|Holidays present struggling UC family with more challenges |
|Posted: Monday, December 19, 2011 9:11 pm |
| By KEVIN BOWDEN |
Jamonica Walker is a little overwhelmed this holiday season. And rightly so.
The 23-year-old first-year nursing school student has taken on a whole new set of responsibilities following her mother’s death earlier this month.
Deborah Alexander died of pancreatic cancer Dec. 3 at her home in the Fair Oaks subdivision and, after a funeral service at New Hope Free Will Baptist Church, she was laid to rest in East View Cemetery on Dec. 9.
Her death leaves Miss Walker with the responsibility of raising her 15-year-old sister, Shanell Alexander, and her 6-year-old developmentally disabled brother, Cameron Price — known to his family and friends as C.J.
Miss Alexander is a freshman at Union City High School and plays clarinet in the school band.
Price attends first grade at Union City Elementary School. He likes ravioli and basketball.
Another sister, Andrea Flora, has moved to Dresden to be with her father. Miss Walker said they continue to stay in touch and she really misses her sister.
There has been help from friends during recent weeks as the family attempts to make it through this difficult time.
To say the past six months have been a major ordeal for the three siblings is a major understatement.
The family had lived at Green Acres until they were able to move into a rented house in the Fair Oaks subdivision off the Ken-Tenn Highway. Now they are having to move again because of financial problems.
Miss Walker discussed how she is dealing with her new set of responsibilities during an interview Thursday evening in the dining area of her home on Fair Oaks Drive. The table was covered with paperwork from where she has had to single-handedly deal with her mother’s death and funeral.
She emerged from that situation only to have to deal with keeping her family together.
It’s a tall order, but its one that Miss Walker is tackling with a strong sense of perseverance.
The soft-spoken Miss Walker comes across as determined to keep her family together for the holidays and for the long-term future.
“I know a lot of people say it’s a big responsibility and it is, but I’m used to it,” Miss Walker said.
She is used to it because she returned to Union City in June to help her mother through some of the health issues she was dealing with this past summer. Miss Walker assumed the role of mother for her family then as her mother was in and out of hospitals. Then came the cancer.
There are red roses arranged on the late Ms. Alexander’s bed. Her memory obviously still lingers for the family.
“Right now they’re OK,” Miss Walker said about her siblings.
“She kind of bounces back and forth,” Miss Walker said about her sister’s emotions.
Even though he is developmentally disabled, Miss Walker said her younger brother is also struggling to deal with his mother’s death.
“He has moments. He gets upset with me and he’ll say I’m telling mama,” Miss Walker said. “He hasn’t really cried yet … It’s like he hasn’t fully grasped it.”
So now, on top of the emotional strain of dealing with her mother’s death and the new responsibility of becoming a mother to her siblings, Miss Walker is moving her family to a new rental house, a week before Christmas. Her landlord, Ralph Adams, told The Messenger Friday he would provide Miss Walker and her family with all the time they needed to make the move.
“I’ve had to grow up fast,” Miss Walker said.
When she was asked about what things the family needs this Christmas season, Miss Walker appeared lost for an answer.
“I really don’t know how to answer that question,” she said. “I don’t know where to begin. I’m so overwhelmed.”
Miss Walker said even though she has secured a new rental house just down the road, she isn’t sure how she’s going to come up with the money for utility deposits and she said she hasn’t even had time to think about a Christmas tree. Getting the family into its new house is her main priority right now.
She did say the family will be getting Social Security checks soon, child support is an option down the road, they are supposed to be getting food stamps and there is a life insurance policy, but Miss Walker said the insurance company is contesting the claim.
“There’s some trouble with that,” she said.
Moving day began Friday for the family. Packing boxes were lined up in the carport and there were boxes scattered throughout the house. Miss Walker will also have to vacate her Martin apartment and move things to her new residence.
Pity does not appear to be something Miss Walker is looking for as she deals with her new responsibilities, but her needs are numerous.
“My biggest fear is having them (her siblings) taken away from me,” Miss Walker said. It is the first and only time during the interview that she cried.
She has been granted temporary custody, but said the Department of Children’s Services is handling the case as to whether to grant her permanent custody.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 12.19.11