The final straw

(Author’s note: my name is the only real one. Names have been changed.)

CW: there is a lot of heaviness in this entry. Mentions of abuse, physical and mental, suicide ideation, graphic description of a car accident involving minors and death mentions. Please take care when reading.

I took over guardianship of my younger sister’s Patty-’s two sons, Raphael (23M) and Lio (22M) when they were 9 and 8 respectively. But I’ve been part of their lives since they were born. In 2005, my older sister -Sally- drove her and the kids into a traffic pole, causing Lio to be paralayzed for life. He was 5 years old at the time. When I took over, he was in a wheelchair. When I moved in with them, I was the seventh guardian situation that they’d been subjected to in their, at the time, 9 and 8 years of life. I promised I’d be the last. Let’s explore how we got here today.

Before we begin, the reason I felt this ‘airing of dirty laundry’ necessary is because my children have been manipulated by my father to move into his house, largely based on the threat that if they refuse to live in his house, he’d sell it and move to be near his siblings in Oklahoma. Nana willed the house, among other things, to the kids. It was something she’d talked about to them no matter the difficulties that have occurred between her husband – my father- and I so they had security for where to live once us old people had passed on. Now that they’ve chosen to live with him, he has informed them that he still intends to sell the house and they’re expected to move to Oklahoma with him. This put them into distress.

Since the news broke among the family, I am hearing from plenty of family that I need to let them go to Oklahoma with grandpa. The argument that we’ve lived in multiple places for years has been brought up. A lot of family do not understand the circumstances to which we have lived and moved. I am unwilling to sacrifice my sons’ mental and emotional state for the sake of tyrants. One telling and I can link to the truth and they can square this latest bullshit with my father and each other. I also have no contact or means of contacting anyone who may want to get to know the kids on the Choctaw side of the family in Oklahoma. Grandpa has not, and likely will not, let us establish positive contact with members of his family, so if you are a Watson, and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, we may be related. If you have a mutual desire to meet, maybe we can talk. According to grandpa at our last meeting/fight, there are relatives who want to know the kids and I hope that’s true.

Let’s get this saga started.

Growing up, ma had been quite an abusive parent. The details of this aren’t as important, though I may explore this a little down the road as it has good correlation to issues like boarding schools, relocation programs, domestic violence, intergenerational trauma, and suicide ideation. Summing it up, my siblings and I grew up knowing how to take a beating, enduring physical and psychological abuse up until I was maybe 19 when they moved to the Rez. 

I started working when I was 13 and by the time I was 16, I paid for all the household expenses – rent, utilities, phone, and even groceries and school clothes. At the time, my father was paying about $100/kid/month in child support. There were five of us and even with food stamps, food was always an issue. We didn’t go hungry, but everything was also processed. Clothes were hand me downs. I was in grade 7, I think, when I started working full time. I dropped out before finishing grade 10 and worked two jobs to take care of my fam. When I started working full time, I gave ma money for birthdays and Christmas. When they moved home, wherever I was, I sent money home for the fam. I think ma didn’t make me go because I had said I’d always send them money and I did. 

When Patty first told me that she was pregnant with Raphael, I was shocked that any of us would ever have kids. She was younger and self-centered, but I thought of it more in terms of being young and figuring herself out kind of thing. I did not care much for her boyfriend at the time. He didn’t seem like father material, nor did he seem very into the pregnancy. After both kids were born, she was out partying a lot and left the kids so often that she signed guardianship over to our mother. Patty was guardian number one. Documents were filed with tribal court since they all lived on the reservation at the time and ma became guardian number two. The kids were moved into ma’s house and Patty was free to party. Then ma got sick.

Moving home permanently had never been a priority for me when I was younger. I was determined to experience life to the extent that I wanted and then maybe go home and spend my golden years there. I lived with my father for less than a year and then moved in with my best friend. We had a falling out and I didn’t have much anyway so I had two bags with me when I first became homeless on the streets of Denver. I didn’t want to ask my father for help because I had been so confident when I moved out. It took about two weeks of rough living before I caved and asked him for a place to stay again. I started working shortly thereafter and eventually moved into my own place.

Because I had lived with my father for more than the sporadic weekend visit by then, we finally really started to get to know each other. I was over 21 and we started drinking at the local fraternity he was a member of and I joined too, just to be ‘legit’. I think those nights at the bar were where we really started to bond. It was one of those nights that I had been joking about ma beating me for something or other. He stopped me and demanded to know what I was talking about. I  assumed somehow that everyone knew what ma did to us growing up. He got really upset about not knowing and not being told. I said that I thought he knew. That was the only time that I’d seen him distraught about us. Since my twenties, my father has advocated for me to turn my back on my family and get a career, my own house, etc. The whole, ‘you’ve done enough’. I didn’t see my family as a burden though.

At the time ma started getting sicker and sicker, I had a good job as a graphic designer. I had my own office, a car a bff sold me for cheap, and I had done a little traveling and adventuring by then. I’d even lived in NYC for a short stint. Ma had been asking me to go home and help her with the kids. I would counter and tell her to come live with me. I could get a bigger place, her and the kids could be on my health insurance and I made enough money to take care of all three of them. My boss said if I was a caregiver for my mother, then she could be on my health insurance as my dependent. Ma didn’t want to come back to Denver though and talked my older sister Sally to move in with her to take care of the kids. Ma and Sally signed more tribal court documents and their team became guardian situation number three for the kids while they were still toddlers.

At some point, ma wasn’t just in and out of the hospital. She was on a long term stay when we got the cancer diagnosis. On Friday afternoons, I would make the six hour drive up to visit ma over the weekend and come home on Sunday to make it back to work on Monday. I didn’t go every weekend because the travel could be exhausting. I had a good hearted boss who helped with some extra time off or leaving early so I could drive home too.

I couldn’t tell you if I went as often as I did because it was my mother who was dying. I didn’t feel particularly close to her though we got along fine when it came to head of household stuff. Or if it was because in the hospital, we had been talking so much about the past and our relationship. Kind of bonding. She apologized for being a shitty parent and for the horrors I’d been subjected to. That that’s why she had such patience for the sons, to get it right this time. We had long talks when I was younger and they were brief but I think by the time I was in my teens, she just didn’t have any adults that she could confide in about the things that she shared with me. 

We discussed bringing her and the kids down to Denver with me -yes, maybe even Sally- when she got better. She wanted to move to Minneapolis instead so she could go back to college. I think we both knew that there wasn’t going to be an ‘after’, but we talked as if there would be. She had been a good caregiver to the kids though, and I do think that she did some good while on the council. I appreciated the person that she became by the end.

