Category Archives: Divorce

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 6–“Till Death Do Us Part…Well, Maybe” or The Wedding Ring Block, by Beverly Hicks Burch

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 6 – “Till Death Do Us Part…Well, Maybe” or The Wedding Ring Block

And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Mark 10:8 NASB

(*This post can also be seen at my quilt blog Around the Block with the BamaSteelMagnolia™ where I am blogging the whole project.)

Wedding Ring block

I started this chapter in February some time ago and it seemed a fitting month to start writing the latest chapter of The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries. The block for this chapter is called Wedding Ring. It is a single wedding ring and not the double wedding ring we know so well. The block is a simple 6 inch pieced block and it represents the fact that I don’t know many in life who have not been affected by a marriage in some way or another…including me.

Being a genealogist I can see how all the “begats” or unions/marriages in our ancestry make us who we are. When you stop and think about the numbers in the equation of “you” it becomes pretty staggering.

For instance, for each generation you go back the number doubles to how many sets of ancestors, or marriages if you will, it took to trickle down to create the final individual you. Look at it this way…you are the starting point on the road backwards into time and your ancestry. Take those sets and multiply them by two and you have how many people it took to create the one special individual called you.

It works this way; you had two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, 32 great-great-great-grandparents, 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents and 128 great-great-great-great-great-grandparents and so on. As mind boggling as 128 may seem, your heritage and ancestry doesn’t stop there and it continues to double for each generation back. There are so many life lessons just in the formula of who you are and how you were made, but that is for another story. One missing link in that chain and you would not have been you…as a matter of fact you probably wouldn’t have been, well, here on Earth at all.

I would ask you to reflect on the marriages in your life, including your own that have affected you and what they mean to you. I’m sure everyone has different recollections and feelings and experiences.

The most immediate marriage that has affected me all of my life and is actually responsible for me even being here is of course the marriage of my parents. My parents have something that is rare to find in this day and age. That’s a long lasting marriage. For you see, on Feb. 28, 2012 they celebrated 59 years of marriage.

Oakley Hicks and Juanita McGee Early 1950's

Daddy and Momma early 1950s

Momma and Daddy were high school sweethearts. They were 15 and 16 when they met at a church function being conducted by my Momma’s daddy. Yes, Mom was a PK…a Preacher’s Kid. She was the shy quite one with big brown “doe eyes” as Daddy calls them. Momma and Daddy were a couple all through high school, for four years, so for all practical purposes you could say they’ve been together for 63 years and that is the biggest portion of their life. When they laid eyes on each other, there was no one else as far as they were concerned…that was it.

Daddy started the University of Tennessee with intentions on becoming a mechanical engineer. But, Momma and Daddy also had secret plans…yes, in their own quiet non-conforming conforming way they were rebels with a cause. They had plans to get married and I don’t mean a big church wedding with the wedding party, flowers, music and weeping mother of the bride (and in this case weeping mother of the groom, too). Nope, no way, no how. Momma and Daddy were going to make Hicks history…or at least stuff that would go down in family history. For you see, the shy lovely quite preacher’s daughter and the tall good looking guy from the foothills of the Smokies eloped…all the way to Ringgold, GA!

Now, the plan was to get hitched and drive back home. Mom would go back and keep quiet and live at home and Daddy would go back home and live with his parents and continue going to college. The slight hiccup in their little plan happened when Mom told her next oldest sister, Korinne, what she had done and swore her to secrecy…which of course was the very last thing that actually happened. Before you knew it the cat was out of the bag, the cow was out of the barn and the camel’s nose was under the tent or in other words, it was like telling Western Union and everyone found out. As Ricky use to say to Lucy, “There was some `splaining to do.”

Well, of course everyone knows you can’t keep true love apart very long anyway and by the time the parents (my grandparents) had time to wrap their heads around the events Momma let it be known in no uncertain terms she was living where Daddy was. And that was that.

Everything went along pretty good in newlywed life until about three months later. At that time Mom came down with a raging case of flu. Made her sick as a dog. She just could not get well. That was the “Beverly” flu. Yep, eleven months after they married I was born…and Mom’s flu was cured.

