Sheri Harvey has been places. Lots and lots of places.
An avid fan of cruises, she and her husband Larry traveled the globe during their 53-year marriage. The couple created fond memories admiring the gargoyles of Notre Dame Cathedral and the elegance of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, walked the streets of London, been to Scotland, took trips to Quebec City, seen the whales in Alaska, were awestruck by the majesty that is the Grand Canyon in Arizona and explored the islands of Hawaii.
The couple had to wait almost 40 years before going to Hawaii because there was always some emergency on which they had to use their trip fund. In 2008, however, they did their Hawaii trip up in style.
Watch: Season for Caring, Harvey family video
Sheri Harvey has chronic pain and diabetes and has been in four different senior care facilities recently. Her son Scott has been financially drained by her care.
Kirk Bohls and Nicole Villalpando, Austin American-Statesman
They toured the Pearl Harbor museum, checked out the USS Arizona Memorial, took helicopter rides and she became adventurous and snorkeled for the first time. She even went horseback riding.
She fastidiously planned trips out to the nth detail and loved the anticipation of each upcoming adventure. Upon returning home, she made meticulous scrapbooks of all their trips.
“I loved Hawaii,” she said. That was my absolute favourite.
Her world, unfortunately, has gotten a little smaller lately.
The feisty, 79-year-old woman, supported by her only child, Scott, now finds herself sharing a tiny room at a Pflugerville care facility after losing her husband to colon and liver cancer in 2016. She has arthritis and diabetes and a sea of overwhelming financial calamities.
She has an uplifting spirit even though she has endured chronic back pain and arthritis in her spine for decades. She has needed morphine to ward off the pain and has been in four different assisted living facilities in the Austin area in the last six years since moving from South Carolina where she was a Clemson administrator and before that a 25-year career as an X- ray technician.
“She’s a really sweet, soft-spoken woman,” said Lauren Garza, the grants and foundation associate at AGE of Central Texas, which nominated Harvey. “She’s hard of hearing, but very snappy. She really doesn’t want to be a burden. She knows how much her son, Scott, does for her. They got to the point they just feel helpless.”
The brown-eyed Sheri is such a strong-willed woman that during her junior year of high school she even changed her name from Sharon because she wanted to stand out from all the Sharons in her classes. “I told the other kids if they called me Sharon, I wouldn’t answer,” she said.
She has a love of koala bears, is an avid reader, loves to shop for clothes on the QVC television network and once even became the director of her church bell choir without any experience.
Through it all, she persists.
“My father had cancer four times, and the fourth time finally took him, bless his heart,” said Scott Harvey, 52, a local real estate agent who has become his mother’s primary caregiver and has helped subsidize her medical bills until he too lost his income during the pandemic and was himself evicted from his home. Mom can’t stand up straight any more and gets around with her walker. It’s been rough, but she doesn’t complain. She no longer has a private room, and that broke my heart to take that away.”
When she moved to her current facility, she had to give up her Shih Tzu dog named Duchess, who had since died of a heart condition. She estimates she’s had “about 50 falls.”
Harvey has endured major shoulder surgery and ankle surgery, has gone through chiropractors and pain specialists to combat her stenosis, had two spinal injections and battled spinal financial debt for medical bills amounting to more than $20,000 as she and Scott Harvey, have tried to stay afloat .
Despite some access to Sheri Harvey’s $2,600 monthly Social Security and Medicaid coverage, her son Scott has shouldered the financial burden even though the pandemic wiped out all his income. He has struggled to pay the bills and back debt, but has restarted his career in August as a project manager at Baer Engineering & Environmental Consultants.
More:Read more Season for Caring stories
The Harvey family’s wishes:
rent and utilities; housing and leasing services; medical bills; financial advisor; geriatric care management services; queen headboard and frame; legal eviction advice; new clothing for Sheri including large shirts and sweatshirts, large fleece pants; urinary and incontinence products; probiotics and other supplements; foldable transportation wheelchair; foldable walker with a seat; gift cards to Uber and Lyft for Sheri; books by Karen Kingsbury, Salman Rushdie, Milan Kundera, Geoffrey Bawa and more; reading neck lamp; and Visa and Walmart gift cards.
Wish list available on Amazon.
Nominated by: AGE of Central Texas, 3710 Cedar St., Austin, TX 78705. 512-649-2211, ageofcentraltx.org.
Its mission: To help older adults and their caregivers thrive as they navigate the realities and opportunities of aging and caregiving.