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Jennifer's "Fall"... For the love of my brother may he always rest in peace. I will always cherish our close time together but know you are no longer in discomfort and are in God's hands. To my father, may he always rest in peace, my best friend, I miss you, your guidance, our conversations, your company. I never expected to be in the place I am today but for the love of my brother, I chose to stay by his side and to help my parents. Explaining that to my son in his earlier years was so hard. The death of my brother, my father and 2 car accidents.... Please read our story....
The 2008 to 2018 Decade that took me down, still feels like yesterday as I battle through the feelings I struggle with and the loss personal and professional I have to face and deal with every day. As a single parent with a child, I find you do whatever you can to get through to the next hour, day, week.... For the love of my son, I will keep trying and fighting to get my life back to happier days and will cherish each day I am blessed to spend with my son. The simpler things in life mean so much more to me today and grows with each tomorrow and each yesterday. I hope you read my story, which is the abridged version given the this forum.
I grew up in Millis and returned to Millis in December 2008 and have lived here since then. I will try keep it to highlights but there is a lot that just can't be put into this forum. I am keeping names of friends, family members and my son generic. Please take the time to read and consider helping us. After a divorce, I was in a situation like many at that time, housing market was tanking, 2[phone redacted] and I had to short sale my house. Left to handle all on my own. Not a good situation as a single mom of a 5 year old. I had a lot of yard sales and sold what I could from my house during the yard sales and on line. The transition was hard to say the least. I had my own problems and issues to deal with emotionally and financially. I was working full time in Boston with a long commute and childcare to manage and did the best I could. After the closing on the sale of my house, I had arranged what I thought were solid plans to rent a condo, closer to work and share with a relative. Found within days, it was not going to work. I was assaulted that very first night. I ended up at my parents house with my son while I searched for another home and had my son registered in my home town so he could finish up that school year there until we found a new place. Unfortunately, some tragedy and more rough patches were ahead. My mother in her 70s at the time, fell ill, ended up ICU, My father who was in his early 80s asked for me to stay and help with her care when she came home. I did. My father had always been my best friend and confidant. Within months of my mother returning home, one of my older brothers (who never left my parents' home) was showing stronger and stronger signs of what turned out to be Lewy Body Dementia. It is a vicious condition that slowly took my brother's ability to dress, walk, move from one place to another, bathe, eat on his own, talk along with other personal care and basics most take for granted and are blessed with.  Certainly changed me forever. I know there are other caregivers out there that can relate to the situation. For those who may be on the other side of a sibling or aunt, uncle, of the caregiver, what it takes to manage day to day, "living" with and providing that care or just looking out for them, driving places, picking up items, so much when you add it to your life as you knew it... is very different from a visit once in a while. Just can't understand unless you've experienced it and had to make choices, personal sacrifices. It affects your personal life, professional life, time with your child/children... once it is gone, it is gone.
I like to look at photos of my brother in younger years and better days. I like to remember him this way.  Again, a lot to share here but out of respect for my brother, I prefer not share any further details of the personal care he required but towards the end of what turned out to be several years of care, he ended up in a hospital bed in our home. My brother was a very religious man and had a kind heart and got dealt a very difficult hand. My brother was not afraid to die as he believed in God, he was afraid he'd be put into an institution. I promised him I wouldn't let that happen, I would be there with him and I stayed with my parents and my brother to help with his care. That turned into me managing his care full time (hiring and scheduling personal care attendants for while I was at work) and me doing the "heavy lifting" at night and on weekends when I got home from working in Boston. Many times having to leave work early, work from home, go in late. 1st aid and running to doctor appts for all 3 became weaved into my life. My son always asking me if I was done yet rings in my head to this day. Me explaining how you sometimes have to make sacrifices to help those you love. My parents did help by watching over my brother, feeding him, tending to his linens. I was constantly doing laundry. The smell  of urine and feces daily took a long time to fade. I hated doing laundry for the longest time as it reminded of those time. It was hard for my parents. I never saw my father so broken and feeling so helpless. One of the few times I saw him cry, weak with sorrow, was when we lost my brother. A WWII, purple heart recipient and a man who lived during the depression. Broken heart seeing my brother fading away.
I had the support of my company. I was employed with them for 23 years before I had to go on leave. Before that I worked for several places starting working at the young age of 14 locally. I was grateful my company supported me and I worked from home as many days as I could. However, a business is a business and I was put on leave. This was all very difficult for us and especially my young son.
