In the latter part of 1988 through the year 1990 the entirety of my world burned to ashes. I do not make that statement lightly. However it is only with the goggles of hindsight could I see how that total meltdown freed me so that like a Phoenix I could arise from the ashes I had been buried beneath.

In October of 1988 my family was told that my father was suffering with terminal colon cancer, he had maybe 6 months left. In such a short time he became weak and bed ridden as if the confirmed diagnosis took the wind out his sails and the vigor he had been living with deserted him upon that pronouncement. My mother cared for him at home and I began to help her when I could. Thankfully my youngest brother was living there at the time and bore the brunt of the physical work it takes to manage a dying person’s needs. That pronouncement began months of trials for all of us, but most notably my father who had to come to terms with leaving my mother alone with no income.

In November of 1988 my marriage of 10 years came to a crashing halt when my former husband, who was an alcoholic, decided to hold a knife to my throat in order to get the keys to my new car. I knew when he left that the car would not arrive back in one piece. True to my premonition he wrecked it that night before the second car payment could be made. Fortunately he suffered no lasting damage though the car was a total loss. However, even my in-laws saw I had no choice but to cut my losses and get the heck out of Dodge and so I filed for divorce the very next day. My in-laws had to pay for this divorce since I did not have funds large enough to cover it since I had been helping Mom with medical costs for my father. They were indeed very fair and wonderful people. My children, who had witnessed the knife incident, felt their entire world shifting between the impending loss of Grandpa and now the loss of Daddy in the marital home.

In January of 1989 the entire staff at my hair salon decided to desert ship due to differences of opinion with my then business partner. In one weekend I saw the future of my children and I as being that of standing in welfare lines to get food stamps and I thought about suicide…but thankfully I did have children and could not leave them. During the fall out of this mutiny it was discovered that my partner’s husband, who ran the books for the salon, had not been paying payroll income tax. In May of that year, enter the IRS with demands, liens, and one nasty attitude. It really is that you are guilty in their eyes even if you never had control of the checkbook, never made payroll, wasn’t even an active partner in the financial end of things. My partner and her husband left town, began to work under the table and so the one left holding the wage garnishment bag for three years was the now single mother of two with a dying father and no solid means of support.

In the midst of these troubles with the IRS and trying to salvage the salon my father died in the midst of a horrible ice storm. I could not get to my mother to comfort her nor could the funeral home get to my father’s body to remove it from the living room. For two days everything was frozen, both figuratively and literally. Thankfully we still had telephone communication so I could be in touch with Mom and help her as best I could to deal with the situation. I personally thought I had reached the end of what I could endure but… how wrong I was!
In the months after Dad’s funeral Mom began to do weird things. I was helping her assess her funds, her bills and what we could do to keep her afloat. I would find grocery bags full of unopened mail or the opened bills in the microwave. I would see her looking blank and hear her substituting incorrect words for everyday items. I thought perhaps it was a combination of grief and possibly some post-traumatic stress disorder from having to care for and losing my father. However it reached the point where I could not ignore the reality and so began to get medical help for her. In the early part of 1990 she was diagnosed, at age 57, with Alzheimer’s disease. I was told she was classically symptomatic and it would be but a few years before she might require full-time care. In hindsight I think that news was truly the worse blow of them all. To lose a parent to death is expected…to lose a parent to a dysfunctional brain but with a healthy body is not something I had counted on. She was only 57, for God sakes!

I remember standing in my living room one night and looking heavenward. I said “God, if I am being punished for something won’t you make it clear to me what it is so I can make amends? If I am being tested, please up the level of strength you are giving me so I can make it?!?!” I had never felt so alone, lost or overwhelmed as I did then realizing that my entire world was crashing down around me. I thanked God for allowing the most important part of my life, my children, to get by unscathed and for being healthy and fairly well adjusted despite the circumstances surrounding us. However, I have to say that I had the “waiting for the other shoe to drop” feeling and fear was rife within me that something would happen to one of my girls. I had to fight becoming an overly protective mother who kept my children in a bubble but I realized that to salvage them that their lives must go on as unrestricted as I could make it given the burdens I was carrying. Thankfully I am now the proud mother of grown women who are truly doing well in the world.