Cominghome Day 1-7-1954

Daddy, Momma and Bev – Coming home day

I was an only child for about three and a half years. During that time we moved for a brief time to Texas where Daddy worked as an engineer in the aircraft industry for Chance-Vought Aircraft. I celebrated my second birthday in Fort Worth, Texas which has always left me with a soft spot for Texas and branded me Daddy’s “little Texas girl”. And, as I have always said, some of the most famous and infamous Texans were Tennesseans.

“Oh, really?!” I know you Texans are saying… yep. For instance: remember Davy Crockett…♪born on a mountain top in Tennessee…♪ and also famous for the Alamo. Then there’s Benjamin and Henry McCulloch who both fought in the Texas Revolution and became Texas Rangers; Mack Brown head coach at the University of Texas and oh, yeah some fellow named Sam Houston. I think you might have heard of him, too. Sam’s time in Tennessee included time as a governor of that great state and time spent teaching in the town of my birth…a long time before I was born or course Smile

Being the true East Tennessee mountain boy that Daddy is, the Plains of Texas didn’t do much to lift the Tennessee boy’s spirits and heart. In other words, he got sorely and mightily homesick, especially when those Nor’easters barreled into the Plains faster than a New York minute without any warning. It wasn’t too long before we were packed up and headed back to the lush green climes of Tennessee.

Over the next eight or nine years Momma had two more cases of “flu”. And, two more baby girls followed those cases of “flu”. Pamella was next in line, followed by Yvonne. For a little Hicks trivia here: Mom named her girls Faith, Hope and Charity…in that order. I always teased her and said if we had been born boys we would have been named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John…

Momma and Daddy’s marriage has mirrored life in general…a road with ups and downs and bumps in the road. Almost every young couple starts out with the bare necessities and grows from there. Daddy was smart and savvy and his engineer career grew. We also moved several times following that career. We landed in Birmingham, AL (for the second and final time I might add) when I was 12 years old and the rest of that is history. That is why I proudly say, ♪…my home is in Alabama…♪ and one of my ringtones on my cell is Sweet Home Alabama…

My baby sister Yvonne, really Charity Yvonne, was born in Greeneville, TN when I was in the third grade. Mom’s delivery with her was fast. Like greased lightening…about 20 minutes. She barely had time to step off the elevator at the hospital before Yvon was born. When Momma & Daddy brought the baby home, they brought home another beautiful baby girl (Momma and Daddy had the reputation of popping out beautiful baby girls with long dark eyelashes and heads of thick dark hair. The nurses in the baby nurseries used us as baby dolls and hated to send us home. Back in those days they had about seven days to get attached to a baby before it went home.)

It seems like from the recollection of my child’s mind that it wasn’t too long after she was born that Yvon seemed to get sick and stay sick. So sick in fact that Mom had to take her all the way to Chattanooga for medical care and stay with family that lived down there. Papaw and Mamaw came to Greeneville to help Daddy take care of Pam and me.

I remember it as a tumultuous time. Yvonnie was sick. We didn’t quite know what was wrong and in the world at large, the Cuban missile was going on.

Over time Yvonne was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and for the last 50 years has lived at home. Do you know what the statistics are for marriages surviving for couples who have disabled children? They’re not very good. The divorce rate is very high and it’s usually the husband who takes his walking papers and goes on to create another worry-free life for himself.

It is a testament to my Daddy’s character that he is right where is started out 59 years ago, disabled child and all, and that is with my Momma and our family. As a matter of fact Daddy is pretty much the rock of the family and the three of us girls are Daddy’s girls. It is also like having a Jewish momma having him around, which is our way of saying he worries over us like a Jewish mom would…he just never learned to cook that chicken soup. Daddy’s remedy is to always take it to prayer…

I heard some place one time that marriage is a marathon not a sprint. My parents’ marriage would certainly qualify for the marathon…

Unfortunately, the first time around, I married a sprinter…

There is a lot I could write about my first marriage. My child is the issue of that marriage. And, sometimes I feel really badly because I feel I provided a poor example…a sprinter if you will as a role model for my child. I do not adhere to the current feel-good philosophy that divorce does not affect children. It does…no matter what their age. I think our society today reflects the side effects and ravages of decades of divorce. On the other hand I also believe that some parents can be toxic and I do not adhere to the theory that having a toxic parent around is better than having no parent around.

