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Mother and child reunion
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CONCHO – Parentification is the process of role reversal whereby a child is obliged to act as parent to their own parent or sibling. Today the roles of parent and child are often reversed as baby boomers, still working, take on the role of caring for their aging parents.

Kareena Maxwell grew up in New York City. She was the middle child with an older sister and a younger brother. Their father was an alcoholic and often abused their mother, Marion. It was always Kareena who stood up to her father on behalf of her mother, not her siblings.

“And, she let me,” said Maxwell. “I still protect her whether it is healthy or not. It is life.”

Wearing the middle child role of caretaker, coupled with being her mom’s girl, Maxwell could not escape the apron strings that were tied to her mom’s waist for years.

She describes her mother as eccentric, an artist, a painter, a designer of exotic clothes and not too tightly wound, and crazy as a loon. She said her mother was always child-like and vulnerable. She was inappropriate around them and yet hilarious.

“She was the mother in ‘Mermaids,’ said Maxwell. “I loved her desperately. I still love her desperately, but I did not always like her. When you grow up you realize you do not like everybody you love.”

In 2013 Maxwell and her husband left New York for Arizona. Marion was not doing well and was actually on a three year wait list to be placed in a home, but Kareena the caretaker, rescued her mother once again. Marion was Arizona bound which bought her a number of years before she would be placed in a home.

Maxwell and her husband dutifully looked after Marion who was able to live in a trailer by herself with their help. But, her mind began slipping. They would get a call sometimes from the Jiffy store saying that she was there with $.27 trying to buy paper towels and sugar.

“It was like a child crawling out of the window at midnight, acting out,” said Maxwell.

Marion had developed two kinds of cancer and was also suffering from Alzheimer/Dementia. She had become resistant to allowing them to bathe her so they tried hospice which sent someone in two times a week to help care for her.

The handwriting was on the wall. Concerned that Marion would wander off and perhaps fall or worse, they made the decision to place her in a home.

Maxwell recalls that the trip that day to the home was not an easy one. It was, perhaps in some ways similar to when a parent punishes a child and says, ‘This is going to hurt me worse than it hurts you.’

Maxwell recalls, “...you cry when you get her into the back seat of the car and she trusts you thinking you are going shopping. But, no. Not today. Today, we are going to take you to the assisted living place where you will be safe, where you will get 24-hour care, where they have people on 8-hour shifts to take care of your needs. Unlike me. That was the day she died. That was the moment I hated myself and felt like I had abandoned her and lied to her.

“It was the worst day of my life. I am looking for a picture of me lying in the bed with her at Bannon with our toes in the air, and her staring at me like a kid,” said Maxwell.

“We grow inside this perfectly imperfect human being. She is the first voice, the first meal, the first sleeping partner,” said Maxwell.

A year ago Marion still knew her daughter. She actually called Kareena by name. She also criticized her weight, what she was wearing and called her husband, “that man.” But on April 4, this year, her 95th birthday, she did not know her daughter. And, as anyone who has a loved one with Alzheimers or Dementia knows, that is painful.

Maxwell, a publisher and award winning author, chronicled her journey with her mother in a memoir titled, “The Granny Chronicles: Learning to Speak Leopard” (a caretaker’s story). She explains how the language between she and her mother changed over the years, sharing the daily shifts that mentally separated them and finally allowed Maxwell to speak her own authentic language.

“I go to see her,” said Maxwell. “It is for me, and for me to say goodbye in those visits. I am her caregiver from afar. I don’t mind. She was difficult and loving, selfish and caring, kind and monstrous, but she was and still is my mother, and no matter what, I love her madly.”

Acknowledging that we get the good and the not so good from our parents, Maxwell said that from her mother she learned song and kindness; to be empathetic and to feel deeply for people, and she learned to give money anonymously to others.

“One of the axioms we as parents have is, ‘I am not doing what my parents did.’ You are aware and do your own new cycle and leave the old behind, and try to do a lot better,” said Maxwell, who believes she has.

Maxwell has two grown sons and they all love each other. That makes for a Happy Mother’s Day.

