Thursday, January 24, 2008


Possibly a few of you Ogden, Utah people saw in the paper a few days ago concerning a man who froze to death in the old Madsen Furniture store. That man was my nephew Stephen Holbrook. He is my sister Jeri’s oldest son. She died two and half years ago, which is why he was left homeless.

He wouldn't have been homeless except that he had diabetes and had a difficult time working. He also had a drug problem, and that really stopped him from working.

Jeri had a difficult time while she was dying because she just couldn’t leave Stephen. She told me she had to fix him before she died. I told her teasingly that if she had the power to fix him would she please do it right now, and while she was at it would she please fix a few other people I know who are having problems while she was at it. She laughed and realized that no matter how long she was left on the earth she was not in control of what Stephen did. If fact, she hadn’t been in control of him since he was about age 6.

It has been a terrible tragedy to our family to know that one of our loved ones lived in such circumstances. I had just seen him a week earlier. He was resting on my daughter Cari’s bed.
It was ironic. I said to Stephen’s sister and I to my sisters that Stephen’s sisters and brother won’t take him in, his aunts won’t take him in, but the poorest member of the family, Cari, takes him in.

We tried hard to help Stephen. We offered to help him get a place in the same complex where Cari lives. She lives at 3158 Lincoln in what is called senior villa, where the elderly or disabled can live almost free if they don’t have money. Cari has cystic fibrosis and other problems and as I said, Stephen had diabetes. I pay $25 a month for her rent and thank Heavenly Father for the privilege of doing it. She gets food stamps and the utilities are free. It is a wonderful blessing to know that she has a roof over her head, that she has running water, the lights are on and she is warm or cool depending on the weather. And she has food. I pay an additional $25 once a year for her health insurance and feel this is a blessing also.

Cari told Stephen to fill out an application every time a place opened up there but he wouldn’t do it. She makes the joke that people are dying to get out of there. She just lost a friend there a few months ago and cried and cried. It turned out to be her neighbor and friend.

Stephen has been going from friend to friend and to Cari’s house ever since his mother died. It’s terrible! Cari could only keep him at her place for short periods at a time because otherwise he would have been permanent occupant and that was not allowed. She told him that there is a half-way house where they take people like Stephen in. He would have a warm bed, food, diabetic supplies, and they would have helped him get off drugs, and get a job, but he didn’t do it.
He stayed at the shelter a day after he left Cari’s, and told her that he was going back to stay with his friend. She knew he was lying because his friend was in jail, and someone else was living in the house where he had been staying. She told me she knew he was living in his car and she was very worried about him. She felt guilty for asking him to leave. I told her not to feel guilty, she had told him where to get help and it was his choice to do it. I told her that I could feel even more guilty because I had an empty home 3 blocks from where he had been staying. But if I had let Stephen live there I wouldn’t have had a home at all. He would have hocked everything in it to buy drugs and would have set up a meth lab in it and possibly have blown it up.

I’m grateful that he didn’t break a window and climb in. He knew we had left for Phoenix and knew where the empty condo was since he at our home for dinner last summer. I invited him over for Christmas dinner, but he didn’t come. I think he was too far gone at that time to come over.

I'm grateful that he is with his parents and grandparents who love him. And we know he's warm and happy now.