Life, Roy's Story

Father’s Day 2016

Father’s Day was non-stop here. Kevin and Roy mowed lawns, I did 3.25 miles on the treadmill, got cleaned up and picked up a Jimmy John’s sandwich platter for lunch. After lunch, Kevin, Roy and the boys went swimming at our rental house.  For those of you just tuning in, Roy is Kevin’s uncle (his grandmother adopted him) and he lives in our rental house across the street.

Kevin’s grandmother died in 2008 (?) and Kevin and his mom are Roy’s co-guardians. I wouldn’t say the rest of Kevin’s family wrote him off, but they don’t have a lot of interaction with Roy, Kevin is fully responsible for him, though Kevin’s mom does help out when needed. Roy lived with Kevin’s parents for the first five years after Kevin’s grandmother died and the relationship became strained – plus, Kevin’s parents are getting up there in age and simply can’t watch/take care of Roy anymore – so the responsibility lies with Kevin.

How do I feel about it? I’m a little resentful, I’ll be honest. I admire the hell out of Kevin for stepping up and taking on that responsibility, but I resent the fact that Roy has become part of our immediate family – the boys moved out, and Roy moved in, in essence.

Yes, I realize this makes me sound cold hearted and you would be correct in assuming that, I am a bit cold hearted – I really don’t want to be in this position, but then I immediately feel guilty for thinking that because if Kevin hadn’t stepped in and taken over Roy’s care, he would be in a home right now.

I have a lot of guilt for feeling this way.

But the situation really turned out for the best. We firmly believe God had a plan for us when the woman across the street passed away and her home went up for auction. And Kevin was curious, so we attended her estate sale. I remember feeling so, SO sad walking through her house and seeing all of her possessions laying around for people to nit-pick over. I remember feeling angry that there were people who would turn their noses up at her stuff, stuff that she was proud to have, took care, held memories for her.

And I remember feeling FURIOUS that Kevin bid on the house. Luckily, he lost the bid. I was relieved.

But again, God had a plan and one month later, the guy who bought the house contacted Kevin and asked him if he wanted to buy it – he said yes.

It was my birthday. Happy birthday to me, here’s a rental house.

We took out a home-equity loan against our house and fixed the rental house up. We tore up the carpets and put in hardwood floors. We completely remodeled the kitchen and put in all new appliances. We painted and fixed up the landscape. We got the pool up and running for about $600 even though “the experts” told us it would take about $12,000 to get it working properly.

And by “we” I mean Kevin. Kevin is a master of all trades and quite talented in figuring things out. He did a fantastic job of fixing that house up.

Shortly after fixing it up, Roy’s relationship with Kevin’s parents went south. And Kevin had an idea – why don’t we ask Roy to move? He would pay us rent, Kevin would be able to keep an eye on him and someone we knew would be living there.

Win-Win-Win.

And then Kevin got another brilliant idea – why not move my office into the front part of the house and Roy would live in the back part of the house.

Oh. And how about turning the basement into a music studio for his band to use for practice?

I’m telling you guys, I’m married to a genius.

So that’s Roy’s story in a nutshell. And Kevin is usually at the rental house more than he is at our house, but that’s okay, it gives me a chance to do what I want to do and Kevin has his space.

Win-Win-Win.

Back to Father’s Day.

So the guys are swimming at the house. I don’t swim over there. I never have and I never will. I will not be caught dead in a swim suit in front of Roy. It just feels ……………. icky.

So I went to the mall. And while there, I returned this dress to Old Navy. I wanted to like it, I did like it, my body, however, had other ideas. And yes, I’m on the endless, frustrating cycle of trying to find clothes that will look good on me and keep me cool when we go to Bermuda.

(Yes – we booked the vacation).

I also went to Bath and Body Works to pick up some body lotion because momma loves her some body lotion.

And then I picked up the cookie cake that you see above. We don’t DO cakes in our family – it’s always cookie cakes.

I took it over to the rental house and the guys were ready to take a break from swimming and sugar up.

The fact that this is blurry makes me angry – stupid camera.

The guys lounged around a bit more after cookie cake, some more than others….