But, with that said, there are just times when divorce is unavoidable. Marrying that “marriage sprinter” is certainly one instance. Infidelity usually ends a marriage fairly fast or ends the chance for that marriage marathon partner. Another unavoidable instance is when you marry the type of person who ends up creating the “tragic love” scenario or as I wrote about a few years ago, the type of guy (or gal) that causes love to hurt.

If that is the case, I would beseech you to go back and read a blog I wrote a few years ago that addresses just that subject. Called When Love Hurts I address the rash of tragic stories in which women have chosen to stay and in the end unfortunately paid dearly for that relationship…sometimes with their lives.

The most recent example would be Susan Powell and her precious boys. Susan disappeared one cold December day in 2009 while her husband supposedly had taken their two very young sons camping in a blizzard. On Feb. 5th of this year her

husband blew up himself and those two precious boys as the police drew closer to lowering the hammer on him and his pedophile father. The coward and those poor children died in a burning inferno that should have never happened.

My love hurt story wasn’t like that, but it was traumatic just the same. Had I just opened my eyes and looked at the warning signs early on I could have saved myself sorrow and devastation years later. After 27 years of marriage my ex walked out because he was unfaithful. The summer he left I read my diary from the summer we started dating and as I did it was a real eye opener…he was the same back then…had cheated then and had not changed in 27 years. Leopards as they say do not change their spots. I just could not love him enough for him to change.

Bev & Momma on the Regrettable Day Nov. 1974

Bev & Mom – me as a young bride not paying attention to warning signs

And, unfortunately staying in a bad relationship hoping to make it functional only teaches children dysfunction. What did Susan Powell’s children learn in the end by her hanging on to a bad marriage? It cost her kids their lives. What a tragic shame… There is a saying…”The sins of a father (parent) are visited upon the children…” In other word the kids will learn from the father…from the parents. And, if you close your eyes to alcoholism, addiction, incest, abuse, violence and plunge ahead into that and choose that as a family center for your children…it will trickle down to them and affect them in one way or the other

For me realizing I could not love the ex enough to change who the core of him was, it was, well, the beginning of a new future, hope and moving forward…

So, even though I was scared to death when Gomez the Underwhelming abandoned me I began to have hope. Yes, I was disabled. Yes, he had wiped out the bank accounts. Yes, I had not worked outside the home full time in over 21 year. Yes, at one point he left me without health insurance. Yes, he assaulted me before he left and injured my back. Yes, I had hoped with everything in me that that he would have a change of heart and come home and things would go back to normal.

But, to have normal and a marriage that’s going in the same direction, you have to have two people who want the same thing. Without that, it’s just not going to happen and the only resulting by-product is going to be pain, sorrow, poor health, a bad example for the kids and low self esteem.

In the end the veil was lifted from my eyes and I was able to see there just might be someone out there who not only would help heal my broken heart, but became my marathon runner.

As the Rascal Flats song goes…God blessed the broken road that lead me straight to you…and that you is my Tall & Handsome…my southwestern cowboy.

Our story is unconventional at best. A sign of the times and a sign of what happens when a geek (me) comes into her geekdom and starts to revel in her life and gain self esteem once again. And a lonely, broken hearted southwestern cowboy who had given up on the hope of a loving nurturing relationship begins to hope again. You see we met playing an online MMORPG game. We emailed, talked and instant messaged for almost a year before we met face to face.

When I first laid eyes on my Tall & Handsome he was walking out of the Birmingham Airport. He had on tight blue jeans, a Western cut jacket and a Stetson. I got out of the Lead Sled (what I “affectionately” called my Park Avenue) and walked towards him. He walked toward me, smiled and said, “Hello, darling” and then kissed me under that cowboy hat in front of the Birmingham airport.

I felt 18 again! Wow! It was like living in a movie…a real chick flick. He really had me at “Hello, darling” and that kiss.

The kiss 12-30-03

The Kiss – my favorite of our wedding pictures

I have also learned words are cheap, but actions speak volumes and they do so loudly! Some of Gomez’ parting words were (referring to my illnesses and disabilities), “I didn’t want to take care of you, I hated taking care of you, but I did. So, there!”God help him when his karma comes rolling around.

