Nancy, Mare & Skittles need a home

I'd like to introduce you to my mother, Nancy.  Maybe you know her already.  If you don't, let's just say she is a bit of super hero.  She was born into an era of poverty, started her first job at eleven, at 5' 3" was one of the best basketball players on her high school teams, adopted three kids (all at once) from a home of neglect/addictions/abuse, despite adversity continually moved up the ladder in the banking industry, lost her husband in her early 60's, drove across the country at 69, vigorously gardened into her late 70s and still manages to be the sweetest retired lady you’ll ever meet in her mid 80's.  

Six years ago her health began to decline dramatically.  She was diagnosed with macular degeneration, had to give up her car and began to show signs of dementia.  It was during this time from 2018 to the beginning of the Pandemic that I decided to stay put in Michigan, so I could keep a closer eye on her.  Months after loosing her brother to covid related illnesses she fell.  It took a week for her to agree to be taken to the hospital after this fall, which, caused a fracture. During the hospitalization I found out she had not been to a doctor in 15 years, stopped taking her thyroid medication for the same amount of time, had osteoporosis in the majority of the right side of her body, had significant hearing loss and she was officially showing signs of dementia with Lewy bodies.  This was at the end of 2021 and since then she's been through myriad tests, sometimes arguing all the way to a doctors office but she is caught up on all her health needs, however, my mom needed 24/7 care home therapy and being the only one to do it, my life began to fail during that time.  

 

My industry was already decimated by the Pandemic and so were decades of dedication and all the sacrifices I made for my career.  I was tasked to, not only, help my mother almost completely on my own with little or no resources but pay my bills when my options, like so many others during the Pandemic and since, were bleak and or non existent.  

My mom's condition got worse and she had another significant fall, was admitted to the hospital again, admitted to nursing care again but this time it seemed different.  During her long stay in this last nursing home it became very clear that she could no longer take care of her self independently, meanwhile, our money was running out.  We all decided the best choice for my mom, and she finally agreed to it, was to sell her house and move her into assisted living.  I had already been researching places and found an incredible one for her that she liked.  This was a huge relief to me because I knew she would be in a safe environment that she could potentially thrive in, yet, if she needed additional care it would be there for her, even for her end of life stages. AND SHE COULD AFFORD IT WITH HER INCOME and the sale of her house would be there for anything she would want beyond rent!!!  

We got a sales agent and while mom was still in the nursing home we listed the house and began the process.  I worked around the clock, intensely and meticulously bringing the house into a condition that would give us such great curb appeal we would sell it the first day.  At this point my isolation from the world was at its peak.  The only people I really spoke with were my mom's nurses, doctors, our real estate agent and an occasional online social interaction.  Then three days before her release she fell again and was deemed a “fall risk” and it was decided that her level of care warranted even more than the assisted living setting we'd nearly signed a year lease with.  My anxiety during that time was so bad I thought I was going to have a heart attack a few times (fortunately, I later found out it was only severe stress).  There were days I couldn't see straight but I kept moving thinking about everything my mom did for me with the words of a few good friends and family running throughout my head; one being, “Don't think about what you are loosing from this situation but what you are gaining.”  I kept seeking help, making calls becoming educated with her illness/insurance and then a super human care advocate entered our lives and she became my representative when I was so upset at times I couldn’t speak.  This angel got us through the most difficult time of all this.  With few days left of Medicare assistance at the nursing home, our care advocate found two group homes for my mom and I had 18 minutes to choose which one my mom would stay at for her remaining years.  It was brutal but I made the decision and it was the correct decision.  The home she has now been in for over a year is the most loving and safe place we could have ever hoped for.

So, our house was ready and after only two days on the market we accepted a great offer, however, I had no money.  All the time I spent during that month was dedicated to getting the house in order and visiting my mom almost everyday; the drive alone was an hour round trip.  As I waited on pins and needles for the closing of our family home, I continued to make sure her/our house was ready for the new owners.  I emptied my account, burned through credit and got one last credit card.  All this managed to get me/us through.  The house closed and I could take a breath for the first time in months.  

Even though I was mentally hit and socially awkward I decided it was time to get back to my work and headed back to LA.  I knew leaving my mother would not be easy for me, especially being so far away but there are only a few places Artists/Actors can earn a living wage and in almost all cases it's not in Michigan (even someone like me who has won grants, awards and heavily involved in the Arts and Entertainment industry as long as I have). Everyday in SoCal I cried.  Everyday I regretted leaving.  Then in October of last year mom had a serious fall again and had to be taken to the hospital.  It was agonizing trying to manage this for her with the hospital and try and manage the sadness brought out by the powerlessness of not being able to do everything I wanted because I wasn't there.  In the short time I was in SoCal I decided I couldn't bare the distance and my mother asking me, “where I was,” every single time I called added to my regret.  I broke down and asked her if she would trust me to help find us a house that I would come home and do just that.  She, ofcourse, said “yes.”  I packed up everything and drove back to Michigan with my dog Skittles… again.  