Sue's Crew walk for a cure May 15

WHITE MOUNTAINS — There is still time to register to participate in the 10th Annual Sue’s Crew White Mountain 30 mile one-day walk, to be held Saturday, May 15.

The nation’s only one-day 30 mile walk, Sue’s Crew has raised a total of $300,000. All proceeds are evenly distributed among Summit Healthcare Cancer Center, the American Cancer Society of the White Mountains and the American Cancer Society of Cumberland, Maryland. Sue’s Crew has two components: the White Mountains and Maryland. The Maryland event is directed by Kristen Ingram, who launched the walk in honor of her mother, Susan Hillebrecht, who lost her battle with breast cancer in 2010.

Ingram put Sue’s Crew on the map. “Kristen is amazing, I’m so proud of her,” her father, Jim Hillebrecht told the Independent. “When I saw what (my daughter) did in Maryland I decided I needed to get on board too. This is a family passion and now my White Mountain family is growing with Sue’s Crew.”

Hillebrecht quickly realized he needed more helping hands and formed a board passionate about helping cancer patients and eventually finding a cure. “There’s Shaun Ulvestad, Kristen Orton, John Antoni, Steve Rodney Chris Paxman, Amie Rodgers, and of course Kristen Ingram.”

Hillebrecht has also gathered financial support from local businesses so that 100% of donated funds go directly to the beneficiaries. Guy Hatch has generously added a car raffle to the event, with 300 tickets available for sale at $100 each. Sal & Theresa’s sponsored this year’s T-shirts. Notoriously self-effacing, Hillebrecht wants no recognition for himself.

“There are so many people and businesses that deserve thanks,” Hillebrecht said. “If I leave someone off the list, I apologize.”

He mentioned Big 5, the Pour Station, and Home Depot.

“We also have musicians and bands donating their talent: the Show Low Pep Band, the Lakesiders, Fat Chance, and Midnight Moon,”Hillebrecht said.

Last year, Sue’s Walk had a handful of dedicated supporters step up for the Sue’s Crew Walk.

“This year, people are still cautious, so we would be happy to have 150 walkers this year, because cancer doesn’t stop and neither should we,” Hillebrecht said.

Sue’s Crew participants don’t need to walk the entire 30 miles.

“Not everyone can walk the full 30.” Hillebrecht said, “We just want people to support our fellow White Mountain residents and walk as far as they feel comfortable. In the end, every step helps our cause.”

If you want to help, but don’t want to walk, you can still have a significant impact by donating directly to Sue’s Crew, by making a pledge donation on behalf of a registered walker, or by volunteering your time and energy. All major credit cards and Pay Pal are accepted.

Most everyone has been touched by cancer in one form or another. Choosing to participate in a positive event such as Sue’s Crew can help reclaim a small portion of what cancer has stolen.

For more information or to donate, visit www.suescrew.org, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Sues-Crew-Annual-30-Mile-Walk or by calling Jim at 602-717-6746.

Victory Village is the first step moving away from homlessness

SHOW LOW — The White Mountain Coalition Against Homelessness held a ribbon cutting at 2791 East Adams Street in Show Low last Thursday, Apr. 29 to celebrate their new property where they will develop a transitional housing program.

The property and the project through which the Coalition will operate has been named Victory Village. The primary goal of the program is to help homeless individuals transition to self-sufficiency in 90 days.

The White Mountain Outpost of the Salvation Army is an important partner in the Coalition and will be involved in the process from construction to client intake.

“This is to help people that are serious about making an honest change and putting in the required work to become self sufficient within the program’s timeframe and guidelines,” said Salvation Army Case Manager Maria Stokes.

Stokes will be directly involved with the off-site intake process through the White Mountain Outpost of the Salvation Army located at 5658 AZ-260 in Lakeside. She is also the acting supervisor and will be living on-site with the clients once the program begins.

“We are very excited to be getting ready to break ground on our new housing for the transitional housing program,” said Stokes. “This is a very positive thing for our community.”

