My Life at September 2012

It has been a long and bumpy road, no question. How I have ended up in this situation, penniless, working part-time at minimum wage, alone and in a city I loathe, is the result of mistakes and just plain bad luck. All of us have many “turning points” in our lives, moments or decisions that changed the direction of our lives completely. Location plays a huge part, obviously. Where we are born and where we chose to live during our lives, Marriage, Kids, Career changes, Death, Loves and the people who come into your life, as they say, for a “reason” or a “season”.


Up until about 1992 I had had what you would call a “normal” life. Got married in 1969; had two wonderful children, both of whom were heavily involved in sports, which I loved. After twenty-three years of marriage I finally accepted that it was never going to be what either of us wanted, and now that the kids had busy lives of their own and hardly had time to see me, I made a life-changing decision. My parents, brother and sister had moved to the Okanagan in 1970 and we had seen each other on rare occasions for many years. In 1991 my mother was stricken with fifth stage melanoma and was given only a five percent chance of survival. For various reasons I had been working around the clock, trying to keep a roof over our heads, while my ex didn’t even try to get a job, and my doctor told me I was a poster child for a heart attack if I didn’t make some radical changes. My marriage was dead in the water and I wanted desperately to spend what remaining time my mum had with her, so, at the encouragement of my kids, I moved West and spent sixteen glorious years in paradise.


What I did not know when I left was that it would cost me my relationship with my kids. I believed that they would come out again to visit me and my family and we would again have the wonderful times we had enjoyed earlier when they had come out for three weeks. Both kids said they had never seen me happier and encouraged me to move. For whatever reason, and this will haunt me to my deathbed, my ex chose to cut-off any contact with my kids and no matter how hard I tried, would not let me see them. After making contact with my daughter, she asked me to come down to see her. I drove across the country, in the depths of winter, nearly buying the farm several times, only to arrive back in Brampton to discover my ex and her new hubby would not let me see her. I hung around for three weeks, staying with my son’s family, to no avail. I never saw my daughter again after leaving her in 1993. It crushed me and never has made any sense to me. I reconnected with my son through Facebook in 2007 and I had high hopes that we would be together again, but he chose to again cut me off. I was most upset that my father had passed away and my mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s, but they had made no attempt to contact them in all those years. It broke my heart.


After losing my parents I took over a foreclosure on a mobile home in Westbank and worked fourteen hour days, seven days a week, for a year and a half, completely gutting it and rebuilding it into a showpiece home, one I was told was the best in the Okanagan. The day before I was to list it, one of the local Indian chiefs came out in the press, stating anyone who bought on Indian land was “stupid”, because there was no tenancy and all their parks would be shutdown and condos built instead. Overnight the market crashed. Not only could I not sell it, but I also lost the financing I had. My doctor told me that my stress level was “off the charts” and I had to get out from under this burden, no matter what. I managed to put the place in the care of a good friend, and my other friend agreed to look after the place until I could hopefully sell it in the spring. I left for Panama in 2007; however, instead my so-called “friend” let the place go to ruins, most critically not shoveling off the heavy snow from the roof, and it collapsed. The repair estimate was over twenty thousand dollars and I had no hope of paying for this. My buddy managed to salvage a distress sale, but I lost everything.


My time in Panama was no picnic either. I was renovating an apartment complex for a guy back in Kelowna, but he didn’t pay me for my work. I had also given temporary shelter to a Panamanian family who were facing being on the streets. They were only to stay for two weeks, but after two months I had to get the police in to get them out. When they finally moved out, they stole everything that wasn’t nailed down. They never even paid me for the two months I had fed them. I was left with $21 in my bank and no hope. I also had a gall bladder attack and ended up in the hospital, where they nearly killed me with their antiquated surgery techniques. I barely escaped with my life. My dear cousin back in Toronto offered me shelter, so I sold everything I could get my hands on and flew back to Toronto. She saved my life at the time.


As luck would have it, mostly bad luck, during my time in Toronto I met a woman from London on the internet. We talked for hours and she eventually came to visit me, and, well, it was love at first sight for me. I honestly believed she was my soul mate and we would be together forever, so I moved to London to be with her. Tragically, she got secretly involved with another guy on the internet, and went to meet him behind my back. It was obviously over between us and now I was just left stuck in a town I hated, alone, broke and very unhappy. I ended up on assistance and living in a men’s shelter. Somehow, through all of this, I managed to get a part-time job at Home Depot, but I am not getting enough hours to survive. The Salvation Army Centre of Hope paid my last month’s rent to avoid my eviction, but I can’t pay December’s rent either, and will again face eviction. A small glimmer of hope is that the London Housing Corporation has finally contacted me about getting a “geared to income” place, but I can’t even meet with them until the end of December, and there is no guarantee that I will be approved. I am at my wit’s end. There are many days I have dark thoughts. I am also a diabetic, about the run out of my meds yet again. The last time I went through that and had no meds for six weeks, I ended up in the hospital with a sky-high sugar level of 24, which is the stage for a heart attack. Maybe, after all this, it would be merciful.

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