In all the chaos and hurry of trying to get everything cleaned up on my desk and in my inbox, I was stopped in my tracks a couple of days ago. I was reminded of why I do the “work” I do.
I received a call from a Jane Doe, woman on Pine Ridge Reservation. Okay, that’s nothing new for me. I talk to a lot of folks there. Jane is a woman I have actually visited and with whom I have spoken quite a few times. She is a pleasant, soft-spoken woman who is a wheelchair bound paraplegic, the result of being rearended in an auto accident by a drunk driver.
You would think Jane would be worried about herself and the fact that she lives in a small, non-ADA compliant apartment. But several months ago, she told me the story of her two nieces.
Both her nieces are adults. Both of them are mentally handicapped. The two women had lived with and been cared for by their parents until the parents passed away. At that time, one of their adult siblings was given guardianship over the two women. The guardian decided to put the two women into a home of some sort, many miles away from the reservation and from all that was familiar to them. No one from their immediate family visited them and, in fact, the guardian moved away to the East Coast and left them alone.
Jane Doe was the only one who visited her nieces, in spite of the fact that her car was constantly breaking down. The women cried when she left and called her crying when she was at home because they were so lonely.
Jane, though disabled herself, was so concerned about her nieces that she went to the tribal court and sought guardianship of the two women. They have been allowed to come to visit her — sleeping on the floor of her living room on top of sleeping bags and quilts.
Jane recently received guardianship! However, they cannot come to stay with her permanently until she has a place for them to sleep that is not the floor.
The living room is the only place in the apartment that they can stay. Truly, Jane and her nieces need a proper place to live — one where a wheelchair will fit through the doorways. But that is not likely to occur any time soon.
Jane would like to have her nieces home by the holidays, she told me when she called to ask if I could help her find a pull-out sofa bed or bunk beds for her nieces. It’s so hard to say no to someone as generous and kind-hearted as Jane. But it isn’t what we usually do, since a sofa bed, the best option, can be quite expensive. I, personally, would hate to ask 38 and 40 year old women to be climbing into bunk beds, however.
We have actually located a sofa bed for $1000 that can be delivered to their home. I’m not sure if that included tax — probably not, right? But we don’t have a spare $1000 at this time.
I’m hoping that there will be a donor (or donors) who thinks that these 2 mentally handicapped women deserve to live with their aunt, who is so loving and giving in spite of her own needs.
If you know anyone who would like to help, direct them to ONE Spirit at http://nativeprogress.org to make the donation.
I, personally, am going to keep Jane Doe in my mind as I prepare for the holidays of giving thanks and giving gifts. She is willing to give of what little she has out of love for her family. She is a true inspiration to me!