Why I’m Living Through It

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DENVER -- I suppose I've always been living through it.  But it wasn't until the last few years that I made a conscious decision that this path is the best for me.

photoIn my capacity as a broadcaster I have always loved to tell the stories of other people.  Having the spotlight on my personal life? Not so much.

So this new phase of life for me is filled with uncertainty, and lest I think about it too much, here goes!

I'm one of the fortunate ones.  For 30+ years in broadcast news and talk, I always got to choose where my next job would be.  Until the summer of 2011, when I was offered a position in Houston, Tex., that would uproot me from the life I'd been carving out in Denver.

I was a single mom putting two sons through college and knew it was a good decision to take this job.   So, with a very frustrated youngest son, still a junior in high school, we packed up and moved to Houston.

Oh, and did I mention I was engaged?

Those first few days and weeks I felt lonely in a far away city, watching my son struggle and wondering what had just happened.

I remember where I was standing in our Houston backyard when I decided I had a choice.  As soon as I made the decision to embrace this new era,  my work life fell into place.

I made amazing friends, found the best food ever and discovered fabulous bike trails.  Sure I had tough days, but the good far outweighed the bad.

thetowncoverMy son eventually made the best of his situation and wrote and published a book at the age of 17.

Over New Year's, my fiance and I eloped in Austin and we continued to live in separate households, with him in Denver and us in Houston.

wedbliss

On visits back to Denver, it became clear my father's Alzheimer's was progressing and as the eldest daughter in our very large family, we decided it would be best for us to move back to Denver to care for my parents and move them into our basement.

We suddenly became part of the "sandwich generation" (school age kids with aging parents) and a full-on blended family!

For these past few years, as I transitioned from on air personality to household manager, we encountered a host of joys and difficulties.

I launched a number of websites to stay active, all the while reminding myself that I was where I needed to be -- living through it.

photo-5My husband's adorable grandchildren are now my grandkids, simply the cutest kidsphoto-3 on the planet, giving me two more people to love.

We journeyed together through the increasing challenges of my father's Alzheimer's and witnessed the effects of this debilitating, terminal disease.

We faced a family member's battle with heroin, and the sense of loss when someone chooses to run and live on the streets for a time, and celebrated as other family members took a new direction in life to achieve wild success.

I did not survive, nor was I defeated by, these obstacles.  I realized I was living through it.  And to do that, I needed to breathe.

One of my outlets is the garden we created in our side yard, and watching those vegetables grow from seed, call me crazy, has been transformative.photo-4

I'm also an avid cyclist, and Denver's bike paths are my getaway.  Just remember to take your bike off your bike rack when you drive into the garage.

Yup, I did that.

photo-8

As I accumulate more years in life I face more challenges, more adventures, more joy.  They all go hand in hand.  And I am not alone in this journey.

While I had no idea how to deal with Alzheimer's or blended families or addiction or, others did.   And their input has been critical.

Their support and life experience helped me choose to live through it..whatever 'it' might be.

We all have busy lives:  long work hours, spouses or partners who travel, active children, social calendars, difficult family members, financial pressures.  And we persevere.

So I'd like to know, how are you coping/managing/thriving in life? In other words, Living Through It?  I'd love to hear your stories and share them with our audience.  I know they will inspire us all.

Send me your stories, and I'll be in touch!

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6 comments

  • Nick Kamakaris

    Hi Lois!
    My name is Nick Kamakaris, and I’m a 20 year old from Fort Collins. In the last couple years, I have dealt with some adversity that has changed my life dramatically. In 2012 I began to pursue my dreams of making something of myself by going to college. Just a few months into the school year, my father passed away. Not only was he the biggest influence and most important person in my life, but he had also been my family’s sole income for years. My mom, after I was born, thought that it would be better if she stayed at home with us (my brother and I) while my dad worked. Consequently, when my father passed, we had no more income because my mother didn’t work, and hasn’t in over 20 years. Not only that, but my father did not have a life insurance policy when he passed, so we were left with very little. Over the course of the next year, which had to be the most difficult year of my young life, we lost our home, I had to stop going to school, and much of my family turned their back on my me and my mom in our darkest hour. Even my own brother who is just a year older than me moved in with some friends and I have barely seen him since. My mother had an extremely difficult time coping with the loss of my father. I knew that I had to do whatever to lighten the emotional and financial burden unexpectedly placed on her. I took a job as a door to door solicitor just to try to start working and saving money so that my mother and I would have something. The company I work for has given me an amazing opportunity to be able to support myself and my mother, but recently, i took a position for them at their Fort Collins office, when I had previously worked in Denver for the last year. I know that if I moved, I would have the chance to make a lot of money and try to help re-stabilize our lives, but I had to relocate away from her. She seems to be all that I have left and it is very difficult being away from her. I don’t always know if she’s coping well, if she needs help, or just to talk. I know that she, and I feel alone more now than ever. I am worried that I will be unable to conquer the obstacles life has made for me and that I am merely struggling to fight the inevitable end that my mother and I will be broke and homeless. All my friends my age are going to school, studying abroad, doing anything they desire while their parents foot the bill effortlessly. I don’t know really anyone else in my shoes, I feel like an alien. At 20 years old, I feel like I’m trapped in my life. I have no idea where to go or what to do at this point, or if I’m even doing things right.
    Some guidance would be much appreciated! Thanks for reading
    Nick

    • Lois Melkonian

      Hey Nick,
      What a challenging story you’ve shared, and what a journey you are on at this moment to turn the tide. Kudos to you for taking a job allows you to support yourself and your mother, even if you have to do it at a distance. Given all you’ve gone through, the death of your father, your brother living away from you all, losing your home, the decision to keep plugging away is a very positive step. Even so, the days are long and when you’re not sure how your mother is coping, it is hard.
      My encouragement for you is to stay the course. Your mother is very fortunate to have a son who loves her and loves himself enough to work as hard as you do. Looking around at the friends your age who function with ‘full support’ is tough, any time we compare ourselves there’s the potential for wishing life was different. You are an incredible young man who isn’t throwing the towel. You are making a huge difference in your life and your mother’s life by your actions. Don’t waste a minute more worrying about the things you can’t change, you are making huge strides just where you are. Our lives are what we make them. Because you’ve chosen to keep going, while you may feel trapped at times, you are offering your mother something she would otherwise not be able to have. You’re on a path that is moving forward. Is it right is it wrong? Who knows? Your journey is yours alone and you’re the best judge of where you are right now at this moment.
      Keep going Nick, and thanks for sharing your story. Please stay in touch.
      Thanks,
      Lois

  • annpirie

    What a dilemma this young Nick is going through. I hope you have words of wisdom for him, Lois. He sounds like an outstanding young man.

    • Lois Melkonian

      Ann,
      Nick is an outstanding young man. Our community is a better place because of people like him.
      Thanks,
      Lois

  • Derek

    Hi Lois – Just watched your interview and love the optimism. We currently live overseas (Asia) where I’m from the states and thinking of moving back. Looking at Colorado as a possibility. Our children are 10 and 7 where living in a structured environment (Singapore), am wondering what it would be like making a move to Denver. Love any feedback you might be able to share. =D

  • Lois Melkonian

    Hi Derek,
    Denver is a fabulous place to live and raise a family. The structured environment you’re now experiencing in Singapore most likely cannot be duplicated here. However, the schools are great, the outdoor life is beyond compare, the people are welcoming and the various communities all have their distinct personalities. I hope your ‘journey’ back to the states, wherever you might land, is a good one. Thanks for checking in!

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