Tuesday, October 23, 2007
With the temperature going down to 33 degrees last night I lit our first fire for the year. Every time I use this woodstove I think of and thank Amy, who bought it for us when she learned all we had for heat were electric space heaters. The way this house is set up I can put a fan in front of the woodstove and blow heat through the whole house.
The first thing we did at Chuck and Lillian's was kill this rattler. Chuck said it's the tenth one they've killed
There is much that has happened since my last real post. I’ll cover much of it sparingly as there is something very important I want to focus on. Saturday we went to Chuck and Lillian’s to take some pictures and sort of interview them. The results of that are the primary focus of this post. We were surprised when they rolled out the red carpet for us, cooking up steak, pork chops, and chicken on the grill Chuck had built with some old cinderblocks. It was quite a meal.
Sunday, after church, we had dinner at John and Cindy Marshall’s along with Wally and Jen. That was another great dinner and most of all an expansion of our growing list of friends. It is so good to be accepted. She whipped up a great build your own dish involving what I suppose you would call a Mexican American list of ingredients. I don’t know the name of the dessert but…man! was it good. (yeah I know, a little of the early 70’s language, man) It was a great time of fellowship and my cognizance level was high, about an eight or nine on the bob scale, so I had no problem participating in the conversation. Hope I didn’t talk to much but I think I did OK.
Right now I don’t remember too much of yesterday. I know from the pictures that I finished taking the tiller motor apart in preparation for putting on new rings and honing the cylinder. Hang on, I’ll go look at my pictures and see if that triggers any other memory.
Other than it was a windy day with lots of sand blowing and there was a great sunset there are no other pictures. The strange thing is I’ll probably remember yesterday better tomorrow than I do today. (How’s that for a statement. But it’s true) The short term memory part of the brain is more damaged than the longer term part.
So now to what I really want to talk about. Chuck and Lillian we met when we first came down from Toledo to begin the process of cleaning out this house to move in. Peggy, a friend of my mother, had given us their name when I asked if she knew anyone who could help us haul stuff out and away. We liked them right away as they have a somewhat similar background as I do. Na, we’d of liked them anyway, just good people. We were happy to find a home with them for some of the old furniture here that we had no need of.
We were just down here that time for a couple of weeks. I’ll have to check the blog to see if there is a record of that time on it. Can’t go back through my journal to look for that is locked up in my now broken laptop. I checked, the blog doesn't go back far enough.
It was a few months later when we moved here for good. We were quick to get back in touch with Chuck and Lillian as they were much more open and welcoming than those we met at first church of Stanton. As we did we became more familiar with their situation. We already knew it was tight for them but found things to be worse than we thought. All of the times we received gracious help from the Midland Christian community and Amy also from San Antonio I would think of Chuck and Lillian, and their daughter, Miracle. Sure we had no heat, no hot water, only a toaster oven and hotplate to cook on, but we were in better shape than they were.
I felt guilty accepting the help of others when I knew someone with a greater need so now I will try to remedy that. Here is a letter I formulated with their approval to explain the circumstances that led to their current situation. Often those who are in poverty have drug and alcohol problems that contribute to that. Sure Chuck and Lillian “partied” in the past but so have most of us. With the birth of Miracle all of that changed. They don’t drink at all, not a drop in the house. About as clean a life as you can find. Cigarettes are their only vice and both are working hard to quit. Now providing a good home for Miracle is the number one priority in their lives. So here is the letter and pictures we took. I will be taking this letter to our church in addition to presenting it to others we know in order to raise funds and help for them.
Here is Chuck, Lillian, and Miracle at the dinner we had together
Chuck and Lillian met and fell in love about thirty years ago. They were wild and adventurous as young people often are but set out to make a life together. Eventually they made it to Missouri where they purchased their first home. Things were going fairly well until Lillian began to get sick. The doctors couldn’t, or didn’t figure out what was wrong with her. Eventually it got so bad she couldn’t work any more and things began to go bad without her income to help. Finally the doctors checked Lillian’s blood sugar and found out she was severely diabetic. With a blood sugar level in the five hundreds it’s amazing she hadn’t gone into a diabetic coma.
