Grandma Ford

Do you ever have a flash on someone from your past?  I do – my Grandma – my dad’s mother.  Maria Ojeda Holguin Ford.  We were driving down a street near where I live the other day and (I cannot recall what) something triggered it – her smell – her always sweet, warm, special unique smell.  It wafted by me in an instant and was gone.  When it happens, I know she is still with me – always.

grandma ford

I remember her house in Monterey Hills in Los Angeles – high up on a ridge that overlooked the city. It was a beautiful Spanish-style house – pink adobe and a dark red tile shingle roof.  It had a detached garage with a studio apartment over it – and a tiled courtyard between the garage and the house.

I don’t remember the bedrooms, but I do remember the huge sunken living room that faced the front of the house with  amazing deep green wall to wall carpet, heavy overstuffed furniture and elegant heavy drapery.   At the back end of the living room, two steps took you into the large dining room with dark hardwood floors and a huge dining room table.

Swinging wooden doors lead to a massive kitchen with a dinette set.  I remember the smells of Mexican food – always beans – and daily home-made flour tortillas.

I remember staying with her over one Christmas break when I was about ten years old – it was  heavenly.  She was so sweet and kind – so loving.  My grandfather owned a manufacturing plant – JC Ford Mfg Co – that made the first (or very early) automated tortilla making machines back in the 1950’s.  I remember him as always matter of fact and distant – cold.

The one thing that is always in my memory is cuddling with her on the overstuffed couch in the evening , sharing hot chocolate.  Simple nothings – just cuddly warm time together. I think it was the only time I ever actually stayed with her as it was normally my parents and I passing through town and visiting.

I never saw her again – she died a few months after that – took her own life with an overdose of medication.

I learned later that she was a very lonely woman – my grandfather gave her a life of near luxury but never his time.  I have always felt great sadness for her – not only for her death, but for the reason.

But I know she loved me – she tells me every so often.


February 10, 1910

Through my move over the last month, and the forced sorting of what I can reasonably keep close to me and what I need to put into storage, I have once again been sorting through boxes.  My favorite ones are those that contain the old family photo albums and mementos.  When my mom passed away the family legacy (photo boxes) came to me.

I always stop and think about one memento in particular – and speculate on what the “back story” truly was.  You will understand.

My Great Grandfather Sigmund “Siggy” Oppenheim and Great Grandmother Mary Elizabeth “Polly” Smith were married in 1897.  They had a daughter Olive Vere (nicknamed Babe) in 1906.

Whatever their relationship was, it did not end well.  The sadly cherished memento is the letter that Polly wrote to Sid:

Thursday 9 P.M. February 10 – 1910


I suppose you spent a restless night, and be surprised when you get this letter, but I have made up mind that we have lived long enough together this way, cat & dog life.  We have lived as man & wife in name only for nearly four years.   

I don’t care for you and you don’t care for me.  I only regret leaving Babe but as soon as my wages increase I will try to have her with me oftener.  I am not far away and will see her nearly every day.

I had no intentions of going to the theater with Etta so don’t go and bother her for she knows nothing for when I left yesterday I made preparations.  So good bye for ever.



Sig never saw Polly again from what I understand.  She moved from San Francisco to Marin County – Sausalito area across the Golden Gate Bridge.  She never interacted with her daughter Babe (my grandmother) again.

From my mother I know that Siggy was a loving, affectionate grandfather.  She adored her Grandpa Siggy.  I never met him.

Sad as it is, I treasure this snippet of my history.




Some Hope

It’s been another six weeks since my son reached out for help with his addiction.  Through the Sacramento County Department of Health Services he signed up for assistance with substance abuse.   In six weeks this is what has been accomplished:

  • He went to an intake appointment and was qualified for a 90-day inpatient program.
  • He did orientation for that program that puts you on a waitlist for a bed. And we learned it could be MONTHS for a bed in one of three facilities for men.  Months in like – if you don’t get a bed within 90 days you have to basically re-apply.  It’s more of an update than re-application.   He has to check in once a week by phone to indicate he is still interested.   The waitlist works like this – when a bed becomes available, the intake person starts at the top of the list.  He calls the first name – if they take the bed, it’s done.  If they don’t answer, he leaves a message and goes on to the second name.  If the second name answers and takes the bed, it’s done.  If not, he leaves a message …. and so on.  If the bed is not taken on a phone call, the first person to respond to a message and take the bed gets it.  There is no way to know if there are 10, 50 or 100 people on the waitlist.
  • He entered a suboxone program.  It is used to treat adults who are dependent on (addicted to) opioids (either prescription or illegal). SUBOXONE Film (a sublingual dose) is indicated for treatment of opioid dependence and should be used as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support.  Unfortunately there is no counseling and psychosocial support until he is inpatient.
  • He has had a TB test and a physical.
  • He is awaiting an appointment for a psych exam for monitoring his bi-polar meds.

