I did not want my mother, Lena Lindsey Stern to spend the holidays alone. So on December 17, 2018 I flew to Los Angeles to be with her. I live in Italy. On December 23rd she came into my room, sat on the bed, and said, "I need to speak with you." She cut to the chase, as she is known to do. With two words, she said, "I'm Broke."
She said it with all the difficulty you can imagine. My mother is proud and fiercely independent, never wanting to be a burden to anyone. But like many who live to be 91, she had outlived her savings and needed help beyond what we'd been providing to supplement her modest social security income.
I was saddened to see her in this situation but I was also proud of her honesty. The women in my family have lived well into their 90s and my mother, God willing, will do the same. I assured her that the family would take care of her. Returning to Italy on December 26th, I had a lot to figure out.
Then came another wake up call when we video-chatted on January 1, 2019. She was sick with an infection and I could see that she had lost control of her motor functions -- shaking so hard she could not stay in the video screen. Her words were slurred from extreme facial distortions and she was not thinking clearly. Something was terribly wrong and it scared me to my bones. Working from far away was difficult and scary but with help I got her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with sepsis. Over the next ten days, she was in and out of the hospital. Antibiotics and other therapies literally saved her life. Thankfully she is on the mend. To all those who helped us through this, I thank you dearly. But as I said, this was a BIG family wake up call. My mother now needs in-home care and her expenses have multiplied even more.
It is not easy to take this step -- to ask for help. Mom passed on her proud and independent spirit. But our family is small and modest. I've been trying to make sense out of the numbers, but we just can't give her the care she now needs by ourselves.
I've come to realize I need to reach out to the huge and loving extended family mom has created, giving to others her whole life. I know she is not just Mama Lena to our small family. She's Mama Lena to multiple generations of therapeutic community graduates and to many more through her heart's desire, and life long need, to take care of others. Now we're giving this whole family an opportunity to participate in her life at this time.
I explained to mom what I was planning to do and why I thought it was the right and necessary thing. She said with tears in her eyes, "That would be nice.” Love Her.
These funds will go exclusively to covering Mama Lena's expenses for the next 3 years -- solely dedicated to living expenses, medical costs, and in-home care. I know there are so many ways to give. A phone call, a visit, a card. We appreciate every drop of your love and kindness. The one thing we do ask is if you would be so kind as to share our Go Fund Me campaign on your Facebook page, other social media outlets, or via emails or any other way, so others can know and have the opportunity to participate in her life today. For those who wish to be involved in other ways, please reach out to us. It takes a Village...
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts...
p.s. Regarding the bottom line, all funds will be in a dedicated account administered by me. Nora Lago is my stateside partner for campaign funds. For those wishing to contribute offline, we welcome checks made payable to: Lena Lindsay Stern and mailed to: Mama Lena GFM c/o Nora Lago Box #410 1126 S. Federal Hwy. Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316