So, in these times when my role as wife, daughter, business owner, and mother were being tested so extensively, what did I find? I found that I am one strong woman. I found that I could remain centered in the midst of a raging storm and even create laughter in the hearts of precious children. I found that when you think you have it rough all you have to do is look around you…there will be someone who will give you a far batter perspective about your own life. That person came to me in the form of woman, a client who walked in one day to the salon and told me her tale of caring for her husband who was paraplegic from a stroke and as well caring for a son who was quadriplegic from a motorcycle crash. My woes seemed so minute compared to this brave woman that I found a new strength that imbued me, even though I never saw the woman again.

I also found that ethics matters, no matter what circumstances you are under. Going back to my query of God about whether I was being punished or tested, I found the answer out soon enough. During the height of the crisis over the salon I was to receive a call from a client at the salon…someone who was actually more of a client of my partner than of myself. She knew about the crisis, thanks to my partner who could not hold a secret if her life depended on it, and called to offer me a large sum of money (about 4 years worth of income large) to open and be the figurehead owner of a salon that she and her husband wanted to open. They would be silent partners and no one was to know they actually owned it. Sounds good, right? However after that call I began to think. When we spoke again I asked where the money came from. Why the secrecy to their ownership? I did not get real satisfying answers to those questions. I asked her if what she proposed wasn’t doing to my partners (though truthfully I had no respect for them by now, mind you) what the girls who had left had done to us all? Her answer was that if I didn’t I would go down with the ship and her offer was only good for that week. You know, and I swear this is truth, as she spoke I heard these words in my head, “Go away Satan, tempt me not” and “By their fruits shall ye know them.” I firmly believe that God was tipping me off that this was a test…would I desert my ethics for money and would I do unto others as someone else had done unto me? It was a highly pivotal moment to walk away from money that would save me from the yoke of my partner and everything that was yet to come from the IRS but I can truthfully say I never regretted being the one who had not crapped on someone else to save my own skin. It also allowed me to know to open the channels in my head to that small inner voice of Spirit.

In effect losing both parents, one to death and another to the insidious disease of Alzheimer’s, does cast one into the role of orphan… but with a twist: I was an orphan who had to oversee the care of a woman who was becoming more and more childlike. I had to be the grown up and had to remember that the woman who had taught me to tie my shoes now needed the same patience from me. However as her journey into the land of forgetfulness and loss of skills both physical and verbal continued on I found that living in the now moment had advantages for her. Her brow no longer furrowed in worry, her face became smoother as her cares slipped away with her memory. I saw the delight that a child could have in something simple cross her face in a way I had never seen when she was Mommy. I learned the power of compassion and the need for love even if you can’t exactly remember whom it is that is offering that loving gesture to you. I learned that the spirit of a person does not need to be bound by the parameters of a fleshly body to shine through loud and clear.

The trials and tribulations that my family had to endure, while not something anyone would choose, has left me knowing that life marches forward and the only way to stand strong in the face of adversity is to know that there is Higher Help to be had. I know that had these things not taken the toll that they did on my life and those around me that I would have remained as I was, not recognizing my own strength, compassion, intelligence, and gumption to be the one who survived it all. From each of these fires that raged around me I can now see myself as the Phoenix that arose from the ashes with great beauty of soul, more strength than I had thought I possessed, and an eagerness to live life more fully never knowing when it may end. But most of all I have learned that everyone has times of trials and it is really up to each of us whether we emerge with grace or allow it to consume us, never flying high again to greet the next challenge.

Author's Bio: 

Rose is a clairaudient channel for the realm of Spirit. She has been mastering this gift for 20 years.
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