i've thought long and hard about whether or not to write this diary. it is personal to me. very personal.
some on this site object strenuously when kossacks who are facing real trouble have fundraisers done to help them. i've contributed to those in need and have been in need, myself, so i have a rather unique perspective to offer.
first, let me state up front that i do not understand those who want to prohibit others from extending a helping hand to those in need. i really don't understand what it "costs" someone who disapproves (and, yes, it is a judgement being made) of those who offer to help.
this diary is an attempt to understand why coming to the aid of another person is so upsetting to some on the site - upsetting to the point that those who object would rather see someone suffer rather than have another lend a helping hand.
i'm open to learning why those feelings exist - and i'm here to state that the community of users here who come to the aid of those in need are one of the reasons i'm here - whether it is a political candidate, someone who needs words of encouragement and support during illness, loss, pain - or financially.
if you will, please hear me out across the orange divide.
i've been here a long time - since nov. of 2004. i've seen many people come and stay and some come and go - not necessarily by their own choosing.
for the most part, i find this to be an amazing community that never ceases to astound me - even during our differences.
but the issue of community fundraisers truly puzzles me.
no one is asked to "give" or to "donate" by demand. the diaries are posted clearly to aid another kossack. no one says that any person has to read those diaries. indeed, they are there for those who want to help to have a means to do so.
some help with words of encouragement - saying that things WILL get better, that they are there emotionally for the one in trouble, and some - they CHOOSE to offer financial aid.
no one forces any member to do that.
i read the arguments that this site is just for politics - but that hasn't been so for many years - we are a community that meets both online and in real space. we get to know one another and know when someone is facing a difficult time.
i've donated time and funds when i had them to ease the trouble someone faced and in january of 2012, when i was possibly at the lowest point of my life, ths community was there to help me.
this was when my unemployment was about to expire - leaving me with an income of less than $1000 a month to live on. it shouldn't have been a problem. my mom had died a year earlier with just my sister and i as the two who inherited everything - a fully paid for home (with a buyer already inquiring if we were planning to sell - the answer was yes), a home filled with 50 years of antiques, mahogany furniture, china, sterling flatware, decades of antique collecting - all to be left between the two of us. mom also owned half a beach property worth between $200k-$300k, but my sister wrote a will giving that entirely to herself.
still, my mom refused to sign that will, stating my sister wanted "everything" - i had no idea how true those words would turn out to be.
you see, in january, 2012, when people came to offer me help in staying in my little rental cottage with my mr. tee, i had no way of knowing that my sister had submitted an invalid will, closed probate months earlier - all the while lying to me about what was happening with mom's estate. i trusted her. she was my only sister - my BIG sister.
i was a fool.
at that time i was getting increasingly depressed and desperate, i kept begging her to send me the inventory of what was in the house so we could decide what we each wanted - and clear the house to sell it. while i was home the previous feb/march, i had loaned her every last penny i had, she promised to immediately pay it back when she got her pension check. she had wailed she couldn't pay her mortgage - yes, she owns her own home. her second mortgage was so she could take european trips to compete in ballroom dancing - she is very good at it.
i loaned her the money for a new printer, bought her a new laptop, bought her a number of electronics because she "couldn't afford her phone bill!" and i paid for every meal we ate in all restaurants the entire time we were there. i returned home with nothing. absolutely not a penny, but the house and furniture were to be sold, the silver, the antiques - so, i wasn't worried. that is, i wasn't worried until i couldn't get a straight answer out of her about what was happening. oh, and my sister makes over $65k a year in pension and social security BEFORE working her part time job. yet, she took every last penny i had and knew that was all i had at the time.
in january, i was beginning to realize that i was in real trouble. by march, i had a troubling conversation with her about the estate when i asked if she had inventoried our home yet and she snarled that she didn't have to give me anything! uh oh.
i called the state and asked where the estate probate was standing and, to my horror, i was told it had been "closed" in sept of 2011 - almost 9 months earlier.
now, add the overwhelming feeling of betrayal to the loss of my mom. now i'd lost my sister, too.
i asked for copies of the estate probate to be mailed to me and then, tee died. she called and i asked her again about the estate - i told her i wanted mom's relax the back chair (my sister has one just like it) and her mixer - mom baked and so do i - i wanted things that had her "touch" to them. she literally snarled and said "that's not going to happen!" when i asked again for an inventory (as required by law), she replied "i don't owe you anything!"
when i got the paperwork, i learned that she had listed my mom's worth as $500 personal property and the estate value under $20,000 so she wouldn't have to provide a list or "pay any taxes".
this is just the tip of the iceberg of illegal activities ongoing regarding the estate. and, to my utter amazement, i was told that since probate was closed, they wouldn't do anything - i needed to get an attorney and fight her in court.
on $967 a month.
