Lauri Peterson

Lauri Peterson shares what life has been like for her and her family after taking leave from The Real Housewives of OC.

on Jan 7, 2009

I think looking after a loved one with an illness is extremely difficult. I can relate to Gretchen in some ways through Josh's difficulties, but perhaps even more after caring for my father who suffered a massive stroke 20 years ago that left him paralyzed and in a condition that doctors felt he would not live long after. Once my father was stabilized after his stroke, I flew him out to California from Idaho where he was living with great intentions of giving him back his life he once knew with intensive physical therapy. My goal was to get him self sufficient and I dreamed of seeing him walk again. I nursed him around the clock for several months until I eventually wore myself out. My family and I reached the conclusion that he would probably receive the best care in a facility with trained staff set up for people with disabilities and 24-hour nursing care. I was defeated and felt inadequate for having to surrender my father over to a nursing care facility. I do feel sorry for Gretchen and I understand the myriad of emotions that she must have been feeling. Seeing someone suffer is excruciating and not being able to control the illness and achieve the results I wanted, was frustrating for me. My father, God rest his soul, lived 20 years after his stoke, passing away September 16, 2008. Even though his quality of life was questionable, he never gave up his humor, was peaceful and blessed with the additional years he was given to see his grandchildren born and raised. Over the years, he was able to manage his wheelchair well enough to sneak out of his room and turn on the other patient's televisions to BRAVO when the Real Housewives of Orange County first aired. I miss you Dad!

Last September was difficult for me. Josh started serving his time in custody the day before my father passed away. I went through the motions at the time, but I was withdrawn and emotional. For the sake of the other children, I tried to put on a smile, but I felt empty behind it. I'm trying more now to focus on the positive side of every situation that comes my way and to look for the lesson to be learned. My father defied the odds of his stroke and received 20 years of life that we didn't think we would get with him and Josh, well, he is safer for now. George and I visit Josh on weekends. He looks good and seems to be handling custody as best as he can. He is clearheaded and back to his normal weight. I recognize my handsome son again! Jail, however, is ugly. After visiting him, I feel dirty, not because the facility is physically dirty-- it's hard to describe, but I just feel like I need to shower to get the feeling off of me.