph was getting it together, Makenna wasn’t taking a chance and chose not to see Steph. 

Maryssa is far more upset than Makenna because Maryssa had hope. Makenna is tired of Stephaney being fine one day and wild the next. While both twins were upset about Stephaney’s disappearance, Makenna must have stability and although Stephaney was fine, Makenna chose to stay home with my husband baking cookies. 

Maryssa was thrilled that her mother was doing well and is by far more upset about this latest development with Stephaney. 

My grandmother couldn’t change Hobo Joe or uncle Ronnie. I can’t change the fact that Stephaney is an addict. Meth is a horrifying drug. It destroys families. I’ve been told to “hate the addiction not the addict.” It’s difficult and I cannot see a miracle or life changing moment for my niece coming in this situation.

Will my niece die in the street? Will she overdose? Will I find her and somehow get her to eat with me and have a conversation about getting her into treatment tomorrow? I have no idea what tomorrow will bring but I know that her daughters are devastated. I know that her mother and I are heartbroken and I know that Stephaney has never been homeless. It’s a life choice she has no training in. I fear the next call from the police telling me they have found my niece will be the tragic end to a lifetime of trying to save Stephaney. It’s horrifying to mentally try to prepare myself for this. It’s cold and although I’m taking Stephaney clothing, without eating, Stephaney is weak and will eventually collapse from the exhaustion of walking or freezing to death.

I have no idea where she found drugs again while living at the Group Home. We had hoped (as usual) that Stephaney would get a job after treatment and maybe pull herself out of the hole she had put herself in this past year but, her mother and I were again devastated to learn that she was back on drugs again.

How my other grandmother dealt with our heroin addicts mom and this consistent dissatisfaction of her choice to be a heroin addict for 47 years I have no idea. The late night phone calls, the arrests, the worry, the pain and the fear of having a relative wandering the street is a tragedy of magnitude. My mother eventually had an accident that nearly killed her and due to the accident, forgot she was a heroin addict. 

My mother was also left with less than half of her cognitive ability and the loss of one eye. The quality of her life was altered significantly but, after a lifetime of being a heroin addict, my mothers choices killed our grandmother. I believe she finally died of a broken heart.  

Our mother is still alive and has nurses to help look after her but, she doesn’t know who we are and often I wonder if she’s pretending not to know. Why? Because she realizes that throwing her four children away to go get high again has left us with a lot of anger and very little pity. We cannot address our feelings with someone who either doesn’t understand or pretends not to. It’s infuriating but, it’s true. If I started asking why my mother son’s me for $50 at six years old, she would clam up. I’ve tried it over and over for the past 30 years. 

Maryssa and Makenna are going through the same thing Cindy and I did with a mother who only cares about drugs. Stephaney never bathed them or fed them. Cindy and I took on the role as the twins mother figures before they were two months old fourteen years ago. Why? Because we didn’t want them left in crack houses or locked in a car and forgotten. We didn’t want the twins exposed to the dark underworld our own mother put us in. We saved the twins because we were the twins no one would save as children ourselves. 

Accepting that I cannot change Stephaney is so difficult that I cannot even comprehend the reality of it. But, Cindy and I must play the hands we have been dealt. It’s a bad hand…there won’t be any happy endings with Stephaney. I’m fearful that Stephaney will die before Christmas comes…