The night before she passed, we’d been celebrating my brother Bo’s birthday when we got the call that a decision needed to be made and soon. The following morning, we left for South Dakota and to see ma though she was in a coma and on life support by then. It had been ma’s wish to not remain on life support; we all knew it from a young age.

When it came time to return to Denver, I told Sally that her and the kids would be coming with us. I’d already talked with my father and we agreed it would be best for them so they had support from all of us especially at such a fragile time. That’s how grandpa, Nana and Sally became guardian situation number four, though only Sally had a document for it.

After ma passed, something happened to Sally mentally. She was almost child-like and didn’t seem very keen on being a parent. A lot of whining and complaining about having to do anything although she was technically the only guardian to the kids who were 5 and 4 at the time. I took care of all their parent and teacher conferences and let grandpa and Nana attend as well. Both children had been diagnosed as autistic and Lio was largely non-verbal. They needed specific support.

Sally took them to therapists and complained about the kids being too hyperactive and she couldn’t handle it. Soon both were on medication. While I will say that their mannerisms could seem too energetic at times, it was in bursts that I felt were within parameters of just being kids. They’re going to run around and want to play, you know? I didn’t agree with what she did, but I felt helpless to do anything about it.

During this time, I was still working. So were grandpa and Nana. Insofar as I know, Nana paid the mortgage and paid all the bills. I think grandpa was in charge of the water bill. Maybe that’s why he always bitched about anyone using it. Grandpa always seemed too broke to contribute much to the house otherwise. Nevertheless, we all pitched in for birthdays and Christmas. Because the kids were diagnosed as disabled, they did receive disability benefits every month that went straight to Sally. I know some of what Sally squandered their money on, but not where the rest of it went and she was always broke. By spring of 2005, we all reached a breaking point with Sally’s inability to provide any measure of guardianship on top of never having any of the kids’ money for their needs.

CW: graphic description of a car accident involving young children. Scroll to next bolded sentence starting with CW to bypass.

Sometime in April, I informed Sally that grandpa, Nana, and I would be taking over custody of the children. If we had to go back to the Rez to sign papers as well as change who got their checks, then that’s what we needed to schedule. That this would happen the following month. In May, my sister drove them all into a traffic pole. The accident ended up on the evening news of Lio being on the ground, the wreckage of the car barely recognizable. I can’t remember where I was when I got the call, but I remember on the drive of telling myself constantly, ‘you need to focus on getting there’ up until I parked at the hospital. 

Lio had to be airlifted from the scene to the children’s hospital. He had a compromised skull and his brain had been exposed. Raphael’s face was banged up and puffy, he was bruised and not recognizable. Grandpa, Nana, myself and my brother Jared were at the hospital. I saw Raphael briefly and swapped with one of the others to see Lio. We were told to be ready for him to not survive the night due to his injuries. Grandpa and Nana wanted to stay with the kids so I went to the general hospital to see Sally.

I recognized the type of braces on her legs because of my EMT training. I don’t remember her other injuries; those braces ended up the focus of my memory about what she looked like that night.

She was awake and in obvious pain. I don’t know if I said hi, but she looked at me and said she needed my help. I asked for what and she said I needed to contact her insurance agent so they could start the paperwork for the kids’ life insurance. I couldn’t believe what she was saying. I replied that they weren’t dead and when she said, ‘they’re not?’ in surprise, I couldn’t be in the same room.

Lio survived the night. Grandpa and Nana wanted to stay with him overnight every night and as much as I wanted to be there, Raphael needed someone to take care of him. I didn’t want Raphael to have to rest in a hospital waiting room so I took him home with me.

CW: end of graphic description.

Back in the day of flip phones and before smart phones, some banks had automated banking services that were accessed by ‘enter your account number on the keypad and press #. To check savings, press 1, to check checking, press 2…’ etc. Sally had asked me to retrieve some personal belongings from the wreckage. I did so. One of the things that Sally asked for was her phone. By this time, an investigator (detective?) had been in contact so when I looked at her phone and saw that she had been using the automated banking line, right before calling 911, I turned the phone over and explained about having to type in account info and navigate menus by numbers. 

I heard that at the hearing, she got a hefty fine but no criminal charges. I was aghast. Then that she presented some letter about being poor and they waived the fine. I don’t think she even lost her license.

Throughout this, I took care of Raphael and grandpa and Nana stayed with Lio. Patty eventually came down and I asked for custody. Even offering to stay with grandpa and Nana since we all took care of the kids anyway. Patty signed guardianship over to Jared and went back to the Rez. Jared didn’t want them to have ‘too many distractions’ and moved them into an apartment a while after Lio got discharged from the hospital. I wasn’t allowed to see them much. I was worried, but helpless. I got an offer to move to Arizona, packed up and moved. 

Jared didn’t have much involvement in the kids’ lives up until then. I had tried giving him some advice about them but he hadn’t been interested. I hoped for the best. That he’d learn how to be a positive parent. He became guardian situation number five. 

I lived in Arizona for about a year. During that time the kids were in school. Playing Halo was one of our passions. We’d have almost nightly Halo tournaments with headsets so we could still talk to each other. They came to visit me once, too.

At some point, hearing Jared slur was becoming more common. I got worried about the care of the kids. When one of our favorite local bands had some shows, I flew back to Denver for a show and stayed with them. Bo -his older, my younger, brother- had been staying with them at the time too. They had a privacy fence and a small backyard. The whole yard was filled with empty beer cans. Bo said they bagged up the cans and recycled them to get more beer when it got full like that. That meant that this sea of empty cans wasn’t an overall accumulation but the most recent. But I didn’t know what I could do. Eventually, Bo came down to live with me in Arizona since he hadn’t been working.

I talked to grandpa and Nana about the situation and we all agreed that something had to be done. Except Jared had all but cut them off from having contact with the kids so we were all walking on eggshells. Jared wasn’t talking to me too much outside Halo games, but I had told him that if he and the kids needed anything, to let me know and I would see what I could do. I was paid biweekly and I would send him up to a few hundred per paycheck to help them out as he requested. Jared had a job at the time too, so I wondered where all the money went where I had to supplement their income to that extent. But I didn’t dare ask and severe the only connection that I had with the kids. 

One day, Jared asked if I would come to Denver and help him take care of the kids. He was stressed out. I said I could come immediately. My lease was up anyway. Within a couple of days, I packed what was important to me, abandoned the rest, and drove back to Denver with Bo in tow.