I have never wanted to be a burden…to anyone. So, I was very up front from the beginning with T & H about the status of my health. The man did not tuck tail and run. He called me his wounded dove…

He knew I saw in him a heart that was larger than large…and he appreciated that.

I never felt secured and truly loved with a man I was married to for 27 years. I never felt “good enough”. I poured myself into him, body and soul. But my self confidence and self esteem was non-existent. There were episodes of suspect cheating from the beginning. He had developed hepatitis before we were married five years and I was so naïve back then I didn’t realize how hepatitis is contracted. Deep down inside though I knew something wasn’t right…

By the time T & H and I married, I felt loved, appreciated, confident and secure. I had found my muse. I wanted to create again. That is a huge gift any man can give to the woman he loves. My T & H does it effortlessly…

It has been the little things that some people would never notice. The time I lay dying in the back of an ambulance in Knoxville, TN my feet were bare. T & H dashed quickly into the house and grabbed a pair of sock and gently put them on my feet before the ambulance doors were closed. At the hospital ER, he refused to be separated from me and was by my side until I stabilized and was released.

When we moved from Alabama to Tennessee I was so sick I had to go through the ER first. When we got to Knoxville I was exhausted and slept quite a bit. I woke up one weekend afternoon to discover T & H had set up the deck furniture like a side walk café, bought flowers and grilled a luscious dinner. All I had to do was eat and enjoy him and the outdoors.

Another time when I was deathly sick and my stomach would hold absolutely nothing down, he cut up corn tortillas and made home-made lime-pepper tortillas chips and they were the only thing I could eat and not get sick.

Life may try to batter us, but we fight back together as a team.

We’ve taken care of a couple of bucket list items together. But, our greatest strength is being there for each other, understanding each other and appreciating each other. I love to see life through my T & H’s eyes. It is seeing life anew sometimes.

In the end, my greatest regret…our greatest regret? That we won’t have more years together and didn’t meet years earlier. If only fate had intervened when we were young…how many times have we had that conversation?

But, in the end, it is what it is…as much as we both hate that saying. We are thankful for what we have and for finding each other. It would have been awful to have never found each other. Neither of us can imagine a life without the other. I cannot imagine a day without his voice and his blue eyes and his sense of humor.

My Tall & Handsome and me at the Survivors Dinner in Savannah, GA (2011) celebrating 29 years cancer free non-smoking lung cancer (right lung) and 16 years cancer free non-smoking lung cancer (left lung)

And, in the end we resolve…`til death do us part…with the wedding ring block…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

**The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries is a writing and textile art project I started a few years ago. It’s based on a concept started by Mimi Dietrich and a book she wrote about diary quilts. I was so inspired by the book I started my own and decided to accompany each block with a chapter. Everyone has always said, “Bev, you need to write a book!” Well, here it is…at least part of it!”

If you’re interested in catching up, here are the beginning installments:

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries Begin

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 1 – Cupcake Block or Happy Birthday to Me

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 2: Southern Belle and Yankee Puzzle or A House Divide Will Fall…

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 3 – Compass or Where in the World is Bev?

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 4 – Paw Print or To All the Dogs I’ve Loved Before

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 5 – How Green is My Thumb? or Grandmother’s Flower Garden Block

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Filed under Around the Block with The BamaSteelMagnolia(TM), Daddy, Divorce, East Tennessee Heritage, Family, genealogy, Gomez, Life, Marriage, Photography, Quilt Block, Quilts, Susan Powell, Tall & Handsome, The BamaSteelmagnolia(TM) Diaries, Wedding Ring Quilt block

Divorce Has Lasting Toll on Health, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Divorce Has Lasting Toll on Health

Shared via AddThis

I found the above article this morning on WebMD and feel it applies to my concern for women’s health matters. Please take the time to read it…especially if you are a survivor of divorce or someone in your family is!

This one personally hit home for me because I fit the demographic…plus, I had the ex from hell, with a matching sibling and girlfriend/paramour/new wife…the “other woman” who broke up the marriage. She was Gomez’  co-worker and she and the ex both worked  for the same company where my father had spent a 25+ year distinguished and respected career.