fortunately, there IS a divining hand for injustice and i HAVE a good lawyer who is preparing the caveat and readying it for filing imminently.
so, back to the issue of fundraisers...
when all this happened, i was unaware of what a really ugly year was about to transpire. i knew that i was having financial issues due to unemployment running out but the estate should have been settled before that (actually, it was). the generosity of kossacks kept a roof over my head at this was unfolding. i still had no idea what lay ahead. none of us do.
my point for making this personal is to put a face on how quickly our settled lives can be uprooted in disaster.
in april, when mr tee died, for the first time since mom died, i cried. i cried for over a month - for tee, for mom, for the loss of my only sibling. loss? you say? over money?
not exactly. you see, when i went home for the funeral, i tried to build a relationship with her (as i've done for 67 years) only to have her turn on me at every attempt. at one point, i told her i'd spent my entire life wondering what i'd done to make her hate me so - she laughed and said, "oh, it wasn't just you, i hated EVERYBODY!"
then when i told her my first memory of her was of her pinching me in my playpen, she laughed again and said, "oh, i used to hold your nose closed in the crib, but, back then, i didn't know you had to cover the mouth, too!"
and she laughed. at 72, she still laughed.
okay - dysfunctional family - yes. i know that intellectually... but, it is soul crushing to be face to face with the reality of it a few weeks after your parent dies - and the only other living close relative just states flatly how she tried to kill you as an infant while regretting her lack of complete knowledge back then.
now - back to NOW... and fundraising.
why am i telling this now? because i've alluded to a deeper story now for two years and it's time to put a face on need and how it comes unexpectedly and how it blindsides the person it affects.
i was so depressed at the time of the diary, i truly felt no one on this site knew i really existed or cared about my posts. i felt like an anonymous user who no one would notice was gone if i left. i felt worthless and unloved and desperate. i expected nothing but perhaps a bit of disbelief or accusatory comments about how i couldn't manage my income and was irresponsible and more (not unlike the last cruel comment recently that perhaps i should buy a bearclaw for the horse i couldn't afford to keep).
i have an aged horse - one who will problably only be here another few years - if i'm lucky, five. he is 26 and has a myriad of issues that have presented themselves in the last year. actually, i'm damned lucky to STILL have him as he foundered in october of last year - and most horses with as severe a founder as he had DON'T make it out alive. and so some might snarl and ask how i could afford to keep him? to pay for his medical bills?
it is because my wonderful vet has not billed me for one cent yet - he knows that the house is there and will eventually be sold. my farrier carries a balance for me and every third or forth shoeing, i pay him what i can. my barn has carried a balance for me since mom's death and has been taking partial payments when i can make them - and from october when sani developed laminitis to dec when i had my surgery to just recently when i was first able to use my hands again to make jewelry, they have taken partial payments.
i also have to buy sani's low carb hay and feed separately as well as his meds that he takes daily. the hay i can do - the meds, between my vet not yet billing me (since last year) and a friend who swaps wine for the meds (my friend who imports trades wines for doggie sitting and training - and because she and her husband are awesome people) for the wonderful hungarian wines i use to pay for the meds), i'm keeping my nose and sani's just above the waterline.
in 2012 i lost tee. both of these beautiful creatures are my emotional support - they are my anchors... with tee gone and sani so ill, life would be unbearable - life would be unbearable if i didn't see an end to the financial ruin my sister has put upon me - without my wonderful lawyer who, like i do, still believes in our colleges "honor codes", i would be in serious jeopardy.
yes, i've met wonderful people from this site - remembrance, glen the plumber and TLO, AoT and more - people who awesome - the ones at nn13 that i've longed to meet - kitsap river and charles curtis stanley, kestrel, citisven, side pocket, edgery (the OTHER edrie) and smileycreek, perigrine kate, navajo, mb, horace, sara and her sis and so many many more special special people (apologies to those whose names i've omitted). so many i've yet to meet, ekaterin, avilyn, avila, aji, wings, luvsathorogred, lujane, silentpawz, zwoof, possum, nurse kelley, commonmass, timeaus, and so so many more.
i've met so many online who have offered love and support and caring that i have come to realize i'm not alone and i'm not unloveable. this site has done that for me. this site is FAMILY - the kind i've always dreamed of having.
i have treasured friends IRL who are there for support but i can't and won't ask them to pay the bills i can't because of my sister's doing. instead, i make jewelry. i fill it with love. i create beauty. i get snide comments for having my etsy shop in my sig line (after people asked me to put it there).
i don't understand.
why do some feel "harmed" when someone is in trouble? why do some object so strenuously to something that has nothing to do with them. they are under no obligation to help or offer support or caring. why do some object to the quilts - those beautiful messages of love that wrap the recipient in warmth and caring. is it the "there but for the grace of god..." syndrome? who is harmed by caring for another?
