My sister shocked the family when she placed her disabled son in a nursing home without our input and cut us out of her life. But then, she surprised us once again.
My sister, Samara, gathered the family around for dinner for the first time in two years. Our parents and I were excited because she had been through so much during this time, and it looked like things were going back to normal.
Two years ago, her husband, Josh, was in a horrible car accident with their son, Jackson. Unfortunately, my brother-in-law passed away, and Jackson was in the hospital for a long time. The doctors told us his life would never be the same.
Samara took Jackson home months later, but she became her eldest child’s caregiver while raising my two other teenage nephews, Alex and Richard. Luckily, her husband had left a pretty solid life insurance policy, and Samara also started collecting disability compensation from the government.
Jackson was paralyzed from the neck down, but his mental abilities were solid. Money was not a problem, but it was still not easy. I took Alex and Richard out whenever I could, and our parents helped Samara around the house too.
Samara was never alone, but she had not been the same. Luckily, she was finally coming out of her shell and seemed chipper than ever.
“I’m so glad you’re hosting dinner like you always did. We missed this so much,” I told her cheerfully that day while helping out in the kitchen.
“I’m so happy too. I feel like things are settling down after everything. The kids seem happier too. It’s such a relief,” Samara added.
“Can I ask what changed? Are you dating someone? Is Jackson doing better?” I wondered.
“Let’s wait until our parents get here, and I can tell all of you at the same time. But I feel like everything is going to be all right now,” my sister continued. I was excited for her, and whatever had made her so excited.
Our parents arrived, and dinner was ready a few minutes later. Alex and Richard came out of their rooms and sat down with us at the table. We small-talked while eating, and everything seemed fantastic.
Soon after, Alex and Richard went back to their rooms. Apparently, they were obsessed with a new video game or something. “Honey, can I go say hello to Jackson? I didn’t want to bother him earlier. Is he asleep?” our mother asked
Actually, that’s something I wanted to talk to you about,” Samara started. We all listened intently, worried that something had happened to Jackson.
“What’s going on? Do you need more help? Money?” our father questioned.
“No, no. Money has fortunately never been a problem in this house. But we have really struggled since the accident. Not just me. Alex and Richard felt it too. I could see how sad they were about everything. I had to take action,” Samara continued.
“Are you going to therapy? That can really help,” I suggested.
“Please, Izzy. Let me speak,” she said. “I’ve decided to place Jackson in a special care facility. He has round-the-clock professional care, and it’s just so much better than whatever I could give him.”
Our parents and I were shocked. We didn’t know what to say. “WHAT?!” Dad bellowed.
Please, Dad. I don’t need a lecture or any judgment. I’ve made my decision. It’s been a week already, and my kids seem so much happier. Jackson is even doing some great therapies at the facility. This is best for everyone,” Samara explained.
“Sam, how could you do this? Why didn’t you discuss it with us?” Mom asked, dismayed. “We would have helped so much more.”
“Mom, you guys helped me so much already. But it’s still so emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting. I couldn’t move on while watching my son. I was afraid I might do something horrible. Please understand,” Samara said, defeated.
Samara. I can’t believe you. I asked if everything was all right, and you said ‘yes.’ How could you abandon Jackson just like that?” I asked her in shock.
“Izzy, you have no idea what it was like for me. No matter how much you guys helped, it was never going to be enough. I’m so grateful for everything, but this was my decision, and I’m confident it was the right one,” she said.
“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU! I’m going to get my grandson out of that place right now!” Dad screamed at my sister. She couldn’t even look at us. None of us agreed with her actions. We loved Jackson. We wanted to see him get better.
“Sam, Jackson might be completely paralyzed, but his mental faculties are intact. He’s going to remember this forever. He will never forgive you,” I tried to reason with her. “You can still take him back. Let’s look at stay-at-home professionals for him.”
“I DON’T WANT THAT, IZZY! CAN’T YOU SEE? I CAN’T MOVE ON WITH MY LIFE! He’s the living reminder that my family will never be the same! You don’t understand. You don’t want to get married or have children. It’s been so hard…” she trailed in tears.
“I don’t support this, Sam. You need to get Jackson out of there soon. He can come live with us with that professional carer like Izzy suggested,” Mom suggested.
“NO! My word is final. This is the decision. You can guys can live with it or not. I don’t care anymore,” Samara said. “Now leave.”
My sister refused to see how hard we were trying to help or that she was wrong. We left her house that day but tried to talk her into talking Jackson back. Eventually, Samara cut us off, although we were allowed to visit Jackson at the facility.
Mom doesn’t want me at home, Aunt Izzy. It’s better here,” Jackson told us one day, but I knew he was sad. He was acting strong for our sake. Afterward, Mom and Dad fought to get daily outings with Jackson, and Samara allowed it to keep the peace.
A few months later, Jackson turned 18, and since his mental faculties were great, a judge allowed us to take him home. We moved him into Mom and Dad’s house and hired a nurse as his live-in caregiver.
It was great. Alex and Richard hung out with Jackson while they visited. But we all refused to talk to Samara until she apologized to her son. It took years, but she finally met a man who changed her perspective.
Fernando was in a wheelchair and taught Samara how disabled people are not burdens. I was surprised she started dating him in the first place. She apologized profusely to all of us, especially Jackson.
She came to Mom and Dad’s house every day after work to visit him. Eventually, he also forgave her. “Do you want to move in with Fernando and me?” Samara asked him after years of trying to make things right. My nephew agreed, and I finally forgave her.
“I’m sorry for not listening to you. Thank you for fighting for him,” she told me the day they moved Jackson with them.
“He’s family, and you are too. I’m sorry for being so judgmental back then too. I’ve also grown a lot in the last few years. But I don’t regret doing what we did,” I replied.
“Thank you for being so obstinate!” she said, half-smiling and half-crying. We hugged and our family was solid once again.
What can we learn from this story?
You can’t give up on family. Caring for someone is difficult, but you don’t give up on someone. Sometimes, there’s no other choice but to place family members in a nursing home, but Samara didn’t need to do it.
A few obstinate relatives might save your life. Most people hate relatives who don’t mind their business, but many are good people with great intentions.