On Monday April 17th, I drove to LAX to go pick up my parents. I was excited and looking forward to having them in Santa Barbara for a month visit to celebrate my dad's 78th birthday. They had spent a year back home, visiting and helping their older sisters in VENEZUELA. They were also looking forward to spending some quality time with me in California.
However, what we couldn't anticipate was that Venezuela's political situation would scalate from bad to worse, to what is now, the middle of a Civil War.
Within days, the political situation in Venezuela reached a boiling point. Every morning we read and watched in disbelief, the news about our home country falling apart. Our collective worries and stress started to mount with every phone call we received from loved ones living in Venezuela. Very quickly a new reality started to emerge. Each call confirming the inevitable: My Parents can't go back! It would be extremely dangerous for my parents to return to their homeland. It was so weird; to feel happy and a relieve to have them here, while totally feeling overwhelmed by having them stay with me indefinitely.
Now Venezuela is officially in the middle of a Civil War. My parents aren't able to go back home. And what we thought was a month visit has turned into a longer and more indefinite stay. They have no medical insurance and no income. First, I felt overwhelmed. Then, I understood God’s plans. I felt a sense of peace knowing that my mom and dad were here with me. They are in my house, within arms reach, sleeping in my room, where I could make sure they were safe!
Uh-oh! Now, what do we do? As reality sets in, and as optimistic as we can all be, (especially my dad) this is a huge transition. All I can say is: OK, this is a case of reverse roles! I now have the opportunity of caring for my mom and my dad. Now they are here with me, and I'm 100% physically, emotionally and financially responsible for them, I trust God will show us the way.
However, sometimes things get a lot worse before they get better. And I choose to believe that out of breakdowns there will be a breakthrough. And yes, things did get worse fast!
Monday May 22nd 4:30 am. As I was sleeping on my new bed (the couch in the living room), my mom comes in alarmed and wakes me up; "Andreina, wake up! Your dad is sick! He is dizzy and disoriented. He just fainted and cannot get up." Not the kind of wake up call anyone wants to wake up to.
I rushed to my room! I found my dad pale and almost incoherent. He didn't look good. We rushed him immediately to the ER. Doctors confirmed my worst fear. He may be having a heart attack. When we are face to face with the reality of our finite time on earth, life comes to a standstill.
After 12 long hours in the ER (x-rays, abnormal electrocardiograms, blood tests, and a full exploration of my dad's heart), the cardiologist came to our room and confirmed that it WAS NOT a heart attack. THANK YOU GOD! However, his blood pressure was high, probably because he was under a lot of stress. The doctor sent him home, asking him to put his worries aside, rest and eat healthy. Phew, dad is going to be ok!
However, the relief from my dad conditions was short lived; now it was my mom's turn.
The very next morning after my dad's ER incident, mom emotionally collapsed and fell into a severe depression and she hasn't gotten out of bed since. She has suffered from chronic depression most of her life - a condition that is especially triggered by stress. My dad’s ER visit was too much for her. Now she is depressed.
As we continue to care for my parents health, we have one more concern. They have no medical insurance right now. The bills for both of their emergencies will come soon. We are talking to social workers to get them their medical coverage, but everything takes time. And we know the topic of health insurance is a rather complicated one, especially these days.
Me?! Life has continued on and I must work! Every day - before the sun comes up - I get out of bed (or the couch) searching for new opportunities. But in all honesty, by the end of each day, the responsibilities increase to an overwhelming reality. At 2 am, as I write this message, I pray to God to lead us, guide us, direct us, and protect us, as he shows us the way! To give me the strength and clarity I need to physically care and financially provide for my parents.
The last 7 weeks have been a total adjustment for my parents and I. I love having them back in my life! However, the timing and the reality of it all has made it hard to fully enjoy this transition in our lives.
As I reflect on all that is happening, I feel that God/Life has given me one of the greatest honors; the opportunity to giving back to my parents. Which has triggered an ever-growing sense of responsibilities beyond my perceived limitations.
We now have opportunity to start our lives here in Santa Barbara. As I imagine a better future for all of us, I pray hard. I promise to God to continue to work as smart and hard as my body and mind allow me to. I don't know what the future holds. I just know that this is just the beginning of a new and long journey. Most days, I feel totally overwhelmed, out of resources and at my wit's end. However, in the mist of my new set of responsibilities, I arrived to the realization that asking for help is the responsible thing to do.
With a humbling heart, full of pure intentions, on behalf of my parents, I made the decision of asking for help. With the intention to help cover their living and medical expenses, I set up a GoFundMe profile for them. It wasn't an easy decision. Trust me; I struggled! But I realized that maybe the people who know me and my parents may want to help. That maybe, I'm not alone in this. That maybe by letting my friends help with as little or as much as they can, this situation will be a bit less stressful for all of us.
My parents' immediate and future needs/expenses range from, finding a small place they can call home, help covering their recent emergency medical bills, getting them on a meal plan for seniors and help cover some other living expenses.
Right now it's just me and my freelance income that supports the three of us. We don't have any extended family to ask for help, nor do we have any personal assets that could be liquidated to help cover the immediate expenses and mounting bills. They have no medical insurance. Their pension back home CAN NOT be exchanged into dollars. They do have their US Permanent Resident status, since I claimed them back in 2006 after I became a US Citizen. So they hold a legal status!
As I white knuckle through it all (pray, meditate and work HARD) and on behalf of our family, I would like to GRACIAS!
Without your help, encouragement and prayers I know this would be even more difficult.
Thank You and Many Blessings!
Andreina, Fermin and Cecilia
Please also let us know of any private, local, county or federal resource we could use to help resolve or alleviate our immediate needs.