Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Like a Young Child

Trey Smith

Do you remember when you were a young child? You weren't very equipped to face the complexities of the world around you. Typically, you could deal alright with the the minor irritations and problems that arose, but in major situations, you looked to your parents or caregivers to provide a tremendous amount of assistance OR to solve the issue for you.

I can tell you that being [financially] poor is much the same way. While Della and I can deal with the everyday bumps and bruises of adulthood, when a major situation arises, we generally are powerless to do much of anything about it...without the assistance of family or the government.

As I noted yesterday, it's been raining like crazy here. We received over 3 inches of rain on Tuesday which pushed the monthly total to date near 17 inches. Heavy rain tends to make us a tad bit nervous because we have some problems with our aging roof.

Early yesterday afternoon, as I was helping Della bring in some groceries, I let out a loud gasp. "What's wrong?" my wife asked. I pointed to the north wall of our living room. The moment she saw it, she gasped too. You could see water dripping down the wall! And I don't mean just a wee amount of water; it was significant.

Having your roof replaced costs thousands and thousands of dollars. When you're poor, thousands of dollars is as much of a dream as millions or billions of dollars. Heck, we can't even afford to have a savings account!

As a stop-gap measure, we called a local roofing company and they sent out a guy to patch this one hole. It cost us $100. We can deal with that. This fellow pointed out to me -- from the attic crawlspace -- numerous holes and gaps. We don't have the hundreds of dollars needed to fix each one. We're lucky that most of these holes and gaps haven't resulted in more leaks.

My dad is retiring in two months and he and my step-mom don't have the money to loan us. (I should note that my 79 year old father has come to our rescue more times than I would like to admit, so there are NO hard feelings here at all.) I've been communicating with our USDA Rural Home Development rep as to what kinds of government assistance we might be able to tap into because, without some form of assistance, the roof situation will continue to deteriorate. This wouldn't be good for us or the US Government (which guarantees our loan AND provides a monthly mortgage subsidy).

In the end, we probably will need to give up our house. Della's profession is filled with months of more work than she almost can handle as well as months in which hours are hard to come by. When she's working many hours, we are able to pay the mortgage and all of our other bills. But when the hours dry up -- like right now -- we're hard-pressed even to meet our minimal monthly obligations. That said, under either scenario, we are not in a financial position to absorb a major cost like a new roof or getting the exterior of the house painted (something badly needed).

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