The Coalition has been working hand-in-hand with the city of Show Low to purchase the property and to ensure that it meets all city codes and ordinances.

The Coalition was able to purchase the property with immense help from local donations. New Hope Fellowship and Cornerstone Community Church, Navopache Construction, Forward Look Construction LLC, ABC Supply, Co. Inc., Arizona Public Service, Bilbie’s Interiors, Arrowhead Architecture and many more make up the list of donors to this community project.

“These local businesses and churches have donated not just money but their time, their services and their expertise,” said Stokes. “We are always looking for individuals or organizations and businesses that would like to join our efforts.”

The Coalition is working towards building 8 to 10 small houses that will house approximately 4 to 6 people in each house.

“Our transitional housing program is under the same guidelines that we have used for the last six years,” said Stokes. “It is a clean and sober working program with many other rules including a zero tolerance policy regarding drugs and alcohol.”

There will also be on-site supervision at Victory Village. The intake process will managed and conducted off-site through the Salvation Army in Lakeside.

The property itself will eventually be fenced and monitored by cameras. Loitering will not be allowed and the clients/residents will be accountable for their actions throughout the program.

“We try to create a sense of community within Victory Village,” said Stokes. “That might include group barbecues and on-site social gatherings for the clients.”

The Coalition and the Salvation Army will resume classes and other assistance to help people in the program apply for work, create a personal budget or other assistance to keep them heading towards self sufficiency.

“We try to offer the guidance people need to move a step forward instead of backwards,” said Stokes.

The Coalition intends to start construction as soon as possible but recent increases in the cost of lumber and building supplies may delay it for a short time.

For more information about the program, contact WM Coalition Against Homelessness board president Lee Copeland at 480-518-1178, or contact or Maria Stokes at 928-368-9953.

SLHS grad charged with manslaughter

PHOENIX—Hannah Montez Dike, 25, a Show Low High School graduate and former staffer at the both the White Mountain Independent and Show Low T.V. has been charged with killing a 31-year-old married father of one and Navy Veteran Robert “Bobby” Kramer in a head on vehicle crash on Feb. 10 in the Valley.

The Department of Public Safety stated in a news release that DPS troopers were alerted to a 2007 Infinity silver sedan with one headlight driving the wrong way on the I-10 freeway near the Chandler Blvd. off-ramp at 12:31 that morning. Around two minutes later, troopers were notified of a crash which investigators say was caused by Dike driving west-bound in the east-bound lanes of that freeway and collided with the 2019 Nissan Altima that Kramer was driving. He died at the scene.

Kramer was the father of a young son, Arthur, and wife Lindsey, reported AZcentral on April 26.

Kramer was also a beloved bartender in a Chandler eatery and president of the U.S. Bartenders Guild, Phoenix chapter. Dike was injured in the crash and spent the next couple of months in medical facilities. When she was taken to a trauma center on the early morning of the crash, investigators obtained a sample of her blood which was analyzed and allegedly found to contain a 0.27 percent alcohol level, more that three times the presumed impairment level of 0.08 percent.

Her arrest was announced on April 23 by way of a news release from DPS; the news release was delayed until after she was medically discharged according to DPS policy, at which time she was booked into the Maricopa County Jail.

She appeared in court on April 29 for an initial appearance. According to court records, the court noted that she is alleged to have a DUI in January 2019. The judge set bond at $100,000. She is represented by Robert David Duffy of the Office of the Legal Advocate; Duffy has been a licensed attorney in Arizona for 20 years.

Dike faces one count of manslaughter, a Class 2 Felony. It is not a DUI case per se. In this case, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt three basic things: That the court has jurisdiction because the event happened in Maricopa County, that Dike was the one who committed the alleged crime and that she recklessly caused the death of another person. Arizona law defines a “reckless” act as when someone is aware of a substantial unjustifiable risk and disregards it—like being grossly impaired by alcohol and driving a vehicle. The charge, if proved, carries a range of prison sentence from between three to 12.5 years.

Dike’s next court date, the arraignment, is set for today in the Mesa branch of the superior court. Dike is presumed by law to be innocent.