When they pulled their shenanigan phone calls started pouring out of the woodwork to my Dad (and a few to me) about their behavior at work (they thought they had been “sly” and covered their tracks…but, nope they just Punk’d themselves). Daddy and I were also informed about her less than distinguished and respected reputation…

During the divorce I started out with a “handicap”…I was disabled with a laundry list of disabilities and chronic health problems. Gomez was determined to see I was penniless when he emptied out the bank accounts and “supported” me with a grand amount of $250 for almost 18 months for food, medicine, health and dental care, gas, legal fees and any other necessities. Fortunately I managed to get a small pittance from an account he forgot about…but it was waaaay below the national poverty line…he also bought a Ford Explorer he put on a second mortgage on the house (that I ended up having to pay for even though I hadn’t worked outside of the home in over 21 years…I was a disabled, diplaced homemaker…I did manage to stop payment on a check he wrote for a down payment and that added a little to my living money…)

So much for vows like in sickness and in health…for better or worse…unless of course you find a gem like my Tall & Handsome 🙂

Oh…and those legal fees…well, that’s one of the things that enraged him. He wanted to go get a lawyer, but he had the nerve to stand in my living room and tell me he had told his lawyer, “I told him you would be conservative and get legal help off the internet.” When I retained legal representation he saw red and his freckles went 3D…I began to wonder if he was a sociopath…

The stress of the divorce and the battle he waged to put me through…the “lessons” he felt he wanted to teach me (his words) even though he was a low-life, lying, cheating, stealing dog (yep, he stole our son’s income tax refund out of the mailbox, cashed the check, kept the money while our son was at SERE training. It was a whopping $235 and my son found out from the IRS what had happened…his Daddy didn’t have the gonads to tell him what he had done) and the ex’s desire to batter and bruise me casts long shadows…even today. I think he would have killed me if he could have…he bragged to my poor sick Aunt…”She’ll be dead in five years without ME to take care of her!” (Kinda sounds like Lucifer before the fall to me…”Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling” Proverbs 16:18 NASB)….Hummm…sounds like he was uttering a death wish/hope/threat for me…

So, I can concurr, confirm and say “Amen” WebMD! Is it any wonder divorce can have a lasting toll on your health?!

But guess what? Eight years down the road I’m still kicking…married to Tall & Handsome, who can still make me feel 18 years old sometimes…

No wonder there is a First Wives Club!! Ladies TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES!!!

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Divorce, Gomez, Health, Life, Proverbs 16:18, Tall & Handsome, WebMD, Women's health

The Tax Man Cometh, by Beverly Hicks Burch

The Tax Man Cometh

By Beverly Hicks Burch

I bet you’re reading the title of this blog and thinking you know what it’s all about…well, you do…and you don’t…kinda…sorta… Clear as mud isn’t it? It’s like taxes and a lot of other things in the good ol’ US of A at the moment.

Let me explain and give a little background and tell you where I’m coming from and I will share a couple of personal experiences with you to illustrate. But, first let me ask you a question. Do you know how long you worked this year to pay off your taxes? How long did you work for the government…to pay for the taxes imposed by various governmental agencies? According to the Tax Foundation this year’s Tax Freedom Day was April 30th…four days later this year than last year…but, surprisingly down from previous years when the average American had to work well into the month of May to pay off their tax debt. The idea of an income tax is a relatively new one in this country. The concept was accepted and ratified by Congress in the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913. This amendment gave Congress the right to impose a permanent income tax on the American public.

Every pay check a big chunk of your check is taken out in what is called FICA taxes. Do you know what FICA taxes are? A simplified definition would be – those are you Social Security (6.2% of your wages) taxes. These taxes are part of FDR’s New Deal of the 1930’s Depression relief programs and promises. In the 1960’s Medicare was added to be covered by the FICA taxes.

Why on earth is Bev thinking and writing about this subject? Well, I read something the other morning and it also reflects back on a personal trial I had to go through. Let me share with you…sounds “touchy feely” doesn’t it?

One morning I was going through some magazines, sifting through, throwing out, etc. In a news magazine I came across a couple of articles juxtaposed on the same page that I found very interesting. One was by John Stossel and the other was anonymous.