And then Kevin made curly hotdogs

and then we all five, me, Kevin, the boys and Roy, all played Lords of Waterdeep. It’s a Dungeon’s and Dragon’s board game – yes, we ARE that cool.

It’s a super fun strategy game and we will be playing that more often. The boys really enjoyed themselves.

Oh, I almost forgot, we surprised Kevin with Blue Puma sneakers:

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He had his eye on these the other day when we were shopping for me for (more) sneakers for work but he didn’t end up buying them. I went back later and got them for him because I knew he would never buy them himself.

Cool sneaks for a cool man.

It was a crazy, busy day but I think Kevin and the boys had a good time. He’s seriously one of the most awesome men/fathers and we are very blessed to have him in our lives.

We love you, Kevin!

 

 

Roy's Story

Roy’s Been on His Own for Four Weeks

That statement doesn’t even seem real to me. Though in some ways, it feels like he’s been living in the rental house for months, not simply a few weeks.

I’ll be honest, I was skeptical. I’m still a little skeptical but more optimist now. The novelty is wearing off but once again, Kevin has surprised me with his determination to MAKE this work. He keeps him busy. So busy, in fact, that Roy collapses into bed at the end of the day. It’s not that he’s physically busy, though Kevin does a pretty good job of keeping him busy washing windows, taking out the trash, sweeping, cleaning up the kitchen and vacuuming at his office, but he makes sure Roy is mentally exhausted as well.

And that’s a good thing. If he’s busy he won’t get into mischief.

I saw Roy out washing the windows on the rental house this morning. The rental house has huge windows, which is one of the things I love about the house (funny – but people either love those windows, or they don’t – it’s rarely in between).

We didn’t tell Roy to get out and wash the windows, he took it upon himself to do it. However, when we went shopping last night, I called Kevin on his cell to ask him if Roy had any Windex, that since this weekend was supposed to be nice (and it is – it’s GORGEOUS outside right now [I actually wrote this last weekend – it’s cloudy and supposed to snow later tonight]), it would be a good opportunity for him to wash the house windows. They’re very streaky and it’s very obvious since the afternoon sun shines right into the front living area.

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(Friday night is our grocery-shopping night. We take Roy with us. When we get there, we go our separate ways: I do our shopping and Kevin takes Roy around and helps him pick out the stuff he needs. He also helps Roy understand the cost of things and teaches him how to budget his money. Can you believe he’s never been taught that before?? Also. Saturday is wash day. Roy brings his clothes over to our house and starts a load. He then goes back home and I finish his laundry. I think I about have Kevin talked into buying a washer and dryer for that house at some point – MAJOR rental perk, I’m sure!).

Roy doesn’t live in the front of the house (pictured above – that’s the living/dining room when you walk in the front door). There’s no reason for him to use the front two rooms. He stays in the back of the house, in the family room, just right off the kitchen.

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Kevin and Roy went and picked up the sofa you see in the picture today. They got it from our niece and her husband – they’re moving into a house and didn’t need it anymore. The sofa actually used to be in Kevin’s dad’s shop before he closed up his business. It’s a decent couch and not bad for FREE. 🙂

Roy was feeling a bit like he was living in a fish bowl and had been talking about buying blinds for the huge window just behind the sofa. (There’s a sun room on the other side of that window and though there’s a privacy fence in the backyard, the house is up high enough that his neighbor can see into his house and that creeps him out. That would creep me out, too.

When Roy gets something into his head, it stays – FOR-EV-ER. And when him and Kevin were at Lowes, (they practically live there), Roy spotted some outdoor roll-er thingie shades and wouldn’t you know it, they fit the large window. They’re not ideal and at some point we’d like to have some custom blinds on that window, but they cover the window and work at concealing Roy so he doesn’t feel like his neighbor can see every little thing he does.

