Wednesday, October 13, 2010
My Second Testimony
My brother sitting amid the refuse
of our lives.
My first testimony is about how I found Jesus and got born again. That was in 1979. The second testimony is about how the Lord pulled me out of despair when I lost my house and my career, that was in 2006-2008. Last time I talked about losing my house, that was a political rant. Now I'm going to talk about the effect that process had no me, this is a religious rant. I'm stepping out of the role of "intellectual" in order to give a good old fashioned testimony. My point here is that God is faithful even when we are not.
I was living a wonderful life back in 1998 as a Ph.D. student working on my doctorate in history of ideas. I was a fine student too (4.0 for five years--that means all "A"). My professors seemed impressed with my abilities, other studies said things like "I thought you got your Masters degree form U. of Chicago" when they found it it was really from Southern Methodist U. in Dallas. SMU is a fine school but it's not U. of C. I was publishing an academic journal that was making waves and getting noticed. My major scholars in the field contributed to it and took notice of it. One of the distributors wanted to sign a deal with us to put our journal in several major libraries around the country, it was a major step in the right direction for an academic career. Then my father had a major heart attack on the day before Christmas eve 1997. My brother and I began caring for him when he came back from the rehab center. Just a couple of months into that my mother began to exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer's. She thought it was 1968 and we were at our old house back when I was a kid. From that point on for the next three years my brother and I were living with them and taking care of them 24/7. We had to be there in the house for them most of the time, it was like being in jail. I changed their diapers, did everything for them, and fought with other crazy relatives.
There's no way to describe that process to someone who has not been through it. It's not just anguish it's a totally giving up of your life for those you love. Some people urged me to "save myself" and put them in a nursing home. I was not going to put them in a nursing him when 60% of Texas homes were charged with abusing patients. I knew I was giving up my career and we had to put the journal to bed and never got to publish it again (we did squeeze out a 2002 issue). I had no idea how true it was that I was giving my life. I gave up not only my career but also who I was and my relationship with all other people. I lost everything. I would do it again to care for my parents because I loved them more than anything. Nevertheless, it did mean loosing it all, for keeps. Family members who are not involved in direct daily care can't possibly understand what you are going through, they don't help you, they think they are doing a great deal when all they do is make a bigger mess. They become suspicious and wont give you money, complain that you are not taking care of them correctly even though they know nothing about doing it. when a certain relative would get upset over something like my father falling down, it's gotta be my fault, don't trust me to talk to his doctor, don't trust me to give his pills. I say "Ok then you take over. I'll go to work and you stay here and care for him. "O no no! I have a job I'm not lazy like you I have a job to go to." So who is going to take care of him? Put him in a nursing home. "I can't do that to him." "So be content to just do this all the time, but do a better job of it." I would follow my mother all over the neighborhood to make sure she didn't wonder off. We kept the front door locked, but in case of fire she could go into the back yard. Then she would wonder all over the place so I would go with her. To avoid fighting I would just patently watch and make sure nothing happened to her. Once some guy two blacks away came out of his house and found us sitting on his front lawn at 2:00am. I had to explain, he called the cops. Everyone in the neighborhood came to know and they all put up with it, "that guy and his mother are in my back yard, just let them sit there."
There was also a time she came into my room (before the nursing home) and spoke in a low guttural voice, booming male voice, not hers saying "I am not your mother!" I was astounded and in shock. The booming voice said "Do you want to fight?" She began walking resolutely toward me. She came up to a few feet, totally flabbergasted I said "I rebuke you in the name of Jesus." She stopped with a jerk, blinked, and in her own voice see said "can I go to the bathroom now?" This was just the sort of thing that happened all the time in that period. I was surrounded by nuts and angry relatives with no way out for three years. When my father first had his big heart attack he was dead for 11 minutes in the hospital. While he was dead I was at home dreaming, I had gone to sleep praying over the Pope's midnight mass. I dreamed that the Pope and my father came to me and the Pope said "he will be alright." Woke up fully expecting to hear he died in the night, not knowing that he had, and that he came back to life. When we went to the hospital the whole Intensive care ward was abuzz with "the miracle." The doctor said "I have never used the term Miracle in my practice before but this had to be a miracle." There was another time when he was at home during the convalescent period, he was in and out of the ER all the time. It was our regular hand out. He had a heart attack and stroke in the living room. EM guys came, hooked him up to devices to monitor his vital signs. We laid hands on him and prayed. Suddenly all the EM guys go "wow! that's not supposed to happen." They saw his vitals change on the screens. Suddenly he was ok no sign of what had been wrong. They just literally saw him being healed through the equipment. One was really alarmed going "that's not supposed to happen!"
