Reunited mother and daughter happy they can take care of each other
Could you please check on my elderly mother? I am disabled and living out of state. I barely make ends meet each month with my own disability check and I am unable to travel to Wisconsin to check on her myself. I am her only daughter. My father died 15 years ago.
I worry about my mother every day. She sends me letters weekly because she had to let her phone be disconnected. I send her $50 each month, hoping she spends it on food. She told me in her last letter that she had fallen and been taken to the emergency room. I know she must be having a very difficult time. I feel so guilty that I am unable to care for her at this stage in her life. I suffer from kidney disease and have to go for twice-weekly dialysis. Please let me know if you can check on my mother.
— Unhealthy worried daughter
I called the daughter to find out some more details on the mother's situation. The daughter told me she had written a letter to her mother explaining how she had written to The Time Is Now to Help on her behalf. Her mother is 78 years old. The daughter truly did care about her mother but was very sick. The kidney disease was advanced and made it impossible for her to travel. I promised the daughter I would check on her mother.
I arrived at an old trailer home. The mobile home looked uninhabitable with its sagging roof and broken steps. I had a sinking feeling the daughter was correct in her intuition about her mother's living conditions.
I made my way up the broken stairs to the dilapidated trailer. I knocked on the door.
After several minutes, the door cracked open and a woman asked, “Who's here?”
I began to explain who I was and how her daughter had written. I handed her my identification and the letter from her daughter. She opened the door all the way and said, “You are the man my daughter said she was sending over?”
I could see she was squinting to look at the identification and compare it to my face. She also looked at her daughter's letter, finally confirming, “Yes, my daughter wrote this.”
Her glasses were old; they must not have been updated in years. I asked the elderly mother if I could come in to talk. She invited me inside.
The trailer was as old inside as outside. The few pieces of furniture she had were in as bad of shape as the trailer.
The elderly mother said, “This has been my home for 30 years. I have nowhere else to go. It is all I need at my age.”
I looked around and thought to myself how this woman really needed our help, but I could see she was proud and independent.
We sat to talk. I asked the woman about her daughter and her recent trip to the emergency room. She showed me the bruises on her arm from her fall and said she thought she had broken her hip.
“I guess I am tougher than I look. I was only badly bruised,” she said.
I looked around the kitchen and noticed the appliances did not even look like they worked. I asked if the refrigerator worked and she told me to check for myself. I opened the refrigerator to find it was cold inside but nearly empty.
I asked if she minded if I asked a few questions about her finances. She said, “Go ahead, I have nothing to hide.”
I asked questions about her income and expenses. She was living extremely frugally just to get by in the little trailer. She was receiving Social Security, barely enough to survive.
I think we arrived just in time to prevent a complete disaster. She had some repairs done on the furnace in the winter and on the hot water heater in the spring. Both these repairs set her behind in her budget for utilities. Her trip to the emergency room had required some out-of-pocket expenses, as well. These all had set the mother back in her budget.
The elderly woman looked embarrassed as she said, “I never believed in asking for help. I always took care of myself. I didn't want to ask my daughter for anything. She has her own health to worry about.”
I asked, “If we remove the stress of worrying about you from your daughter, isn't that helping her?”
The frail woman looked down at her hands and I heard a sniffle. She was trying to hide her tears as she said, “I don't want her to worry about me. I've tried so hard to hide from her how I am struggling. Some days I barely have enough to eat. I do not have air conditioning. I never use my lights in the evening. It was hard to hide my problems from my daughter once they disconnected my phone.”
I asked how she would feel about visiting her daughter. She looked at me and asked, “How could I ever afford that?”
I said, “It would be a gift from The Time Is Now.”
The mother said that would be the most wonderful gift anyone could give her.
“My daughter could really use my help right now. I may not look like much but I am still capable of helping her with her cooking and laundry. My eyesight is not so good, but I can get around OK. I broke my newer glasses and am waiting until I am eligible for a new pair. I am wearing my old glasses until then.”
Once she mentioned her eyesight, I asked how long until she would be eligible for new glasses. She said it would eight months.
When I told her we would pay for new eyeglasses she sat up and stared at me, squinting.
She said, “I haven't been able to read or watch television for months. It is so hard to see with these old glasses.”
I also told her, as I looked around, “We cannot leave you living in here.” Then I asked, “Could we go get something to eat? I'm hungry.” I knew I had to get past her pride.
At this point she looked overwhelmed. She started to say, “See my daughter, who I have not seen in years, buy me glasses so I can see and now you want to take me out to eat? No one, ever since my husband died many years ago, has spent any time with me.” She broke down crying. I tried to console her.
It took some time for her to get over the shock of our visit.
The following week, after she received her new glasses, the mother left for her trip. A volunteer driver made sure she arrived safely.
When I called a few days later to check on them, the mother said, “I can't believe there are people like you, and all your helpers at The Time Is Now to Help. If I didn't let you in my door I would never have been able to come here to care for my daughter. She really needs me here. My daughter wants me to stay! Do you think I should?”
After we spoke about it, the mother agreed to stay. She had hardly any belongings to worry about at home. Her whole life was with her daughter. She cried as she thanked us for our help and handed the phone to her daughter.
The daughter was crying as she said, “I cannot believe after all these years, I'm standing here hugging and loving my mother. I love her so much and am so happy to have her here with me. Between my health problems and money shortage we have not been able to see each other for years. That will never happen again. We only have each other. I cannot believe this wonderful gift my mother and I have received from a group of people I never met (and) have no way of ever repaying ... ”
All I could say was, “God bless both of you. Thank you for letting us help.”
— Health and happiness, God bless everyone, W.C./Sal
Please help. Make checks payable to: The Time Is Now to Help, P.O. Box 1, Lake Geneva, WI 53147. The Time Is Now to Help is a federally recognized 501(c)3 charitable organization licensed in Wisconsin and Illinois. You will receive a tax-deductible, itemized thank-you receipt showing how your donation provided assistance for the poverty stricken.
A special thank you to: Fox Charities, Lake Geneva School of Cooking, Chef John Bogan, Pentair Foundation, The Summertime Foundation, Dick and Jean Honeyager, Jim and Ardith Drescher, Nestor Alabarca, Alliant Energy Foundation, James and Marilynn Dyer, Shirley Abell, Nancy Runkle, Gerald and Joyce Byers, Sid and Patty Johnson, Edward and Leslie Foster, Walter and Florence Strumpf, Sylvester and Virginia Seick, Donald and Anne Ogne, Richard and Carol Hinners, Jerome and Susan Kuta, Margarie Egger, Geraldine Overbeck, Thomas and Susan O'Brien, W.C. Family Resource Center/Food Pantry volunteers and all the God-loving volunteers of all our caring food pantries, all of you who support The Time Is Now to Help donation boxes and the businesses that allow our donation boxes. Anyone who would like a donation box in your business, call (262) 249-7000.
Editor's note: The Time is Now to Help was founded by a local businessman who knew extreme poverty as a child. With the help of donations from the community, The Time is Now is able to help local residents in need.