Mr. Stossel was making the point of how large government has become. He made some interesting points:

  • Springfield, NJ economist, consultant and forecaster Gary Shilling reports that 52.6% of Americans receive substantial public (read governmental) aid, assistance or monies. This is up from 49.4% in the year 2000. In the year 1950 that number was 28.3%. Mr. Shilling predicts that by the year 2040 60% of Americans will be living off taxpayers. That my friend is you and me and our children and grandchildren. The funds will come out of our pockets and we will work how many hours, how many months it takes to pay for that? It would be interesting to know if those numbers are based on current population factors and/or if they factor in the possibility of adding 11 – 12 million illegal aliens to our burgeoning entitlement system and government trough.
  • 1 out of 5 (that translates into 20%) Americans work for the government, or a firm that depends on taxpayer funding.
  • 1 in 5 (or 20%) draws Social Security or a Federal pension. This number will grow as the baby boomer generation ages and moves on to Social Security.
  • 9 million people are on food stamps
  • 2 million receive housing subsidies
  • 5 million go to school on federal taxpayer dollars – many student loans are defaulted and many are paid off at a discount
  • The Cato Institute estimates nearly 1,700 federal subsidy programs spending billions of dollars each year.

Now, also on the same page was another article. This article reported a survey conducted by the Mexican daily El Universal. The results were interesting at least and stunning at worst. According to the survey:

  • 45% of Mexican citizens have at least one relative living north of the border in the USA
  • 61% said the money sent back home to Mexico from those relatives is “very important” to their welfare

Whether here legally or illegally, authorities estimate Mexican nationals living in the USA send $23 billion back to Mexico in “remittances”. These remittances are Mexico’s second largest source of foreign income…behind their petroleum income. The Pew Hispanic Center reports that many US banks and credits unions are now setting up programs to help legal and illegal nationals send these remittances back to their homeland. Author’s note: If these nationals are paid “off the books” as is done with many day laborers, house help, child care workers, farm laborers, etc. they are paid in cash and therefore, no taxes are paid on these monies.

First, don’t get me wrong. I am a student of history. I have seen our regal Lady Liberty in New York harbor and she is inspiring. I have been many places in this grand big country of ours and I can tell you one thing. We are truly a melting pot. We are a land of immigrants…English, Irish, Italian, German, Polish, Russian, French, African, Asian, Spanish, Mexican and more… All of you reading this at this very moment had ancestors that came to this country from some where…some earlier than others…even our Native Americans probably crossed the Bering Strait to become the Native Americans.

But, our ancestors did one thing…they had a different attitude than we see today. They began to merge…to meld…to become one, to make one country…this United States of America.

We do have a problem with illegal aliens…regardless of nationality. Let me ask you this question…Do you think you could go to any nation on this planet and behave like the illegals do in this country? Take the same liberties? Take advantage of the system? Of the people? Of the economy? Of the government? Not in a New York minute…

To be remedial let me make a point here: If I had some flour, some butter, some apples, some sugar, spices and a few other ingredients that’s all they are…separate ingredients, each to their own, by themselves, alone in separate stacks and locations. But, if I combine and meld these ingredients together, I have not diminished them. No, I have made a wonderful, juicy, tasty, succulent apple pie. And what could be more American than Apple Pie? That pie is the sum of its parts just like America is the sum of her people when we meld together and become one nation.

One of the points in the debate on the illegal alien situation has been the point that they are honest, hard working people, paying taxes and contributing to our economy. I have no problem if that is true and with legal nationals in the country doing so. I have serious questions about that when I see $23 billion of our economy being hijacked to another country and with the issues I raised above…monies being paid “off the books” and taxes avoided. I would pose this question: Would the government of Mexico or any other country allow the reverse to happen? Would they allow $23 billion of their economy to be sent North of the border in remittance by legal or illegal aliens in their country?

Now, let me tell you a dirty little secret. This system, the “Great American I’m Going To Take Care Of You System” doesn’t work…at least not for everyone. I know. I found out the hard way. Let me share a very painful experience and at very eye opening time in my life…in more ways than one. Please bear with me here…there is a point…

So, what does a middle class white woman know about being disenfranchised? Well, here’s just part of my story… On May 24, 2001, my son’s 21st birthday, after almost 27 years of marriage, my ex, Gomez the Unremarkable decided to walk out. He had a new honey in his life. A co-worker, Morticia…one with money…that’s really important to him. After much deception, lying, cover-up and just general over all low life behavior he finally confessed to the fact they had been carrying on for about 18 months.

