Friends help family dealing with loss of father and husband
June 12, 2009 at 1:12 a.m.
Maritia Barham held back tears as she spoke about her husband of more than 22 years, Doug Barham.
"We were a couple and now our family is down one. It's just a big loss," Barham, 46, said.
The Barhams have three children Garrett, 17, Maddie, 14, and Carson, 11.
The family along with friends Alyssa Burleigh, 14, and Chase Weaver, 11, drove back from a family gathering in Houston and shopping in Katy on May 24.
Just outside of El Campo on their way home, the family's 2001 Chevrolet Suburban left U.S. Highway 59 South to the right and struck a guard rail, causing it to go into a side skid.
Doug Barham and Alyssa died.
"We are all trying to get better and stronger every day," Barham said.
This week, the Barham family met with Alyssa's family.
"Our hearts are broken about Alyssa and her family, too," Barham said as her voice trailed off.
The family moved from Tahoka to Victoria about two years ago, said Pauline Rivera, Barham's co-worker.
Both women began working at Victoria Nursing and Rehab Center within two weeks of each other.
"We have worked together for two years. All of us at the center are more of a family," Rivera said.
Like friends do, her co-workers Rivera and Debbie Myers have stepped up to help the family. Myers has assisted the family with home-cooked meals and tending to them, while Rivera organized a food benefit last week.
"Times are hard you know," Barham said as her voice began to crack. "There are a lot of decisions that I have to make that Doug used to take care of."
Like her co-workers, the Memorial High School football booster club Viper Moms have come to the aid of the family.
"Doug was an awesome father for lots of football players and to his own children," Stacy Killian, a Viper Mom, said.
The booster club has started the Viper Moms-Meals on Wheels for the family. Beginning Monday through the first week in July the group will buy and make dinner for the family of four.
"I just want to thank Debbie, Pauline, the community and the Parkway Church for everything they have done," Barham said.
Barham cannot work because of the injuries she suffered in the accident, Rivera said.
"We're staying busy, and I'm going to try to get some counseling services for us," Barham said.
Doug was the go-to guy, she said. Her voice cracked as she talked about small tasks her husband did.
"He was always the one who took out the trash. I'm so used to him doing so, and I forgot," Barham said. "Anything the children needed, they would call him, and he was there."