JACKSONVILLE — Yesterday I kidnapped my brother.
OK, so not really. But I did travel to Houston with my sister and pick him up to move back to East Texas. Our brother has been in a boarding home in south Houston for about three years.
Last week, we found a boarding home in Longview with a vacancy!
This Thanksgiving will be one we have wanted for three years. Our hearts are overjoyed that he will be in closer proximity to us.
My brother hasn't always been in a boarding home. However, after our Mom passed away three-and-a-half years ago, my Dad (his stepdad) wasn't able to take care of him anymore.
Neither my sister nor I had the resources, so we had to adjust to him being away from home.
It has been a difficult task. Losing our Mom and then being separated, we often fought back tears.
We tried to visit him every few months, but sometimes those visits became less frequent. We also called him semi-regularly, but the phone was often disconnected.
I finally became irritated enough to seek out the person we needed to contact to help us move him.
So, this year, we spent Thanksgiving together. Being together again is definitely the thing I am most thankful for this year. (Although, my new job in Jacksonville is also at the top of my list.)
Tomorrow we will drive him to his new home in Longview. The boarding home caters to those who suffer from mental illness.
And now we come to the other reason why I wanted to write this column.
Being in the midst of the holiday season, I was thinking about all of the people in nursing homes or boarding homes whose family never visit. Please, go visit your loved ones if they are in such a facility. Everyone gets so busy in their normal routines that often these family members are forgotten.
That is something I have always strived to make sure my brother did not feel – alone. I would send him packages of candy and snacks throughout the year, in addition to visits when possible.
Some of the other guys in the home where he lived seemed without such presents and family. It made me sad each time we went inside the boarding home.
The place in Longview seems different, though. The guys there seem happy, and the woman overseeing them is extremely passionate about her job. I know her job is a difficult one, so I am thankful for her and what she does. I am thankful she helped make our Thanksgiving a homecoming.
April Barbe is editor of The Jacksonville Daily Progress. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org