Born a proud native of Orlando, Florida and raised in the 60s and 70s at a time when the Disney was a place out in California and the only entertainment we had was Cypress Gardens, with its ski show and southern bells sitting in the garden or Weeki Wachee Springs with its live mermaid show. I call myself a pre-Disney kid.
I’m sure you’ve have experienced or heard the stories of life in most small towns during that time period. You and your friends spent warm spring and summer evenings playing kickball, kick the can or kill the man with the ball. You knew to come home when the street lights came on. Those of us that pushed the time limit endured the embarrassment of our Mother’s making their signature sound (PEEE WEEE) or some derivative thereof to let us know we would not be getting dinner if we did not get our butts in the door, pronto.
I was a bit of an abnormality in our neighborhood. Back in the 60s most women had their babies in their early to mid-twenties. My mother was almost 40 years old when this little bundle of joy came to be. My father was 38. By all norms of that day and time, my parents were more like grandparents in terms of age and attitude to child rearing, in that children are expected to chip in to help the family unit. As the dutiful son, I was indeed always there to help.
As you may or may not know, there are not too many born and raised Floridians in Central Florida and over the years I have not moved more than 20 miles from the hospital I was born. Not only is this area in my blood but, my parents never moved from their home in Maitland that they purchased in the late 50s.
As the years passed, I progressed as most do; graduated from Winter Park High. Then graduated from Rollins College located in Winter Park as well. Married my wife of now 33 years, had our little girl, now 28 and my son now 25 at the of time of this writing. In fact, I and my parents had a family business repairing medical equipment from the years of 1983 until 2013. All with life was going well then there was the change.
While working in our business in the Fall of 2011, my Father, the man I had always looked up to, had a debilitating stroke. I was in my office upfront and my Dad was in the warehouse working with one of our employees repairing a sterilizer. One of the other workers rushed into my office saying “You better come quick! Something is wrong with your Dad!!”
As soon as I saw him I knew he was having a stroke. The slurred speech, the drooping mouth the typical symptoms you have seen on the brochures sitting in the doctor’s office that you glance at and hope never have to deal with. That day I had to deal with it. I called 911 and the paramedics where there in minutes. They too saw what was happening to Dad and said “We’ve got to get him to the hospital NOW.”
Off went Dad in the ambulance with me following behind in my car. I was praying the whole time over, “Please God please let my Dad be ok.” We arrived at the hospital and the doctors and nurses were there to take care of my then 86 Father as best they could. The neurologist decided that Dad’s best bet was to have some type of high potency anti-coagulant administered to break up the blood clot that had hit his brain. I agreed that was the best action to take. When they first gave Dad the drug he was responding well. His speech improved and he was telling me I needed to make some calls to clients having to do with the business. For about ten minutes I thought my prayers had been answered. In the period of the next 20 minutes Dad’s condition started to deteriorate. His speech became slurred again and I could tell he was not understanding the words coming out of my mouth.
Dad left the hospital after about two weeks and was transfered to a nursing home for another 2 weeks. At that time the powers that be decided that he had recovered all he was going to recover and Medicare would not cover any more treatments.
My Mother had been fighting dementia for about two years prior to “the stroke”. During this time I was discovering that my Dad had been covering Mom’s inability to do the simplest of activities. She could not run the clothes washer, she could not run the microwave, she could not remember to take her medications. Dad had been taking care of HER for the last 2 or 3 years without breathing a word to me of his struggles.
When I was a child our family did not take many vacations. My parents being Depression Era Kids thought that was a waste of money. What they did do was invest in real estate. Over the years they have not only their home but, also four duplexes, three condos in Cocoa Beach and a commercial building. I realized now that all those sacrificed vacations, the lack of going to ball games was so that they could leave me and my wife and kids a legacy.
I had a new purpose. I vowed to protect my parent’s legacy and gain knowledge of real estate and property management. My Father had always handled the rentals. I would ask him if I could help and his answer was always the same. “Take care of those kids, boy, that’s your most important job.” But now I knew I must step up. I had heard the horror stories of unethical agents that could come and take advantage of situations like my parents’. I quickly got my real estate license, not to do real estate as a means of making a living, but as a protective shield to protect my parents
Sure as shooting, there were the unethicals that appeared over the years that followed. Like Batman fighting off the Joker, Catwoman and the Riddler, I was there to protect my parents…. Want to keep your parents at their house? How about a reverse mortgage? <BAM> swatted away. We will sell your house in 59 days or we will buy it, guaranteed<Biff> knocked out. Sell your property for CASH NOW! <Wham> Pushed to the side. All these sound like attractive offers but they are not, they are a come on.
In the passing years since “the stroke” both Mom and Dad have passed away. I did use some of the properties to pay hospital bills and caregiver bills and to keep them as comfortable as I could in their remaining time on earth. I believe in my heart of hearts that I did the best I could to protect them and their legacy. I miss them both every day and I continue my fight to protect what is now my legacy to my children and to protect those around me that are fighting a similar fight.
I did wind up in real estate because I have experienced the unethicals and their kind. Their purpose is to profit from the pain, suffering and lack of knowledge of the general public. Their tactics and schemes are clever and devious but most of all they are hurtful and can cost any family their legacy.
When I'd finally mastered my fear, I went to take another look at the world. No, that's inaccurate. I went out to learn how to be strong enough to face it. To defend it. To gaze into it and accept it for what it was... without flinching. - Batman