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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Why my early retirement didn't pan out

Subtitle - life is what happens when you're busy making other plans.

Jen wondered why I have the girls. Elcie was removed from my grandson and his lady in San Francisco when she was 3 months old. No physical abuse; it's called failure to protect; a catchall phrase for the parents didn't have a clue what they were doing. I'd already moved from the city. Mistake maybe but I thought they'd be okay.

Tasha's (their mom) mother asked me to have my grandson and Tasha move here so they could get Elcie back. She has heart trouble among other ailments and couldn't handle it. Okay. Once Elcie's records had been transferred from S. F., no problem. They retained custody on the unspoken condition that I be around to supervise. They went on to have Rochelle and Rebecca, 10 months apart. For a while, everything was okay and then my grandson made the front page of the local paper and ended up in jail. Tasha went totally off the rails. When she decided to go live in a crack house, I bounced her and kept the kids. Illegal, but I can be intimidating. My first call was to Public Health, my second to Child Protective Services. We arranged for temporary custody and then the guardianship without much fuss. Tasha went on to have two more children before she finally got her act together. It took my grandson one more jail sentence but he seems to finally be on track. These days they live (separately) nearby and spend a lot of time with the kids. I had hoped to eventually relinquish guardianship but that probably isn't going to happen. I don't think either one will have the long term stability to handle everything involved with special needs children. Elcie has lived with me since she was 13 months old and frick and frack have never known anything else. They love both their parents (kids usually do) and this is working, at least for now. I love their parents too but babies come first.

I don't say a whole lot about my past; it's history and I can't go back and change any of the mistakes I made. I've been sober almost 27 years. All alcoholics, from Betty Ford and Dubya on down, cause damage to the people who love them. Some recover, others merely reform. The "Big Book" of AA describes us as "tornadoes roaring through the lives of others". They nailed it. I'm convinced that substance abuse runs in families. I also believe that whatever higher power there is has given me a shot at getting it right.

Aren't you glad you asked?

As to why the guardianship skipped a generation, "substance abuse seems to run in families". I'll talk more about my grandson's mother (my daughter) one of these days. Right now, she's quite ill (intestinal cancer) and living with us. I was the only family member capable of caring for the girls and I couldn't see those beautiful kids thrown into the system. It was a no brainer. I'd been pretty much doing it anyhow.

Beth - just got your message. You couldn't beat me off BB with a stick. I do have a tendency to preach and maybe this blog will allow me to get some of it out my system. Perhaps the "comment" shouldn't consistently be twice as long as the original "post".

(Updated 9-6-07). I no longer have the girls, now 11, 12, and 14 with me. My posts from early August 2007 through today tell the tale (or some of it).


Dutch said...

holy smoks ann, that's a powerful story. very few of us are lucky enough to make it through life unscathed. it's inspiring to see the way you've turned things around and stepped up to do what seems to come natural to you now: at a time in your life when most folks are retired and relaxing in trailers down in Arizona.

I think you should write as much as you can about your past here, the things you've seen and learned. I wish my grandparents had done so. your great-grandkids, and their great grandkids may one day really appreciate it.

Granny said...

Dutch - I have no secrets. I've been hinting at one thing and another,and been writing generally about alcoholism and recovery all along in BB and the other blogs. By now I hope the recovery shows more than the alcoholism.

I figure as different topics come up I can bring a different slant with some personal history. It's usually "been there - done that - didn't work - one more city - one more job, etc.".

L. said...

Yes, that`s exactly why fans of your comments clamored for you to have a blog! You`re living proof that we will all manage to come through this parenting stuff alive -- and perhaps do it all over again, because you never know what life will toss your way.

My verifcation code word I now have to type is "asziger." That sounds like a real word, doesn`t it?

Uncle Roger said...

I grew up without any grandparents and darn few relatives of any sort. I think it's great that you're there for your girls. I too think you should document as much of your life as you can. Someday, your girls will be all grown up with kids of their own and they'll want to pass on the stories of the amazing woman that raised them.

Jenorama said...

Ann, that's marvelous! And could have been so much sadder of a story.

Thank you for sharing it with us.

I'd write more, but I'm in grant hell right now!