Shortly after we completed filming, Tex reconnected with his fractured family for the first time in more than 30 years. The mother who had him committed to a state psychiatric hospital had died, and Tex felt that her death might have opened a way to re-establish contact with his estranged half-brother and two half-sisters. However, Tex says his lingering anger toward his mother has continued to distance him from his siblings. “I have an attitude about that woman – what she did to me – and they don’t like to hear about that.” But Tex has found another family, a supportive, inter-dependent one. “He’s been a tremendous help to me,” says his roommate, Carol Marcus, who is disabled by a severe back condition. “Carol and I are like brother and sister,” says Tex. “I’d go to the darkest corner of hell for that woman.” Carol and Tex, who met at Fountain House, share the household responsibilities: she keeps track of the family finances while he does the errands and cleaning. They care fiercely for each other. “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her,” says Tex. Says Carol: “I don’t know what I’d do without him.”
Fitzroy has never strayed far from Fountain House over the past three years, and while he isn’t coming to the house on a daily basis right now, he does visit from time to time. Meanwhile, Fitzroy’s mother, father and son, who live in Trinidad, visited him this summer in Manhattan. Mrs. Frederick says that although Fitzroy doesn’t have a predictable home address or phone number, he is always sure to call her on holidays and birthdays.
In August 2003, Zeina started her first job in more than 20 years. Through the Fountain House transitional employment program, Zeina was placed at New York Life, in a part-time job that she believes will help her prove she’s ready for something more. She’s hoping that eventually she’ll be able to open a restaurant. “Something nice, cooking the Greek and Italian and French foods, international foods,” she says. Meanwhile, she’s still working in the Horticulture Unit at Fountain House, and cooking food for Fountain House events.
One of our most frequently asked questions is “Was Frances buried in a pink party dress?” and the answer is no. Before he died, Frances decided to wear the blue suit that he had worn to lobby for the half-fare bill in Albany – with a pink chiffon scarf at his neck. The half-fare transit bill went into effect on June 16, 2000. The bill ordered the city to allow people disabled by mental illness to ride New York City subways and buses at half price, just like people with other physical disabilities. But by early 2003, just 6,500 of the 40,000 people with mental illnesses eligible for the half-fare Metro card had submitted successful applications. In May, a coalition of mental health groups sued the New York City Transit Authority alleging that the half-fare application is too complicated for people with mental illnesses to fill out even with assistance, that many applications were rejected for no reason, and that processing of many others had been delayed. The suit seeks a simplified application process, says coalition attorney Estella Schoen.