During my first year of teaching, I was trying to save up enough money to pay off my college loans, while paying for my Ford Ranger pickup truck.  When I looked at my pay stub, I was frustrated to see the 1.45% for Medicaid and Medicare. At that time I thought, being in the best shape of my life, why would I be burdened with paying for others healthcare?  

Well, as fate would have it, I learned my lesson a couple of weeks later, as my mom was diagnosed with amyloidosis, a rare kidney disease.  The medicine to keep her alive was going to cost thousands of dollars a month and require her to use dialysis.  

Eileen was a devoted mother, wife and contributed greatly to the small town that I grew up in. We were fortunate enough that my father’s job at Bay State Milling had health insurance that covered the whole family, just not this type of expense.

Our family was about to have the same conversation that families all around our country have on a daily basis. Do we go bankrupt or do we let the disease run its course?

Luckily for my family, we fell into the income bracket where my mother qualified for Medicaid. The services offered by Medicaid helped my mother live for three more years, before losing her battle to amyloidosis.

During those last three years with this dreaded disease, Eileen would go through dialysis in the morning, then make her way to work.  At night she was often found in the concession stand at our high school volunteering her time. Her choices in how she lived her life, had nothing to do with her acquiring this disease.

We were blessed every day we had her in our lives.  My future wife, Ruth, got to know my mom during those last three years. I will always be thankful for that.

I will never question that small percentage coming out of my check for the rest of my life. We need to understand the important role that our society plays in caring for others, who have stories just like mine.

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