Sunday, June 29, 2008

Raggedy Anne and Raggedy Andy

Raggedy Anne and Raggedy Andy..our life!

Kerry and I met on a blind date in September 1980...I remember the day like yesterday as I did not want to go and I kept trying to get out of the blind date but my best friend insisted on me going. I remember on Halloween we were so in love that I made us Raggedy Anne and Raggedy Andy costumes by hand...we were so cute! Kerry asked me to marry him and I said, "Yes!" We still dated for three years as I really wanted to make sure that this is who I wanted to spend my life with. We were married and life was so good! Kerry eventually started his own house painting and cleaning business. He was Mr. Plainfield's Handyman! Everyone loved Kerry and he would do anything for people. I was working at the Bank when we had our first daughter Lindsay and I was wanting to stay home. I remember the bank asking us if we were interesting in cleaning Plainfield National Bank and it was our answer for me to be a stay at home mom! It was my dream from a little girl to be a mom and be able to stay home with my children. Kerry was able to clean at night and I would go over at 6 a.m. to finish before the bank opened. Our family grew to three beautiful girls and our lives were almost picture perfect.

Kerry decided to change careers and became a salesman for a company in Joliet and I had started a very successful craft and floral business. Kerry was so good at sales and loved working my business. We had five people working and did home parties, craft shows, and had several craft malls we were in. We were living upper middle class and loving life! We owned our Queen Anne Victorian Painted Lady Home in Downtown Plainfield and had the Village Green in our front yard for the girls to play in. Everyone looked at us and told us how fortunate we were and we even had the white picket fence in the front! On Oct. 15, 1998 our lives changed as my husband did a side job to make some extra money to buy a used car and pave our driveway. He had one hour left and I was to go down that day and help him as it was a very steep third floor dormer. Kerry was wanting to get done because he had Awana's that night so he left without me. He climbed out the window and when he was painting he slipped on the shingle pebbles and fell to his side but didn't spill the paint! He was more worried about that and not falling off the roof. He continued and finished the job and came home for dinner and left for Awana's. He never told me until the following week that he fell on the roof. That fall changed our lives as Kerry had to have surgery now and we had no idea what would happen to our perfect lives now. While Kerry was in the hospital everything that could possibly go wrong did. Kerry turned urosepsis and I was told he had a 50/50 chance of surviving. He was overdosed on morphine and the worst part was he got an infection in his surgical wound that has made his life pain 24/7 for the rest of his life!

We have had to go from upper middle class to below poverty to survive and pay medical bills. We went through 8 years of legal nightmares. Until you go through medical negligence you have no idea what can happen to your life! (We lost our case with a hung jury on Valentine's Day 2008) You cannot fix medical negligence but you have to learn to survive it! This meant I either had to quit my business and go on Public Aid or divorce Kerry. What a decision to make as a wife and a mother. I chose Public Aid and went down for the second time to sign up as you have to go through everything you own and be basically penniless to apply! I remember the day opening the door handle so well as I walked into the office in Joliet and saw the people sitting at the tables in the room waiting their turns. I felt like everyone was staring at me and I started to hyperventilate! I had no idea what that feeling was like until that day! You cannot even catch your breath....the person that was assigned to me was the most beautiful person and I still remember who so well. She hugged me and told me I am doing the right thing for my family! I thought how could this be right? I was taught that only the poor went on Public Aid and here I was applying for Public Aid! How did I go from upper middle class to poverty? It was just the beginning of the Brown Family's struggle to survive for the next 9 years. I am so glad we do not know what we have to do in life or we would honestly give up because so many days I felt like I cannot do this one more day. My girls would die of embarrassment as teens if I made them go to the local grocery store for food. I would say either you can go or go without. Sometimes they would sit in the car and fight me so bad because they had to use the CARD! I had to learn how to go to agency's that would help and be able to receive gifts of food and money. We were not taught this in life but taught to give. My mom and dad were givers all their lives and here was their daughter on the other end! I remember the First Christmas for the Needy Family Fund and I had to go and pick up the gifts. I called my mom and asked her to come with me and she hesitated but came with me. When we got there she sat in the car at first and I couldn't get her to come in. I remember wanting to scream as I was so scared but she sat and told me I have never had to receive! It was so hard for my parents to be on the other side and see their daughters family having to be needy!

This wasn't in my life plans for sure but I had to fight for our family and now we were fighting all the time to keep Kerry alive and he would fight one infection after another. He also had mental problems that made it so bad to live in our home. We were financially going under, medically no one knew what to do for Kerry and then fighting to keep life so called, "Normal!" I remember how we always planted flowers in our yard and I wasn't going to stop as this was something that we both enjoyed so I would go into the yard and let the tears run down my face as I would dig and dig. Our yard became my therapy but at the same time people could be so mean and ask how can you afford flowers? I would look at them and tell them we didn't die inside and we do not have black curtains hanging on the house! We are still alive! We are still people and want to be normal! But what was normal now? Nothing seemed normal from going to the grocery store to being on the public aid card! I would hold my head up but inside I wanted to crumble. I was also told by my church to go to the food pantry? The Food Pantry? That is for really poor people! I was now at the lowest point when I got excited over the food at the pantry! I will never forget driving home one afternoon and two of my girls were in the back seat when they started looking in the bags and were so happy! I was driving and fighting back the tears as the girls looked in the bags and pulled out Mac and Cheese telling me, "It's the real thing, Mom!" Then Jell-O and Italian dressing and they would say things like how did they know that was my you even know how hard it is to not cry because I use to buy Real Mac and Cheese and didn't think about it! We all take things for granted daily and until our lives are shaken up and turned upside down we have no idea what life is! Our lives have not been the plan that I had, but it is one that has been blessed by so many caring people that care about us and make sure our family is taken care of year after year. hugs, cheryl


susi said...

Wow! What a road you and your family have been on. They say what doesn't kill us makes us stronger - you have proven that. Good luck to you all.


Oh my, i've only just found you, and now i'm in tears. what a beautiful special person you must be.
I've been down that road, and have learned to survive, but boy you have so much on your plate

May life turn out better for you and your dear family.