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Death and the King's Horseman



This is going to be hard to write down, but I've got to get it off my chest. It's probably going to be tough to reply to it, too, so I won't hold it against anybody if you'd prefer not to.

My dad's dying. Every male in my family tends to die young - my grandfather died at forty, my uncle died at thirty-five, my great-uncle died at fifty, and now my dad is dying at fifty.

He's got two fatal respiratory diseases - lung cancer and pulmonary fibrosis. He's lost 70% of his lung capacity, relies on machines to help him breathe.

My parents are living paycheck-to-paycheck. They have been for...well, forever. They've never had enough money to save any of it. A good 75% of their income comes from my dad's pay. And now he can't work any more. Problem is, he can't get on disability for 4-18 months, depending on how long the government takes.

My dad tried to cash in his IRA retirement fund, to hold them over until either disability or life insurance kicks in, but they wouldn't let him. You have to meet certain standards to be able to cash it in early. They said that you had to be facing certain "hardships" to be able to do that. Two fatal diseases isn't "hardship" enough for them. They mean rich-man's "hardships" like buying your first house. We've never had the kind of money to even consider buying a house.

So now I'm back home. In order for my family to survive, I've got to drop out of school, get a full time job, and become head of the household.

My Dad's already said that he's not going to get chemo or radiation therapy - my mom would have to quit HER job in order to drive him to the hospital all the time, and then, even with me working full time, we wouldn't have enough money to scrape by. So he's decided to let it kill him, because he just doesn't have the money needed to live.

I always thought I could beat the system - be the success story, the trailer park kid who, by studying hard and working three jobs and scholarshipping through college, could break out of the cycle of generations of poverty and finally BE something. I don't want to get to the top - I'm not looking for riches and fame. I just want to be a teacher. I'm GOOD at that. But the system doesn't let go that easily.

So it goes. I've been working hard, so now I'll work harder. The system has me, but I won't let it break me. Things are stacked to keep everyone in their place, but I've got to prove that it doesn't have to be that way. I've got to, because...what else is there to do?


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You are right. It IS hard to reply. And my response will likely be even harder for you to stomach than the situation in which you currently find yourself. Believe me, I DO have sympathy, and I love your family values. Moving home to help out is so admirable that I have to applaud you. That said, and maybe the addition a reminder that I have AS, and therefore not quite as maudlin as some others, and certainly not one to bow to peer pressure, or 'the right thing to do'; I think you are making a mistake. If your father and your mother are like most parents, they want to have their child achieve more than they did themselves. They are probably very happy that you are/were going to get a higher education and break that cycle. It is quite possible that you quitting school is going to hurt your father more than anything else. If he has resolved to die in order to protect his family as much as he is still able to, then your quitting school, as admirable as it is, will fly totally against his hopes. I have no idea of the way things work in the USA, but if someone here has no financial ability to make ends meet due to medical conditions, they invariably find someway to support them. They, being both support groups, like service clubs, and social services agencies within the government. There is no requirement on the child to quit their education to support the parents. As hard as it may be, I think you owe it to your mom and dad to speak honestly and openly about this. I think that you may be surprised at the response. I know it sounds hard-assed, and incongruous coming from someone who has moved in with his elderly mother so she doesn't have to be afraid at night anymore, but I also know that if I were to try sacrificing my whole future for the sake of some temporary support for her, as I know she won't last all that long either, she would be totally distraught at the damage to ME. Remember, YOU are their future, and dragging you down is probably the very last thing they want. I know that you feel you need to do this, out of love and a sense of 'payback', but it is the wrong thing to do. It truly is. But, and this is the big BUT, you need to make sure you can live with your decision, whichever it is, and you can only do this with open, honest, and loving discussion with them.My heart goes out to you. If I had any other way to support you in what is needed, I would. Please accept a purely platonic and huge HUG from me. Bart

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Hey EleCivil, :hugs: I'm gonna respond to you privately by email. I've been through something close to that. Listen, you've got my friendship and support any time. I know you're a class act. :hugs: again

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Ele. Please email me -- I'd email you but I don't know your email addy. I can help you. You were misinformed on the IRA. And I can share some other stuff I have no intention of posting in public.

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I'm usually pretty comfortable with the idea of death, though I know not all share my sentiments. And that usually makes me pretty oblivious to feelings in such instances, so I won't even pretend to know what you are feeling/going through.It looks like the biggest issue is you backpedaling your dreams instead of your father dying. The latter is still a big deal, but it sounds like it's one you have all been getting used to over the years.Given that, I think the best way to beat the system that keeps fighting you is to teach anyway, without a certificate. You can't do it with state funding or asbestos-laden facilities, but that stuff shouldn't matter. The only things stopping you from taking the classroom to your students are social inhibitions, so nothing is stopping you.

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RMiller, were you thinking something like his taking a job doing guiding in museum, or some such? Or maybe teaching assistant, which is a growing thing here.

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