Sample Illustrative Essay

I don’t know if I would ever have it in my heart to open the doors of my home to members of my family again. My desire to help certain members of my family has resulted in several nightmares. I could have avoided these situations if I had set my personal feelings aside and clearly thought things through. My sympathy for my family has taught me a few valuable lessons. Trying to keep my family together, giving shelter, and giving a second chance proved to be traumatic ordeals. Keeping my family together was very important to me.

My cousin Danielle was only eight months old when she was put into foster care because of her parents’ arrest. In court, Danielle’s parents asked me to assume custody of her until they were released from jail. The judge ultimately agreed, and eighteen months later the State of Georgia released her to my custody. My children and I were happy to have her. We never expected what was to come. As time went by, Danielle turned into something like the Omen. She was tearing up my furniture, destroying her clothes, stealing from me, lying to her teachers, and physically harming my son.

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My home was never the same after her arrival. Ultimately, the problem with Danielle changed my relationship with my kids because of the time and energy I was taking to help her. As a result, my children started showing signs of emotional distress. Eventually, Danielle’s mother was released from jail, and I returned custody back to her. I finally got my family on the right track after Danielle was back living with her mother. However, I learned the hard way that some good intentions do not always have positive results.

Giving shelter to my cousin Jamie seemed like a good idea at the time. Jamie was a good person who had a drug and alcohol addiction. I wanted to support him in anyway necessary in order for him to straighten out his life. Jamie worked as a carpenter and took pride in what he did, and when he was not working, he helped my kids with their homework, cooked dinner, and kept the house clean. Just when I thought Jamie was doing better, he took a turn for the worst. One evening in July of 2005, the kids and I came home from having dinner and realized Jamie had stolen my car.

I reported the car stolen to the Dekalb County Sheriff’s department. Twelve days after my car was stolen, I received a phone call from the Rockdale County Police Department informing me that my car was found totaled out on the side of the road on I-20. I never say Jamie again after getting my car back. He never even phoned to say where he was, that he was sorry or thank you. Four months later, after he stole my car, my cousin Jamie died at age 32 of a drug overdose. I then realized after all I had done for him that he needed professional help not sympathy.

Finally, I have always been one who believes that some people should be given a second chance. Watching my cousin Chauncey grow up, I felt deep down inside that he would be another statistic. His mother loved to party, smoke marijuana, and drink. She never provided any parental guidance for him, and he practically raised him. A father in is life was non-existent. As a result of this unguided freedom, Chauncey stayed in constant trouble because of the negative environment he was being raised around.

By the time Chauncey was 21 years old, he had a long list of criminal charges. At the age of 23 years old, he was arrested and sent to prison. I mailed him money, brought him undergarments, and accepted all his collect calls, which he promised to pay me for. He served three years in prison before I raised enough money to pay his bond to get him released. I gave him permission to stay in my home, so he could get his priorities in order. He never paid me for the collect calls he made while in prison, he ran up my utility bills and then he moved out of my home.

It took six months for me to get my bills caught up. After all the help I tried to give him, he went back to jail a year later. Sometimes second chances are not always deserved. Generosity and openheartedness can lead to heartache and disappointment when a person realizes he/she cannot help everyone. Sympathetic love for family can ultimately backfire and destroy a person’s immediate family and home. One should always think logically and realistically before making important decisions because he/she could alter his/her life in a negative way.