Sunday, June 22, 2014
Departures: Another step on the path (Part ?)
I woke this morning (at 4:30) to some pretty profound thoughts and feelings. Doors open. Doors close. Beginnings. Endings. Our lives are the very definition of transition. From the moment of birth, conception even, the constant state of change that typifies our existence is set into motion. The process culminates with our demise...or does it?
Philip, Maxxi and I are preparing to leave Pensacola this morning and return to Texas, our month-long mission a success. The mission didn't go according to plan (when does it ever?) but it was certainly successful. "Blew Inn" is up and running and surpasses our expectations. Fom the moment we walked through the door on the day it was set in place, it felt like home.
Ironically and in a totally unforeseen turn of events, we learned at the mid-point of our planned move-in month that the tenant at our "shotgun house" in downtown Pensacola had suffered a catastrophic life event and could no longer afford to remain there. In hindsight, how serendipitous that we were here, in Pensacola!
Without going into great detail, at the age of 65, our tenant's husband of many years, also on the lease, quit his job and announced that he was leaving her, taking his physical and financial support along with him. "M" was left to fend for herself with a disability income of $783 per month. That's it, unless you include the few meager possessions that she was left with. (In the process of communicating the situation to us, M disclosed that they had divorced years ago but continued living together "not as man and wife.") Given that we had already stabilized the rent for the last few years at $750, far below market, M's situation was untenable.
To protect our interests and hers, Philip used local connections to see what we could do to help an understandably distraught woman in crisis. As it happens, Philip may have saved her. When she finally found the courage to disclose her situation to us, she had no food, no money and very little hope.
Philip learned of a government-supported development specifically for seniors with limited incomes that had an unusual reputation: clean, well-maintained, respected in the community, and very, VERY difficult to get into. It appeared that M qualified but she had to meet a rigorous set of entry qualifications AND there was a waitlist. By virtue of her qualifying circumstances and the fact that she is a fastidious record-keeper, M was "fast-tracked" and was offered an apartment within 2 weeks! The rent for her new 600 sq foot home is 30% of her monthly income and includes all utilities except for electricity, which is around $50 per month. Who could have foreseen such a happy ending? She is over-the-moon. (As an indication of the nature of our relationship with M, though she has siblings and children, when she completed the entry application, she listed Philip as her emergency contact. Appropriate, don't you think?)
Moving day was poignant...and telling. We sometimes demonstrate our inability to cope with our reality by simply not participating in it. M was a perfect example: with 2 or more weeks to prepare, the movers we hired found her largely unorganized and unpacked. Five hours later, the lion's share of the move was completed but much was left to be done. The significance of the events taking place in her life had overwhelmed her, I guess. Yet, there was no denying that she had fallen backward into the best possible fortune, given her circumstances.
Since we have a mortgage on the property which must be serviced, Philip and I were anxious to clean and prepare the shotgun for whatever and whomever comes next. With our small trailer in tow, we collected M early in the morning with a commitment to help her finish up and get everything she wanted to keep with her. In spite of knowing that we were "doing the right thing" and helping all we could, there was an overwhelming sadness that went with the sweat and strain of finishing the move. Of course, an afternoon cloudburst once everything was on the trailer was the frosting on the cake. But at day's end, M was in her new home, safe, secure, and ready to address her future.
And so were we...