When we heard our townhouse was being foreclosed on, we were relieved to hear a family member needed help at the ranch. The kids loved it there and I felt it would be a great learning experience to introduce real responsibility. Besides my daughter, Nikki, has always loved animals and could see herself riding in rodeos now! This was a factor which helped her decide between being a pediatric surgical specialist for babies in need and a veterinarian surgeon; now she knew the animals were the winner!
We packed feverishly and crammed several loaded trips into the car in order to get our barest of necessities situated in Idaho before we arrived over the first few weeks. We used the remainder of the money to place our belongings in storage, pay for movers, and pay for fuel. All in all, the cost was a bit over $1,200; carefully figured in.
Two days before we were to depart for good, I received a phone call from our location-to-be which stated all the plans had been called off. They no longer wanted us to stay and our assistance was no longer needed. We had no money for shelter, as it had been absorbed by moving costs.
We stayed at a friend’s until they finished packing and moved to Idaho themselves. Frantic, I began to call shelters. I was desperate. My children are my life and I could not survive without them, but all of the shelters in the Salt Lake area had 1-3 months waiting lists. With $200 left in my pocket, I drove around, and hoped for some great entity to show and give me guidance and direction.
The friend we had stayed with that was moving, suggested we use the $200 to buy time by purchasing a few nights at a cheap motel. We did that, but that would only carry us for a few days. The room was $185, leaving us with $15 for food for three days. We ate $5 pizza every night, but we were not hungry.
Exhausted, I pulled my car into a parking lot, climbed out, and called DCFS (the Division of Child and Family Services.) My children needed someone who could care for them, since I was apparently unable, I needed to find an alternative. In November, the weather is far too cold to “tough it out in a car” and anticipate waking up and I could not let my children die because of my own bad choices.
She gave me the name of a shelter called St. Anne’s located in Northern Utah, and they were willing and eager to find a place for us. So that’s where we live now. We’ve been there since Monday and let me tell you–if you think cafeteria lunches are bad, these are the leftovers heated up for the next two days. Thank God we have food, but I am quite certain I’m in the market for a slim-down diet now. 🙂
The first night we were here was Halloween. (My life experiences always land on a holiday, and I always have to laugh at that.) That evening, we were seated with many homeless people who resembled those from movies; decayed teeth (if they had them), ratted hair, etc. But we hadn’t eaten all day and that night was cold, defrosted but uncooked, fish sticks. None of us could eat.
One of the women looked at my 5-year-old daughter and gave her some well-intended advice. “If a stranger talks to you while you’re trick-or-treating, tell him to ‘get the hell away from you’ and then run to your mom before he gets you!”
My daughter was frightened by the tone, the appearance, and the advice this woman gave her. I nearly choked.
“Just come to Mommy if a stranger talks to you, baby,” I told her. Needless to say, in a strange neighborhood, with strange neighbors, we did not get to go trick-or-treating. But one of the counselors brought two buckets with candy in them.
Cameron, my nine-year-old, doesn’t like candy, but that’s okay. Now I have food for a few days while they eat a nutritious school lunch. This will certainly give us a new appreciation for the things we have. With Thanksgiving around the corner, this experience couldn’t have come at a better time!
I figure that hitting that hard curveball is what is sometimes necessary to cross the home plate. One needs to be strong enough to be steady through the first three balls and two strikes, but eventually perseverance pays off.