Time marches on, and I recognize that it is something that we cannot battle. We can defy or perhaps delay it, but in the end, it will win.
When Last I Spoke With You...
We were caring for my wife's father, home and bed bound, living out his final days of conflict with Alzheimer's and Vascular Dementia. We had quit our jobs, moved from Branson to Nevada, bought a house, adapted it to allow us to care for him, and brought him to live with us. Hospice was coming several times a week to provide assistance for both he and us. I was driving a bus for the local school district and Life was proceeding at a greatly changed pace.
Then, on a Sunday morning, we noticed a swelling on the side of his neck. We called Hospice and they came to look at him. By the time they arrived, he had stopped opening his eyes and moving, although he was still breathing, very rapidly. The pupils of his eyes went to pinpricks and were fixed. Diagnosis was he had most likely had a stroke and was entering the final phase of the disease. There was nothing which could be done except to ease whatever pain he might be experiencing using morphine.
They provided what care they could, but within 24 hours, he was gone. It was sudden, and while expected it was nonetheless, unexpected and unwelcome.
Arrangements were made to provide cremation with a local funeral home and cemetery. When working with them, we learned that because he was a former military man, the government would provide a tombstone or plaque (our choice) complete with pertinent dates and service to his country at no cost. This was a very welcome touch we did not expect and were very grateful for.
The hospice company was unbelievable. They visited with us several times, offered us multiple options of grief counseling, advising us that this could continue for up to a year and a half should we need it. Again, unexpected and very welcome information.
Then, we needed to move on, move forward in some manner. First we donated most of what we had purchased to assist in his care, from bed pads and such to the brand new wheelchair he had never used. A local charity donation store was grateful for these items as they knew of several people in desperate need of such things. Then came trying to find jobs in a town with very few decent jobs. My wife, with her college degrees, had better options than I (although even those were extremely limited in the area). She had a couple of choices, and she chose what we thought would be the better option for her. More on that a bit later.
My choices were fewer. Driving for the school district, while satisfying to drive the Early Childhood Special Education children (God I love these little kids) was not financially sound. My income was a paltry $500 take home a month. After filling out several dozen applications, I received one (that's 1) phone call. OATS Public Transit. I drove two hours to interview, was offered a position, and accepted. Pay was, shall I say, more than I was making but less than I had made since the 1980's or so. But, it was a job, paid decent (for the area) and I took it.
Life at OATS
OATS is a public transportation company, serving mostly people who have disabilities, who are on some form of government insurance (think Medicare/Medicaid type), who cannot drive. We take them to doctor's appointments, to get groceries, to dialysis and any other form of appointments. Because I had my Class B CDL with Passenger endorsement, I drove a cutaway bus with a wheelchair lift. I would drive up to 300 miles a day, ranging from Kansas City to Springfield and Joplin, and anywhere in between. I had fun, I liked my clients and it was good.
But. There's always a but, isn't there? But, I did not get my next day's run until around 6:00 PM each evening. But, I was not guaranteed those runs either. Most days, yes; often though, no. Clients could cancel, weather could put a halt to the run, and sometimes my clients would be removed from me even as I pulled up to get them. I literally pulled into a parking area of a dialysis location (after driving an hour and a half to get there) to see another OATS vehicle pulling away, and the driver sticking his tongue out at me. I didn't know what that was all about at the time. Then, a few minutes later, after I had messaged in that I had arrived, I was informed another driver had my client. So sorry, head on back home. Then the driver sticking his tongue out had new meaning: Na Na I got your client!! How incredibly childish. Another time I pulled up to get a client, saw another bus there, walked up to the driver and asked who he was there for. Yep, my client. I just shook my head at him and went home for the day.
OATS is a good company with wonderful clients, but it seemed to me that it was run haphazardly at times, without a clear and prevalent thought as to who would drive whom when. They had a new electronic tablet system of getting word to the drivers on their runs in place, and perhaps that played a part in the seeming disorganization, but still, it could have been better. I also feel that giving you your information on your clients only an hour ahead of time was less than optimal, as a couple of times I received final information AT THE MOMENT I was to leave for an hour or more one way run to get that person. No time for a proper pre-trip, gather my lunch bucket or get dressed. Good thing I am one of those persons who gets everything done ahead of time and was ready to go really early!
