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?