Kids, Clients, Conference Calls, Chaos & Christmas. Ho Ho Ho Here We Go..

Normally this time of the year I’m really excited and this year should be exceptionally joyous due to the birth of my first grandchild, Oliver. However, this pandemic and political climate along with lockdowns at detention centers, county changes and regulations to venues and trying to balance my schedule with rescheduled events has left me somewhat melancholy to be honest with you.

My family has decided on a virtual Thanksgiving. I won’t be seeing Oliver Thursday.

In fact, I never bothered taking down my Christmas decorations this year. In January, February and March I was too busy. Traveling 7 days a week to meet client’s and focusing on my businesses, my husband didn’t care if our neighbors thought we were hillbillies by leaving our decorations up.

My husband works seven days a week himself and we both enjoy Christmas lights glowing through the rooms of our now truly empty nest. We lost our fourteen year old Beagle, Foxy last year. Our home hasn’t been the same since then. It’s quiet. Foxy’s not following us everywhere or hanging around the kitchen begging for food. It’s odd. The silence is depressing.

My husband is 70 and “cannot bear to lose another pet in this lifetime. I cannot even consider another pet. The loss is too great. I’m now terrified of losing you.” He means it. Other friends have suggested another pet and the answer all these months later remains the same.

The pain of losing a pet is simply too difficult for my husband to deal with. Many of his friends have died. Funerals are a regular occurrence for many people my husbands age. I’ve lost many friends myself. Sadly, a number of them died far sooner than they should have. A number of my friends were heavy drinkers. I’ve never been a real drinker but I’ve seen how alcohol can destroy your health. My ex husband, Guy was a heavy drinker. He never drove when drinking. We always had and used a driver for him. I didn’t understand and may never understand the need for someone to drink everyday.

Yesterday after running my niece, Stephaney to the grocery store and a few other places on her day off, I noticed she had bought a bottle of wine and was drinking it in my back seat. I was upset about this as 1. Day drinking is alarming and 2. Open containers in Texas are prohibited. And 3. She wanted me to take her to several restaurants to apply for waitress jobs since her hours have been cut at her current job. Drinking and seeking a job? Come on. I just can’t take it with Stephaney. My patience is at an all time low with her.

For 17 years now, my twin sister and I have tried everything humanly possible to straighten her daughter, Stephaney out. For 16 years, Cindy has been raising Stephaney’s twin granddaughters, Maryssa and Makenna. Stephaney’s never been responsible for anyone other than herself and quite frankly Cindy and I are the only people left in our families who try to help Stephaney. Everyone else has given up.

My phone rings all day long and my niece, Stephaney “wants to listen to the radio but I’m always on the phone with clients.” I suggested she save up and buy herself a car so she can listen to the radio. My phone is the most important work tool I own. This discussion coupled with that bottle of wine were headed toward an argument. I could feel it and see it coming.

Years ago, I would’ve tempered my temper with her but I’m sick and tired of her consistent “poor me all about me BS.” It’s taken me all of these years to get to this point but I’m there.

Picking her up at the group home, her attitude yesterday was already “salty.” I’ve been running here, there and everywhere the past three weeks for client’s and medical appointments. Today I finally got an all clear from my urologist that “there are no signs of lesions or tumors” on my bladder. Worrying about this has caused me a lot of stress this past month. As usual, Stephaney is always focused ONLY about herself.

Normally, I would have not even bothered to remind her that her choices are the reason that she doesn’t have a car and lives in a group home but yesterday I just couldn’t bite my own tongue. “My roommate bought a car and moved out.” Me “that’s great. She was working two jobs to get ahead and hard work pays off.”

My niece “why don’t you and mom buy me another car?” Grinding my teeth “because you are 33 going on 34 and we’ve bought you car after car after car and we are focused on buying your twin daughters cars now that’s why. Buy your own car.” Ugh.

Spending time with my niece is so aggravating. She blames everyone except herself for where she is. We’ve done everything to help her it’s time she started helping herself. Drinking a bottle of wine to look for another job lit me up. Her careless and selfish attitude consistently force me to worry about whether she will ever be self sufficient.

Meanwhile… my son and daughter went to handle a wedding in Colorado a week ago and I had the pleasure of keeping my grandson. On the day they were scheduled to fly back to DFW, my daughter in law called to ask me “to keep Oliver another few days because my uncle shot himself and is in critical condition in Tyler. We will need a hotel.”

I handle all travel arrangements for my family and always have so I made arrangements for them in Tyler. My son had left his truck here and I decided to have it detailed and fill it with gas for the drive from Fort Worth to Tyler. I didn’t ask questions on that phone call.