For some reason, Jared decided to invite Patty down or Patty asked/demanded it. But once she was in the home, things got tense. Or rather, the tension grew worse. I had taken over homework duties because Jared would berate the kids about not knowing the answer to ‘basic’ math. If they didn’t answer something quickly enough, he would slam his hand against the table. This would often make them cry. Remember, one is autistic and the other is autistic with a traumatic brain injury. And paralyzed. Patty took over homework duties and acted much the same way, adding insults like, ‘you’re not that stupid’. Then she kicked us all out. Patty became guardian situation number six.

I knew going through the system for custody was going to be quite involved. I had been torn about Jared getting the kids and torn again because Patty’s focus wasn’t the kids, but making her recently released from federal prison boyfriend happy. Grandpa and Nana were cautiously optimistic though because they got the kids most weekends so they didn’t want to ‘rock the boat’. Going for custody didn’t seem to be a priority and I resolved to stay on the Rez. They were with their birth mother and that was kind of the ideal, right? I still worried.

The little Honda Accord I bought for cheap needed a part that I couldn’t afford. Patty reached out to me around that time and asked if I would take guardianship of the kids. I immediately said yes and when. She said she wanted to move home and needed a car. Everyone liked my car. If I gave her my car even though it needed a part, I would get the kids. I agreed, signed over the title I had, packed what I could carry and abandoned the rest. She drove Nana’s vehicle up, got out, I threw my stuff in and drove it back to Nana’s house. Yeah, I know. I didn’t like that it seemed like a transaction. But at least I had the kids.

That was August of 2008. I became guardian situation number seven. 

In August, the kids were supposed to be in school. Patty hadn’t sent down guardianship papers and it was getting close to the first day. I drove home and went to tribal court to figure out what options that we had since we couldn’t find her. I returned to Denver with a court order for guardianship. Finally. It didn’t remove Patty’s parental rights though, so that became the next step.

The three of us, grandpa, Nana and I, had such relief that we had the kids at long last. We’d have almost weekly meetings to address their care. If any of the adults were overstepping boundaries, that would get addressed, too. I had to remind them constantly that I was their guardian and we were supposed to be a team, but not three parents. Then things took a turn.

Around 2010, I noticed that I’d have to argue with my father about Lio’s care constantly. We had a specific program for him every day and we really couldn’t deviate from the routines. Grandpa kept butting in and trying to overrule the routine or my chosen course of action. Often I had to silence them at parent teacher conferences for going on and on about themselves and what a good job they were doing with the disabled children rather than focus on the kids’ needs. It became exhausting.

One day, I noticed that when I addressed my father, he wouldn’t respond to me. I paid attention in the following days and realized he hadn’t talked to me in some time. I racked my brain for how long it had been going on and realized it had to have been at least a couple of weeks. If I called the house phone and he heard my voice, he’d drop the phone and yell, ‘Nana, it’s for you’. I brought it up with Nana and she argued that it wasn’t a big deal. When I sat us down to confront the issue, I realized our weekly meetings had also ceased. My father argued about doing what was best, but it wasn’t any plan, it was just getting his way about things. We had a tense discussion about their roles in the kids’ lives.

In the months that followed, I pressed for our partnership that was an actual partnership and not just grandpa’s way. I urged family counseling. The anxiety of this never ending silent treatment really took a toll because we couldn’t even negotiate things and sometimes they would just take the kids somewhere and not tell me because that’s what grandpa wanted. They had mothers day dinners out without me so they could celebrate Nana. The kids were too small to know they were being kidnapped and Nana excused it time and time again. One outing they took the kids on, they put Lio on an Alpine slide. They, or he, couldn’t control the slide and he was thrown from it and scraped up his arms. They tried to cover it by putting him in a long sleeve shirt and didn’t tell me but we had medical routines and I discovered the injuries. I was furious, but the grandparents argued that it was just a small accident. This kid can only operate one hand and is otherwise paralyzed. It was reckless and that could have killed him.

I talked to the kids about moving and they didn’t want to. Eventually, Lio said he would move. It took roughly a year of therapy for Raphael to say that he was ready to move. Apparently, he had asked grandpa why he won’t respect me. He didn’t tell me how grandpa answered. So we moved. Nana had been quite distraught, but without family therapy agreed to by all of us, we couldn’t live in that house. During that year and change before we moved, my father didn’t speak to me though we lived under the same roof.

In the midst of all this internal drama, we had to contend with Patty’s constant demand for money, most often with threats of taking the kids away. If she wanted to visit Denver, she’d make us pay for her travel and hotel, stay for days and see the kids maybe for a few minutes. Often the visits were brief because she was drunk when she showed up. Once she almost rolled on top of Lio in trying to hug him, threatened to fight me when I asked her to leave, and we had to call the police. They picked her up walking down the on ramp for the interstate and when she woke up in jail, actually called and expected me to get her. It had to end. 

This is probably a good time to note that Patty served time in prison. I forget the charge, but it had to do with assault. She went in when ma passed away and I think she’d served roughly a year before getting out. She also got arrested for assault while still on probation. She stabbed someone but I don’t remember if it was what she went to prison for or what she did after she got out.

Because we’re tribal members, we had to follow ICWA; that’s the Indian Child Welfare Act. We had a lawyer that I cannot thank enough for his guidance on that journey. ICWA complicated the process but the lawyer helping us was experienced with ICWA too. It took longer than expected to gain custody and I could finally breathe a sigh of relief. No more Patty threats, no overbearing grandpa demanding his way.

And then I got sick.

I couldn’t tell what was wrong or even focus on what symptom was worse. A few tests later and I was told that I was diabetic and in trouble. I started on medication but it made me so nauseous that I couldn’t eat. I dropped over sixty pounds in a few months. As much as I didn’t want to, if I suddenly passed, I needed the kids looked after. Grandpa was the lesser of two evils between him and Patty. I negotiated with Nana and we set a tentative plan for us moving back and counseling. One of us three refused therapy after we got settled. Guess who. The only upside was that I began responding positively to the medication. Every so often, the therapy discussion would be brought up and grandpa always shot it down. He claimed at one point that he went to a therapist who told him, ‘there’s nothing wrong with you’. Totally believe that.

