Nearly two weeks ago Russ received news that his mother was ill. Last week, on Thursday, August 22, she passed away.
From conversations I’ve had with Russ over the years, I gleaned that Russ wasn’t terribly close to his parents. I think from an early age he felt he didn’t have much in common with them. He spent most of his childhood at the homes of nearby friends. But his mother, father, and sister always held a special place in his heart.
When Russ began making enough money to live comfortably, he began sending his parents a stipend, even when he had a family of his own to provide for. During deployments, he squirreled away his hazardous duty pay with plans of eventually putting it toward a new house for his parents and sister. He wasn’t going to buy them a mansion, but he wanted to make sure they could live out their golden years in relative comfort.
Once Russ’s paychecks stopped coming and he had to dip deep into savings to pay for legal fees, he couldn’t afford to support his family any longer. He stopped sending stipends, he annihilated his “golden years house” fund. A few months ago, as he wrote here, he called home and found out his father had found his sister’s fiancé lying dead in the backyard and a few days later, their home was foreclosed upon. HIs sister and her three children found a relative’s house they could sleep in at night while his parents slept in the family car. They had no insurance, so the abdominal pain his mother felt went untreated until the day she was admitted to the ER. She was diagnosed with advanced cancer that had spread through most of her body. She was given two weeks to live. She lasted nearly one.
The last few months of her life, Russ’s mother was homeless. His father, now well into his 70’s is still putting in long hours driving big rigs to put food on the table.
Unfortunately, the societal ailments of homelessness and incarceration intersect all too often. In Russ’s case, I’m sure his family could have avoided this junction if he hadn’t been convicted and incarcerated.
Please bear with Russ while he deals with his family tragedy. There may be a considerable pause in his writing.