When I looked back over those 18 months, I realized there was a point when he tried to convince me sell our home and buy a home close to her and her then husband and three children. She had confessed to her husband she and Gomez had planned on staying with us until she had seen 12 year old son through college, THEN they were going to dump us and finally get together. If Gomez and I had moved down by them it would have been more convenient for Gomez and Morticia. It was also about this time that Gomez would go on rants about how he couldn’t understand why my father couldn’t “gift” us with large chunks of cash…like $10,000 at a time like a co-worker had done with his family. (It wasn’t enough my dad had given us the down payment for our home to begin with…I look back now and see that if he could have gotten his hands on those larger sums of cash, he could have moved into the neighborhood closer to Morticia,)

When our parting of ways happened our son was out of state attending SERE training in conjunction with the USAF and the Alabama National Guard. It was a grueling time for him…and for me. I was in a type of SERE training myself…for those of you not familiar with SERE it is a type of survival training.

Here is where it gets interesting…and this is why I told you all of that. When Gomez left, he cleaned out the bank accounts…yep, he was one of those. He also told me he didn’t give a f**king g*damn what I did for healthcare. You see, I had already had lung cancer twice and had been diagnosed with multiple autoimmune disorders, Raynaud’s syndrome, Fibromyalgia and other chronic health problems.

I was what they called a displaced homemaker…and Gomez was on a tear. I had worked full time years earlier, but after our son was born, stayed at home, other than some occasional part-time work when I paid into the system. I had helped Gomez run some home-based businesses (one he started with funds from my father) while he worked at the office (at a job my dad had a hand in getting him) and for an extended time I did free-lance work for a former employer at home. All the time, I paid my taxes…even in our home based businesses. I had also home-schooled our son for several years so he could take advantage of the opportunities of travel associated with the ex’s work. I had been a very busy, very involved wife, mother and woman.

In addition I helped Gomez restore and renovate two homes and add onto one home. I was the caretaker, chauffer, bookkeeper, nurse, cook, assistant renovator and any other job needed of the family. Gomez went to work, cut the grass and on occasion took the garbage out.

Then, my health began to take its toll and he didn’t like that…he told me so when he left. He said, “I didn’t want to take care of you, I didn’t like taking care of you, but, I did, so there.” Compassionate cuss, huh? (Really big newsflash – uh, no, Gomez you didn’t take care of me. Remember that little thing called a vow? Sorry little guy, you failed the test.) I guess he forgot I took care of him when he broke his neck in a car accident after we had been married only 18 months.

I had skills, but very poor health…and he knew that.

And, there is a reason I tell you all of that. You see, during the divorce Gomez got himself a lawyer whose father was one of the only three judges in our little county in Alabama where our divorce was being adjudicated. Yep. Bet you can see this train wreck coming. I got a good attorney and dectective that caught Gomez and Morticia in the act of very compromising situations. But, because my attorney wasn’t part of the county good-ol’-boy system a lot of my contempt charges against him and other papers against Gomez were “lost”.

In addition, during the hearing for temporary support after my attorney made the point that I was a woman in poor health and had been out of the workplace for over 20+ years, the ex’s attorney got up, waved his hand and said “oh yeah, you’ve had your gall bladder or something removed” which at the time I still had, but, have since have had removed while being married to Tall & Handsome. Let me tell you…surgery with a man like him is a totally different experience! It’s all about compassion which T & H has in spades. At the time of the divorce, I’d only had 60% of my left lung removed and a portion of my right lung removed because of cancer (and I was a non-smoker). Gomez knew that but, allowed his attorney to bellow on about “gall bladders”. Disingenuous and mendacity…they were birds of a feather.

Gomez became very upset that I hired a lawyer…he felt that he should have been the only one to have legal representation. He told me, “I told my attorney you were reasonable and would get your legal help off the internet.” He marched up to the house with an offer for my dad and me to look over and said, “If you don’t accept this by such and such time, it won’t be here for you.” In other words…I’m playing hardball and will break your back. My dad knew I needed legal help.

When I got an attorney, Gomez went ballistic. He played voodoo economics with the support the judge mandated…got away with it and left me penniless. One month he mailed me two dollar bills and three coins taped on a sheet of paper. (That’s when he decided he wanted one of my sewing machines.) He told my father I needed to be taught a lesson and he said he wanted to see me “wrong” for once. Huh? Newsflash…I was wrong big time…on November 27, 1974. Yes, girls, I learned the hard way…love shouldn’t hurt.

