Tuesday, December 6, 2005

A Family In Crisis

There is a little cloud over our family this Holiday Season, but there is light on the horizon. I took this picture a week ago and it seems very fitting for this entry.

I’ve alluded to some family trouble cropping up in a previous post but did not elaborate. Since one of the main reasons I started this journal is for my 6 year-old Grandson Trenton to read it when he grows up, I thought I’d give a little insight into what is going on. Perhaps in a few years, if he reads this as I hope, he will have a better understanding of the events leading up to Christmas 2005, the first Christmas he will spend without the company of his mother or father.

I don’t like to air my family’s dirty laundry; However, this story may have benefit for some that may be going through similar circumstances. It may also serve to fill in some blanks for Trenton a few years from now when he will be older and more capable of coming to terms with family events.

The story really started two years ago, during the Christmas season on 2003. So, sit back and get comfy and I’ll try and fill you in.

It was in December 2003 when we got a collect long distance call from Paulette’s son Trace. He was calling from the Reno, Nevada County Jail facilities. Trace was 31 years old at that time and was married to Danielle. They had a son, Trenton who was going to turn Five in February.

Trace left home a few weeks shy of graduating from high school. Paulette and I had been dating and were getting pretty serious about each other. He eventually got his GED and was off roaming the country with some friends of his, selling meat off the back of a truck. It turns out that Trace was a natural born salesman and did quite well.

We heard from Trace very sporadically through the years, but he seemed to be doing well, although he had a problem with drugs that would rear its ugly head from time to time. We did get to see him once and meet his wife and our Grandchild on a visit to Upstate New York near Watertown when we went to visit Paulette’s father.

The story is that Trace was in jail that December, 2003 for spousal abuse. The side we heard was that Danielle’s sister had gotten mad at Trace during an argument and called the police in Reno, where they were all living at the time, and told them Trace had hit Danielle. Danielle told the arresting policemen that Trace had not hit her, but, upon further questioning, let it slip that Trace had pushed her during an argument and so off Trace went to jail.

Trace got out of jail right around Christmas day or a couple of days afterwards and we made arrangements for the three of them to come here to Georgia to get a new start on life. At first things went well.

Both Trace and Danielle got jobs and moved into their own rental house. They made attempts to pay off some of the money they had to borrow to get moved in and other necessities. But things were not as smooth as they could have been. Danielle was having problems at her work place and so was Trace. Trace changed jobs several times, Danielle changed jobs once, then gave up. She hasn’t worked a day in over six months now.

The drug problems crept back into Trace and Danielle’s life and plunged the lives of Paulette, Aunt Sandy, who lives with us, and me into a vortex of lies, broken promises and heartbreak. Paulette would not give up on them, bless her heart, but it has taken its toll on our finances and put a strain on the entire family. The stress that Paulette has been under is criminal, considering her heart condition that her son is very much aware of. It has all come to a head recently as Paulette and I refused to enable their lifestyle any longer and cut off all financial assistance.

Trace claims he is clean of the drugs, though no strong case can be made there, but Danielle is still out of control. They both need professional help. Trace refuses to acknowledge the need to enter a program.

They are about to be evicted and have no income whatsoever. Trace has been in touch with a friend in the meat business who is going to send him a ticket to fly to California so that Trace can work for his company. Danielle’s father, also in California, is sending her money to fly home and has enrolled her in a thirty-day program for the drug problem. Trace is separating from Danielle, although not legally. They will divorce if she does not complete the drug program, he claims.

We have gotten papers notarized giving us temporary custody of Trenton. We will keep him clothed, fed, and safe until his parents can get their act together, no matter how long it may take. We have the difficult job of making this little boy’s Christmas a happy one in spite of the fact that his parents will be across the nation and not beside the tree with him on Christmas morning.

This has all come to a head this week and may explain to some of my journal buddies why they don’t see my comments in their journals right now. I have my hands full here and my time online is a tenth of what it was before all this came to a boil.

We have some terrific gifts for the little guy to find under the tree. Some items he has wanted for two years now. We will make sure that a few of his presents have tags saying they came from his parents, too. We want him to know they love him and miss him. I will be spending a lot of time with Trenton this holiday season trying to keep him doing little boy things and not dwelling on adult problems.

This dialogue today is not meant as a rant, and I don’t want to be carping about our family problems. I did want to let my extended family know some of what we are facing here. I also want Trenton, years from now, to read this story as I wrote it during the actual time frame that it happened and not from the faulty memory of an aging or biased Grandfather.

Our Christmas will be as happy as we can possibly make it for Trenton. I seek not your sympathy here, but your understanding that we are a family in crisis and we cope, one day at a time.

I wish you all a very happy holiday season, and a very merry Christmas!