We had a bedbug infestation and grandpa refused to use an exterminator. I argued that it wasn’t something we could handle ourselves and the kids had been chewed up. That time, it was Nana who stepped up and told me to go ahead and schedule the exterminator for the basement. Grandpa refused to pitch in for it so the kids and I paid for it. He also refused to pay for the upstairs to be treated as well to ensure we were pest free so we only got the basement treated. Then it became an issue to leave the powder on the carpet. Grandpa kept vacuuming it up and I kept laying it back down. It was days before I was confident that all the bugs were gone. The kids stayed upstairs and I slept on the floor downstairs to entice any stragglers out to be dealt with. He protested the kids staying upstairs during that time, too.

It was the bedbug incident that drove us out. Not the infestation itself, it was the relentless refusal to address the situation on top of trying to prevent any treatment and just follow the directions about leaving the powder on the carpet for a couple of days. Did he want his grandsons to get chewed up by bedbugs? Why was this even happening?

“This is MY house,” he yelled at me when I argued about what happened. I looked at Nana and when all she did was say my name, I got up and left the room.

Jared had been living in Littleton by then and I asked if the kids and I could come over. We moved the three of us into his little one bedroom. The kids and I had the room and Jared had the living room.

This particular move had been very difficult for Nana. I was worried she might have a panic attack when we started moving our stuff out, she had been shaking that badly. I had assured her that we weren’t going to vanish or treat them the way that Jared had. But we were not living with someone who didn’t have the safety of the kids as a priority. 

At any point in time, grandpa could have met us halfway, agreed to therapy. Offered some kind of solution.

I cannot respect my brother anymore, but at that time, when we needed a place to go, he provided it. Littleton changed so many things. We were living in Littleton when Nana passed away.

The day that I confronted my father about forcing the kids to relocate and lying about not selling the house, he threw in my face something about Littleton. He went so far as to yell at Raphael about ‘remember in Littleton when she would yell at you?’

Long after I had left, that one statement stuck with me. While my memories of that time are focused on our breakthroughs, I wondered if the way grandpa remembered Littleton was how Raphael did. So the next day, I picked him up so he could do some shopping and I asked him.

“Do you remember yesterday when grandpa said something about Littleton–”

Raphael interrupted me with a laugh. He pointed out that grandpa had been yelling at him when we had our meeting. That he yells over little things to this day. Come to think of it, he yells at me too. One time, grandpa yelled at me to make Raphael take the trash out without being asked as though he could be programmed. The bit about yelling was funny to Raphael so it became funny to me and I laughed too. Though. Grandpa should realize that when he yells at the kids, it isn’t communication and they know. I had to yell at grandpa during that meeting/fight to stop bulldozing over everything Lio tried to say, too.

I will say that it doesn’t excuse anything negative that I’ve brought to their lives with my words or a raised voice. I have been working to become the parent that my sons needed, but I wasn’t at day one. I was honest about my background and childhood to everyone involved with the kids’ education or health so we could always openly touch base on any topic. I didn’t want the kids to follow everything I said or grow up feeling the way I did. I wanted them to be able to trust that they could bring up anything and we could discuss it. Self advocating and independence has been the goal. Or if they lived with family, that they would still know and exercise their autonomy and not get taken advantage of. 

I did have child protection services called on me twice in a very small window of time though. The first alleged abuse. I had to undergo interviews and so did the kids. I suspected grandpa and Nana, or just grandpa, based on the allegations. The second time, it was the teachers at their school who were also buddy buddy with grandpa. One of my crimes was giving Lio a key to his own home. He had it because they should be able to enter freely after school and Raphael lost things easily, but they accused me of neglect for a paralyzed child being a latch key kid. I informed the school that we would be taking action. None of the administration knew what their teachers did though and no one would confess when we finally had a meeting. I think the fiasco caused them to put policies in place about their teachers and CPS. Back to our saga.

We lived in Littleton when I had to give up walking because I had no cartilage left in my knees. Getting used to being in a wheelchair was already rough. I wondered if grandpa and Nana were ready to discuss living together again. But when I called to inform them about what was happening to me, my conversation with Nana went something like this. Please note that I will be sharing a few negative things about Nana as it pertains to our history. But I do want to note before we go on that she became my best friend. The kids and I still talk about her and I miss her greatly. Plus, this is kind of funny now after all these years when I’ve come across people who view disability with this kind of fatalistic take and realized it wasn’t just her.

‘Hey, I found out today that I have severe osteoarthritis. I’m probably going to be in a wheelchair for the foreseeable future.’

‘Oh no! We can come down and pick up the kids.’

‘…like for dinner?’

‘No, to live.’

‘I’m not understanding. You want us to come live with you?’

‘No, we can take the kids and they can live here.’

‘What?? While I do what? Go off and die?’


I advised that I wasn’t going to die from not being able to walk. I did appreciate that they seemed more available and there wasn’t so much hostility between us around then though. When I had to have my gallbladder taken out, they stayed at the apartment after I almost (sorry, grandpa) perished following the surgery and had to be admitted. They even stayed a few extra days when I was still pretty weak after being discharged.

Offhand, I don’t remember when Nana started to lose mobility. She was a little vain and didn’t want to use a cane or walker because it made her look old. It took some prodding, but she let me buy her a rollator walker for Christmas one year. There weren’t any purple ones, her favorite color, so I took her to the showroom to pick one out and then we had fun picking accessories for it. If you ask grandpa, he’ll tell you that he bought it. I can probably find the charge from the store in my bank statements.

Mobility and independence were a priority for me for Lio forever. When we went on road trips, grandpa would pack luggage on and around Lio’s wheelchair, making it almost impossible to get it out. ‘Tell me what you want and I’ll go get it,’ he would tell him. So I would unbury the chair, get Lio into the chair and let him wander the store. Sure, he opted for the same Cheetos and beverage more often than not, but he should have the opportunity to look. Most of the time, I end up with the same drink and chips myself, but shouldn’t we be able to look?

Nana didn’t go out as much anymore after she needed a wheelchair. She couldn’t drive and grandpa didn’t help or would tell her to just tell him what to get and he’d go get it. I believe this was when Nana began realizing what those actions and words do and that really changed our dynamic.

We started helping Nana out in little ways to support or increase her independence. We’d take her shopping so we could help with her walker and then her wheelchair. Raphael helped with physical stuff. Lio and I did our best to teach her to operate her wheelchair and shopping scooters as independently as possible. We window shopped assistive devices with the same longing one might have for the latest gadgets. I started driving her to some of her doctor appointments and learned a little about her care. She told me that grandpa didn’t like helping her in and out of the bathtub and complained to her about it. Eventually, Nana stopped bathing altogether and opted for a shower chair so she didn’t have to ask grandpa for help. This one has always gotten me in the feels because Nana loved her baths.