Kevin thinks I should write about Roy more often. He wanted me to start a new blog and just tell Roy’s story but hello – HAVE YOU MET ME!? I can barely keep up with this blog, let alone a brand new one. But I do want to write about Roy more. He continuously surprises me. I’m ashamed to admit, even though I’ve known Roy for about 27 years, I haven’t really gotten to know him until these past four weeks. He’s actually pretty funny. And he will say things that convince me that he’s not NEARLY as slow as the family has made him out to be all of these years. I just think the family has written him off and haven’t taken the time to teach him things. Yes. He requires patience. And no, there IS NO WAY I could take him on, full time, like Kevin has. Kevin checks on him and keeps him close EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I could not do that. Judge if you must but I’m just being honest. I don’t have the patience required for that much full-time care taking, however, I’m really glad that I’ve gotten to know Roy because he’s a pleasure to be around.

Yes. He can be devious. Yes. He can be sneaky. And he is mischievous at times. You have to take everything he says with a grain of salt. He doesn’t lie, per se, but he definitely stretches the truth sometimes. The fact that he KNOWS to do that also convinces me he’s not that bad off. He needs constant reassurance and that means he asks the same questions over and over again, (so that you finally have to say, “Roy. Enough. I’ve already answered that question and I won’t answer it again”), and he CONSTANTLY apologizes for, well, being human. Whenever he drops something, or he forgets to do something, or accidentally gets in your way, he’s like a whipped puppy and he apologizes. It sort of breaks my heart, if you want the God’s honest truth. The more I’m around Roy and the more he casually mentions what Kevin’s parents have said to him or treated him, the more I want to go over and give Kevin’s parents a piece of my mind. However. Again. Take it a with a grain of salt. How much is exaggerated to garner sympathy?

Exactly.

Roy dyed his own hair. When he was living with Kevin’s parents, they would keep his hair army short. And since he’s in his mid-forties, he is getting gray hair. This really bothers Roy. He doesn’t like his gray hair – he feels old. He doesn’t like to look old because in his mind, he’s not old – he’s still a young adult. (But then again – do ANY of us really like going gray?)

So he bought a box of hair dye at Wal-Mart the other day and when he went grocery shopping with us on Friday night, I didn’t even notice that he had colored his hair – he did that great of a job. He colored it just enough to take most of the gray out but it doesn’t look artificial. I was quite impressed. Kevin also trimmed up the sides and back so it’a little longer and Roy is in heaven – he thinks he looks sexy. HAHA! He is, however, terrified of what Kevin’s mom is going to say about it because she would never allow him to color his hair when he was living with them.

And that breaks my heart. Every little independent thing he does, the first thing he says is, “I hope ____ doesn’t get mad at me.” That’s how much control she had over him. We keep telling him, “so what – who cares what she thinks,” but deep down, Roy is terrified that she will assert control again and make him move out and back in with them.

And we keep telling him that’s not going to happen.

Again with the patience factor. We’ll just have to prove to him that we’re moving forward, we’re not moving backward and he’s not moving back in with Kevin’s parents – ever.

We’re going over to his house tonight for dinner. He bought himself a crockpot at Wal-Mart last night and he’s cooking us chili for dinner. I’ll probably cook some cornbread and take it over there. We thought him having a crockpot would be a good idea, then he can cook himself some meat and make several meals out of it. We’re still not comfortable with him using the oven, at least, unsupervised, so this is the next best step.

Oh – and by the way – Roy’s dog, Misty. They took her to the vet and they pulled five rotted teeth. She’s doing well. In fact, she feels loads better (I can imagine!). So all is good on the dog front. She’s definitely moving slow, though. The vet said he thinks she has arthritis in her hips, which would explain the way she sort of waddles when she walks. She’s also on a diet – Roy has been feeding her too much and she’s getting fat. So now he measures out how much food to give her. It’s little things like that, not knowing when to stop giving her food, or when to stop feeding himself, that makes him need constant supervision.

Life, Roy's Story

Update on Roy

For those of you just tuning in …

We moved Roy into the house on Saturday.

It was … fun … ish.

The house needed a good cleaning though. It’s been vacant for a little over a year and with all the construction that we’ve had done and Kevin’s projects that he’s been working on, it was a giant dust storm. (In fact, when I got done cleaning the wood floors – which nearly the entire house is wood floors, I was actually wheezing).

Then Blake helped me move his tubs of clothes over to the house and Kevin went over to his parent’s house with Roy to get the rest of his stuff.

