Four days ago, Robert, a woman I have called “Mom” for almost two decades, and the mother of my best friend, collapsed and had to be rushed to the hospital. She died in the wee hours of this morning.
The last few days have been difficult as there is only so much I can do remotely. This is a family that gives enormously of the very little it has to give. They are as much my family as anyone I’m blood related to. For the last several years, they have been the only “charity” I have supported — I don’t volunteer because I need to be working to have money to give to them. I don’t donate to “causes” because they need every spare penny I can give them. Thankfully, they have other friends like me who can do this. Somehow, we all manage to get the mortgage and the bills paid every month and keep food on their table.
So now, instead of “just” facing medical bills on top of their regular financial obligations, her carers, her daughter Bast and her granddaughter Lily, are left with medical bills, funeral expenses, and the loss of the only source of income they have had since Roberta’s husband died suddenly several years ago, sending this family into an unending spiral of poverty.
Mom, Bast, and Lily have been for me the very real faces of America’s war against the poor, women, aged, LGBTQ, and disabled — against its most vulnerable citizens. They are soldiers in this war who have walked that battlefield every single day as benefits got slashed and as they got more and more ill from lack of adequate medical care and huge amounts of stress.
These are not people who can be helped by telling them how to budget or how to make do with less or them being told to get a job. These are people who can only be helped by a strong support network that could shoulder some of the burden to help ensure that they have a roof over their heads in the months ahead, food on the table, and, perhaps most important, time to properly grieve for the formidable matriarch of the family. Roberta’s cremation alone is going to cost the family $1,800. No one should have to worry about this sort of expense when they have lost their mother and grandmother.
I’m financially tapped out and have no idea how I am going to provide any sort of meaningful financial help through this new crisis and the immense uncertainty that lies ahead. All I can do for them, and for millions of other Americans in inexcusable poverty, is to keep sharing their story, over and over again, even as it mostly falls on deaf ears. All I’m asking for is for you to keep sharing their story also, either this post link (http://www.raecrothers.ca/blog/terrible-news/) or the Fundrazr campaign link (https://fundrazr.com/roberta-s_house?ref=fb_97QTlc_ab_55O4ya). If you’re reading this on Twitter, retweet. If on Facebook, share. Hopefully a share will land this story into the feed of a philanthropic person looking for a cause — I see that happen every day for less worthy causes, so please allow me to live in hope of such a miracle happening for my family. And if you do feel moved to donate, please remember that this is crowdfunding, where little donations snowball. Just a few dollars means more than you realise when there are others giving the same.
I am doing this, continually pushing this story, because our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. These people, more than any others in my life, need to know they matter.