Saturday, March 22, 2014

Home is Where the Crazy History is...

Last week, I took a deep breath and created a page on GoFundMe. It was a hastily created page as I didn't take another breath until it was up and shared. Count it as another in the collection of Big Scary Things in life right now.

A few close friends have made contributions because they've known us a long time and have an understanding of the importance of this fund-raising project.

No, it's not for charity or for covering someone's medical costs. It felt selfish to post because it's a plea to help us buy a 4ish acre piece of land.

We're trying to save our home.

One of the highlights of the last year. Walking our duck on a leash.
This is not the first time we've tried to save our home. We once owned a house in a subdivision. When the house & Charlie's and my health were beyond repair, we did a video submission to Extreme Home Makeover. The show was cancelled shortly after we mailed our submission and due to a decision to help someone else rather than make the mortgage on time, we lost the house. It's not a decision we regret and if given the choice, we'd do it again. All this was during a time when it seemed most of America was losing their homes. It was devastating but we knew we weren't alone.

We received a paltry settlement from the bank after a class action lawsuit against the bank for predatory lending practices... but we still lost that home. It took some time but we're okay with it. It was no longer where we were meant to be.

Around this time, Charlie's mom received an emergency, quadruple bypass. In the following months, it became clear she would never be able to return to her home of 45 years or live independently. Despite the abominable condition of the home and land (which had one been a junkyard), or daughter Krys and her husband Steve agreed to move into the house to help keep it standing and to prevent the looting of the property. The rest of us moved into a nearby rental house.

Over the next 2 years, Momma moved to Texas to live with her sister, Krys, Steve and my brother from another mother, Jonas, all took care of the house and land. in 2012, Jonas had to move up north to care for his mother whose health was failing.

That fall, we invited a family to live in the only other building on the property. They needed a place to stay and we wanted to fulfill our promise to Momma that we wouldn't let everything fall to pieces. The family moved in with the understanding they weren't in a position to pay rent but could do repairs to make the place reasonably livable.

In November of 2012, Steve took a job in Boston which meant he and his family would be moving just after that Christmas.

Our lease wouldn't be up for another few months so after Krys and Steve moved, Rachel stayed in the house until the start of the new semester. When she went back to school, Dan, John and I took turns staying at the house several days a week so someone was always there. Krys was not able to take her pets so Bella, the greyhound mix and Keif, the epitome of a barn cat, joined our pseudo zoo.

Over the next several months, we did our best to clean the property, clear land, plant gardens, repair structures and gather ton after ton of scrap metal into sheds to improve the overall appearance of the property, discourage the looters who continued to wander on the land (that's a story all its own) and prepare for what we hoped would be Momma's eventual return to her home where we would care for her for her remaining years.

Clearing brush so a car could travel the driveway... and being a dork.
Despite the work, we were never able to bring Momma home. The money needed to bring the house to code and safe for a wheelchair bound woman was beyond our reach and hers. We couldn't secure grants without her being in the home and we couldn't physically care for her while the work would be done.

It was a frustrating, losing situation that left Momma feeling abandoned and uncared for.

Here we are, a year later... Momma has passed away and now comes dealing with the will, the land and the occasional (ex) family member who is looking to get everything she can after finding out she was never added to the will.

Wow... this is a longer story than I had intended.

We want this land. Charlie's brothers do not. We need help to buy their shares. This is why I created the GoFundMe page.

No, it's more than that. It's a request for help to fulfill a dream. We're seeking assistance in attaining more than ownership of a piece of property but also in laying the foundation for what Charlie and I have wanted for as long as we've been married.

In the next post, I'll share that dream... as well as where we are in pursuit of it... Our plan to make it happen and how any contributions will be used.

We're not giving up. Our kids have too many memories here to walk away. Our kids want their kids to know this place... and we intend to do our best to make it happen.