Three of my clients the following week had contacted me to reschedule due to family members and one bride testing positive for Covid. I had other irons in the fire and my daughter in laws crazy family always has drama. I didn’t even recall this uncle at their wedding. I was later told he wasn’t there because he was in prison.

Arriving at our home by Uber to pick up the truck, I had the opportunity to ask my son “what’s going on? I saw a GoFundMe on FB for $10k. This guy should qualify for a paupers funeral.”

My son rolled his eyes. “They say he doesn’t want to be cremated.” I wait to respond. I’m thinking. This guy shoots himself and THEN expects his family most of whom are quite poor to fund a full fledged funeral? What the? I decide not to get involved and focus on my beautiful grandson, husband, clients and yet another phone call from my niece, Stephaney.

By Sunday, I have a hidden message from a Margie. I don’t have anyone on my client list named Margie in any state. I then read the message. “It’s urgent you contact me about Robert.” I respond by giving my phone number as I watch my grandson play happily on the floor. Turns out that Margie is the uncle who shot himself sister.

Great. I’m now in the thick of this situation for a man who decided to take his own life who is still on life support but doesn’t want to be cremated. Ugh.

Margie is chatty. “He was adamant about not wanting to be cremated.”

Me “well, if your family cannot afford an expensive funeral, the body can be donated to science or he would qualify for a paupers funeral.”

Agitated Margie “that’s not what he wanted!” Me “well it may not be what he wanted but my son has a child and wife that are his focus and responsibility. I refuse to even suggest that they spend their hard earned money on an unnecessary funeral for someone who chose to commit suicide then stick his relatives with the bills.” I mean it.

My son and his wife just moved into a new home last year. They have a new baby. Someone in my daughter in laws family is always in prison or homeless. I’m serious. For years my son allowed his wife to move her relatives into their home.

After Oliver was born, my son finally put his foot down. It took years of my complaints and the reality of my son trying to support all of my daughter in laws cousins for reality to set in. That family is a train wreck.

“Aunt Margie” was finally grasping that I wasn’t about to “pony up” for this funeral. I help people all of the time but the circumstances of this “uncle situation” and his demands were just too much. We are in a pandemic here. The holidays are here and for reasons I can’t understand, a guy that shoots himself demands a full funeral and everyone else is expected to cover the cost? Wow.

With my suggestions falling on deaf ears, Margie moved on. “My son is in Bonham. How do I request him being able to attend the funeral?” I was relieved we had moved away from this argument about cremation to be honest with you. “Well, he would need you to file Reprieve For Family Emergency. I will send you the link to the forms but you need to recognize and realize that prisons have been closed to outside visitors 8 months now and the likelihood of pardons and paroles releasing an inmate for a funeral is highly unlikely.” I sent the link.

Margie “well surely they will let an inmate attend a funeral? I need him moved closer to me. Can you send me information about that?”

Hardship Transfers don’t allow family members to “choose” a facility. Margie was within 90 miles of Cole Unit in Bonham, Texas. She lives in Decatur and wanted her son moved to TDCJ Bridgeport Unit “because it’s only 20 minutes from her home.”

I reiterated that moving or “chaining” an inmate during this pandemic is solely at the discretion of TDCJ and then sent a link for a parole packet and template for a letter of support. Margie needed those as well. I wasn’t about to get into why a full funeral was cost prohibitive.

Conflict and especially conflict that has nothing to do with me, my clients, my family or my life always seems to “creep in.” Margie and the situation with her brother and the fact that my daughter in law and son ran off to Tyler would bring up other issues I wouldn’t foresee.

Yesterday my son called to tell me “Stephanie has Covid. Apparently she picked it up at the hospital visiting her uncle. She has RA so she is scared. I may get it too. Can you keep Oliver?” Of course I could and would and when with clients, Cindy could pitch in. I think about them running to Tyler after a week of working a wedding in Colorado and inadvertently exposing themselves to Covid for an uncle who chose to end his own life not caring about the people he was leaving behind to clean up the mess.

The next phone call I received yesterday while dealing with Stephaney was from the twins school. A student had brought a gun to school and shot himself. SWAT, Weatherford PD and DPS were on site.

The twins were terrified. Parker County isn’t “the city.” Weatherford is considered “the country.”

Stephaney listening in on Bluetooth shouts “that’s it! You and mom need to homeschool the twins.”

I lost it. “Do you realize that we have three businesses? That we pay for everything the twins need? That we don’t have the time or expertise to homeschool 16 year olds? That when we tried homeschooling two year’s ago the twins were depressed and isolated and falling behind in their classes? You are the last person to tell us what we needed to do in regards to the twins. We’ve been raising them for 16 years now and any decisions regarding their school will be with their counselors, Cindy, myself our husbands and them.”

