Life at the Bradshaw house in Nacogdoches County is full of energy. Three year old twins John and Gabe are a lot to handle for granddad and legal guardian, Les Bradshaw. But after a series of life's misfortunes Les said, 'Why not take my grandchildren? I can handle anything.'
First, injuries from a car wreck left him disabled. Les spends a lot of time in a wheelchair. While in the hospital his dad passed away, leaving Les' mom alone. He caring for her and dealing with not being able to say goodbye to his father. " That was hard. I'm still dealing with that," said the man who is mostly wheelchair bound. During rehab, the Enron employee lost his savings. " It came crashing down. I lost my retirement." And then it became obvious, the twins' parents were simply incapable of caring for their children. " I think they were overwhelmed. Their world came crashing down on them."
With all that had happened, Les felt he could handle anything. He and his wife have young children of their own, but they stepped in to take care of the twins. As with most custody issues, the parents blew up at the idea. He recalled the parent's reaction. "They said, ' Your taking my boys from me?', I said, 'No, I'm not taking anything away from you. I'm watching the boys until ya'll get your stuff figured out and they will be here. They will always be here when you grow up."
The emotional, mental and financial roller coaster ride began. Les is extremely grateful to his wife. " My wife stood up and went back to work and has not thought twice. It's been an uphill struggle the whole way, but it's been a blessing for me." Against all odds Les can walk with the aid of canes. He's convinced keeping up with the twins contributed to his successful rehab. Les pulls up to the children's pre school. He does it just like the young moms around him, only a bit slower.
The Bradshaws are working toward parent unification. It's in the best interest of the boys. Undoubtedly it will create a bittersweet moment.
The twins eagerly look at a family photo album yelling, " And that's Daddy and Mommy." " That's right," said Les who wants the boys to know their parents. The parents visit the twins weekly. They're separately working on earning the right to care for their own children. For now that remains in the hands of loving grandparents.
Les says, " They're our future. If they're not being taken care of than they're not going to take care of us or the country or anything else and the problem has to be rectified somewhere."