November 30, 2013

Father’s illness means little money left for Arlington kids’ gifts

Mom uses part of Goodfellows gift to buy her daughter new shoes to replace the ones with holes.

Five years ago, 49-year-old Ferman’s life turned upside down. And so did his family’s.

That’s when the self-employed Arlington resident was diagnosed with kidney failure.

“It was awakening. It was brutal. It was devastating,” said Ferman, who has been unable to work since. He also has cardiac, lung and liver illness, he said.

Ferman has had about 15 surgeries in five years, he said this week. He has been put on a kidney transplant list and selected twice. The first time, someone else got the organ; the second time he was having lung problems and was placed on hold until those problems are cleared, he said.

But this holiday season, Ferman and his wife, Diana, 49, aren't thinking about his health; they're thinking about their children — a 12-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son. So they reached out to the Star-Telegram’s Goodfellow Fund to give their kids something for Christmas.

“My daughter is on the A-B honor roll. And my son is a spark plug,” Ferman said. “They’re good kids and that’s why we applied for the help, because these kids really do deserve it.”

Ferman said his wife can’t work outside the home because she has had to take care of the children — and Ferman. It has put a financial strain on the family, he said.

They live on Ferman’s disability, Social Security benefits and food stamps, he said.

“We do the best we can,” Diana said. “My children’s clothing consists of hand-me-downs, garage-sale finds and thrift-store buys. We’re two months behind paying for oil for our truck. We can only pay some bills some months. Sometimes we don’t have enough groceries, so I have to go to the food pantry. So something like Christmas, we just can’t provide for it.”

With help from Goodfellows, Diana said, she bought her daughter a pair of black tennis shoes, a purchase that couldn’t wait for Christmas — her old shoes had holes in them. Diana said she plans to shop the holiday sales with the rest of the aid. Her son still needs a pair of pants and shoes.

But for now, Ferman, Diana and their two children are thankful for what they do have, they said.

“Through it all, we’ve remained strong,” Ferman said. “I just know I’m going to bounce back.”

Diana said their struggles have helped shape them into the family they have become.

“My husband may not be able to do things for us, but he’s a motivator. He may not be able to provide financially for us, but his confidence, I appreciate that,” she said.

“I think his illness has changed us as a family. We appreciate everything we get. And I know the kids do, too.”

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