We had gone from having a frosty relationship to having weekly, or more, calls. Jared used to bitch about not knowing what was going on in the kids’ lives and I had told him there was nothing stopping him from asking or being involved. I wasn’t making a daily/weekly newsletter of our lives and he was welcome to talk. Nana asked and Nana was involved. I had banned them from parent teacher conferences at one point, but I invited her to some of the meetings that we had so she could see the people who also had a stake in the kids’ future and have input. We talked about our cultures (she’s Cherokee) and took the kids to the Denver March Pow Wow. I had heard Nana’s cheesy humor before, but she could be damned funny. Her and one of her sisters got me into paranormal shows for a while too. When her health declined, we talked about preparing the kids.

CW: death. Scroll to next CW to bypass.

Nana needed a lot of support and she didn’t seem to have much of it outside of us. I wouldn’t say that my father didn’t care about her. I think -hope- he was probably in over his head and didn’t know how to, or wouldn’t, ask for help. Maybe Nana just stopped asking him for help. In any case, in one of our conversations, she had been so exhausted about everything. She had lists of foods that she was allowed and not allowed to have but they weren’t consolidated and she struggled to eat, forget about cooking. I made the age old, ‘if we could work together’ speech, but I really did feel for her. That time, she asked what would happen if grandpa didn’t agree to therapy again. I told her I couldn’t do it after everything. We were making some really cool progress with the kids all around and I didn’t want to jeopardize it by letting grandpa run amok over all of us again. But our rent had gone up too and we were struggling in more ways than one. 

So Nana said that if grandpa didn’t agree to therapy and figure out how we were all living together, then she would divorce him. I didn’t believe her and I think I laughed. But she claimed to be serious. That it was all these years and she wanted the kids to live in the house. That she needed help and I already had medical training. I had a ‘holy shit, Nana is finally putting her foot down’ moment. I said that I didn’t think grandpa would go for it even with the threat of divorce. Because for as often as she’d say it was her house and how often I’d remind her of that, she’d always enabled grandpa’s toxicity. We made a tentative plan and I waited for her call.

Days later, grandpa stopped by and after Raphael let him in, just casually blurted at me, ‘Nana’s dead’ and kept walking so he could gently break the news to Lio. Yeah, that was intentional. Grandpa knew well how to be cruel. A couple of years ago, fam back home called him to let him know that one of my niece’s had passed. When he called me, he asked if I knew so and so. I said yes, she’s my niece. He did the same thing. “She’s  dead’. I don’t remember if I cried before or after he hung up. Father of the year.

Nana’s passing hit us pretty hard. We had been spending more time with her and more time on the phone. In one of our last conversations, Nana said she’d found a loophole in the ‘you shouldn’t buy sage, it should be gifted’. I tried to imagine it and asked what it was. ‘Easy,’ she said. ‘If we both buy sage, we gift it to each other! Then we aren’t buying sage, but buying a gift. And we both have sage.’ Really, there is little arguing with that, lol. I had to take some time to process and one day, I finally asked my father if Nana had talked to him about the kids and I living in the house. He said no.

CW end of death description

Let’s take an intermission to take a look at the siblings.

About the siblings – Patty

Patty not being in our lives for a while was such a blessing. For years, anytime we got a call from a 605 area code, it would send Nana and I into barely controlled anxiety. When we lived in a basement apartment next to Jared, Jared let Patty stay with him for a night. I found out she’d be there and it sent us all into a panic. Grandpa and Nana rushed down to get the kids after school so we didn’t risk Patty confronting them when they got off the bus. They got dropped off half a mile away where grandpa and Nana picked them up. I stayed at the apartment and didn’t sleep all night. When Patty went by the living room window sometime that night, she knocked on the plexiglass and laughed.

Schools and programs over the years had a ‘Patty protocol’ for when we heard she would be, or was, in town. That’s what made getting the kids’ bus drop off that day changed so quick and easy. She’d made threats of kidnapping the kids because ‘on the Rez, no one can come take them back’. That’s why the kids haven’t been back home since they were babies. Even with a Colorado court order, we couldn’t risk it.

In the months before Bo passed away, Patty had been drinking with both brothers. Jared had passed out. Patty began ranting about how she was going to kill me and take the kids. Bo pulled out his phone and began recording. In the recording, Patty calls him a waste of air and to go ahead and record because she wanted me to know. She gave some pretty graphic detail as to how she’d kill me and dispose of my body. Yeah. I got a restraining order. Color me surprised when months later, I saw Patty at Bo’s funeral and she seemed sad.

Years later, Lio wanted a meeting with her. The kids hadn’t wanted contact previously and I told them they didn’t have to. Being near Patty causes anxiety to the point that I shake, but I agreed to set it up. On that day, she was supposed to meet us at the Prairie Wind casino. She didn’t have a ride so for the sake of Lio, I went to pick her up. On the way back to the casino, I said, ‘years ago, you said you wanted to kill me. Do you feel the same way?’ To which she laughed, but didn’t answer. So if I end up dead and mangled in the wilderness someday, talk to this one first.

About the siblings – Jared

Jared let me know over the years that Patty has been pushing him to ‘get custody of the kids’. Since they were 18, the sons have been free to make choices about their future. If anyone had a positive opportunity for them, aside from Nana, they could have made it known. They could have worked with us and been involved. But he’s also admitted that while he held resentment toward me for having custody of the sons, he knew they were in the best place for them and it was with me.

This year, when we were all living in a hotel in Rapid City, my brother broke a trust that can’t be repaired.

About the siblings – Sally

After the accident, I didn’t want anything to do with her. I couldn’t forget or forgive what she said about the kids and life insurance policies. But for some reason, grandpa, Nana and Jared would bring her to the kids’ birthday parties or school events. I felt helpless since they all knew about what happened and yet were all fine with acting like nothing was wrong. I was outnumbered. 

For one birthday, Nana called me while I was in a store on the way to the restaurant and said that Sally was there and to be aware. I hung up and started hyperventilating. The clerk did an amazing job of being calm and asking a few questions that broke the spiral. I told this stranger why I didn’t want to see my sister and cried. He brought me a chair to sit and said something along the lines of setting boundaries. I don’t think he used the word, but it was about creating distance that didn’t send me into the state I was in at that moment. It took years, but I tried having a relationship with her again. It was a mistake. 

Then there’s my father.

