Just when you think you know where life is taking you, it can suddenly take an unexpected turn. Enter my brother; exactly a year and six days younger than me. He is a mason/block layer by trade. Forty two years of climbing ladders and scaffolding, carrying bricks and cement blocks and his hips are simply shot. He can barely walk, and when he does, he must depend on a walker. One unsuccessful surgery to date has landed him in dire straits. In other words, no work equals no income. After forty two years of making a living building, creating, repairing and restoring homes, businesses, old buildings, and the like, he has hit a wall. It appears that this wall is even tougher to break through than any brick wall he ever built. The wall has a name: Disability. What a nightmare! The hoops that one has to jump through and the time frame for having one’s name go into the system, is in my opinion unacceptable. Six months just to get a name into the system, then scheduling of hearings and continued paperwork. I am being told it could be all but a year until assistance is available. This is a pretty hard pill to swallow for someone who started working at the age of fifteen and by twenty had settled into his work as a mason, his livelihood for forty two years.
Why am I writing about a topic such as this today when I usually write silly little blogs about my puppy Jellybean you ask? Actually, this blog has everything to do with Jellybean. You see, about two months ago my brother called and asked if he could come and stay for a while. With no income, a depleted bank account and hips that were failing him, it was all but impossible for him to continue to live independently. Not to mention that his rental was on the second floor. Watching him labor up and down the steps to his apartment brought tears to my eyes every time I saw him struggle through it. Although I never planned on a roommate, other than my four-legged one, how can you say no to someone so totally in need?
Now enter Jellybean, my furry, little love bug. She has been so happy to have him here. Who ever thought she would be providing her therapy services right here in my home? She scampers down the steps in the morning and heads down the hall to the guest bedroom to give him his good morning kisses. I can hear him greet her with “Hi baby!” “How’s my little girl?” “I was waiting for you!” She eats it up all day long. She comes running when she hears, “Where’s my little Jellybean?” She jumps up on the couch and covers him with her sloppy kisses. When I have to leave for the morning or afternoon, she is right by his side. They snuggle while watching television. She checks in on him throughout the day. They have become quite the little duo. My sister and mother have been helping as well. On the days he is at either of their houses, he apparently is always asking about her. “What do you think Jellybean is doing? I wonder if she spent much time looking out the window. Do you think she went out and played in the snow? I’ll bet she is begging for a treat right about now.” Upon his return to our house, I don’t know which one of them is more excited to see the other. I pray that the system does not fail my brother in the end, he deserves way better. But, I am happy that as a family, we are able to help him in his time of need and that Jellybean so readily acknowledges his need for love and companionship. Watch out brother, here she comes! Get ready for some of Jellybean’s unabashed love – in the form of sloppy kisses of course!
Beverly Stiffler Smith