I had no income and he knew it…and reveled in it. He was on a tear to destroy me. He called my aunt in Florida and told her that without him, I would be dead in five years. (Question: If he really believed that, does that sound like attempted premeditated murder or unbelievable self importance?) He also told her that my elderly parents had deep pockets and could take care of me, but forgot to mention the fact they have a mentally and physically disabled daughter at home full time.

Why am I telling you this? Remember the “system”? “The Great American I’m Going to Take Care of You System”? Well, it doesn’t work for everyone. I know. I tried to avail myself of it during this traumatic time. When I needed my meds, food, doctor visits, utility bills paid…but, nope…uh huh, not for Bev…I tried more agencies, both non-profit and government, than I care to remember…and the response was the same…“You don’t fit the profile.” Huh, what the heck does that mean? I had a need, I’ve paid my taxes, I’ve donated…now, why don’t I fit the profile? I was up to my eyeballs in need!

My next “light bulb” experience came a couple of years later. I had gone to work for a large insurance company in their hybrid claims/call center after my divorce. I loved the job. It was a job with purpose. It was also a job with high stress and demands…a job that takes it toll on a person with autoimmune disorders and Fibromyalgia and the company itself was not very concerned with the disabled. Fortunately, I did have long-term disability coverage.

I gave it a valiant try, but my health really started to decline. I collapsed at work one day and had to be taken to the ER…that little ride cost me over $1,000 out of pocket…money I didn’t really have…you see, I got the first and second mortgage (which included paying for a Ford Explorer Gomez added to the second mortgage about six weeks before he left)…and one morning on the way to work I blacked out and rear-ended the vehicle in front of me. Fortunately I was coming to a stop sign but, since I was in the process of coming to a stop there was no damage to either car.

By the time my specialist removed my from work, I was in unbearable pain, had gone almost a week without sleep, could only manage to sit at my station without an ice pack and was on steroid treatment. I went through my FMLA, short term disability and then started the process for my long term disability. It was a tough haul.

One of the things I had to do during the process was apply for my Social Security Disability. And, this my friends, was the other light bulb moment. Remember me telling you about all of those taxes? And all of those years I paid into the system? After filling out numerous forms, going through several interviews, sending doctor file after file (which I had to pay for), I finally got my verdict. Denied. Why? I hadn’t worked enough quarters before I was declared disabled to get my disability…even though I’ve paid thousands of dollars into the system…and even though there are people that have never worked…and aren’t citizens that are getting some kind of Social Security, Medicare, Aid for Dependant Children for themselves or their family. Gee, wish I’d known that years ago!

I also discovered that all those years I sat up through the night getting an engraving job finished while Gomez slept or I sat on a John Deere tractor cutting a soccer field…well, Gomez took the full self-employed FICA tax credit for that instead of dividing it with me in our home based businesses. The income I would have gotten from my SS disability would have supplemented my long term disability and made a big difference in my life…and I paid into the system for years. C’est la vie…

These have been extremely frustrating lessons to discover. I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog and seeing the right thing done. To see the system not work…not just once, but on several occasions in my case has been, well, it is disheartening. But, I am a survivor. So far, I have beat cancer twice and on a daily basis I deal with other chronic health issues. I almost died in October 2005, and I survived that episode. I’ve had a support system in faith, family and I met and fell in love with a man with big blue eyes and a heart as big as the sky in his southwestern home state. Compassion like his is rare not only in men…but, in most people nowadays.

I fear for people who do not understand that the system does not and will not always work for you. Just because the tax man cometh, doesn’t mean your fair share will be there should something go awry in your life…and that’s wrong…very wrong. Yes, this should be a land of equal opportunity and chances, but we do not promise equal outcome…that is left up to the individual. We have to fix the system so that it works for all Americans and so that America continues to be the great nation our Founding Fathers laid the foundation for.

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under "Big Government", "Gary Shilling", "Illegal Aliens", "John Stossel", "SERE Training", "Social Security", AKA Gomez the Unremarkable, Disability, Divorce, FICA, Gomez, Immigration, Taxes