I start out this blog by thanking my parent’s, grandparents, cousin/godparents and great-grandparents for providing a family structure based on hard work, love, respect, and each generation providing for the next.
I say this because today we loaded my SUV with gifts and food for the Destiny family. The Destiny family is a family unit of eleven people with four adults working and taking care of children/nieces and nephews. Their house was in Sand Springs in a part of town that was less than, I don’t know what. It was just less. They lived behind an abandoned strip mall in a metal building in an alley and up a flight of stairs that was light climbing a ladder. It looked like perhaps their “home” might have once been office space on top of a production shop. It was awful.
We pulled up with my SUV packed to the gills, one pickup truck with a washing machine that my niece and nephew donated, and a pickup truck with a dresser donated by a co-worker.
Did I mention it was awful? The smells in the alley were a mixture of rotting food, cat urine, and filth. Upstairs, their home was clean, albeit crowded. I did not venture further than the living room where we were hauling all the gifts.
The “mother” Sabrina appeared to be in her thirties except it was difficult to tell. Life hadn’t been kind to her. Not only is she raising her children, two of whom were sexually abused by their step-father, but also her sister’s children because, according to the Social Worker, her sister “made bad choices”. The grandmother is only 56 and is working a full-time job as well as taking care of children. They all were in desperate need of dental work.
One of the older boys, roughly 17 or 18 was there to help. He does work. He had on an OSU jacket and I said to him, “good for you, great jacket. Are you planning on going there?” He looked at me like I had asked him if he would like a new Farrari.
His answer was honest and hit me like a bucket of ice water. “No, I didn’t get out of high school.”
I looked at him and said, “if you really want to go to college….you can do it.” My guess is that he had to quit high school at 16 in order to help support this family.
The 12 month old baby was adorable and happy and clean. I seriously wanted to bundle her up and take her home with me. She might have a shot with me.
As we filled their living room with gifts of clothing and food and toiletries and toys and books and towels the mother kept thanking us. She was sincerely overwhelmed by all we brought. We made sure that we had brought a turkey and a ham and all the things they would need for Christmas dinner.
When Vicki, my friend and co-worker, got into my car we just looked at each other and said, “that was horrible”. It truly was. While I was seeing all of this I kept hearing my mother’s words “There but by the Grace of God go I”. It was so true. We talked about what we had seen all the way back to the office.
Silently I was thanking my family, my parents….for never having to see that before. That was true poverty.
I sent my sister a text message that said, “we lead a very sheltered life. Thank God!”
It is hard facing life right square in the face. It is hard seeing what other people have to endure to keep a family together. It is hard realizing all that I have and take for granted….a nice house, good furniture, clothes and shoes and purses and perfume and makeup. The ability to go to a good dentist, to go to Chicago and Dallas to shop. To walk into Petty’s or Whole Food and buy whatever I want. To never have been treated with anything but respect. The list goes on and on and on and I don’t have an extravagant lifestyle.
We raised enough money and gifts for three separate families…this family was just one. The other families with different stories, yet still heartbreaking, are having their gifts delivered by others. I just don’t think I could do it again.
This visit today profoundly touched me. The experience of gathering all the items was joy-filled because I felt so great doing for others.
I hope the art supplies I bought for the two girls help them and maybe they will excel in Art and a teacher will see their gifts.
I hope that the young man will get his GED and try to go to college.
I hope that the 12 month baby has a life where she can be more than living in an alley.
I hope the “sister with bad choices” quits doing whatever it is she does, stops having children, and improves her life.
But mostly, I pray for the mother and grandmother….that they can get some joy in small ways. I cannot even imagine their life. I just felt like putting a picture of me snuggling Evie. I needed that to show the love that is continuously extended to our little ones.