After three years of hell, anguish, and imprisonment (that's how I discovered message boards--attempted to escape through the net) they both got so bad we just couldn't go on. We put them in a nursing home. After two weeks in that nursing home my father died. He had been praying for three years "I don't want to live in the 21st century." He died the last day of the 20th century, the very last day of the century, of the millennium. He also died on the same day as the father of a friend for whom I had also been praying and was in the CADRE (the little apologetic group I started). Her father also did not want to live in this century. My mother died in 2002. She was already an experienced visitor to heaven going there three and four times a week. She even got the name of one of her great grandmothers right, although we never knew that woman's name until I did genealogy, and that was well after her mind was gone, so in other words there was no way she could have know it. She claimed to have met the woman in heaven in her weekly jaunts up there to see my father.
My brother and I began the painful process of rebuilding our lives, living in parents house. We felt alone and used up, burned out. I never gave up on school during the three years I cared for my parents. That whole time I had been learning French for the doctoral exam. I was so focused on career and ideas that I totally neglected the practical matters of my life, and so burned up my hours so I could only be a TA one more semester. It was good to be out of the house and working again, although barely getting by. The house began to fall apart around us. I didn't have the skills to keep it up myself. I answered an advertisement on the internet and applied for home impoverishment loan. What I got instead, without even knowing it, was a second mortgage on a house that was already paid for. We needed the help, the roof leaked and we already had a part of the bathroom ceiling caving in and chunks of the living room ceiling ready to go.
After that last semester of being a teaching assistant the agonizing job search began. I could not get a "real" job, you know the kind that pays actual money in large enough sums to actually pay all your bills. I found little jobs teaching community college but that paid pea nuts. I did substitute teaching but every other unemployed academic type in Dallas also heard of substitute teaching and the school system had 700 more applicants than they needed. So I was rarely called. I was too old to be hired. No one could believe that I was still in school at my age, they were not impressed by an academic journal they had no idea that it was an impressive thing. They didn't know what a Ph.D. was and they had no concept that it meant I was extremely bright. None of that mattered to anyone. As far as the job world was concerned I had no skills, no experience and was over the hill. The major thing I had done for a living besides teaching was market research. I looked for that but Market research is extremely dependent upon a good economy. This was between 2002 and 2008 so the economy was bad, and going south. Those years talking care of Mom and Dad took it all out of me. I was supposed to be writing my dissertation. I spent a year just sitting in a chair smoking and drinking coffee and fantasizing about my college years in debate and posting on message boards (trading name calling with atheists),secretly reading pornography (I'm a guy, sorry to disillusion you), never even thought about my dissertation. I was spent. I was totally burned out. I was extremely depressed, mourning my parents angry as hell at what had happened and how no one really got in there and helped like they all said they would.
Between 2002 (mother's death May 6) and 2004
The battle to save the house came up at the same time my presence in the Ph.D. program was being questioned by the administration. Spring of 2005. I was trying to get with it and get the thing finished. I was writing on it. The basis upon which my presence in the program was questioned was that it had taken so long and I wasn't making satisfactory progress. Well I shouldn't wonder, I was burned out. When the foreclosure stuff started and I had to scramble to find legal stuff on what it all meant I had how to fight it, extremely time concussing and useless, I had to once again shelve the dissertation. I jus couldn't let the house go because we owned it outright, my parents had it paid for. We had not missed a payment, suddenly the payments were three times what they were supposed to be. I was kicked out of the Ph.D. program summer 2005. The basis for it was my chairman quite. No one else to work with. His quitting had to so with maneuvering by the Dean who wanted me out. The basic reason was just once I had to work full time to care for my parents that was really end. Had I been able to focus on just school in that period I would have finished before the Dean started that stuff. As I say I would do it again. I chose my parent's welfare because that wa sthe most important thing to me. I also knew in so doing I was losing everything, and I did. I lost my parents, my career, my home, my chance to ever be anything, and I also lost the person I was and the person I wanted to be.
To complicate matters the very day the real battle of the house began the battle to save Buba also began. I had just been on the net and had he first rays of false hope promising me house-saviors who lied and would be no help at all, but I was happy I thought we would win. My brother two women who were sisters and friends of ours went to eat to celibate our deception. At the time we thought we were celebrating saving the house. On the way we were stopped for a minor traffic violation, the tail light. My brother was driving and he didn't know his license was suspended because he didn't pay his insurance. They made him get out of the car, I was frantic to deal with them in his place but they weren't going to let me. They had no idea of his special condition (he's insane). He was afraid and pushed them saying "I don't want to get in the car!" They were arresting him for the DL. He knew better than to push a cop but his fear took over. They knocked him on the ground and beat the living fu out of him. He had blood coming down his face. They charged him with assaulting an officer because he was pushing them. Big assault, but hey Adam 12 these guys were not. We spent a couple of years fighting that with several frantic visits down town to the big red monster jail house with all the drug dealers. Tried to bail him out, we had to put the house up for bail, even though it's in danger of foreclosure. He could have gone to prison. Now I had more frantic phone calls this time to find a lawyer who would work for free. In addition to the daily grind call after to call to lying house thieves who claimed to help people. Tons and tons of little bs lies to check on and figure out all of it useless but I was not yet to know for certain so I could not just give up. I did learn fast there is no saving the house, give it up. We got him a free lawyer through contacts with one of your old political cronies from the Central America movement.
