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MISSION — Jesus Gonzalez Balderas is everything to his family, and they’re everything to him.
The devoted husband and father is doing all that he can right now to support his wife and children after she was struck with a debilitating condition that left them all in a state of shock and worry, so much that even recalling the events that led up to these circumstances moved Jesus to tears on Friday.
Their life was turned upside down after his wife, Magda Landa-Gonzalez, suffered an aneurysm.
On Thursday, Oct. 19, Magda was at a dentist appointment with their oldest son, 7-year-old Jesus Gonzalez-Landa, when she suddenly collapsed onto the floor due to an aneurysm.
Jesus recalled being at work when he received a call about his wife’s condition. His eyes watered as he remembered arriving at the dentist’s office just as his wife was being rushed to a local hospital in an ambulance.
“From that moment everything changed because we could no longer work,” Jesus said in Spanish, adding that he became the full-time caregiver for his wife and children.
Doctors told Jesus that the aneurysm had affected 85% of her brain.
He would spend every night by his wife’s side and return home early in the morning to get his kids ready for school.
Jesus would see his children filled with worry as they hoped every day for their mom to be OK. He recalled seeing his 7-year-old son sitting by the window each day waiting for his mom to come home.
During her time in the hospital, Jesus was able to bring his children to visit their mother, but even that proved to be difficult as the eldest son, who is autistic, would often scream.
Jesus choked back tears as he thought of the challenges they’ve faced since that day and how it has affected their children.
“The lives of my girls have changed drastically because now they have more responsibilities,” Jesus said with watery eyes. “They went from being kids to now having to help take care of their brothers, shower them, they were doing things that weren’t meant to be their responsibilities.”
He looked over at his youngest daughter, 9-year-old Hailey Gonzalez-Landa, with sadness as he thought about how fast they had to grow up.
Not only did Magda’s condition affect their daughters but they also began to see behavioral changes in their youngest son, 4-year-old Derek Gonzalez-Landa.
“He wasn’t like this,” Jesus explained. “The school no longer wanted him there because he became very aggressive, he would throw toys at the other kids and wouldn’t listen.”
Like his older brother, Derek was later diagnosed with autism and now has to attend a separate school in Alton.
Although Magda has returned home, the family has continued to face challenges surrounding her health.
She is walking a little now and can speak a bit, but not much. But the aneurysm left her in need of constant care which, coupled with the fact that she was pregnant before the aneurysm, has made her recovery even more difficult and her condition more vulnerable.
Prior to his wife’s aneurysm, Jesus worked at a local restaurant and was the sole breadwinner for the family.
Now, he is struggling to make ends meet.
“Honestly, we’re not doing too well. We’re behind on rent by two months,” Jesus said, adding that he hasn’t been able to return to work due to being a full-time caregiver to his wife and children.
For Jesus, each day consists of waking up at 5 a.m. to prepare breakfast for his kids, then helping them get ready for school by making sure they have the necessary items and combing his daughters’ hair.
He then waits for his 7-year-old’s school bus to pick him up before leaving his home to drop off Hailey and Derek.
Jesus then returns home to take his eldest daughter, 11-year-old Lindsy to school.
Once all the kids have been dropped off, Jesus returns home to make his wife food as well as help her shower, get dressed and comb her hair.
Three times a week, as soon as his kids get out of school they head to McAllen to drop off their mother at physical therapy, which lasts about three hours.
During that time, Jesus and his children return home so that he can make them food and get them showered before returning to pick up their mom.
“I get depressed and everything hurts because of everything that is happening … but I can’t break, I need to get up and keep going strong for my kids,” Jesus said with a shaky voice as he looked down at the ground. “To keep myself from going crazy I go day by day and not think about everything at once.”
He explained that with whatever help they receive from the community he hopes to pay off his rent, which stands at about $1,500 for the two months.
“This is already the second month, if I don’t pay it … the landlord told me I’m going to have to move out,” Jesus said choking back tears. “I would have nowhere to take my kids.”
Jesus also hopes to pay off other necessities such as his vehicle and internet bills, which his children use for homework as well as buy his daughter new clothes.
He explained that Hailey had been asking for new jeans due to growing out of her current pairs, which now fit too tight.
“I want clothes because the ones I have fit me too small now,” Hailey said, adding that she needs more jeans and sweaters.
To help, call the United Way of South Texas at (956) 686-6331 and inquire about this family and the Spirit of Christmas campaign. The Monitor has partnered with the United Way of South Texas to garner support for Rio Grande Valley families in need of monetary donations, or other items and gifts specified in this story.