This is a hard blog to write.
We had been communicating by phone lately with Sondra's oldest brother (Alden), who lives in Bakersfield. He is going through some very extreme personal turmoil. He has not worked much these past couple of years. He is 58 years old, a truck driver who has had some physical problems develop, diabetes one of several.
Due to lack of income and some poor personal choices, he has been evicted from his apartment. His car broke down. He became very ill because of the cold weather, as he lived in his car for two weeks. His stress level has been expectedly high. He was divorced some years ago, and he has been somewhat estranged from his adult children. He had even unknowingly cut himself off from his brothers and sisters by being hard to contact by phone. He had stopped going to church faithfully and was floundering inside.
For these last couple of weeks, he has been literally crying out for help. We were at a loss to know exactly how to help. None of us had the kind of money needed to totally get him back on his feet. And, furthermore, money was not the answer to his problem. He was a broken man, feeling lost and desperate and (in his mind) with no one to help.
Then, Friday, we got a call that Alden was in the hospital. Many thoughts raced through our heads. I called church people to take over the Sunday service, as we were not sure what we would be facing as we planned to drive up to Bakersfield that night (Friday). We arrived and stayed at Danny and Marci's house (Sondra's brother and sister-in-law), getting there just before midnight. We found out Alden had been admitted to the hospital because of respiratory issues, but the ER physicians were first concerned about heart attack symptoms.
Alden was released from the hospital, diagnosed with a very serious case of bronchitis. He had gone back to the Motel 6 where he had a room, one paid for by a dear friend a few days earlier. Saturday morning, Danny and Sondra and I went to the motel to pick him up. We had discussed at length what steps to take. We were (and still are) not sure, but we knew he was in a very fragile condition emotionally, mentally and physically.
I was not ready for what I saw when we picked him up. He was a sad, lonely, hurting man who was glad to see us. He was hunched over with pain and uncertainty, as he was helping to put his homeless belongings into Danny's truck. This was not the Alden I have known all my life, as he is an intelligent individual who knows trucking and computers. It was the depths of despair for him at this point.
We all went out to lunch together, with Alice and Tobey joining us (Sondra's youngest sister and her husband who also live in Bakersfield). Back at Danny's house, we found out that Alden had not been given the meds he needed for the bronchitis. He was weak and coughing and in bad condition still, even though released from hospital care. No hospital or pharmacy (and we went to four places in our search) would fill his prescription as he was not registered with them and had no health insurance to cover it. He does have veterans care, but Bakersfield's VA clinic is closed over the weekends.
Sondra and I made the decision to bring him home with us. I knew I could take him to the VA hospital in Loma Linda near us to get his meds. We drove home late Saturday evening. He brought two bags, one with clothes and the other containing his C-pap machine for breathing at night due to sleep apnea. We dropped Sondra off at home, and Alden and I went straight to VA. Due to God's good timing, there was someone at the VA hospital that could put Alden's number in the system for him to get his meds there (as he had gone to the VA hospital in Sepulveda in the past). Late Saturday evening, I arrived back home with Alden.
As I had already lined up those to lead the Sunday service, I felt compelled to stay with Alden all day Sunday. We were all drained, emotionally and physically. We were just wore out from facing the situation and making hard decisions. Late getting up, we had breakfast. Then, early in the afternoon we all took time for a long necessary nap. Then, Sondra cooked a big meal and we sat and had a wonderful time eating together Sunday night.
Evan always has a busy weekend and stays with friends most weekends. So, it was just me and Sondra and Alden yesterday (Sunday). We are not sure what the future holds. But we do know that we made the right decision to bring Alden here. What happens now remains to be seen. Alden is in much better spirits, having a warm place to sleep and healthy meals to share with family. He is still quite weak, and we are waiting for the antibiotics to kick in and bring back his health.
We help others. Now it is time to help a family member who has experienced deep troubles. Alden is homeless, jobless, with no transportation and no funds. Things can only get better!
As for us, our refrigerator just went out. Bad timing. But we praise God for his infinite goodness as we look to the days ahead.