No call from the waitlist yet.

As long as he is true to the suboxone program (weekly clinic appointments to monitor his compliance) I have purchased a $15 a month gym membership (Planet Fitness) so he has access to a shower.  I take him to a laundromat once a week to do laundry.  I still will not give him cash.  He is still homeless.

I also moved over the last month – from the 2-bedroom townhouse we shared to renting a room from my ex.  Being on social security and a very small pension and not having the shared rent support from my son as it was suppose to be left me with no choice but to further minimize my living expenses.  It also made my son realize that he truly does not have the option to “move back in with mom”.

As I am looking back over the last three months or so, from when I finally made the decision to stop enabling my son, I think on the range of emotions I have gone through:

  • Despair – the acceptance that he was not going to change as long as I made life so easy
  • Anger – at myself for letting him take advantage of me for so many years and, yes at him despite knowing he suffers the disease of addiction, for his anger at me for turning him out
  • Fear – at not knowing where he was, if he was safe, if he was eating, or lying dead in a park somewhere
  • Hopefulness – that he reached out for help and (unless I’m really missing something) appears to be earnest and following the plan
  • Acceptance – that the ultimate outcome is out of my hands
  • Reclaiming – reclaiming my life that I gave up five and a half years ago to take care of him, which I came to realize was the big mistake here.

It’s a process – a time of personal growth even in my late 60’s.

There is some hope.


Time Flies –

Gosh I didn’t realize it’s been over a month since I last posted. It’s been busy of course – working (my retirement side hacks), preparing to move into a more affordable situation, and worrying about my son.

Helping my ex/dear friend with his business has been a blessing. In emotionally trying times it’s essential to keep our minds busy. He is also providing me with a more affordable living situation – since I have accepted that my son contributing to our joint living expenses is not going to happen any time soon, I am moving into the ex/dear friend’s spare bedroom.

It seems odd I know – but we do still care very deeply about each other, just realized with my son’s mental health problems that we had some intrinsically different approaches to helping adult children. It’s ok – I understand we were raised in two totally opposite environments – he with no nurturing and me in a very nurturing environment. And yet with that being said, he is one of the most caring people I have ever met.

My son is still homeless after six weeks. It’s been six weeks of mostly sleepless, worrisome nights for me. He is I believe finally realizing he cannot fight his disease of addiction on his own and has started reaching out for help. I have in the past offered him links to resources for addiction help – which he did nothing with. I keep reminding him that when he is ready to get help I will do anything I am capable of to GET him to help … drive him to a rehab facility – drive him to meetings every day if necessary – anything it takes.

Then yesterday I received the following text from his ex-wife – I am starting to wonder (albeit tenuously for I have hoped beyond hope before) if there is some hope!

“I hope you are enjoying the holiday weekend. I am reaching out because I heard from (son) last night. He texted me and I learned that he is homeless. I believe he’s in trouble and I know he is scared so I called the National Drug Abuse Hotline and they gave me referrals to treatment centers who offer transportation services (meaning they will pick up people and bring them to the center). I sent the info to (son) and he agreed to go to this one: Napa Center Point   2100 Napa Vallejo Highway Building 253M1-M2, Napa, CA 94558 Type: Substance Abuse Tel: 707-225-8001 Website: This information was provided by SAMHSA’s National Helpline (800-662-4357) They have a men’s rehabilitation program in Martinez so I emailed the center and left a message. I assume that the center is closed over the holiday weekend but I will follow up on Tuesday. I just wanted to share the information. I know this is very difficult and painful so please know that you and (son) have my support. like you, I want (son) to be healthy, clean, and safe. Much love, (ex wife)”

So my words to you out there struggling with a family member who suffers the disease of addiction, do not entirely give up hope. I know it’s hard to not give up at times. And it’s hard to keep holding on to hope through all of the empty promises and lies. But don’t give up.

And if you are suffering this horrendous unforgiving disease of addiction, do not give up hope of escaping it. There are people out there who truly love you and want to help when you are ready. Those who truly love you, not love you for what you can do for them, will help you when you are ready. Reach out – there ARE resources.