In December, doctors told Fred Hinrichs he had high blood pressure and heart problems.
But with four children to take care of and no health insurance, that was the least of his worries. He'd watched his wife, Jessie, suffer from cancer that spread from her lungs to her liver before her death in September 2004.
Hinrichs, the children and Diane Coffey, who takes care of the kids, were living in a cramped mobile home in Hudson and struggling to make ends meet.
Feb. 13, Hinrichs, the mobile home park's maintenance man, was headed to the park's office to get an electrical breaker when he had a massive stroke and brain aneurysm, said Tina Ritz, Coffey's sister. Hinrichs died Feb. 15 at a hospice in New Port Richey, Ritz said.
His death is the latest hardship for children Tiffany, 17, James, 15, Christina, 14, and Violet, 11. "It's two steps forward and four steps back every time they get their feet on the ground," Ritz said. "All of the children have emotional problems, all because they feel like the rug is being pulled from under them."
The family wants to cremate him, which Coffey said was his "dying wish." But they can't afford it. Meanwhile, Fred Hinrichs is at Dobies Funeral Home in Hudson.
Although he got Social Security checks for the children, his death stopped income for the family, Coffey said.
"It's hard being a single parent," Coffey said, her voice gruff and uneven from permanent vocal cord damage that is the result of multiple bouts with laryngitis.
"That's the tough part. I didn't have money for a funeral. Our income was Social Security for the kids, and that was in Fred's name. Now, I'm trying to get it switched over to my name."
When the Pasco Times first reported on the Hinrichs family in 2002, Fred and Jessie Hinrichs had recently taken Violet into their home when she was about to be placed in foster care. They also took in Violet's three siblings at the Moon Lake mobile home where they lived.
The family hoped for the best as Jessie Hinrichs' health waned, eventually causing her breathing problems and complicating her ability to do regular tasks.
Coffey, who also lived in the mobile home park in Moon Lake, stopped by often to take care of Jessie Hinrichs and the kids.
Realizing the severity of her illness, Jessie asked Coffey to move in with her, Fred and the children.
"When Jessie found out she was sick, she sensed she wasn't going to get better, even though she was receiving treatments," Ritz said.
Now, Coffey and the children are coping with Fred Hinrichs' death and trying to survive. They moved to the Hudson mobile home about seven months ago.
"I can't work because of my voice - nobody will hire me," Coffey said. "Now, we don't have nothing."
Anyone who wants to donate to the family can contact Tina Ritz at (813) 766-2209.
Camille C. Spencer can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6229 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6229. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.