Joaquina A

My mother always told me to get protection for any and everything I have and do, and I always ask the question, “why”? Her answer was always the same; because I said so! When you are a child, nothing ever made sense. Why do people put plastic bags on their children’s heads when it’s raining, why not just buy umbrellas? Why do people put plastic bags inside of their shoes with holes in it, just buy new shoes? Those are just a couple of things I’ve seen and it was just so unconventional to me. I couldn’t understand why people would go under cover or shield themselves from the storm or rain or even from holes in their shoes which I can now say it symbolized being protected from head to toe. I am the third of four children; two boys, two girls. My mother and father were born in St. Thomas Virgin Islands, and my grandparents were born in St Thomas and Puerto Rico. Family is everything. We celebrate everything! Our neighbors here in the states tease my mother and tell her that we celebrate so much we even have a party when we change the toilet paper. My sister and I were very close to my mother. Whenever she went out on her own, I would somehow find her. She would be so amazed, but it really wouldn’t be hard. She would be at one of three of her favorite stores; Kmart, Bradlees (when it was around), Fashion Bug (when it was around), or Lane Bryant, but I couldn’t tell her it was so easy to find her, let her have her joy. Why spoil it? So why did I bring all this up? Why did I say that family is everything? Why did I say we celebrate everything? And why would I mention parents protecting their children with plastic bags over their heads and putting plastic bags in the bottom of holey shoes? PROTECTION! All of this has to do with protection. Parents would protect their children from the weather elements; people would protect their feet from cuts from the ground; family would celebrate new family members such as a wedding or a newborn baby, family would celebrate a milestone such as receiving your Bachelor’s Degree or Doctorates Degree or purchasing your first home, family would celebrate life and yes our family would even celebrate death. In Deuteronomy 16:14-15 says, “Be joyful at your festival—you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levites, the foreigners, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns.  For seven days celebrate the festival to the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.” Well, sometimes we do celebrate for a week, my mother’s birthday, but don’t tell her I told you. We came to appreciate life. Well, my mother and father didn’t stay married but they were amicable through the years. My mother never remarried and I believe that was part of why she is not with me today, but my father did to a wonderful and kind-spirited lady. So, my mother developed breast cancer twice in her life. The second time the cancer came back, she had moved to Kansas with my sister. My mother didn’t trust the doctors in Kansas so she moved back to Connecticut where she would receive her chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The first time she was diagnosed it went into remission quickly for several years. It was then I told her, “You have to get protection”. And with a smile on her face she replied, “Because I said so”. I finally got it! The protection was insurance. Insurance was and is very important not only for the person it is protecting but for the family as well. I have another to tell before I get into the insurance story. I have been having serious issues with my left leg. It usually swells up, hot to the touch and even hurts when you touch it. I went to the hospital, were I needed a wheelchair because I couldn’t even walk on it. I explained to the Dr. that I was in so much pain, I can’t take. They did tests after tests and found nothing. So they gave me two pain pills and sent me home. I cried because no one was listening. So the next day my husband and I were home. He was just getting off the phone and just about to get into the shower and I was in the bedroom sitting on the bed when all of a sudden I couldn’t breathe and I felt dizzy. I jumped up and ran into the kitchen and I woke up looking up at my husband.  I asked him what happened. He said I passed out. I had a pulmonary embolism that stemmed from my left leg that traveled to both of my lungs. I had no protection, I was blessed to not have died otherwise my family would still be paying for my funeral costs and extensive bills. I hear my mom, “You need protection”, “why”, “Because I said so”. My father’s wife was a very giving and kind person. She and my father were married for 39 years. He is not the same. While taking care of others, she neglected her health. One day she finally went to go see her doctor. With all the tests she had to take and retake it took about a month and a half. The results finally came in; it was stage 3 cervical cancer. We were all in shock. I cared for my mother when she was sick. It was heartbreaking but I’m so glad I spent that time with her; loving her, seeing her through that. Now my step-mother is sick. We were optimistic. I’m a half glass kind of girl. After a few more tests, a few more doctors’ appointments, she called me and said, “It is now stage 4”. My heart just dropped. She had no protection, no insurance. Now my father at the age of 74 has to continue to work full-time to pay for her funeral costs, but not her bills. Not having insurance has truly impact our family in an unusual way. Three different stories, three different outcomes; story one – mother of four diagnosed with breast cancer, has insurance, passed away, funeral and bills paid for because she said so; story two – daughter diagnosed with pulmonary embolism in both lungs, almost died, no insurance, lesson learned; story three – step-mother diagnosed with cervical cancer, has no insurance, passed away, funeral not paid for, father has to work at the age of 74 to pay off funeral costs. Yes, it imperative to have insurance; not only life insurance, but car, rental, and house insurance. Anything of value should be protected, not just material items but the most important item of value is your life. Celebrate life while it is yet green. Protect your life while you can. You only live once.