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Parenting & Family > Good News - It's About Time

Good News - It's About Time

I couldn't decide on a subject line for this post, so I chose two: "Good News!" And "It's About Time!"

As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my main objectives when I moved back to Ontario was to help my mom get on disability. For years, whenever I pressured her to apply, mom insisted that she had asked in the past and that her doctor wouldn't sign the papers for her. So, while I was home, I made a point of going with her to see her doctor, so I could ask him myself.

A side note: My parents have to travel almost two hours to see their family doctor. The unfortunate reality of small towns - all the local doctors are either seriously over-booked or nearing retirement... which eventually leads to further over-booking of the younger ones who have to absorb the load. My parents' former doctor had over 2,000 patients in a community of roughly 14,000. His attentiveness seriously suffered as a result. If you want decent care, you have to go to larger city centers. Janet K travels to see the same doctor as my folks, and she absolutely praises him. (I'm sure there's a blog or two in her archive about him.) He sounds like a reasonable man, so I was hoping he'd have a reasonable explanation for why he wouldn't help mom apply for disability.

I joined mom in the examination room and wasted little time in politely, but passionately, asking him why he wouldn't sign her papers. I expressed my parents' dire need for additional income, and how it's very obvious that mom can't work given her condition. Thank goodness I didn't start our conversation on a confrontational note, because I would've been left eating crow -- I quickly discovered that mom had been lying to me all these years by saying he wouldn't sign. The truth was she DIDN'T ASK HIM AT ALL! Ugh! What the hell, mom?!

Happily, her doctor was more than willing to sign the papers. In fact, he was very supportive and encouraged her to fight for it, and appeal if she is denied, as the government will often do everything in their power to ensure applicants don't get approved on the first go-round.

A couple days later, I asked dad to join me for a walk, and we went to see his case worker, where we picked up the papers for mom. I wrote mom's application essay for her explaining in great detail why she needed disability, exposing truths I know she'd never write herself. It's odd because while mom will enthusiastically give you the play-by-play of all her ailments over the phone, she'll hold back from talking to her doctor or telling people who can actually help her. I don't know if this is because she's intimidated by authority figures, or if she's afraid of what she'll hear, or if she simply enjoys feeling like a victim so she can lament to everyone n' their dog about how no one knows what's wrong with her, etc. She's a complicated woman, to say the least.

ANYWAY, after I headed to Toronto, all that was left for mom to do was to bring the papers to her next appointment so her doc could sign them, and then mail them off. Because I wasn't there and didn't physically mail the forms myself, I couldn't confirm for certain that she actually did this. All I knew is that their case worker estimated it would take between 3 or 4 months before she'd know if she was approved or denied. So I just kept my mouth shut n' waited...

At the four month mark, I started prompting mom to call in to see what the status was, but she never did. "They won't tell me," she'd insist. "I just have to wait."

By May, over five months had passed since mom had supposedly sent in her application. Last week, I decided to call her bluff. Either I was going to find out for her, or she was going to finally confess that she never actually mailed it off... OR, what I suspected would actually happen, is that I'd call them, they'd say they never received it, and then mom would lie and say that it must've got lost in the mail. Anyway, I asked mom to give me the number of the disability office, her application reference number, and the date she applied, thinking that might trip her up and coax a confession out of her if she was lying. To my surprise, mom quickly gave me all three.

I waited through the weekend, and was planning on calling this afternoon since I got off work early. But before I could, I got a very timely call from mom. Something came in the mail today - her approval. She said she read the letter three times, then called their case worker to confirm if it was true. I had her read the letter to me over the phone. Amazingly, she was actually approved the very first time.

Hearing the news was such a huge sigh of relief, I didn't realize I had been holding my breath for so long. I cannot imagine how mom n' dad must feel to have a few extra hundred dollars every month! Mom is so excited to buy groceries, which is both wonderful and sad.

During my time in Pemmytown, I explored my folks' financial situation. Dad explained how they buy about $100 worth of groceries at the end of every month when his disability cheque comes in. It shocked me that they hadn't done the math before. Likewise, my breakdown of their grocery allotment completely shocked them. $100 a month is only $25 a week, which is just over $3.00 a day, $1.00 a meal or .50 cents a meal each. Mom n' dad also have three dogs and two cats that somehow factor into that equation of grocery money. How can they even survive on that?! Dad rationalized that during months where they get their GST cheque, they'll buy groceries twice. And of course, my sister would often have them in for meals, ensuring that they didn't go hungry. But no matter how you split it, they haven't been eating well for a very long time.

With my sister now gone, and J n' I trying to get back on our feet, I don't know how they've gotten by these last few months on their own? I guess it's been through the kindness of their community. I know people will give them food and clothes from time to time. Sometimes it's obvious, as neighbours stop by with bags of groceries. Other times items are left anonymously on their back step.