From summer 05 to August of 06 we fought to save the house. From Nov 05 to August 06 we were in the auction. Month after month our house was in the Auction,it was supposed to sell and we would pray and at the last minute it would come out. They took it out because there was a cloud on the Title. Without meaning to we created a cloud on the title and thus we kept bouncing in and out of the auction. I don't know if that's what really saved it or not. All I know is everyone said it was a miracle. One guy told me that "lat night in Fort Worth there was a real estate seminar in which your was used as an example and they said it was totally unbelievable how many times it was in and out of the auction. Every time they were sure they had fixed the title and it would ready to go, out it would come. A couple of those times we found buyers and they were going to buy it right up to the last minute, then pulle out. One guy pulled out with six hours to go, it should have been impossible to get a buyer and we found one and had it taken out, the buyer backed out. So the house was ping ponging around for a year in and out of the auctions.
In the mean time the house had fallen into further ruin. It was dirty, it was falling apart, got a new roof, but that was the only thing going for it. The air conditioner went out and in Texas in the summer that's a disaster. The dog was covered with flies. We had a fly infestation, thousands of flies in the house. I tried all the conventional weapons against flies to no avail. At the time my legs began to show signs of venous ulcer disease so that's when I was introduced to bandaging my legs. We were starving, being helped by my sister and living on my brother's SSI. That only lasted a summer it was horrible. We got rid of them by accident. I left a bucket of warm soapy water sitting around I was using it to try and clean the flood. Over night the flies all went into it and died. We had a garage sale to get rid of all the junk so we could travel light. We piled stuff in the yard and no one bought anything. We left the stuff in the yard for the whole summer, no one bought anything. We would be sitting out in chairs in the middle of the front yard of in the drive way, with a little table to put our coffee's on, talking away like nothing is wrong right in the front yard. We would do this because we felt like our lives were over and we were just waiting to die in the gutter.
When one is in foreclosure the only thing that can be done is to sell your house. You can't sell it and get money for it because it's worthless, it's being foreclosed. There are all of these blood sucking leaches who want to make you think they are helping you, in reality they will give you nothing for your house; and that's supposed to be a big favor. I am going to take your house off your hands for nothing, you lose all equity, and it's a huge favor to you! What you get is not being foreclosed so your credit is not ruined and you can find another place to live (if you are lucky). All the equity and everything you put into it gone, forget it. Say good guy to the worth of the house. They are doing you such a favor! they get it for the price of the mortgage and you get not to be a financial leper, although pretty much ruined in every other way. Praise God the guy who finally came along who was really willing to buy it gave us 5,000$ over and above the mortgage so we could move on and get a place. He was a Christian that's why he did that. We had people all over the place praying for us. Everyone real estate person who had herd the story is amazed at the way were saved for so long. In the end we had to leave.
When the sheriff's deputies come to make sure you leave your home they take all your stuff and through it out on the curb in front of the house for everyone to see. You look at the pile you see encyclopedia's your father bought you when you were seven, your old teddy bear, pictures of your grandmother, story books you loved a kid, can openers, swizzle sticks, whatever, all piled on the curb as garbage and you are not allowed to get it. The guy we sold the house to had his men clean it all out so the sheriff's men never got there. Thus we were able to sift through our pile of garbage but we left tons of things I wish we had, old sentimental things. In the final analysis however it's all garbage, it's all junk. It's going in the dumpster when I die no one will care. We might as well have just laid down in the pile, our lives are just trash to be thrown out.
We finally decided to go in August 2006 because we find this guy who was willing to give us a little bread. We moved into poor person hotel and we at least had no fly and air conditioning (that was the summer of the flies and though they were mostly killed there were still some and it was still hot--they mostly bothered the dog). We got into that place and the little dog was so happy to be cool and not covered with flies , did a little dance, he jumped up on the couch and licked my face, buried his head into my lap and looked like he was dying ecstatic. We stayed there a couple of weeks. They tired to rip us off and steal our stuff. We go it back they said if we ever were on their property again they would call the cops. All of this because I was two hours late paying the rent. We sat in the restaurant next door right by their office and every time they came out we would go "Hey we're here! do something about it!" At this point we were homeless. We lived in our car with your little dog and parked it at a friend's house. We spent a few night sleeping in her driveway in the car or in her backyard.
this is getting long so I'll finish it on Friday.