My husband passed six years ago, after thirty years of marriage. It hit me hard and I went downhill fast. We raised our son and daughter together and were there for each other though thick and thin. We fell in love quickly. We met in March of 1980 and married that same year on his birthday, August 18th 1980. He was a little older than me, seventeen years older to be exact but you’d never know it. He was young at heart and full of fun.
He never had a sick day in his life. He went to the doctor late in 2008 coz he kept complaining about his chest hurting. We were living in Olathe, Kansas and had our own business at the time. They diagnosed him with oesophagus cancer and operated on in him in 2009. He seemed like he was doing better but he wasn’t and in March 2010 he passed away. A week later my Dad passed suddenly.
I tripped out! Life took on a different outlook for me. I’d never been apart from my husband in thirty years and on top this, I'd lost my Dad too! I’m telling you, it was something else! So much happened in such a short space of time, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I wasn’t doing well. My daughter wanted me to move to Atlanta to live with her. She wanted to catch the airplane and help me drive the truck down to Atlanta. I didn’t know what to do, I’d never been further than St. Louis in my life!
What was your line of business? Transport. My husband retired from the Ford dealership in Olathe in 2006. He worked for them for over ten years as a car detailer. After retiring he wasn’t about to sit around, he wasn’t like that. Neither was I for that matter! Johnson County offered a program for disabled people to get started in business. I’m registered disabled with Arthritis in both knees and both shoulders so I qualified. We decided to do the business together. Through Johnson County we transported people who needed to get to the hospital or the doctors. It was mostly long term sick people who couldn’t drive. We called the business ‘Best Transportation’. We’d had it three years and we was doing real well. When my husband died and then my father, I couldn’t keep up with it all. I missed my husband something terrible. I fell apart and so did everything else including the business.
Tell me about your path to RS. I went to Atlanta to be with my daughter, but I couldn’t settle. I was raised in Kansas City all my life and my son still lives here. I moved back two and a half years ago but I still struggled real bad. I used to keep myself bright as a peach but I’d let myself go. I got to the point I knew I needed help or I wasn’t gonna make it. That’s when I discovered RS.
I thought RS would be like one of those places where you get a ticket, wait for your number to be called, then go and talk to somebody who’s sitting behind a glass panel. I was surprised! It's not like that at RS. I walked up to the front desk and immediately felt a warmth coming from Terri when he greeted me. The same thing happened when I met Sandy who later became my case manager. People at RS smiled at me and said, “hello” when I came in. I hadn’t had that in a long time. I felt welcomed by the people there and that did a lot for me.
RS has helped me in lots of different ways. I had gotten behind on my rent and they helped me with that. I was trying to keep up, but at that time I only had a disability check. They helped me with food and in working through my losses. Most of all the people here have helped me rediscover my dignity.
Earlier this year Miss Sandy told me about the Foster Grandparents program. I didn’t have the confidence at first, but she gently encouraged me and I decided to take the class at RS. I am now a Foster Grandparent! This program has opened up a whole new world for me. There are around ninety six of us Foster Grandparents.We get together regularly for trainings, to eat together and have fun. More importantly I get to go to school every day and be there for the kids. They call me Grandma and that makes me feel so warm and good. They run up to me and give me a hug and I get to give something of myself to them. It’s a wonderful program! Amazing! It’s not just me giving to them, these kids are doing something for me. In being with them, I am coming back to life!