Again, moving back home has been a total reality check, as most of this was kept from me until I made it my business to know. Having grown up poor, I remember that groceries were often delivered to us by my sweet saviour grandfather. Even after he stopped driving and had been moved to the old age home, I think he probably continued to give my parents money on a regular basis. He passed away shortly after I moved out west, and I never really considered just how much my sister had to pick up the slack in his absence these last 9 years, giving them money and buying them food, despite their sometimes incredibly harsh treatment towards her. No wonder she took a nervous breakdown! And the poor girl is not emotionally stable at the very best of her medicated times.

Anyway, it's nice to hear mom's excitement. I think now is the time that I get on the ball and help them create a working budget for this new-found money, before mom starts spending it foolishly. It would be great if they could start putting a little away every month. I know you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but I'm gonna try....

**Sigh. As I was editing this "good news" article, J n' I just got hit with some pretty awful news. His mom was diagnosed today with a really aggressive form of cancer. I had been waiting to share the good news of her post-surgery diagnosis, but I guess that won't be happening. J's working late tonight, so I'm still waiting for him to get home so we can discuss it further and hopefully try n' process it a bit. He is gonna take the day off work tomorrow, which is somewhat bittersweet (obviously far more bitter than sweet) as it's my birthday, so at least I'll have the day off to spend with him. Man... what an emotional roller-coaster life is!

posted on May 13, 2013 4:59 PM ()


Geez. GEEZ. You have a LOT on your plate. Sorry about your mother in law - and I hope things work out for your parents...
comment by kristilyn3 on May 24, 2013 9:51 AM ()
Thank you. We're just taking one day at a time.
reply by mellowdee on May 27, 2013 7:23 PM ()
First,nice to hear from you,it has been awhile.This is very sad to hear and typical as someone says there that many people are so afraid to ask for help.
I cannot believe how they lived on the groceries of 25 dollars a week.I spend that or more just on gas along to keep the car going.Your mum should be so happy to have you help there and it is a good thing that you moved close by.Sorry,to hear about the Big C.I do hope that things will quiet down some and so glad to hear from you.Take care and do not neglect your health and life.
comment by fredo on May 14, 2013 2:14 PM ()
I know! My parents couldn't afford their car without my sister paying for their insurance and gas. She eventually stopped paying a few years ago, after the vehicle was in need of maintenance and they couldn't afford it. Thank you for your kind words. We're just taking a day at a time until we know if the cancer can be treated with chemo. In the meantime, we have all the more reason to ensure that we keep ourselves healthy to *hopefully* avoid these sorts of things later in later life.
reply by mellowdee on May 27, 2013 7:27 PM ()
You do have a lot on your plate. We are going through the cancer thing
with my son, my adored child. Try to keep busy and optimistic. Thankfully
your Mom won't need help with groceries any more.
comment by elderjane on May 14, 2013 9:16 AM ()
I can't imagine how hard it would be to see your own child suffer. It's hard enough when it's a parent or grandparent struggling. Sending you many warm blessings during this difficult time as well.
reply by mellowdee on May 27, 2013 7:28 PM ()
Sometimes people are too proud to ask for help -- that may have been one factor in your mom's procrastination. You have been through a wringer and have accomplished a great deal. What happened to your sister?
comment by tealstar on May 14, 2013 7:28 AM ()
It's possible. With my mom, what seems like pride, is usually rooted in rebellion or stubbornness. She's never too proud to ask for handouts. And yet, her own health gets tossed aside in spite of others' suggesting she speak to her doctor. She seems him often enough, but she keeps so much to herself. Sigh. As for my sister, her husband was posted to another city 3 hours away. So technically, she's still living closer to my folks than I am (5 hours), but I'm more mentally stable and able to get things done, it seems. They became incredibly co-dependent on each other when she lived in town, which wasn't healthy for any of them.
reply by mellowdee on May 27, 2013 7:33 PM ()
I'm so sorry about your mother-in-law's diagnosis, and happy that things will be better for your folks. It's hard when to know what is going on with family when we live across the country from them, and occasional visits don't always reveal the details, so it's good you moved home.
comment by troutbend on May 13, 2013 9:48 PM ()
It's hard to know what's going on even when you're in the same room, let alone when you're living in a different province across the country and only talk on the phone once every month or two.
reply by mellowdee on May 27, 2013 7:36 PM ()
Whew! You have so much on your plate.
comment by jondude on May 13, 2013 6:08 PM ()
I'm reminded of a saying J's grandma has...
"How do you eat an elephant?"
"One bite at a time."
We'll get there....
reply by mellowdee on May 27, 2013 7:37 PM ()

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