I have been thinking about how my father manipulated my sons into living with him on the threat that he’d sell the house. And then still intends on selling the house after they agreed to live with him. Looking back to the beginning, I remember how grandpa and Nana said they’d respect my role as guardian if the kids and I lived with them and how it feels like grandpa is a pro at bait and switch that I’m only just now realizing.

At one point during our last meeting/fight, my father pointed at me and all but yelled at the kids, ‘first of all, don’t listen to what this person is saying.’ I don’t even have a name anymore. I waited a beat to see if he’d say why and he didn’t so I asked if he could at least tell them why he’d think that. ‘Because it’s crappy.’ I asked for specifics and he lost his temper and said I had to leave. I said not until he answers something.

I can detail why my sons shouldn’t trust that man, but I think they see for themselves. Not even for the first time, but possibly the last. During this convo, I addressed him directly but his response was only to the kids.

‘The kids don’t want to move.’

‘We are moving to Oklahoma and that’s final.’

‘What if they don’t want to go?’

‘Guys. The house is already sold. When the moving trucks get here, I’m packing up all of my things. There is room for your things. But there will be new owners, so if you’re not going to Oklahoma, where else are you going?’

For years, he’s argued for custody of the kids, often asking them to go live with them, then him, and I don’t need to go. Yet he won’t do what would actually achieve that and that was always therapy.

‘Are you going to leave them homeless on the street if they don’t go with you?’

“I’m saying that when the moving trucks get here, all the stuff in it is going to Oklahoma. If your stuff isn’t going, you’d better get it into storage.’

‘And then what? Where will they live if they don’t go to Oklahoma.’

‘The house is sold. I am moving to Oklahoma so when the moving trucks are here, if your stuff isn’t going…’

‘You need to finish the sentence. If they aren’t going to Oklahoma, you’re leaving them on the street. You’re their current guardian. It’s your responsibility to ensure they’re housed.’

‘I’m their what?’

Inside, I’m wailing.

The first person I reached out to when the kids told me about Oklahoma wasn’t available. I reached out to someone back home and briefly broke down the situation. Mainly, I needed a shoulder to cry on because there was nothing I could do. We know some of the same people and I mentioned that I didn’t want Patty to know to which they said that Patty already knew and went on to say, ‘I don’t want to be involved’. I hadn’t asked them to be. As puzzling as the conversation went, the one thing that stuck out was their assertion that I needed to ‘respect the kids’ choices and instincts.’ Nothing of which makes sense because they hadn’t made a choice to relocate to a whole different state but when I brought it up, I got shut out. I asked where and what she heard whatever she was basing all this on – no response. I ended up blocking them. A few hours later, one of my sons reached out to chat. It was late, but I was still up and we chatted. ‘Auntie Ali?’ he says even though we’d been talking for a while by then. ‘Yeah?’ I ask and simply wait for him to speak. ‘I wanted to… I almost…’ I waited a beat and it kind of sank in where he was going. He said he wanted to **** himself and I immediately thought of the person I went to talk to. Support their choices. My kid thinks this is his only out from being forced to relocate to Oklahoma and is that something I should support? Fuck that and fuck you.

It was at this point that I knew there had to be another way. I was not going to let that be the only option besides Oklahoma. 

Back to our saga.

Over the years, our income had not budged. We went from having an apartment for around $1000/month to our last one around $1600/month -this is rent only, no other bills or utilities. There was a time where we didn’t have to scrutinize our budgeting so carefully. Denver quickly became a place that we couldn’t afford to live in. Stress and anxiety over how I would keep us housed built up.

We moved from Littleton to a shared situation in northern Denver. Throughout that time and before rent went up on that place -an extra $500/month- I asked grandpa again about us living in the three bedroom house that he occupied alone. He told me he’d take the kids. In all this time, I did not put together the level of hate he had for me. I had always thought at some point we were going to negotiate on his duties, not just as grandpa. My health deteriorated to the point that I actually entertained letting him have more control. Instead, we signed a lease for our last apartment in Thornton. In the eleven years I’d had the kids up until that point, that was our seventh move. To him, it was always about everyone only obeying his way. For me, it was about having a positive partnership, not just as caregivers, but equals now that the kids were adults.

In August of 2021, the AC went out at our apartment. Grandpa had injured his back -he blamed us for it too- and couldn’t get around his own house. I sent Raphael to help him out. Lio opted to stay at the apartment. We had called maintenance and no one showed up. In those few days, temperatures were over 90, sometimes at night, too. We were suffering and while I had urged Lio to hang out at grandpa’s house, he insisted on staying with me. We were finally given a portable AC unit and I had it put in Lio’s room so he wouldn’t suffer. Then a whole fight ensued between me and the complex over the situation. Lio and I were in such distress over it. We caved one day, called grandpa and I told him that we may have to abandon the apartment over this crisis and before I could say anything else, he replied, ‘you better get a storage unit because I have no room for your things.’ He had been on speakerphone and I immediately regretted it when I saw the look on Lio’s face. Even so, I still brought up the possibility of staying with him at least a while so we could figure things out. Once again, he told me that he’d only take the kids.

That day, I had a very serious talk with Lio about leaving me. That I was tapped out and couldn’t imagine what we could do at that point. The kids each had their own room now and we didn’t have space for another person. Plus, I didn’t want to be in that complex, paying the majority of our income to people who were mistreating us. I brought up wanting to move home. How back in the day that my family had moved and basically lived in cars and were otherwise homeless while ma waited for a house to come available for them. I said we could use tents to be more comfortable. When Raphael returned home, that’s what set into motion the months long discussions about moving home, what it would look like and what we would need if we couldn’t get into an apartment right away. All because my father, and not for the first time, made clear that he would rather see the kids homeless than allow me to live in Nana’s house.

When it came time to decide to leave or try finding someplace new in Denver, the kids chose to go with me. ‘We’re all family. If this ship goes down, we go down with it.’ The way Lio had a fist in the air as he said this triumphantly still tickles me. They have known for years by then that they could choose to live in Nana’s house – if they left me.

In all these years, I have fought and advocated for my sons. To have as stable of a life despite the constant motion we’ve been in. Since before we moved to the Rez, my father had been telling the kids that there was nothing for them there, that they’d be miserable and to live with him. One of them pointed out how I’m part of the family and asked why we couldn’t all live in Nana’s house. They didn’t tell me what grandpa said.