I’m going to admit that a shooter at the high school rattled parents all the way across Weatherford, Mineral Wells and smaller towns nearby. All of us were and still are shocked. The student with the gun is in stable condition and shockingly was at the school going to see a high school girl that our entire family knew because we had married her parents about 6 years ago.

Our twins were flower girls with her at that wedding. In fact, the wedding was filmed for our television pilot, Pawning Planners. We know the family well.

How and why this incident occurred yesterday at the high school, only the student with the gun knows.

Cindy and I talked at length with the twins regarding going back to school today. They both decided to go to school. Many parents didn’t take their children to school today though.

Stephaney went to an interview today and apparently has a second interview next week. Because I had a client meeting in Palo Pinto and medical appointments in Weatherford, she rode the bus.

After numerous outbursts from her resulting in outbursts from me yesterday, I was relieved she took it upon herself to go to the interview. She has a second interview next week.

My niece, Leigh Ann and her sister, Stephaney don’t get along and haven’t in many years. Since marrying, my son is focused on his wife and now his son as well as work. Leigh Ann us focused on her daughter, Maddie, her husband and her business.

Stephaney’s consistent “chances and choices” have left her feeling isolated. Even the twins don’t want to talk to her but unless you’ve dealt with a loved one addicted to Meth, it’s difficult to understand why families give up. I had this discussion with Stephaney while driving her back to the group home and listening to her complain about living there (yet again).

Breathing deeply, I start in “you know I put you in treatment for 9 months last year for the however many times it’s been over the years. My sister had a heart attack after returning from filming in NY to find you that you had relapsed yet again. Your choices have consistently caused harm, hurt, chaos and crying as well as health issues to your mother and I over all of these years. Three years ago, we spent everyday trying to find you for two years living in the streets. Often, one of your daughters went with Cindy. How much do you think families are supposed to endure? We are the only people in the entire family who haven’t given up on you. Your mother is raising your daughters. Her home is their home. You should have had your own home by now. You should have gotten your life together. Maybe gotten married. Certainly been paying rent. You are angry you have paid 1 months rent here while your mother and I have paid 2 months rent. Wake up. Life is going to work, paying bills, creating a life. If you want a car, work two jobs and buy one. Your sister is married and has a nice home. Your cousin is married and has a nice home. They had the very same opportunities you had the differences are that you’ve thrown away every opportunity and want to blame everyone else. You tell me I’m lucky or your mom is lucky. Luck had nothing to do with it. We didn’t have a Wendy and Cindy in our lives like you do. We had no one we left home at 15 with nothing and no one to help us. We lived at a shelter for a year. Our first apartment didn’t have electricity for nearly 3 years. Lucky? Don’t ever tell me I’m lucky. I’m determined, resilient, perseverant and dedicated. Your mom is too. We had no one other than each other. NO ONE. All of you kids have always had us. The mothers we never knew. It’s time for you to grow up and accept responsibility. You aren’t responsible for anyone other than yourself and never have been but this is your year to accept where you are and change it. I can’t change it for you. Your mom can’t change it for you. It’s time for you to accept reality and apply yourself. We cannot babysit you everyday in fear that you will relapse. If you do, we are walking away this time. We are 56. Our husbands are 70. Your kids are 16. We have to focus on not worrying about you and enjoying the rest of our lives with our husbands, the other kids and grandkids and our client’s. It’s time for you to grow up. Don’t complain to me about paying one months rent. When we were 16 we were paying rent on an apartment that we couldn’t afford to pay electricity at.”

Stephaney got out and slammed my door. Her mom has paid for her cell phones for 16 years now. My niece has never even paid for her own cell phones. She loses them Cindy buys new ones. Cindy calls them and Stephaney never answers the phones Cindy pays for. Ugh.

Our sister, Tammy called and like everyone else asked “are you two together?” We are almost always together and when we aren’t, we are on a conference call with each other. Leigh Ann and my son or our husbands call and ask the same question “is Cindy with you?” Or “is Wendy with you?” Cindy and I are happiest together. We always have been. We’ve survived many things because we’ve always had each other to lean on.

Cindy like me doesn’t know what to do about her daughter, Stephaney. We both agree that my daughter in laws uncles family needs to give up this GoFundMe campaign and accept the reality of cremation being more cost effective and reasonable or donating the body to science.

But I’ve learned that people don’t always listen to reason. People will only hear what they want to hear.

I’m dreading Thanksgiving and Christmas this year because it’s the first year my husband has told me “Stephaney isn’t welcome in our home.”

This hurts me but my husband has seen far too much sadness, despair and chaos caused by my niece. He wants a “normal holiday like other people.” It’s really not too much to ask but while I continue to hope and pray Stephaney won’t relapse, the reality is that she has so many times before that the possibility exists. Cindy knows it and I know it too. Sadly, living with this constant fear is taking a toll on both of us…