Hi, my name is Valerie. On September 5, my dad died quietly in his sleep at home. He was a funny, caring and giving man, and the world is not the same without him in it.
My husband Corey and I had moved into Mom and Dad's home with them a little more than two years ago; they needed help around the house because Mom had taken a bad fall and was now wheelchair bound. We were fortunate that my husband had recently been laid off and I had a small bookkeeping business. This meant that we were able to relocate easily. Mom needed constant care then, so Corey stepped up and became her primary caregiver.
As she got better, Dad began to decline. Fortunately, Corey was there for him too.
During the past year, I made the decision to close down my little bookkeeping company and go to work for someone else. Starting in June, I began applying for jobs, and in mid July, I received a job offer for a position beginning on July 31. The employee I was replacing trained me for a half day, then was gone.
Two days later, while on a routine follow up doctor's appointment, Dad's doctor referred him immediately to his ENT specialist for a biopsy because of a small bump causing pain in his jaw, in front of his ear. The following Monday, I left work at noon to meet Corey and Dad at the doctor's office for the results of the biopsy and his diagnosis, which was not good. He had cancer of his parotid gland. His doctor told us that surgery was Dad's only option if he wanted a chance of living. My father immediately chose surgery, telling us that he wanted to live. The wheels to begin the process were quickly set in motion. I was contacted by Johns Hopkins Hospital, and we made an appointment to take Dad to Baltimore on Friday when my office was closed. (We didn't work on Fridays during the summer).
Back to Wednesday; I told Dad and Corey goodbye and returned to work. I informed my boss about Dad, and explained that I would need to leave from time to time because of Dad's appointments, and that I would not be able to work on the day of Dad's surgery. I offered to come in on my own time on the weekends and work for free, just to stay caught up and to show him that I was serious about my job. I made sure he had my contact information so he could get in touch with me on the weekends. (He never took me up on my offer though). I worked on Thursday and the day was uneventful. My first week was over.
The following week, I worked all week, spending a lot of time teaching myself how to do my job. They had a specific system of doing things there, and figuring out the why and how was a challenge, but it was all beginning to make sense. The week was good until Thursday afternoon, when I had an awful Crohn's flare up. (I have Crohn's Disease). The pain in my abdomen was excruciating and I had to leave before I finished what I had been working on, to go to the ER.
I spent the whole weekend in bed, and on Monday morning I went to work to discover that my coworker had very kindly tried to finish my work for me; unfortunately, she had made mistakes that I had to fix. I didn't say anything about it to my boss because she was only trying to help, but I spent a lot of time that third week fixing and redoing.
Meanwhile, I had been scheduled since June for some surgery on my jaw, something that has caused me great pain from time to time, ever since a sledding accident many years ago. I told my boss that I could reschedule my surgery to a future date when I had mastered my job a little more, but he told me it was fine. So week 4 began with my surgery in Baltimore on Monday. I went to work on Tuesday, even though the doctor recommended that I take 3 days off. I couldn't do that; I didn't want to get behind. At this time I was definitely sensing some negative feelings from my boss and the client's office manager. I worked hard for the rest of week four.
Week 5 was the week leading up to the Labor Day weekend. On Wednesday my boss came into my office at the end of the day and told me not to come in on Thursday. Great; there went 10 hours I could have been getting my work done, a full days pay, and getting any holiday pay for Monday. I asked for my paycheck (this was the third week that I had to actually ask for my pay). And twice already he hadn't paid me on Thursday as per our agreement; I'd had to wait until Monday or Tuesday. This time he said "I thought you said you would work for free. I don't feel comfortable paying you today."
OMG!!! For the third time I went home for the weekend empty handed. I researched withholding an employees pay and discovered that what he had done to me was highly illegal.
Monday was Labor Day. On Tuesday, September 5, I got up at 6 to get ready for work. Corey and I checked on Dad. He was not breathing. I touched him gently, and he was cold. We had known his chances weren't great, but we thought we'd have him for a little longer.
I called the office at 8 to let them know that my dad had just died and I wouldn't be coming in today.
The next day, Wednesday, I went to work. At lunchtime I told my boss that I was going to need to be paid for last week, because withholding my pay was illegal. He stared at me, then said,"why don't you just gather your things and leave. Leave, as in "Take some time; be with your family and grieve your father." Oh no, no, no. As in, "you're fired".
I cleaned out my desk, took down the pictures of my family and stuffed everything into my bag, then waited until he finally brought my check out. And that was that. I went home to plan Dad's wake and funeral.
The day after Dad's funeral, we had just gotten up when we heard an awful sound: it was Mom screaming! We ran down the hall and into her bedroom, where we found her on the floor in front of her wheelchair crying. She had fallen and broken her neck. We called 911, afraid to move her, and they arrived quickly, transporting her to the local hospital, who had her transferred to Washington Hospital Center in D.C. because they have a trauma unit and were better equipped to care for her. Mom was at WHC for over a week, then she was transferred to Patuxent Rehabilitation in Laurel; and her next step is home.
One, two, three!!! Three things have happened in such quick succession that we are reeling! With Dad's death, his bank has frozen all accounts with his name, including the one that I deposited my paychecks into for household expenses. We also had automatic bill payment set up, with no way to sign into the account and cancel the service. Apparently the accounts are going to be inaccessible for at least another week, which is the first week of October.
Now you can understand our need; this is why we are asking for help: we are unable to access the money that we do have, and, right now, we have no income. Yes, these problems are temporary, but BG&E and WSSC and PG County do not accept IOU's. I am actively looking for a new job; I have an interview coming up on Tuesday the 3rd of October, but our financial problems are happening right now. Corey is working to get the house ready for Mom to navigate with her new physical status. He is going to be very busy caring for her when she comes home.
I hate to ask for help; it makes me feel awkward and embarrassed, but we really need it right now. Dad was counting on us to take care of Mom when he was gone.
Speaking of Dad, we really want to celebrate his life and acknowledge him for the good man he was. all money that is donated, one half of each donation will be given to the St. Nicholas Church Building Fund, or to Puerto Rican relief, in Dad's name. You choose.