It's amazing how time can seem to fly by so fast and at other times it stands so still. My family and I moved to Mesa, Arizona from Detroit, Michigan in June 2007. I know some of you may be thinking why such an extreme move from the cold to the heat? There are a few reasons why we made the choice to move. The first was the fact that I had earned my Master of Healthcare Management in 2005 and was only making $12.01 an hour as a pharmacy technician. All opportunities to move up within the organization I was working went nowhere fast. Second was that my husband had been laid off from the plant and all the jobs that he did find were way out in the suburbs and we found ourselves using the money earned to put gas in the tank to get him to work. Lastly the biggest reason is to have a fresh start after my oldest daughter decided to have an online romance with a former family friend.
The move to Arizona was not a difficult one for my youngest daughter and I but when it came to my oldest daughter and husband that was a different story. You see my husband had not ventured outside of Michigan and my oldest daughter wanted to be with her friend and newly rediscovered family. I believe the biggest problem they had was that we did not know anyone in the entire state of Arizona. For me it was icing on the fresh start cake.
I wish I could tell you that the move to Arizona was this happily ever after experience but alas it was not. We struggled a lot for quite a few years both professionally and privately. We thought about moving back to Michigan but we had no jobs or even a place to live so we had to tough it out. In February 2008 we were able to visit our beloved Detroit and were surprised to see that in our almost 1 year absence how much had changed so much so it seemed foreign to us. As much as we loved being in Detroit for our brief visit we realized that Detroit was no longer our home but neither was Mesa at this time. We were in a sort of limbo when it came to finding our place that felt like home.
When we welcomed in 2009 our family was in turmoil. My husband and I really were not talking to each other but more so at each other. We lived like roommates than husband and wife. We were thinking of separating to see if we could get back on track. We attended marriage counseling in church and outside of church. I will tell you that just when it seem inevitable that we would be living in different homes we were both sad but had no idea how to fix us. You see the only issues we had was we were not communicating and we had not dealt with the damage that happened to our family from our oldest daughter's choices. Thankfully our love was much stronger than our stubbornness. In August 2009 the whole family moved into our new apartment where I made good on my promise to my daughters about having to share a room for a short time. I had even started a new degree program in pharmacy but I would not finish it because my heart belonged to public health. I found the ultimate degree program that would allow me to earn a Masters and Doctorate of Public Health at the same time. This program was just what I needed. I was laser focused in the program but I had no idea that something was on the horizon that would remove me from the program and it would take a minute to get back on track.
As a family we were so excited to celebrate the graduation of our oldest daughter from high school in 2010. She received a full ride scholarship with her books included and we were the proudest parents on Earth. The closer we got to graduation of our daughter the more sad she seemed. That was weird to us because she had always expressed her need to leave our home so much so that we wanted her to leave too. The day would finally come where we would receive the answer about what was going on with our oldest daughter and in our wildest dreams we would not have figured out the answer. It seemed that our oldest daughter was seeing someone without our knowledge. This man would soon be introduced to us as well as the announcement of a new baby. Talk about a one-two punch to the stomach but we kept our tempers in check. Weeks past and we found out this baby was coming much sooner than expected. November 2010 we met our first grandson. His mother and him stayed with us until January 2011. Our grandson would come back to stay with us at 3 months and stay until he was removed by his mother at 6 months. Our family now had a huge void in it.
By the August 2011, apartment living would be behind us and we 3 would be moving into a house. Another fresh start to attempt to heal the hole in our family. We had peace for 4 months and then our oldest daughter was back needing a place to stay with her son. My husband and I were both against allowing her back in spite of wanting to see how our grandson was doing in addition to our daughter. It took our youngest daughter to make a plea to us to allow our oldest daughter to come into our home and make our family whole again. We finally decided to after much anguish and tears to allow my daughter and son into our home. We were able to celebrate Christmas and welcomed in the 2012 new year. Our family reunion would be short-lived because our oldest daughter would leave our home for the final time with our grandson in tow before the end of January 2012. We went back to our peaceful existence with little involvement with our oldest daughter. By the middle of 2012, a new baby would be on the way but this time we had decided not to be so involved in the pregnancy and delivery of this baby. By November 2012 we had established out own nonprofit organization Henderson-Hughes Health Partners (H3P).
In February 2013 our second grandson was born. Something so precious would seem to reunite our family but it did not. We did manage to keep the door cracked on our relationship enough to make sure that we could be reached if needed but not enough to feel the devastation of losing our grandsons again. For a year we had a hot and cold relationship with our oldest daughter until April 2014. Everything that we thought we knew was all a lie. Our grandsons we placed into the foster care system and we would not find out until 2 days after the placement happened. Meanwhile in June 2014 Henderson-Hughes Health Partners (H3P) became a 501C3. Our focus was health literacy andwe created a program that centered around teen sexual health education.
On April 24, 2014, 2 weeks after our grandsons were placed into the foster care system they would come to live with us. Although we had no idea why our grandsons were place into the foster care system we all pledge to be there for them until they could be reunited with their mother and father. December 2014 would bring us a brand new granddaughter who was born prematurely. She too would come to live with us on January 23, 2015.
After almost 10 years of Arizona living, 3 years of being parents to our grandsons and 2 years being parents to our granddaughter we have gotten to a place of thanksgiving and acceptance of our life's journey. As for our nonprofit organization its focus has grown from health literacy to add advocacy and public health. We also added 2 more programs the H3P Senior Initiative that focuses on senior sexual health and health care advocacy as well as Young Grandparents Observing Understanding Grandchildren. This program is designed to help understand the foster care system from a grandparent or kinship placement perspective. If you would like more information on our nonprofit organization and programs check our website www.h3p.org