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Jeffrey is a grandfather and assumed he was finished raising children. But when his son was put in jail, he took in his three granddaughters to raise them. The strain was too much for his wife, who left him. The strain on Jeffrey has been equally hard, especially since he is not in good health. He has numerous illnesses, including asthma, emphysema, COPD (Chronic Obstruction Pulmonary Disease), congestive heart failure, social anxiety, and depression but has not been able to get disability aid.
When he was living in housing provided by the Burlington Housing Authority, he was able to raise his granddaughters and provide them a safe and stable environment. He covered the walls of his living room with certificates of their achievements at school for academics, character and attendance. He is encouraging the oldest to be a nurse because she loves caring for people, and the middle granddaughter to be a veterinarian because she loves animals. He figures the youngest has a little time left to decide.
Today he lives with his girlfriend and cares both for her as well as his brother, both of whom are confined to wheelchairs. His sons visit on the weekends, making it a full house. He is looking forward to his son’s imminent release from prison so that he can reacquaint him with his daughters. And someday, he’s not sure when, he’d like to go camping in the mountains. A vacation. Something he hasn’t had for many, many years.
Interviewed by Tom Mould, 2015. Photographed by Erin Turner, 2015