I lost out on advancement opportunities, jobs that required travel or extended hours. I was exhausted. I didn't have enough quality time for my son, but I tried but I was so tired and sad most days. On top of caring for my brother, my father began declining so I was helping him with getting up stairs, into the shower, putting on socks.... and again, out of respect for him, I will leave it at that. I even put an Acorn chairlift in so I could put my brother in it so he could come downstairs where he liked to sit by the old fire place and watch Columbo, Matlock, Murder she Wrote and the news. He loved the Christmas lights too so I always went all out on the tree, outside and inside lights and decorated his room. My father eventually needed the chairlift and then my mother and then me after my knee surgery and accidents. I guess the savings I used for that was well worth it. My father became like my son's father given all the time they spent together, though he was always still grandpa. My brother became like a son to me from all the care, time, talking (while he could) and support he needed from cane to wheelchair to hospital bed.... My brother needed 24/7 care and oversight. Given my parents age and their own health, I was told, my brother would need to be put into a facility if I ever moved away from the home, so I stayed. I didn't tell my parents as I didn't want to hurt their feelings. I had a tremendous bond with my brother and my father. Sometimes I don't know what I would have done without my father. We got through a lot of tough days together. I miss him every day.  Sadly, my brother passed away several years ago and hit both my parents very hard. I never saw my father more broken and I couldn't do anything to fix that. Then my father passed away a year later. He was a strong man, smart, WWII Veteran, purple heart recipient and my personal hero. 2 funerals within a year's time which I coordinated both. I curled up many a late nights crying. I did the best I could to take care of my mother for the 3 years that followed my father's and brother's death. I love my mother but she and I were like water and oil. Just the way it was but I did the best I could. As I did for my father, the many days and nights of driving one of them to the hospital, ER or routine appts, leaving work earlier, going in late, it was exhausting. Before my father passed, he had already stopped driving.... he knew on his own. My mother was still driving but given the minor accidents she was having, people from town reporting to me that her driving was dangerous. I talked to her about it and my other siblings as I wanted all to agree that she had to stop driving for her own safety and others. I was always the bad "guy/girl". The car she was driving was mine and I had given it to my parents to use as it was easier to get in and out of, but regardless, I took the keys and well a lot to share but some ugly and then uglier. My sisters and one other brother never helped me with the tough stuff, other than a few visits a year. One sister offered to help with taking my mother to appts when I finally had the long overdue knee surgery I needed. I put it off while I needed to care for my brother and father. Before my father passed, my parents agreed I should be gifted half the home since all my other siblings had the freedom to have their own home and family lifem careers/jobs and all their children were adults during this time. My son was young/school age throughout.. I had to put my life aside. All the care I provided for my brother, for each of them and all I did to clean up and improve the house inside and outside. My mother followed through on what was agreed and deeded half the house to me. It was agreed I would receive my brother's portion as well since I took care of him. It was evident I was not doing well myself given the 7 years at that point, all I endured but I'm still here fighting on the behalf of my son in th 10th year, myself and our home. I told this to my siblings and said things needed to change and I needed help.... no help. Just criticism. My brother and father are at rest but after all the years of seeing my brother, then father deteriorate and caring for my mother, it took its toll on me. Despite being exhausted, I always made time for my son at night after I was done with work, caring for all. After he was asleep, I would work remotely into the night, trying to keep up.
My son play sports year-round and I went to every game except for a couple for when I ended up in the hospital. When my son started to have troubles in school in his later years when he was around 12/13 and I was still caring for my mother in our home. I had to get my son counseling and work with the school to help him. Meanwhile, I did everything around the house, yard work, repairing, plumbing, shoveling, cleaning off the roof and gutters, cutting wood, to mention a few. I cleaned up the house, it was "hoarder" filled. I grew up in this and didn't want the same for my son. So I spent a lot of time when my brother and father were alive, whenever I could cleaning out the junk and making it healthier for all. Then continued after for safety, no clutter and cleanliness for health and respect for day to day living for my mother and son. My son endured almost as much as I did but I tried to mask as much as I could. I had asked for help many a times from my other siblings but just got empty promises or more criticisms.
When my son needed me more than ever, his grades were dropping and his emotional support needs were growing and he was acting out and I was not doing well. I got him into counseling again and that helped him a lot. Then I was seeing my doctor regularly, a counselor and psychiatrist to help me deal with all I and my son had gone through, saw and experienced, I insisted on help. I still wake up in the middle of the night thinking my brother needs me or when he could call my name or when he was still moving enough that he could fall out of bed. I hear thumps and noises and wake... then realize, they are not there anymore.... same with my father and mother, the many times I thought they fell and many times they did and I had to help them to their feet.
