Last year my mother became ill. She lived out of town so I had to use my vacation time to go and care for her. After two weeks, I had to return to work because I had exhausted my accrued time and couldn’t afford to be out any longer. Although she still needed me and it was not what I wanted to do, I didn’t have a choice and had to return to New York.
A few weeks later she became very ill. Once again, I had to make the choice to sacrifice my pay and return to Florida. My mom passed away on the same day I arrived. It was as if she was waiting for my arrival. Even though I couldn’t afford it, I wanted to be there for her because she was always there for us when we were younger. It was fitting to honor her and say goodbye, by being there for her with my siblings and our families, but it still pains me that I wasn’t able to be with my mom during her last days.
As a home health aide, we don’t get paid that much. We live from paycheck to paycheck and when you live from paycheck to paycheck, you have no savings to draw upon when a family crisis arises. Taking any number of days off without pay is a challenge and means falling behind on bills. It has been over a year later and I still have been unable to catch up. As a home health care worker that takes care of elderly people for a living, I feel I should have been able to care for my own mom.
Passing Paid Family Leave Insurance means that people like me would be able to care for their parents or other family members without enduring financial hardship.