Two truck loads later (no seriously – TWO truck loads), we finally have all of his stuff moved in.

And the place is JUNKED up.

Let me explain.

I know people do what’s necessary to cope with stressful situations. I get that. However, it annoys me to no end that Roy’s caregivers didn’t see, or plan, for the bigger picture. Instead of allowing him to spend money on superficial, spur-of-the-moment and rash desires (I think he has five remote cars, one violin, a drum set and countless video game systems) in order to entertain and appease him into submission, why didn’t Roy’s caregivers start a hope chest for him. Like a bedroom set. Living room furniture. Kitchen gadgets and appliances. Items he could store away in his “hope chest” so that WHEN he moved out (because come on – it HAD to happen one day, one way or another), he would be better equipped to start his new life.

Instead, when we moved him into his house, he had nothing. Nothing. Not even his own bed. And being the middle of the month, and several hundred dollars poorer (not sure where that money went, quite frankly), he’s starting out with the barest of bare essentials.

We ended up buying him a $100 bed frame. It’s rickety and sheer plywood, but it’s a bed. He didn’t have enough money to buy a mattress, so we ended up buying him an air mattress. And he’ll likely have to sleep on it for several months because we’ve already budgeted his money out a few months and he has upcoming expenses that he won’t be able to get out of, unfortunately.

He doesn’t have anyplace to put his clothes, so he’s quite literally living out of plastic tubs, for now. He does have his own TV and plenty of entertainment, OF COURSE, and his own recliner that actually belonged to his mom (Kevin’s grandmother). He also got her dishes and towels, so there’s that.

We bought him super cheap (like you can actually bend it with your hands) cookie sheets, silverware, kitchen gadgets, toaster and pots and pans. (The pots and pans are so small, like almost look like they belong to a doll, but they will work for now since it’s only him). He already had a George Foreman grill and a toaster oven, which he’s okay using. We’re not sure he can handle a full-blown oven yet. And I’m not sure we feel comfortable with him trying. So, he’s not to use the oven, for now.

Of course, the house has a microwave and a fridge, so there’s that.

And that’s pretty much it.

I can assure you, Kevin now has full control of his money and will make every dollar count because Roy is going to need every dime in order to make a life for himself. No more brainless purchases. We counselled Roy and told him when it comes to money, bills first, needs second, wants third. Period. That’s how life works.

So what the heck was the two truck loads of stuff, you ask? Good question. We haven’t had time to go through it yet. But just Kevin’s initial survey? It looks like we will be donating a bunch of stuff to the Goodwill and/or filling a dumpster.

Roy has his dog. Who is 11 years old and not getting around very well. She belonged to his mom (Kevin’s grandmother) and she has several teeth that are rotting away. They made an appointment for her to see a vet the beginning of next month (government payday) and Kevin found out how much that is going to cost: $320 – they will have to put her to sleep and pull several teeth. And they also cautioned that since she’s so old, she may not even survive the procedure. So … Roy has the emotional stress of not knowing if his dog will survive another month or not.

This poor kid (I call him a kid, but he’s 44 [?] – a kid in a man’s body) has been through so much in his lifetime. I found out some pretty shocking news about his birth mom – Roy told me himself. I never knew his family history and I won’t repeat it here. Suffice it to say, NO ONE should have to go through life with the crap that Roy has had to go through. I think that’s another reason Kevin and I are so determined to help him – we just feel sorry for the guy.

I’m a little annoyed with Kevin’s family, to be frank. I feel like everyone is just waiting to write Roy off. No one offered to help move him into his own house, no offers to periodically bring him food – complete silence. (What the hell??) Granted, we have no idea if Roy will be able to handle living on his own, but at least this way, we can say that we tried it. This is a trial run for Roy. We’re hoping he’s able to handle it, and himself, and if/when the time comes that his parents want to move into the house, Roy will be used to living on his own and will prove that he CAN live on his own, so we can move him into a nearby duplex or apartment. If Roy can not live on his own, then we will have to look at a housing program for him. Which, in some ways, may be better for him because at least this way he will have people around him and can make friends.