There were a few incidents in 2016 that pushed me over the edge and I called the area caregiver support person. I felt bad that I could not carry on and care for my mother. I wanted care for her that I could no longer sustain. I needed to focus on my health for the sake of my son. I was on the verge of losing my job of 23 years. I was always a hight performer, driven and loved my work. My performance had declined. I was not able to sleep. I was crying all the time. I was diagnosed with Major Depression, PTSD, Anxiety, insomnia and my physical health was not good all around. I was having nightmares, dreams, flashbacks, such sadness. I was beaten down. I ended up being put on short term leave, then long term.  Everything I worked so hard for and earned was slipping away. I was focusing on getting healthy to return to work when I ended up in court because my sisters wouldn't help me and making all kinds of criticisms and accusations. From the same people who weren't there for the core, hard 7 years. I am the youngest of 6 children. All were fine to let me deal with the hard stuff alone. When the time came and I was at my weakest, they clearly wanted to get the house and what they could. If I hadn't fought to manage the house and take care of all, the state and/or "care" facility would have taken the house long before. Plans that were agreed upon with the caregiver support person, they (the sisters) defaulted on.  I was not in good shape to be in a court battle, but wanted my mother to have the care so I gave in at court. Let them say what they did about me. I was advised by my lawyer to get the state out of my business, let them appoint your sisters as guardians and focus on getting better myself. My father, brother, son know how much I did despite what my sisters say. I have emails and so much more to back it all up, but I want to put that behind me and focus on the well-being of my son who is now 15 and is a solid 6'3" 230lbs already And growing! Sports have been instrumental in helping him and me stay balanced. It has all gone so fast and so painfully slow at the same time. My mother still agrees that the house belongs to me/half of it plus my brother's portion. She's called me and said we can work it out but I told her, her other daughters are the ones that are dragging us into the courts. My mother is with my sisters now and is fine as far as I know from the times I do talk to her. Hard to admit and accept, but I need to keep my calls minimal as it draws me backwards. From here, basically, my sisters tried to force me to sell the house and I did not want to. My son was finally doing better and established in the school. Our home life is calm. He was practically failing before and now he is getting all "A"s and an occasional "B". I support him in all his sports year-round. The coaches and teachers who have stepped up as role models for him, greatly helped him and me get through a lot of rough patches as well. What I've dealt with, the depression, anxiety, PTSD and insomnia doesn't go away over night but I am working towards earning back most of what I lost over the last decade while I was doing my best to provide care for my brother, father and mother and of course my son!
My sisters have filed a Petition to Partition, to force me to sell the house, our home (me and my son). It is all I have left outside of my son and trying to give all the time and support I can to him. They have their homes, my mother stays with each of them now. I have to buy out the other half of the house. I don't have much time. A few weeks to possible months to raise the money for cash needed down and then I will need to get the mortgage needed to close this ugly chapter, legal fees and uncovered medical bills.  I had a set back right after the court part finished up in late 2016. I was feeling close to being able to turn things around in March 2017, hopeful to return to work and then I was in a bad car accident in April 2017. Had my new to me Ford F150 only 3 weeks. Ford Tough is true... that truck saved my life. Hadn't been in an accident in 15-20 years plus. This was a set back in itself physically, mentally and financially with what wasn't covered by insurance on top of everything else I had given up and lost.
I don't talk to my siblings (sisters) anymore after all that happened. They didn't care about me and my son's well-being then, they don't care now, so I was alone in dealing with this but my son and "the village" in our home town helped with rides and getting groceries and generally what a family would typically do. After many months of PT and doctors care and one more surgery expected, I was feeling optimistic again. Then the unthinkable happened, I was in another car accident in November 2017 and almost lost my foot. I am thankful to the surgeon who saved it. I was lucky to be alive twice and was grateful despite all the pain and struggles. I used to love the holidays, now I struggle through them but remain hopeful that will change. My son and the "the village" once again, helped us with rides for my son, getting groceries, pharmacy, etc. My ankle/foot is still not fully healed and I can't drive for at least another month when it will hopefully be strong enough given it is my driving foot. Hoping for end of March to April at the latest, but I need a car still. I have to restart physical therapy once the wound is completely healed and possibly one more surgery. Christmas 2017 was tough but me and my son made the best of it. I was served the Petition to Partition just before Christmas. Had to retain a lawyer again and now am doing all I can to try to save our home. so I am asking for help with legal fees which are about $5-10k currently, medical bills (not covered by insurance), transportation costs, both are several thousand dollars as I've been using "lyft" for me when no one in the community is available. I need help with a car, need around $20K for a bulk of items mentioned. Most importantly dollars to help pay for the buyout on our home. This is critical as I only have a small window of time and need $25-35k for the buyout and credit loan.  Final figures depending on what the courts finalize as a number. My lawyer informed me I can't wait and need to get the funds in order or will be forced out. I am trying to see if I can get a little more time but land court is very stringent and not interested in how we got to where we are. Any amount that anyone could help us with, is truly appreciated. This home means so much to me and my son after all we've been through. This decade of my life was particularly difficult and it is embarrassing to share. I did the best I could. I am not perfect, but my intentions were always good and my heart will always be with my brother and father, may they rest in peace. I will always wish my mother the best and love her. Losing our home after all we've been through, will be devastating for both my son and me. My son is my priority and I need to be healthy and whole to be the best mother I can be and to keep our home and to pave the way back to regaining my livelihood. God be willing and God Bless. Jennifer

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Jennifer Olivieri 
Organizer
Millis, MA
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