Friday, January 22, 2016

Sad week in Maggie's World

There's nothing like that somber phone call telling you someone you know has passed away. The only thing worse is to get it two days in a row. It's been a very tough week in Maggie's world.

Yesterday I heard about Nadine. She was Tyre's mom and she and Maggie were fast friends. Nadine always called Maggie the Single Girl, because Maggie would go nuts whenever that Beyonce song was played (and it was played A LOT). Nadine was a force of nature. I met her shortly after Maggie was born. Everybody knew her. She was completely devoted to Tyre and all his friends and threw the very best parties. I last saw her in October when she had a celebration of Tyre's life on the anniversary of his passing. She had gifts for every single person there and announced them in an academy awards style. I believe I tied for Mom of best female friend of Tyre. She gave me a red scarf and I'm gong to wear it today in her honor. It's only right, Nadine was always dressed to the nines. I like to think she and Tyre are together again. They were as close as two people can be, and while her two other kids and grand kids have my total sympathy, there is something about Nadine and Tyre together that feels like it's going to be ok.

Here she is at Maggie's Mardi Gras Party wearing a Maggie mask and at the hospital when we went to visit Tyre who was stuck in there on prom night.

And then this morning another call. This time it was Robert. Robert was one of Maggie's classmates from Junior High through High school and those transition years beyond. They had a ton of fun together and loved to cause trouble. That would make everybody laugh, even the teachers who tried to maintain order. Robert was a charmer and loved to laugh with the rest of the kids. My heart is breaking for his parents and brother Tony.

This is the hardest part about Maggie's World. So many have shorter lives than they should. Of course that's why their lives shine so bright - they're like comets streaking through life. But those of us who are just mere stars in the sky certainly miss their brightness when they're gone.

I have a feeling there is quite a reunion of the Aptos Middle School and Mission High school Italc class. Maggie and Tyre were there to greet Nadine and Robert. Nadine already has the party started.

Monday, January 4, 2016

New Year, New Endeavor

Happy New Year to you all.

 I am taking 2016 by storm. After a few months of preparation I am ready to start the new year with a brand new business. Golden Gate Independence Advocates is on the launchpad and ready to begin.

When Maggie passed away, I not only lost my daughter, but I lost my entire way of life. I spent her entire life managing her very complicated care. I had to deal with not only with my grief, but also had to reinvent my life. Either situation is difficult. Both together are crippling.

Initially I returned to UCSF Benioff Childrens' Hospital as a Parent Liaison helping other parents of hospitalized children navigate the hospital. That was okay for a while and really helped me get my feet back underneath me. I enjoyed it,  but the hospital could not give me enough hours or responsibility to make it worthwhile for me. I left there in April determined to find a job that would marry my professional training as an attorney with my personal experience being a health advocate for a person who could not advocate for herself.

I assumed that would be easy; in fact I got an interview for a good position almost immediately but that didn't pan out. Neither did the next thing. It wasn't easy at all. I was not getting the interviews or offers for the positions I wanted and was being invited to interview for positions that either did not interest me or could not pay me appropriately.  To be honest, my personal experience doesn't quite translate to a resume very well. One woman suggested I put Maggie on my resume, which was not bad advice, but I simply could not bring myself to do that.

After a while I had to reevaluate what I was doing and how I was going about it. Yes, I want to be paid and will not consider too low of a rate, but money is not the driving force. I need flexibility and independence; I have obligations in the world that I want to continue to honor and cannot be tied to a low paying 9 to 5 job. I realized that the only way to accomplish that was to do something on my own.

So I did.

My thought was to offer medical advocacy and benefit management services to those who need it focusing mostly on seniors. My sister Joni suggested widening that to include day to day errands, pet care and many other services that can help people stay independent. So I did. And Golden Gate Independence Advocates (GGIA) was born.

I am excited to be doing something to meet a growing need in our community and happy to be moving myself forward on my own terms. Doing this kind of work honors all my years with Maggie as well as my professional experience.

Check out and let us know if someone you know in San Francisco or Marin County can use our help.