Sunday, September 04, 2005

Living Paycheck to Paycheck Made Leaving Impossible

Living Paycheck to Paycheck Made Leaving Impossible: A 47-year-old grandmother was rocking a grandchild.

"These people look at us and wonder why we stayed behind," said Carmita Stephens. "Well, would they leave their grandparents and children behind? Look around and say, 'See you later'?" She gave a roll of the eyes behind the raised voice.

"We had one vehicle. A truck. I wanted my family to be together. They all couldn't fit in the truck. We had to decide on leaving family members -- or staying."

She shifted the grandchild in her arms. "I'm living paycheck to paycheck. My mother passed away this year. I was helping take care of her. My real job was as a private-duty caregiver. I had one patient. He died two weeks after my mother passed, on May 6." She calculated that the family made a little more than $2,500 a month -- but that included help from her son Jamel's job. "He's missing now," she added. "So is Eric Stephens, my husband."

They were soon to be Texas-bound. "And I don't even like Texas," she said.