Death and a Single Parent
When I was 3 months old, my father died. I never got to meet the guy, but apparently I was lucky. He died from cancer and didn't bother to tell anyone until he was only days away from death. Following his death, my first four years of life were spent with a single mother who struggled at every turn. She had to sue my fathers estate in order to get support and jump through several hoops to get social security benefits. Social security made her prove paternity and that my dad knew I was his kid before they would release any support to her. Luckily for her, my dad's older brother did a paternity test to prove I was my fathers kid. My dad's younger brother found receipts and credit card statements showing that my dad bought some of the big necessities - proving that he knew I was his kid. In the end, my mom was only able to get a $150/month annuity, a one time $3,000 payout, and four savings bonds that were to mature at $3,000 a piece for college. Social security came through and that was only about $428/month. Despite the estate being worth $4M at the time, that was all she was able to get. Combined with her job as a CNA, she barely had enough money to support us, but she managed to make it work scraping by paycheck to paycheck. My grandmother offered to help with care until I started crawling and getting into everything. At that point, my mother was forced to put me in daycare while she worked each day. We had a one bedroom apartment off Keystone Avenue and we didn't own a car. Every morning she would get up and get ready for work before the sun came up. She would then get me up and ready and we would take a cab to my daycare center off Oddie Blvd - dropping me off with my purple Chip N Dales lunch box (ironic I know). She would then take the bus to work on Plumas. After work, she would take the bus to come pick me up and we would ride the bus home together. This was our daily routine and it was stressful for her. For me, I couldn't understand why we didn't have a car, but it was our way of life and I was content with it. What more can a two year old think? At the time, I really had nothing to compare it to. I was happy and content with the way things were and didn't mind the struggle. My mom on the other hand had to carry me whenever I didn't want to walk and despite the struggle, she dealt with it for as long as she could.
When I was four, my mother couldn't handle the struggles of being a single parent anymore. Her mental health took a toll and she turned to drinking and gambling as coping mechanisms. Things she used to enjoy prior to becoming a single parent. Despite doing her best at the time and trying, she eventually gave up and couldn't do it anymore. She left me at daycare past the statutory limit of 14 hours and at that point I was handed over to Child Protective Services. As much as I don't like my mother, I will admit that she actually had more going for us than most kids I met through the foster care system. She always made sure I was well fed, I was safe and had a roof over my head, plus she had a job and paid for daycare and transportation. She had no support other than what she had from working, my fathers estate, and social security. Amounts that barely covered daycare costs. The kids I met through the system came from situations that were a million times worse than mine. While I have never been a single parent myself, I have experienced it first hand through the eyes of a child. There was a lot I didn't understand then, but I do understand it now. After 10 years in the system, I have truly seen what bad parents look like. My mother had flaws for sure, but nothing as bad as the things I witnessed with other families. Mine and my moms situation was nothing like this and growing up, I could never understand why I had to spend 10 years in the system. Especially when I watched other kids have relationships with parents who did far worse things. In fact, nobody could ever give me a straight answer anytime I would inquire about any of it. Whenever I was asked why I was in the system, my answer was always, "I don't know." More to come on this...
I have an impeccable memory and remember every last detail of my childhood. From the time I was still in my crib, up until now, I remember it all. I haven't lost any memory as much as I would like to forget most things. My fathers family has a crazy sharp memory and I was lucky enough to inherit that. Or cursed. There are some minor gaps, but I have my suspicions as to why that is. Some may think it is impossible for someone to remember so much, but fortunately I can prove nearly everything....thanks to....my memory.