Monday, June 09, 2014

The Good Men

Three weeks ago when I was told by the bank that I would have to leave my home of 6 years, I was thrown back into a place where I did not want and had not expected to be - back to apartment hunting. I found a place I liked and contacted the owner who was enthusiastic (at first) to rent her house to me. Three bedrooms and 2 baths and a kitchen to die for. I wanted the house the moment I saw the photos. That was not to be. After that initial burst of communications and promises, and asking her to send the application, I heard nothing more.

Did I offend her? Did I not praise the place too much? Did I not move quickly enough? What had I done wrong? These are all default positions for me.

I found her Yahoo! email and forwarded my messages to her there and waited, but did not sit idle. I kept looking and found a 1-bedroom house 2 blocks away. It was spacious and had a bay window with a tiled window seat. I had visions of sitting in the window seat reading or just watching the seasons change and people go by. Against my better judgment, I paid the $30 fee and put in my application. I also had to forward copies of 3 pay stubs and provide a phone number for the previous landlord, the one who lost $2 million in properties, my house and the one next door included, to foreclosure. That was Tuesday. That day everything changed.

I called about another apartment in Divide, Colorado west of Colorado Springs and up Hwy 24. As I spoke with the landlord I found he and I had similar feelings about application fees. His father owned a property in Florissant he was getting ready to sell. Would I like to speak with his father about buying the house and 3 acres? Of course, especially since his father owned the house free and clear and would be willing to hold the mortgage note and take my payments directly. Then everything hit the fast track.

The next day after running the numbers and my meager resources, I decided I had to tell David I couldn't afford to accept his offer. It was outside my budget.  He said, "We'll make it work. I want you to have the house. Whatever it takes we will do. I don't need the money; I have more than I can spend now."

We agreed on a monthly rate I could afford and then I called the realtor about the house 2 blocks away. I listened as she told me they had not received a call back from my previous landlord. No surprise there. I explained she probably wouldn't any time soon. Then she told me my employer had not called back so they couldn't verify my income.

Uh, excuse me, but they had 3 pay stubs and my 2013 tax return and a bank statement proving my deposits. The pay stubs had the name of the company on them and waiting for a call from my employer was no longer necessary, but I didn't tell her that. Instead, I told her to cancel my application. I was buying a house in Florissant. She sounded a bit deflated, but I felt powerful and good. I was no longer at her mercy, or the mercy of any realtor any more. I was buying my own home.

Things have progressed since last week and I have been up to the house. I hate the pattern on the commercial carpets, but they are durable and thick and I know how to use area and throw rugs to best effect. Not a problem. A few minor things still need to be done, e.g.; rods for the closets, shower rods for the 2 bathrooms, phone jacks throughout the house, and a few other little details, like tightening up the hand rails all the stairs and both decks. David agreed to all of it quickly, and he agreed to remove the trash from the build before I move in next month.

But there must be a fly in this ointment. A sick feeling came over me that somehow, some way I was about to be screwed. Talking to David again last night and this morning have removed that doubt. His son Mike, the man I originally called about the apartment in Divide, will move all my things from this poky little cottage to the most beautiful home I have ever lived in -- and the first I've ever owned. He will also hook up my washer and dryer and help set up everything. This is real. I am moving. But there is more.

I found out through the realtor that David had been held in a concentration camp, specifically Auschwitz. He was taken there with his family in 1940 when he was 13 years old and was liberated by the Americans under General Patton in 1945 when he was 18 years old. That is one hell of an 18th birthday present. David was liberated without his family, all of whom died in Auschwitz. I knew he had come from Poland to the United States, but I did not know he had been imprisoned for 5 years.

Susan, the realtor, suggested I offer to write David's memoirs. I am a writer after all. I spoke with David and he agreed, so what was initially a casual acquaintance willing to sell me his house and hold the mortgage for me has become much more. He put me in touch with Susan, the realtor, to handle the paperwork, and Susan put me in touch with Ingrid who is a mortgage broker and will help me establish credit.

This man who knows nothing about me other than that I was looking for a house, has become a part of my life, and not just because of the house but because of his generosity and his indomitable spirit.

David and my father were both born in 1927. Their lives were so very different. Dad began his military career in about 1949 and David began his life as a free man, a citizen of the United States in 1949. The link they share is me. My father was a good man and that is the highest compliment any man can get. David is also a good man, not just because of what he has done for me, but because he is a good man. I have been privileged to know them both.

Just when I thought I had no options, I found options and the realization of a long held dream to own a cabin in the mountains here in Colorado. I don't have to wait 2 or 3 years; it is happening now and I am grateful.

If you like to read a little more about David, follow the link. The only thing that surprises me is that his own daughter, a newspaper reporter, never wrote about her father. Then again, maybe not so surprising, I never wrote about my father either, at least not in a memoir. Maybe now that will change as well. Two such good men should be celebrated and cherished.

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