A few years ago, I was able to achieve what was, for me, part of my American dream. I bought a house. Designed by a graduate student in architecture at the local university, the floor plan was created with the intention that a wheelchair user would live here. The first time I was in the house, I knew instinctively that it was the right place for me, and I ended up buying it while it was still under construction.
I would like to say that because it was designed for someone with my needs in mind, everything from the time that I bought it went smoothly. Not so. The counters in the kitchen were the wrong height and needed to be replaced in order to be functional. I needed to install an automatic door. The oven needed to be taken out so that I could roll underneath the stove top, grab bars needed to be everywhere…and so it went. Even though it took time and patience in equal measure, eventually my house was totally accessible to me. And that was amazing. When you live in a society that is not always conducive to your circumstances, it is nice to come home to a place where you feel like you totally belong.
Prior to owning my house, I had lived in apartments most of my adult life. When the dishwasher broke, it was somebody else’s problem. If the sink overflowed, maintenance men were a phone call away. Getting things fixed when you rent is easy. But I never knew exactly how true that was until a few weeks ago.
That was when a big storm came through. The thunder scared my dog and the lightning hit a tree. Not just any tree. This is an enormous hedge tree, behind the fence in my backyard, over 100 years old and 90 feet tall, with a trunk that practically split in two. My neighbor brought to my attention that it needed to come down. I didn’t realize the magnitude of the problem until I started getting bids for its removal.
To make a long story short, I talked lots people, called several companies, and had numerous “tree guys” come take a look. The lowest bid I got was $4000.
To say that amount was utterly overwhelming is putting it kindly. My monthly disability payments are a pittance compared to that expense. But after a few days, many prayers, countless deep breaths and a little perspective, I realized something significant. Rome wasn’t built in a day and having the money to pay to have a tree taken down didn’t have to happen all at once either.
So I started to do some research and found some resources that I had not immediately considered.
- I have some money in a “maintenance fund” through the program I bought my house through.
- One of my good friends from church knew of a grant that assists people of low income with unexpected expenses. She sent me an application.
- I qualify for a low-interest loan through another program I am aware of. I can make monthly payments that are taken directly out of my checking account.
Other good things have come out of this situation as well. I re-prioritized my budget when I realized that take out will never taste as good as knowing in my gut that I am doing my best to cover my bills.
And once again, I have found that good friends and strangers alike are willing to go above and beyond to be accommodating when they can.
But perhaps the best part of all of this “tree drama” is the realization that, even though it may take several years when this is all paid off, I will have taken care of this completely on my own. No financial help from family or anyone else. That level of satisfaction will be absolutely incredible.
And until money grows on trees, that is what I plan to look forward to.