Through the Back Loop

Adventures in knitting, fiber arts, and family.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Rock Bottom

I am convinced, and no one will change my mind on this, that the minute I take time for myself to do something for me, I am punished. I'm not joking, in fact I am quite serious. And it seems that in the last few months, the amount of time that I am allowed to enjoy myself before being slammed with some tradegy is getting shorter and shorter. It now seems to be only a few hours, which makes me nervous about writing this post. What bad thing will happen after I click Publish?

Since moving and trying to settle in a new area, my husband and I have worked extra jobs to build back the savings account we had to drain for many different reasons. I've posted about them over the years, and finally, this summer, we had money in the account. Immediately, I said that I was nervous because something would happen to prevent us from keeping the account. Some emergency. After my husband and I took our first trip away from home without our children in 16 years, we returned home and a few weeks later our car needed $1,400 of repairs. I thought this was my punishment. Boy, was I wrong.

One week in August, both of my daughters were gone for the same week, one at work (she lived and worked at a summer camp that week) and the other went to her girl scout camp for the week. It was heaven. I sat and watched tv. the house stayed clean. My movies were not interrupted. I watched the Olympics. And I knit. It was heaven. I told my mom that I worried about what price I would pay for such luxury. Well, that luxury seems to be at the price tag of about $30,000.

Last week Thursday, one week after our girls came home, we got a phone call from our realtor. Someone had gone on a walk through of our house and found mold in the basement. She sent us the pictures. The first pictures didn't seem so bad, but as we clicked on and on, they got worse and our jaws fell open in shock and disbelief.

house damage corner



This couldn't be happening. We had an accepted offer, but once they were told of the mold, they decided not to renew the offer (it will expire on August 30th).

I immediately called our insurance agent who said that this must be from the floods in early June. But we had been in the house in July, I told him. Still, he said that insurance would not cover mold or flooding, and that there were homes in our community with collapsed basements from the flooding. He encouraged us to call FEMA. We called FEMA and the adjuster came to look at our house. "I've never seen anthing like this," he told us. Really? A FEMA inspector hadn't seen worse? Imagine the bad things that he must see in his job! Then I called someone to give us an estimate of the costs to repair the home. He went in and later called me to say that the basement was still wet, which we knew, and that he couldn't do anything until we got the water out. Oh, and it would cost about $30,000. Now, we live three and a half hours away and the new school year has just started. We were at a loss to figure out how to dry out a basement so far away. I called another company and basically blubbered through my phone call and told him the story. Ron was so nice. He went into the house that afternoon, called my husband - because I then couldn't complete a sentence without crying - and said that he wouldn't leave the house until things were taken care of. He pulled people off of other jobs, and I don't know what they did, but he has assured us that the house is ok. For now. Our worry was, and still is, that the mold will spread to the upstairs and instead of losing the finished basement where our daughter's rooms are, we would lose the whole house. The house that carries our only investment for being able to build and settle where we are now. The FEMA grant decision came quickly. They awarded us $3,000. That leaves about $27,000 unpaid for.

Both men who estimated repairs said that the problem was not a flood, but rather a sump pump malfunction with clear water back up. They told us that this was an insurance issue and said that we should call our agent to file a claim. My husband did, and the insurance adjuster went through yesterday. We were feeling a bit better, and I actually had my first day without tears on Wednesday, when we knew that we were allowed to file a claim with our insurance. Yesterday I spent 14 hours at school getting my room ready and all of the work done at school so that we could go to the house and the nursing home this weekend. Oh, I forgot to mention that my mother-in-law took a turn for the worse on Wednesday. You see, she had a massive heart attack on Easter weekend, and we were told that she wouldn't live through the night. We all grieved and said our goodbyes, but by morning, she opened her eyes and asked for breakfast. A miracle, yes, but also a tradegy because she has since been in a nursing home and is only a shell of the woman we all used to know. We were going to leave this morning, but have changed our minds because my mother-in-law is a bit better and our girls have plans with new friends they are trying to make in our new community. My husband just left to go visit his mother, stop at the house, and continue our fight to find $27,000.

Last night, after taking the time for myself at school, he told me that the insurance adjuster basically laughed at him telling him that this was not a sump pump malfunction. I guess our sump pump pit is dry and our sump pump is not working and hasn't worked for awhile. There are no water levels to show a flood, and the basement has water in places where you wouldn't expect it if there had been a flood. He thinks that the heavy rain waters saturated the ground, and that those waters are slowly seeping through our foundation and ending up in our basment. He even thought that possibly someone may have hooked up a hose and let it run along the house to intentionally do harm, but he realized that wouldn't have been the case, based upon the damage areas. I guess our house is a puzzle. No one knows what happened, and I don't really care WHAT happened, I want to know how to make it better. I don't want to lose all of our money, but the way things are right now - we are looking at losing everything, including precious items in the basement like holiday decorations, pictures, high school albums, and items that I hold dear because they were my father's. We may have to sell the house at a loss and save to build. We were about 5 years from paying off the house and being mortgage free, which was one reason I didn't want to move, and now we may be looking at starting all over again.

I pretty much started this blog when our troubles began - Read Hogging the Brownie and you will see what I mean. Four years later and things are even worse. People say that it can't get worse than this, but things always do seem to get worse. Especially for us.

My daugthers have watched me cry so many times in the last several years, and they told me this week that it actually hurts them. "You are our parents. You are supposed to be able to handle anything. So if you cry, then we know that things are really bad," my daughter told me this week. Both of my girls have said that they want to do something to help, so they are planning to apply for Extreme Home Makeover. Alicia looked up the application information and it is quite overwhelming. I told both of the girls that if they never finish the application process - I am still proud of them for thinking of this.

So basically, I cry, I try to get ready for a new school year, I answer people's questions about if we have sold our home with sobs and long stories of mold, and I go to bed at night in tears with a throbbing head. John does the same. But he is still able to fight. This one has even taken the fight out of me... and I have been known as a fighter. I'm done. I roll over. I give up. This what rock bottom looks like. I will never be able to enjoy taking time for myself again.


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