Once we were gone, grandpa changed tactics and began to threaten to sell the house. Temperatures had gone from winter to spring and were getting warmer and warmer. When the heat wave started, we were determined to tough it out. But the occasional hot day became a string of them and I worried about Lio. We discussed at length what options we had given the hindrance of no longer having a vehicle. We decided that we’d send Lio back to Denver and Rapahel and I would continue working on the tiny home we’d started. Then it just seemed like it was getting hotter and hotter.

Change has always been more difficult for Raphael. The year of therapy before we were able to move the first time is a good example. I wasn’t going to uproot him and force him to move no matter how toxic the situation between my father and I had been and he’s learned some flexibility over the years. He didn’t want to leave Denver, but neither had he wanted to really work to contribute to staying and I said he didn’t have to if we moved to South Dakota. We’d figure it out. He agreed because we had more than one plan. 

It wasn’t until the foundation was done that I think Raphael finally got into the tiny home build. Our progress had barely eeked on up until that point and I had told him that I’m not going to force him to work and he had to want to do this. So sometimes we didn’t work at all and sometimes we’d work for an hour a day. We had to be patient. With the foundation done, work progressed a lot quicker because he seemed more excited about it, but the heat was never ending, too. We got the frame for the back and front walls and once they were up, we’d do the roof. It would have been easy after that but I was suffering too much, my wheelchair broke and I was skating into giving up territory.

For us, this situation wasn’t exactly a failure though. Before we moved and when we started our build, the plan had always been for us to finish the house and send Raphael back to Denver so he could go back to work. He was finally determined to eventually work full time so he could get his own apartment. Meanwhile, Lio and I would live in the tiny home and I’d show him how to live off grid while we made our candles and art. He even wanted chickens. When Raphael got his own place, Lio would then have a choice. Stay with me in the tiny home on the Rez, or return to Denver to live with Raphael. But I’d stay on the Rez in either case. They’d be independent, but I’d be a call or text away. They want to live in the city. I want my little house out on my land and a home they’d always have available. We looked out for each other’s dreams. 

So the new plan was to return to Denver, Raphael would work and I’d stay with someone that had space for just me. We’d eventually get an apartment, I would run my print shop to get the funds to go home and finish the build. Raphael would even visit like every other week to help me complete it. Once home, I would still be able to run my print shop even off grid because I’d be in the tiny home. Then Raphael and Lio would still stay in Denver.

Lio decided one day that he only wanted to live with grandpa. He didn’t want to move anywhere else, even into their own apartment. At the time, I was against it, but I wasn’t about to forbid it. Lio didn’t give an explanation and really, he didn’t have to. He made a choice and I did what I could to support him despite my misgivings. My mental health was taking a beating, homelessness is difficult and I felt that I kind of understood even if I didn’t know the specifics, you know? This was a chance for him, or both sons, to have a permanent home even if it was without me. They were going to live in that house for the rest of their lives at some point anyway. So I agreed. But inside I was dying.

We discussed it with Raphael that maybe he should think about that, too. How I still wanted to go home and though I didn’t have resources now, I’d figure something out. I don’t want to live in Denver anymore. He eventually agreed and they told grandpa they would live in the house with him from now on. I went over as many risks that I could think of, but I hoped too. If I wasn’t involved, maybe grandpa would finally be a decent person.

We began telling the people in Lio’s care and updating emergency contacts from me to grandpa. Change of address. Everything that we could think of. A few things haven’t been finalized yet and maybe it’s good that grandpa’s breaking this news to my kids now.

During this time, I began to isolate myself. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to live in Denver anymore. I was done with everything and I fought it alone for a while. After all these years, I had failed as a parent and watched my vulnerable sons move into a house with someone I did not trust. To be associated with the very people who had abused us over the years. Jared and Sally visit. Jared lived with them for a time. That time, I did protest because my brother had gotten drunk and asked me for sexual favors one of those nights in Rapid City and grandpa knew that. The kids knew that. I did not trust him to be in the same house as the kids. To which my father replied, ‘he doesn’t drink here.’ So reassuring. 

After they moved, I did let the kids know that I was struggling. That it wasn’t them and I may need space for a while. I don’t hide times like this from them; we’re open with each other about virtually everything while still respecting that we need privacy for things too. I was lucky to be in a place where I felt understood. I had time and space to decompress and at some point, I felt like I could breathe again. I had permission to bring my equipment here and I did bit by bit. Setup was slow because I only had bursts of motivation and I tried being patient with myself. It’s still a struggle but I am more confident saying that I’m on an upswing today than I would have been a month ago. 

Then they both called me about being forced to move to Oklahoma and that they didn’t want to go.

There have been so many times where we had asked other family for help only to be shut down or out. I don’t know what charm my father has with people or what he’s said about me or the kids to get this reaction from family. There are family that I’m sure would love to either see the kids or get to know them or have a continued relationship. I do not know how else to find you because my father has made it clear that he will go to any lengths to cut us off from everyone and too many of you are supporting his bullshit or have bought his lies.

For the last week or so, we have gone through numerous resources specific to the kids’ needs, researched apartments and community programs. If no one was going to help them find housing in Denver, I could at least give some pointers. I was still broke and homeless, but I had knowledge and that resource was valuable enough.

They already knew how to apply for a lease from our last apartment search and remembered things like applying for utilities. It was during this time that I had to really take a step back and marvel at their progress. Last year, Raphael didn’t want to work full time to keep our apartment and wasn’t focused on adult responsibilities. Now he was researching and asking questions about renting, budgeting and even cooking. They’ve talked about splitting chores. Grocery shopping. Traveling. I suggested Las Vegas since they’re over 21 now and they’ve never been in the casinos and we’ve been to Vegas a few times.

We very briefly entertained the idea of me living with them. Raphael had said that he wanted to do what I did and take care of our family. But I think this is a good time to let them do this next step without me. The reality is that if I were to live with them, my lack of conventional employment is going to limit where they can even apply. For my own mental health too, I don’t want to live in Denver.

This journey of theirs is something that any one of my siblings or my father could have helped shape – POSITIVELY. If any of them got therapy and were focused on healthy relationships. Jared could have helped with one’s budding automotive fascination. Grandpa could have taken them fishing and shown them more of the outdoors. Patty might have a relationship with her sons. We could have shown them a healthy and committed family. Now the sons are adults ready to be independent and you all missed everything. 