I've never bought a home before or represented someone who was buying one.  The entire experience was complicated, wearing and fruitless in the end for several reasons.  Telling my mom the bad news was awful.  I knew how much, just the idea, of living with Skittles and I in our own home was helping her cope with her current surroundings and she had more energy.  My poor mom.  The silver lining at the time was my physically being in Michigan to see just how well the staff at her home took care of her when she fell this time and how great the care at the local hospital was.  I realized she was exactly where she needed to be and that I had left no stone un-turned in trying to help the most important person in my life.  

After a few weeks, I began the journey back to Los Angeles.  In two weeks of living there I booked my first paid acting gig in over two years and made more money than I had in even more years.  My mom did have to go to the hospital during this time but I was proud that I handled it without hysteria or crying 15 minutes every hour.  Thankfully, she was fine within a few days.  

Then a few weeks ago the nursing home my mom was last in, over a year ago, emailed me to say there is a $1,000.00 outstanding bill.  It made me sick to my stomach.  How could this be?  We can't take one more financial surprise but it was justified but poorly timed (an employee, who had since been let go, failed to send us a bill).   It prompted me to crunch my mom's numbers, which, is her income and what is left of the money from the sale of her house.  I crunched my own numbers and even though I made more money in those last two months than I made in years, it wasn't enough if I was going to also help my mom out from the inevitability of her not being able to pay her very high (but worth it) rent and misc.    

I was given the impression by doctors and others over a year ago that my mom's life was coming to an end.  My thinking was let’s put her in a safe place where her dignity would be in tact surrounded by individuals that are trained in caring so her time on this earth would be filled with loving attention and respect, meanwhile, I could start rebuilding my life and get on stable footing.  We’ve headed in that direction BUT three weeks ago, after crunching those numbers, I realized that we will not have enough money to keep my mom in this beautiful home … not even close and it will happen within a few months!  I knew that this day could come.  I hoped, prayed and worked to see it not but it's here.  

With new motivation I began digging for ways out of this.  I began making calls to all bodies of our government from national to local and there is help for many things just not for my mom's total care.  If I don't take care of her myself in our own home to cut significant costs she will end up in a government run nursing facility where, because of her type of dementia, macular degeneration and age will most likely be restrained in bed, ignored, get regular UTI's, her falls will become more frequent and dangerous, reduced to a restrained wheelchair and become so angry and confused in this type of surrounding she will ask to die.  I am determined to make sure this does NOT happen.  I don’t know how I could live with myself knowing I played any part in the degradation of her twilight.   

This leads me to the present day.  I packed my stuff once more, drove across America with Skittles and we are looking for a house again.  

THE EXCITING NEWS IS WE FOUND A HOUSE !!! THE SET UP IS PERFECTLY SET UP FOR MY MOM'S NEEDS AS IF THE HOUSE NEW WE WERE COMING !!! WE ARE APPROVED OF FINANCING!!! WE ARE READY TO PUT AN OFFER ON IT !!! But there is a problem.  The down payment has become more than we initially expected, coupled with the timing of my mom's next rent and needing to give her group home a months notice and our already dwindling budget.  This all adds up to needing $15,000.00 on top of what we currently have to get on the other side of these difficult four years. 

As an independent Artist and business owner asking for money, applying for grants, constantly submitting for gigs and running fundraisers is all a part of what we Artists do but doing this on my mom's behalf is like nothing I've ever done before because it is more important than any artwork or movie I've ever made.  

My mom really never asked anyone for anything unless it's on my or my brother’s behalf.  She always lead her life generously with friends and family; from the heart.  She certainly never asked to have dementia nor prepared for it.  Dementia is a horrible disease that capsizes the body and can slowly bring down all who love it down with them or make it unappealing to be around that person… but not me.  I love my mother now, like I did when I was a little girl, so, my motivation to do whatever I can to take care of her lovingly, safely and with dignity is all I want and will try to do.

Once we get over the initial hurdle of the down-payment and closing costs and the first month of move-in our financial situation changes dramatically.  I am fortunate also to have the ability to work remotely, ironically because of what covid did to our world, and even better the property we are looking at can be used to generate an income from the resources it has, not to mention, the home itself was last owned by a man with sever medical needs making mom's living areas quickly livable at no extra cost to us!

I am aware of the times we are in and it's difficult for me to ask for gifts such as this with the difficulties folks are going through since and after the Pandemic, not to mention, you may be dealing with your own family matters but if you do have some resources you can tape into to help our little family survive and ultimately thrive please do what you can.  You will always have a place to visit in Bad Axe and the knowledge of knowing how impactful your generosity was.

With Love,
Mare, Nancy & Skittles

PS If for whatever reason we don't close on the house below we'll have another one for you to visit as I have other options and am steadfastly looking for a home

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Thank you for what you are doing. Mom will surely find out and want you to visit us as soon as.

Enjoy the complimentary download of her lounging in Lake Tahoe, 2011.

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