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My Turn: Friends with cars, to the rescue

I grew up in Brooklyn, where driving a car was not necessary. After moving to Hicksville, a Toyota became an important part of my life, providing me with pleasure and freedom for more than 40 years.

This ended when I drove through a store window in March. No injuries; all it needed was a new windshield -- so no need to change. So I thought! My daughter and son had different ideas -- which I scoffed at, however, when Dr. S. said I would put myself and others at risk if I continued driving -- well, goodbye, Toyota!

What now? How do I get to the supermarket, hairdresser, drugstore, library, nail salon, doctor appointments, mall, lunch with friends, chorus rehearsal, etc.?

Wonderful friends to the rescue!

Mary C., Jan M., Flo R., Carol R., Pat D., Joyce S., Sue R. and her two China dolls, Joyce S. and Amy, Eileen B., Susan C., Marlis A., Shirley L., Renee D., Geri N., Bev T., Jane M., who provides volunteers for doctor appointments, Grace E. My friends don't all know each other, but they all know me!

There are also friendly cabdrivers to chat with, who brings groceries into my kitchen, as do friends.

There are faceless angel neighbors who bring my empty trash cans into my carport from the curb.

And, as always, loving concern from Mindy (daughter), Paul (son-in-law), Don (son) and Katie (future daughter-in-law).

I do miss my car but who else can have a vehicle replaced by so many wonderful friends!

Thank you, all!

-- Judy Meltzer,Hicksville



In March 2000, my husband and I, after 23 years of marriage, decided to legally separate. The very next day, my 71-year-old mother was killed in a car accident on Sunrise Highway in Massapequa.

And then, my 21-year-old son, Timothy, who had just been discharged from the Navy, was hospitalized and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Every weekend for the next two years following my mother's death, I would go into Massapequa and help take care of my 80-year-old father and my older brother, Ken, who has Down syndrome.

Then, it became necessary to sell my dad's house and put him in a nursing home, and Ken came to live with me, and I applied through Surrogate's Court to become his guardian.

I now had living with me: my son, Tim, who is mentally ill; my brother, Ken, who is mentally disabled, and my 19-year-old daughter, Tracy, who was raising her 6-month-old son, Austin.

I was working full-time at St. Charles Hospital. I signed Ken up as a volunteer, and he came to work with me every day, so while I was working, he was volunteering. Ken loved his volunteer work so much that when we went to visit mom's grave, he told her, "Don't worry about me, Mom. I forgive the man that caused your accident and I love my volunteer work at St. Charles."

In 2010, I was able to help my son find placement in an apartment, which he is able to maintain, and a part-time job as a janitor with Concerned for Independent Living.

I also applied for Medicaid for my brother, which entitled him to a Medicaid service coordinator, who found placement for him in a family care provider home and a day program with the performing arts center sponsored by Maryhaven.

Due to dementia, Ken, 60, now resides in a nursing home.

My daughter, Tracy, has now been on her own for the past 10 years and is raising two children.

My ex-husband and I are now legally divorced, and the pension I receive from him has afforded me to go part time at St. Charles. I have been able to save enough money to start traveling.

In 2012, my friend Carol and I went on an Alaska cruise. And in September I went with friends Carol and Anne on an 11-day tour through England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Thanks to family, friends, faith and lots of prayer, I am able to maintain my sanity. For the past 10 years I've been seeing a therapist for my mental health and a personal strength trainer for my physical health. I thank God for everything He has provided for me in the past 13 years.

There are so many instances when I just wanted to give up, but I had my children, grandchildren, family and friends who stuck by me encouraging me and telling me that giving up was not an option.

Even my "happy hour" buddies are there for me, and I totally look forward to seeing them weekly, where we laugh and just have a good time.

So as you can see, it's now "My Turn!"

-- Susan Mahon,Yaphank

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