The good news, the best news, is that while local support has grandpa as emergency contact, he is not considered their legal guardian though he was in a guardian role. One would need a court order for that. The kids can choose if they even want a guardian. Their financials never got changed or taken over. Amusingly enough, grandpa refused to loan us a car or drive us (‘I’m not a taxi service’), but he gave a car to Jared. Had he done either so we could update the financials, he’d control their money and they would have been trapped. Maybe the one time being an asshole benefited the kids. Now no one will tell them where they can and cannot live. No one will be able to force their own agendas on my children. 

This also means that I can’t fight for them like I used to, but after all this. After this latest bullshit from my family…

If they try taking this to court for custody because the sons are disabled, Patty has served time in a federal prison for a violent crime, so I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t qualify. I know enough about Sally’s mental diagnoses and situation to not worry. Jared informed me before that he’s a felon. On top of being homeless and unemployed for the last almost decade, I don’t think he’d qualify either. As for grandpa?

Since the kids were little, there has also been a grandpa and Nana protocol at the schools and everyone involved in my children’s care. We let grandpa and Nana go to appointments with all of their caregivers for a while and in each new school. Not so grandpa and Nana could be involved in the children’s care or know much. It was so that those professionals could see for themselves that the grandparents really were the way we said they were, document concerns and confirm with them that the grandparents were going to have limited or no involvement in the medical, educational, or mental care of the kids. The only group outside of that were the teachers who called CPS on me.

They once horrified a therapist when they suggested moving Lio into the garage so he’d have a ‘bigger room’. His power wheelchair at the time was quite large and he had some bulky equipment. I had been adamantly against it. The look on that therapist’s face though. ‘But the floor is concrete and there is no insulation! What about the bathroom?’ Up till then, they’d argued that it wasn’t kicking Lio out, but they slipped up and said, ‘he can just come into the house for that’. He didn’t get shoved into the garage, thankfully.

The grandparents weren’t even allowed on the visitor’s list anywhere. Grandpa has over a decade of various professionals knowing what he’s like. I’m sure there are still records out there, so I am confident that grandpa doesn’t have a case either. After this latest fiasco, I doubt he’d get the kids to agree to support him in court either. 

Nana eventually got to be involved when we became a team though.

Follow me for more protection tips from toxic family.

I have to pat myself on the back here. I have built and maintained protections for the kids for a very long time. When the kids and I got together to brainstorm about this mess, it was like old times. I’d already established a safety net in Lio’s care about him living with grandpa. I thought it a little overkill at the time, but it seems my worry was justified. At the same time, I am so very hurt that to this day, I have had to go to such lengths to protect the sons from our own family.

I am also quite upset that trauma and desperation had to be the way for the kids to take their first steps into independence. This could have been a positive journey that my family could have navigated with us rather than trauma after trauma being our roadmap. They all hate me. I had to get a restraining order because one of them wants to kill me and I truly suspect the other intentionally caused that accident; that none of us trusted her alone with the sons after that should say plenty. That was also the second car accident that she got them involved in.

I had an epiphany too. When I was 13, I got my first job because I saw my siblings have so little and it hurt me. My father hated ma; we all knew it. I am almost 50 and realizing that my father made us suffer homelessness and poverty because it made ma suffer. He did to her what he did to me. I supported my family when he withheld resources and fought child support. I picked up his slack. Damn. You know? When he’d lecture me about leaving my family for my own benefit because I’d done enough, he should have thanked me for trying to be the provider he never was. At that last meeting/fight, he openly admitted to the kids that so long as they choose me, he has nothing for them. Maybe he saw the sons as a second chance to finally be a parent, which is why it always had to be his way. Ma admitted that the sons were basically a second chance, but they both only had the one chance. This wasn’t it.

The kids have brought up Nana’s will and the house. I told them that if he sells it, they won’t have the house like Nana wanted. That he could have also exhausted her estate and there’s nothing left for them. We probably need to give up the prospect of anyone respecting Nana’s wishes or of any inheritance left for them. Nana told me where she wanted to be buried and her ashes are in a closet. There’s nothing we can do. We have our memories of her though and I found one picture that I’d taken at a birthday party. Nana was an amazing person and I miss her. Not the best caregiver, but I think she owned that by the end too and she really tried. 


Grandpa wouldn’t entertain any option other than Oklahoma. One day, he told the kids that if they didn’t go to Oklahoma, then he’d arrange to send them to live with Patty on the Rez. The same place he said had nothing for them and they’d be miserable. 

When we left the Rez, to my knowledge, Patty had been living in the concrete storm shelter under someone’s house with around six stairs and heavy metal doors. It is not accessible.  Most houses in Oglala that were built after the tornado have these storm shelters; it doesn’t have a bathroom, running water or insulation. When we moved the kids’ stuff out, I asked if that’s where he intended the kids to live and he said he wasn’t aware of her living situation, but yes, that’s where he would send them. He didn’t even know what conditions he would send my sons to live in.

Patty is the one person that the kids have expressed quite plainly over the years that they do not want contact with. Yet that was their “solution” to not moving to Oklahoma. That was the final straw. 

My siblings and father no longer exist to me. I will not help you contact my sons. 

The sons refuse contact with my siblings from this day forward. If grandpa sells Nana’s house, they will not allow contact with him again either. I will not tolerate harassment and will take any and all legal action to protect the kids’ wishes. 

These are two persons who needed family and support. Not to have their autonomy revoked and forced out of state or palmed off like some misbehaved pet to someone else. You all blew it.

Grandpa, if you don’t sell the house, you may contact me in a month. I don’t have to like you to serve as a go between for you and my sons. If you choose.


So now the kids are safe in their first apartment. I recommended taking a couple of months for them to adjust to their new situation before letting anyone butt into their lives. I may hang out in Denver for a couple of weeks, but I need to figure me out too.

My aftermath is the same. Broke and homeless. I haven’t figured out what I’ll do at this point. It isn’t just the kids growing up, I’m entering a phase in life where, for the first time, I am only looking out for myself – and friends. It’s scary. For the moment, I’m trying to focus on my mental health. My current coping mechanism is that I need to outlive my father so I can piss on his grave.

Even so. Broke and homeless isn’t fun, so if you feel like sending a buck or something my way to support my budding solo journey at almost 50, here’s my links; Venmo: aliwatson117, PayPal: Two of us have birthdays this month too and I need glasses. I’m also part of a gofundme for housing (see my Twitter if not linked here) if you’d like to help me and another disabled Native get housed too. 

And if you are of the Watson family and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma – if you know about the kids and want to get to know them or me (I’d like to know family too), feel free to use the contact page on this website or ping my Twitter @aliwatson117. 

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