NO one is asked to do anything that they don't WISH to do. NO person is "harmed" when another person helps someone.
yes, there are a few who scam - but, my own view is that i give willingly and if that gift is for someone who is misrepresenting their situation, it is STILL my choice to err on the side of helping. i don't need anyone to protect me from my own choice to give when i have the funds. i also don't like being judged for something that is beyond my control - as the current financial situation that has occurred since mom died and my unemployment ended. also, MY current situation was exacerbated by a failed hand surgery that made my left hand inoperable until recently (negligent physical therapist, not the doctor).
i had it all worked out about getting my store restocked and paying my own way until the estate was settled. instead of being independent (as i have for the majority of my life), i found i was unable to supplement my income despite having major surgery to ensure i could still use my arthritic hands.
this condemnation of "fundraisers" casts dispersion on those who are in trouble, desperate, in need and in a period of extreme darkness and depression. it makes others who are desperate NOT ask for help when there are those who are willing to do so - and are financially capable to do so. anyone who is hurting hurts more when their situation is dismissed or challenged as not being real. the pain is real. it is palpable. the chest tightens and breathing is difficult and the head hurts - and the depression gets deeper and darker.
why? WHAT do the detractors lose by these fundraisers? i know one answer - they lose the spirit that brings a community together INTO a community - they lose the compassion and empathy that makes us grow as individuals and as a group. why? so it breaks the comfortable world of fantasy that everyone is okay or can "make it on their own" or is "scamming" instead of hurting real pain - don't read the diaries. don't go there. don't post. change the friggin' channel!
what do they gain? as far as i can see, absolutely nothing but a place where they don't have to confront and acknowledge the ugly reality that more and more americans face - the one of poverty, grief, loss and pain.
the food stamps issue the other day is classic. why would ANY person judge what another person eats - it is the classic argument about welfare that people should only have just barely enough to subsist, otherwise they are "stealing" (somehow) from the person watching.
the actual theft is done by the individual who steals a part of the other person's dignity - one critical comment at a time.
the bottom line to this diary is that i am asking markos NOT to prohibit those of us who either want to or need help provided the community wants to help. i know this isn't a place to do monthly commerce, but it IS a place where we come together to help each of us survive this economic disaster many of us are facing. those of us who are in it cannot begin to describe to those who've not experienced it - the humiliation that comes with having to ask for help. that shouldn't be so. we are taught that only the incompetent fail. that isn't true. illness happens. death happens. accidents happen. fraud happens. these things aren't planned - they HAPPEN. and when they do, it is devastating to the one experiencing it.
to then be chastised, judged, criticized, labeled only adds to that pain. it is sadistic.
i know. i've been there recently here - in a totally different conversation. "why don't you buy a bearclaw for the horse you can't afford!"
i asked that poster if he thought i should just sell that "horse i can't afford" to the slaughterhouse and use the money to buy food. he didn't answer me.
when i made a commitment to "that horse", it was 24 years ago. when the estate is settled, i can fulfill that commitment i made. if i had to put sani down because of finances, i would go with him for breaking that promise through nothing i have done to cause it. killing him because i face a temporary problem is immoral. what has happened in our society that people make such harsh comments?
that is the depth of depression and sorrow and anger and hurt i live with daily. that is why i live with an 88 yr old lady instead of being independent. (at least, i can be helpful to her until i can find my soul and independence again). but the loss of my freedom to go and come as i please, the loss of my own dignity - that is why i hate my life. that is why i am hanging on by my fingernails until there is a resolution to the legal issues at hand. that is why i needed help - help i did not ask for - a friend did - and for that i'm grateful - it got me a little more time to make more stuff to sell (you see, i WANT to earn my own way - for my own self respect).
but, without this community's help - twice now, i'm not sure if anyone would have noticed i wasn't around any more.
please, markos, don't stop the fundraisers, for when people are in need, when KOSSACKS are in need - this might be the only place they can turn for help. not a single person on this site can predict the future nor do they know when THEY might face that catestrophic incident that puts them in so many of our shoes. i believe this will get better. it has to. it can't get much worse for some of us.
together, we stand, divided we fail - not fall - but fail.
and, thank you, markos, for the kos katalogue - which lets us have our dignity as we fight to survive.
please forgive any typos and inconsistencies - i'm not sticking around - this is far more personal than i can take right now. i'll check back in later this morning.
oh, and in case someone thinks this is a ploy to "sell stuff" - i've not added anything to the etsy site since remembrance's diary - have two more orders to get out. eventually i'll add - hopefully before sani and i get kicked off the farm - but that isn't why i wrote this. while this diary is "about me" - it really isn't at all - it is about ALL who find themselves behind that proverbial 8 ball.
four in the corner pocket, if you please!