My Wife's Job Was Less Than Enjoyable
My lovely wife took what seemed to be the better job, but ended up being a literal nightmare. I will not call them out by name, but will say they are in Southeast Kansas, and deal with students who are in a Head Start type of schooling level. People, she literally came home nightly one of two ways: mad as hell or crying. That was it: nothing else. Either her boss, her boss's boss, a cook or lead teacher would make life a living hell for her and the other people who worked there daily. Yelling at them, preaching about the rules then ignoring the same rules in front of them, tattling on some little transgression ("Oh, you don't pick up the cup from the table, you slide it to the edge and then pick it up! You've been warned!), bullying beyond belief, allowing a smoking coworker a dozen breaks a day to satisfy their habit (the boss smokes too) but not allowing her to have a break or lunch at all. I shook my head with complete disbelief at the things she would tell me in the evenings. She would be required to drive two hours from home to help at another location, then not be compensated for the drive either in mileage or hourly pay for the drive! Seriously!! I cannot convey to you the utter chaos and hostile work environment she was subjected to all for a couple of dollars an hour more pay. Never again will a decision be made solely upon the pay!!
An Offer From The Past
Then, a phone call to her one day that shown a little ray of sunshine into our lives. Seems her former employer learned of her father's passing via social media and called to relay their condolences, and said that if she ever found herself back in the area, why they would love to have her back!! We began to talk seriously about moving back to the Branson area, and what work I might be able to find. Having left Silver Dollar City on such short notice due to the timing of signing the house papers on short notice (a day before) and moving up to Nevada so quickly, I held no hope of getting back on there.
But, I learned that not only do they present themselves as Christian, they walk the walk as well. They knew, and understood, my hasty reason for leaving to care for her father, and told me to come on in and speak with them. I drove down (two and a half hours one way) and visited with them. I now hold a position in their Finance division! Thank you Lord!!
So, we've moved back to the Branson area, my wife is back at her former position, I am back at SDC, our son is back in the school he enjoyed so much, hanging with his friends again and things are moving ahead better than we had hoped.
Not Everything Is Rainbows and Lollipops
Finding somewhere to live proved a challenge, and even though we have found a place, the challenge continues. We had a few qualifying reasons to live in a particular location, the first being it had to be in the school district our son attended before; we weren't going to start him in another district in the latter portion of his sophomore year of high school. So, wherever we lived that was a must. Second, we had to be able to afford it. What we found was in the short time we were gone, rent soared! What we paid before ($775 a month for a two bed two bath condo of 1100 sq ft) was long gone. Now the same condo went for $900 a month. Houses were going for up to a grand a month for a one bed one bath 800 sq ft home. With us still owning a home in Nevada, and paying for it until we can sell it, that is out of our price range. And because we spent so much buying and fixing up the house for her father to live with us, and then living on a minimal income (my $500 a month) we ran through a large portion of our savings caring for the family. So, we were on a budget.
We eventually found a townhouse, right area, right price. My wife literally found it while driving down to see a property which we had been stood up to see twice before, while searching on her phone while driving to Branson. It had just shown up that morning, was in our price range, area and would allow us to keep our pets. It felt like it was a gift from above. We made arrangements to see it that morning, and it suited us well enough to take it. Then came a nutbuster: no cats. We have two rescue cats which are now part of the family, one of them has been for close to three years. The ad said cats and dogs ok, but in person we were told no cats. After all we had been through, driving 150 miles one way each weekend for a month to look at houses, apartments, condos and such without finding anything which came close I was tired; soul tired. I looked at the landlord and said "I will give you a $500 nonrefundable pet deposit for the cats".The landlord accepted. We felt like it truly was a gift from heaven. Sweet relief.
This is an end unit, two story two bedroom two bath 1100 sq ft townhouse with two decks, a view of the lake and private parking. So far so good. But then we met the neighbors. Oh my God. Smokers like you have never seen before. Drinkers who get drunk and fight multiple times in our three weeks here. We even smell pot being smoked and have it come into our home through the walls!! We call the landlord, and they try to take care of things but in a few days, something else pops up. We have spoken to the law enforcement in the area and learned that A) them smoking and us smelling it is nothing we can control. It is just too damn bad if it infiltrates the duct work, comes into your home, they have the right to smoke if they want and we cannot do ANYTHING about having to smell it. NOTHING!! And B) because pot is becoming legal, again we are without a legal right to complain about it. Law enforcement will not waste their time on it because in a very short time it is being legalized to the point where a person can smoke it in their home.
How's that for a kick in the crotch? All we can do is if they get drunk and fight again, is to call the sheriff and have them come and haul someone away for being drunk and disorderly or for domestic violence if they throw things around their home and wake us up at 2:00 in the morning. Nothing more. Then comes the very real possibility of retaliation.
It kills us to have put our 15 year old son in this position, all because we sought to help his grandfather in his final time here on earth. It cost us a good place to live, jobs, my wife going through hell at a job I would have lost my cool at, his changing schools, and now this.
Sometimes, it is true: Good Deeds Never Go Unpunished.
We will endure, hopefully. These people will move out when their lease is up soon, I pray. Maybe the next neighbors will be someone like us, someone quiet, respectful, and not a family of druggies and drunks.
One can hope and pray.
© 2020 Mr Archer