Saturday, June 16, 2012

Trying to Visit My Elderly Mother for the First Time in 18 years



It may seem that I've been on a month-long hiatus from blogging. The truth of the matter is that I've been busy doing my usual homeless advocacy. We are nearing the end of a tumultuous budget season and are not certain that homeless services will be fully funded in FY 2013. (That's not to speak of the fact that the DC mayor and several council members are under investigation, have resigned or may resign within the next couple of months -- leaving many decisions in political limbo). So, I've attended and organized many meetings and rallies to ensure that DC's homeless won't be left in the lurch. Add to this the fact that I have gained a significant other and am trying hard to visit my mother on her 75th birthday in August.

I don't usually say much about myself when blogging, writing articles or speaking to various high school and college groups about homelessness. However, my present situation has made it such that I must. I don't get paid for much of what I do as a homeless advocate. (That's a conversation in and of itself.) I've learned to get by on very meager means -- about $300 per month. But I'll need to transition into something that pays better in order to address these recent developments in my life -- though I'm not 100% certain what that will be.

As for my significant other, she is awesome insomuch as we have become extremely close friends in spite of my being homeless and near broke. Many people judge others based on their appearance, financial status or other superficial criteria. She, on the other hand, has a good heart and has taken notice of mine. This makes me want to treat her well. I've done a few odd jobs to earn above and beyond what I usually get per month. However, it was not so that I could treat her; but, so that I could help her with her own employment issues. in short, she landed a job and had no money for food or public transportation until her first check. I was able to secure some daily work for daily pay and help her get to the job and buy lunch. I hope to be able to treat her well in the near future -- something I would NEVER ask anyone to assist me with other than by giving me a job. Nonetheless, I've spent less time doing advocacy; because, I'm spending time with the love of my life.

Now for the kicker. As I indicated earlier, my mother will turn 75 in August. She lives in Interlachen, FL (about halfway between Gainesville and St. Augustine in North Florida) and I live in Washington, DC. Though I speak to her over the phone, we've not met face-to-face since Christmas 1994. She and my father raised 37 kids. That was not a typo. She and my father raised 37 kids. They had 7 and adopted 30. I'm adopted. They had 32 kids when I was with them and adopted the last 5 after I was grown. A book was written about my family called "Our Growing Family" (published in 1980). They only had 21 kids when the book was written and got 16 more later on.

I entered the Sheptock household at age 5 and was adopted a year later. The reason for them adopting me was that my natural parents fractured my skull when I was 8 months old and I then spent almost 5 years in foster care (October '69-August '74). I was blessed insomuch as I don't have many lingering effects from the head injury (evidenced by my writing and computer use).

My father -- Rudy Sheptock, Sr. (though he should have changed his suffix to "the first" after his grandson was born) died in 2000 -- at which time I didn't have a cell phone or landline, making it impossible for my mother to tell me of his death barring the off-chance that I would call HER at just the right moment from a payphone. That off-chance didn't happen and I'm sad to say that I missed his funeral -- which I might make up for by visiting my mother while she yet lives.

My mother, my eldest adopted sister (62) and six more siblings are all that are left in the house. (They've moved to a much smaller place.) My mother -- Joanne Sheptock -- had planned for a family reunion on her 75th birthday but told me more recently that it might be too difficult to bring everyone together (30 of her sons and daughters, their spouses and her grandchildren) and she may settle for a mere birthday party. Either way, a face-to-face visit from me is long overdue. So, I am planning on going to Florida in August, come Hell or high water -- something I WOULD ask others to assist me with; because, I'm not sure that I'll land enough work to finance the trip. You might say that I'm testing my social capital. Many people have expressed appreciation for my pro-bono homeless advocacy. Let me see if anyone can ensure that I get to Florida in August to see my mother. For those who decide to help, I have put my contact info below:

Eric Jonathan Sheptock -- Chairman of SHARC (Shelter, Housing And Respectful Change)

Cell phone: (240) 305-5255

425 2nd St. NW, Washington, DC 20001-2003

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