Sunday, November 27, 2011

Life Changing Event

Where to start?  I guess the beginning is the best place.  Everyone who has read my blog a long time knows that my sister Lynn died in a car accident in February 2010.  She was separated from her husband Alfonso at the time and was planning on a divorce after she finished nursing school the following December.  After her death, he took on the responsibility of raising their 2 sons alone.  On Thanksgiving Day, the unimaginable happened.  Alfonso went out drinking Wednesday night and when he returned after the bar closed he managed to park the car inside the garage, close the garage door, and then passed out inside the car. What he didn't manage to do is shut the car off.

Around 8 o'clock in the morning, my 13-year-old nephew Andrew was awakened by the carbon monoxide detector inside the home.  Recently a new detector was bought at my nephew's insistence. Andrew is the most responsible and wise 13-year-old I have ever known. The first thing he did was open the windows of the house.  Then he went down to the garage and found his father. When he couldn't arouse his dad, he called 911.  The police and ambulance arrived but it was too late. The police called my other sister who lives in the same town.  Within 2 years, my nephews have lost both parents.

My nephews are orphans and decisions must be made.  Here are the choices and non-choices:

1. Live with family in the Dominican Republic.  All of his family live there except one brother in New York who is not in this country legally. The children have never met the brother and they are not going to live in the Dominican Republic, a place where they've only been to once to meet their father's family. Living with Alfonso's family is not a choice.

2. Foster care.  Nope. Not even going to rationalize why this isn't a choice.

3. Maternal grandparents that live in Texas.  There are several reasons why this is not a good idea. My nephews have already changed schools after the death of their mother. Uprooting them to Texas is too much for them to handle.  I believe Iowa is a better place to raise children than South Texas. Alex is only 7 years old and by the time he graduates from high school my father will be 90 years old.  Choice #3 is better than #1 and #2, but we all agree, grandparents included, that it would be too difficult for them to raise young children.

4. My sister Deana who lives in the same city as my nephews.  They could remain in the same schools. My sister has a big enough house.  But my sister is a nurse in a hospital and she works rotating days and nights plus weekends. My brother-in-law also works rotating shifts of days, nights, and weekends. Their own 2 children are in high school and very active. Plus my sister was recently diagnosed with a chronic illness and has not yet gotten it under control.

5. Me.

After much discussion, my sister and I have decided to ask the court to grant us joint custody of our nephews. I will move from Texas to care for my nephews full time. We are unsure of a lot of things right now. Tomorrow my sister and I will be visiting the schools and meeting teachers. We need to find out how to petition the court for custody. We need to find a family lawyer.  We have no idea if my nephews will be able to remain in their home with me living there to care for them. We need to find out how to become an executor of Alfonso's estate. We need to contact Social Security (Alfonso was already receiving monthly checks after my sister's death).  So much to do.  Too overwhelming.

We will take it one day at a time.


  1. Oh, Rita! My heart goes out to your young nephews. And my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  2. I am so sorry to hear about this Rita. My prayers are going out to you and your family. Those are some tough decisions but in the end I think you are making the right one.

  3. Oh my goodness. Those poor boys. So much tragedy in their short lives. Thoughts and prayers to you and your family as you work through this difficult time.

  4. So sorry to hear about your brother-in-law! I hope your nephews will be able to cope as well as can be expected. I commend you and your sister on your decision.

  5. Rita,
    My heart just broke for your nephews. I did not know about your sister. I'm so sorry to hear of her passing as well as your brother in law.
    I will keep your nephews, your family, and you in my thoughts and prayers. I can imagine how overwhelmed you must feel.
    Sending you hugs!

  6. Rita,
    I think that sounds like the best option. I wish I still lived there so I could help out. If only to give you a break now and then. Please keep me posted on arrangements. If you need anything please let me know.

  7. Rita, I am so sorry for your and your nephews' loss. Wow, I am stunned. You are taking on a big job, and I am so impressed by your stepping up to the plate and doing this. I wish you all the best in the world.

  8. This is such a crazy thing too happen right now! i Feel so bad for my cousins and all they've had to go through. We all come from strong people and they will make it through this. I think you staying to help deana is the best choice. No way could they go to a different country to people they dont know. Although it will be an adjustment for everyone i dont think anyone could live with any other decision. Although im not there Those boys and you and deana are in my thoughts and everyone down here in MO. i wish there was more i could do to help! please give the boys a hug and kiss for me!

  9. I have been reading your blog for quite some time and laughed at your humor and spirit.This posting,left me speechless..for you and your nephews! What astounded me most was,your matter of fact attitude,of stepping up to the plate,something rarely seen these days! You are an amazing,woman!Those nephews are blessed to have you...and your sister's soul will be at peace!
    DanyBeth Ream

  10. Thank you all for your support and kind comments. I'm still in the state of shock and taking things day by day. Today the older nephew got a winter coat and clothes that actually fits due to the generosity of so many people. The community has really rallied behind the boys. It also really helps knowing the online world is thinking of us too.

  11. WOW! i don't know you but my heart and condolences go out to you!

    Losing loved ones, battling loved ones and caring for loved ones can be extremely painful..I know this all too well!

    pray that all turns out well and make sure the children are well taken care of..seems like your doing the right thing.

    A former Weslaco resident