The 53rd letter: Mike and Sherry Falls

Dear Governor Haslam:

This is my 53rd letter to you.

Today I met Mike and Sherry Falls.  I am still shaking.  I am somewhere between rage and overwhelming sorrow and I don’t exactly how I feel.

Mike and Sherry are from Chattanooga.   They have been married for 43 years.  Five years ago their world changed.

Sherry has been sick a long time.  She has suffered through over 30 operations.  She has seizures.  She has suffered a massive heart attack.  She has COPD. She has degenerative disc disease.  She has a bladder disease.  She has a cyst on her brain. She has fibromyalgia.  She has been diagnosed with PTSD and also struggles with depression.

Mike has also been sick.  He suffers from chronic back pain.  He has emphysema.  He has also suffered major heart attacks and has COPD.  He also has an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Like I said there life turned upside 5 years ago.  Mike thinks it was his fault.  He got SSDI.  Sherry got SSI.  She was told that because of his disability income that in order to get SSI and the Tenn Care she needed to stay alive they needed to separate.  For the last 5 years Sherry and Mike have been separated.  It is the only way to keep Sherry alive.

Sherry told me she she tried to protest.  She called legislators and newspapers.  No one gave her the time of day.

At one point in our talk she stopped me and asked quietly:  “Are you sure if we go public the government will not punish us?”

They live where we have lived– for 5 years.  I cant imagine it.  They are quiet and kind people who don’t understand what their crime was.  I don’t know either.  I still don’t know what our crime was either.

They talked about suicide and what life was like when you wondered if it was the best option.  All I could say was I knew.  What do you say when fear and dread never go away.

Governor Haslam is Tennessee not more than barbarism and meanness.  My wedding vows said “let no man put asunder.”  Blaming Obama or the federal government seems like such a willful lie right now.  I’m sorry. 

It is not what we can afford to do. It is what we dare not do any longer.

Will you talk with Mike and Sherry.  5 years.  5 years.

Governor IT IS ON YOU!!!

Until tomorrow.

Yours truly, 

Larry Drain

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