Sunday, February 8, 2009

Our Friend Sue

For a little while in 2006 our family lived temporarily in an apartment as we waited for our current home. While living in the complex we met the sweetest older woman named Sue. She is a retiree who was also living in the apartments while her home was being repaired due to fire.

Sue and our youngest became fast friends. The youngest loved to help her, hang out with her, run errands with her, walk her dog, etc. By extension we all came to love and care about Sue. She is like an extra grandma to all of us.

Fast forward to the present. We have been in our home for about two years now - Sue has been back at her refurbished home almost as long. In the process of moving I had misplaced her house address and cellphone number. One day a few weeks ago the youngest stumbled upon it! YAY! We quickly called Sue. I was saddened by what she had to say.

I rang her up and it was pretty bad. The economy has hit Sue hard. Since she is retired and living on a fixed income she has to be very frugal [and she is!] In addition she has medical issues that require medication and doctors' visits. While speaking with her I could tell she didn't want to bother me with the details or tales of woe. I am, by nature, not nosey and would really like to have happy conversations as a rule, but I could really sense that things were tough. It was hard to get her to tell me exactly what was going on, but she finally told me the whole situation.

[At this point I need to add that Sue has three grown children. None of them live at home and all are in their late 20's and early 30's with gainful employment. The married, eldest has one child.]

It seems that although her Social Security/pension stays the same, the cost of food, medication and gas prices [this past year $4.50/gal~] have combined to seriously effect Sue's quality of life, as in, I discovered she didn't have any food in the house and was trying to figure which medications to "afford" until her next retirement check came. It was the 21st of the month and that check was 10 days away.

I asked where were the kids, why weren't they helping? Well, typical Sue, she is a protective Momma and it was the usual "Oh, they are so busy and with the holidays they really don't have anything to spare." Blah, blah, blah. Please don't misunderstand me, I do respect her love for her kids but I know this gang and they constantly take advantage of Sue and I could not believe they were blind to the fact that their mother didn't have anything to eat and couldn't afford her meds. I am sure if I was Sue I wouldn't want to bother my kids either, but they all live local - so, -what? They couldn't check in once and a while and get an update on their own Mother? Believe me, she is a good Mom - there aren't issues with family dynamics where they have a valid reason not to be in contact or help care for her. I find it strangely sad that after years of caring and nuturing her children they don't have the decency [maturity? common sense?] that maybe Sue needs help and shouldn't have to ask for it. [I was going to throw in the word "unselfishness" but I didn't think it was a word and I couldn't think of another to use.]

I guess I shouldn't be so hard on the kids, Sue isn't and they are her kids, but when her son brags about his new marble floors and his Mom can't afford blood pressure meds or a can of soup, I get cranky. Is that okay? Or maybe I am just mad at the economy and I am sad for people like Sue, who has worked her whole life and cannot afford basic needs on her pension and Social Security. It is wrong.

But I guess this is happening everywhere, right?

We did bring Sue groceries to last a few weeks [I have never seen anyone cry over a sweet potato] and I hooked her up with a service in our county that will help her better afford her meds [YAY! Loudoun County], but I still wonder.

How many other Sues are out there?

4 comments:

Linda and Denny said...

Since I have a brother and sister that are similar in nature to Sue's kids, I can relate. As the big sister, I am the one handling Mom's illness, even though I was 800 miles away and my brother was 2 miles and my sister 5 miles away. Go figure.

I used to envy "normal" families, but I think those are a lot more rare than I thought.

Gail said...

There's that God thing again! Why did you suddenly find that number after it had been misplaced for so long?

To Linda and Denny: I agree with you. What is a normal family? Even the abused child thinks everyone else is having the same experience.

Skippy, you and your family are angels!

Marni said...

You are a fantastic family for taking care of her. You are setting a wonderful example for your kids.

Yes, her kids have their own lives, but she IS their mom for crying out loud.

Yvo said...

More than I like to think about