Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Obligation to disabled cousin

June 21, 2012

Dear W.C.,

I have a cousin who is disabled and struggling to get by.

She lives on her own after many years of being dependent on her parents.

Her mother died last year and her father is living in hospice now after a long two-year battle with cancer. I help when I can, but due to the fact I live three hours away from them, I can only make the trip every other weekend, if I have money for gas. I am just not able to help my cousin financially as I am only just making ends meet. I wish I could do more to help.

My cousin has mentioned she is behind on her rent and utilities due to the fact she had to pay for emergency surgery on her service dog.

Her service dog is her friend, helper, protector, and he is her only means of independence.

It is amazing to watch them as a team. They love each other very much. Her landlord is threatening to evict her. Could you please help my disabled cousin?

Forever Grateful Cousin

Dear Readers,

I called the writer of the letter to verify some information.

After we spoke I understood the obligation the letter writer felt to this handicapped cousin.

When they were young children the aunt and uncle had taken in the person that wrote the letter.

They had raised this person as one of their own children, even while caring for their disabled daughter.

Many years later this person repaid that kindness by helping the disabled cousin get a service dog and learn to live independently when both parents were too ill to care for handicapped cousin any longer.

The disabled cousin had never wanted to live in an institution and this may have been her only alternative.

The service dog changed her whole life, as she learned to navigate her world with her canine friend and protector at her side.

Now, due to an emergency surgery that saved the life of her best friend/service dog, the disabled woman was about to lose her independence due to her inability to pay her rent and utilities.

Now she faced a different challenge as her mother was no longer there and her father was very close to passing as well.

She would be alone in the world if it was not for her cousin and service dog.

I agreed to meet them at the disabled person’s apartment the next day when the cousin would be in town.

I arrived the next day to find the cousin waiting outside. She introduced herself and we went in together to meet the disabled woman. The cousin let herself in with her own key. We were immediately greeted at the door by the service dog. He was a smart dog and friendly after our introduction. The cousin called out and we heard the woman reply from the next room. They brought me in for introductions.

We spoke for a long time about many things. I noticed how attentive both the cousin and service dog were to her. We talked about her father’s health and how she was coping with the loss of her mother. It was very clear that the only person she had left to count on for any assistance was the cousin that wrote the letter of request. I saw that once her father was gone she would be relying even more on the cousin, even with her living independently. When I pointed this out to the disabled woman she became very sad. After a moment she said, “I do not want to be a burden to my cousin. That is why I worked so hard to get my service dog and gain my independence.” She began to cry. I knew the tears had a lot to do with the loss of her mother, the terminal illness of her father and the possible eviction.

The cousin reached out and held her hand. I realized that the disabled woman needed to live closer to her cousin without the three hour drive. When I suggested this they both started talking. The cousin said, “I’ve wanted that for so long now.” I asked the disabled woman if she would consider such a move and she said, “There has never been a time to do that until now.” The cousin said, “You are my family. I have no other family. The only woman I could ever call Mom was your mother, and now I feel like my own father is dying too. I would love to have you, my family, in my life every day.”

After that conversation I went to work with immediate assistance to get the disabled woman through the next month at her present location. We brought her utilities and rent up to date.

Sadly the fathers illness progressed quickly. The cousin found a small handicap accessible apartment and promised to be there to help with the move. The cousin was able to take a week off work to help with the small funeral and help the disabled woman pack her belongings. They went through the fathers small apartment and other than a few family mementos and photos there was not much to keep. The father and mother had always lived simply putting all their resources into helping the disabled daughter and raising the cousin as well. The photos they shared with me showed a happy family, laughing and smiling, even with the many hardships they had all faced.

Volunteers helped the cousin load up the disabled woman’s belongings in a trailer. We provided the cousin with a gas card to help with the trip. We helped the disabled woman with her first month’s rent and security deposit to help her with a fresh start. They were both very saddened over the loss of their father, yet ready to be a family again in their new location. They thanked The Time Is Now to Help for providing them with the much needed assistance.

Once again, together we make our world a better place.

Health and Happiness, God Bless Everyone, W.C./Sal

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