Roy has lots of acquaintances. He is the most sociable, and likable quite frankly, person that I know. He has no qualms walking up to people and striking up a conversation. (Which is both a good and bad thing). But friends/friends? I’m not sure. He goes to church every Sunday (Kevin has been taking him) and he has friends there. We sort of have a standing joke that people are always saying “Hi Roy!” to him wherever we go. He seems to know EVERYONE. But I don’t know how “close” these “friendships” are, you know? I think people are just being nice to him because of his mental condition. I don’t know that Roy has ever been close to anyone outside of Kevin’s grandmother.

So maybe a home would be good for him in that aspect.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’re in trial mode now. We’ll just have to see how he does and hope he doesn’t hurt himself or burn the house down.

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Life, Roy's Story

We Have a New Member of the Family

At least, temporarily.

At least, I HOPE it’s temporary.

Kevin has a special-needs uncle – let’s call him Roy. His grandmother adopted him out of foster care when he was a toddler.

I guess, technically, he’s not really special needs. He’s not retarded but rather, just slow. His birth mother drank and probably did drugs when she was pregnant with him which caused brain damage. He’s only a few years younger than myself.

Kevin’s grandmother passed away and he’s been living with Kevin’s parents all of these years.

However – Kevin’s parents are getting older and it’s harder for them to get around and quite honestly, they just want to live their remaining years peacefully. The situation has become tense and Kevin became his co-guardian – he’s now fully (or will be when his mother passes away) responsible for him.

We knew, at some point, he would need to get out on his own, learn to be independent. The challenge? He can’t really be by himself. He has no concept of money. He will never drive. And he doesn’t always have common sense when it comes to some things. So he will need frequent supervision. Our plan was to get him moved into an apartment and the family would take turns dropping by to check on him – take him meals once in a while, etc.

I came up with the plan of moving him into our rental house across the street. He would pay us rent and we could keep a close eye on him. (He gets money from the government every month due to his disability and might I just add – THIS IS WHAT GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS WERE MEANT TO DO: to help those that can’t fully help themselves. NOT SUPPORT PEOPLE WHO ARE MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF WORKING. *ahem* Focus Karen, focus). No one is currently living in the house now and we need to get someone in there so we can start paying down our loan.

Kevin originally bought the house with his parents in mind and they are still welcome to move in, as soon as they sell their house. The problem? Who knows when that will be. It could be months. It could be years. In the meantime, Roy can live there and we’ll come up with another solution if/when his parents sell their house and/if they still want to move in when that happens. We talked about this plan and he was going to present this plan to his parents after bowling with Roy.

Things sort of reached a breaking point on Sunday night. Kevin left to go bowling with Roy and was gone for several hours. He was gone so long, I started to become worried about him. When he finally came home, he had Roy with him. He felt like the situation was getting worse and why wait?

Our plan is happening now.

The problem is – Kevin didn’t do this gradually so Roy doesn’t have any of his stuff moved into the house yet. So, he’s living with us until we can move him into the house. I’m sure we’re still going to have to “introduce” him slowly to being in the house and living on his own. I’m going to try and talk the boys into spending a few nights with him at the rental house so he doesn’t get scared being on his own. Plus – it’s always a little spooky spending the night in a new place.

But it’s time. Kevin’s parents won’t live forever and no one in the family really wants him to live with them. And to be perfectly honest, Roy is mentally capable of living on his own, he just hasn’t up to this point. There has always been someone to baby him and look after him.

And he won’t be “alone” per se, the family will still be available and did I mention we’ll be across the street if he needs anything?

I think it’s a win-win for everyone, quite frankly.

This is going to be quite an adjustment on everyone’s parts. I think this will actually be good for Blake. He has always had a special connection to Roy – Kevin’s grandma watched Blake when he was a baby so I could continue to work and Blake and Roy have sort of grown up together. They are pretty close. For example, right now, Blake is watching TV with Roy and I can’t tell you the last time Blake came out of his room to watch TV. I think he feels like he needs to take care of Roy and that might be a good thing in the long run for Blake. Roy gives him purpose. He feels comfortable around him and he’s the most animated whenever he’s around him.

Again, a win-win situation. Stay tuned … we’re turning the page to another chapter in our lives.