The house, I believe it was the original homestead where Chuck's grandparents lived but am not totally sure
Now there were large medical expenses to deal with on top of her being unable to work so the bank began foreclosure on their home. It was around this time that Lillian discovered she was pregnant. After two decades of trying they had assumed having children was not a possibility so to say it was a surprise would be a big understatement. The timing however was poor to say the least.
The west side of the house. This will give you an idea of how wide this structure is.
It was not an easy pregnancy. They named their little girl “Miracle” because she was indeed a miracle. Because of Lillian’s diabetes Miracle had to be placed in intensive care as soon as she was born. This added to the medical burdens but fortunately Medicaid approved them for help because of Miracle. Unfortunately that will soon end. Chuck and Lillian were now living with friends and doing the best they could.
The back side of the house. It lay vacant for 40 or 50 years. How old it is I don't know but would guess eighty years or more. The entire house is covered with roofing shingles, necessary when you consider the walls are simply planks, perhaps barn siding, nailed in a vertical position. Chuck is constantly working on the house. On one of my visits he was replacing some of the shingles that had blown off along with some rotted two X fours in the roof
I think it was after Miracle was stabilized that it was discovered that Lillian had some serious heart problems. She had gone back to work but was again having problems, getting weaker and unable to keep up. Nothing showed up on the EKG and other tests till they did a radioactive dye test. Then it was discovered that 55% of her heart was dead. There is evidence she had had previous heart attacks, which had gone undiscovered till now. In fact the heart had created it’s own bypass as it worked to repair itself. Lillian had several operations and many stints put in. Now the medical bills were absolutely out of reach.
This picture shows the inside of the wall. If you click on it the picture will enlarge so you can see better. There is no insulation in the house save a small portion Chuck put in a few weeks ago. The outside wall is the inside wall with only thin paneling to provide an interior surface. As you can see it is easily broken as this hole happened when Chuck leaned on it while repairing the ceiling
As is often the case, having a child brings about major changes in the parents lives. Miracle is a miracle in many ways. Looking at her Chuck and Lillian knew they needed to change their lifestyle in order to create a better environment to raise her in. Chuck and Lillian decided it was time to move back to Texas and leave the problems of Missouri behind.
Here is a portion of the ceiling. They asked me if I thought these tiles contain asbestos. I don't know but the possibility exists.
Chucks family has some land in Stanton that he was to inherit. On it was the old homestead he had spent his childhood on. The house had sat empty for twenty or thirty years and had just been used to store things in. As you will see time had taken it’s toll. There was no electricity, gas, and no water. They began the hard task of making it livable on an extremely limited income. Despite Lillian’s health problems she would work as best she could with her husband who has started a “handyman” business, doing odd jobs in this area. Two of their friends, knowing the extreme difficulties of Chuck and Lillian have moved here from Missouri to help. That makes five people living in the house. It is at the hard times you find out who your true friends are.
Here is a view of the ceiling in the kitchen
Lillian must take some twenty or more pills a day and that expense is currently covered by Medicaid but that will soon run out. Unbelievably Lillian does not qualify for disability because her condition does not effect her arms, legs, or brain. The future will continue to be an uphill struggle for them with great difficulties ahead. But they are doing the best they can to make a good home for their precious little girl.
The bathroom. There is no tub or shower and I don't remember even a sink when I peaked in
While Cherie and I faced some similar difficulties when we moved here from Ohio they are nothing in comparison. We have been greatly assisted by some in Midland's Christian community and have learned to appreciate the love those have shown. The events in Chuck and Lillian’s lives have drawn them closer to God but, like us, they were not well received locally. They are not the type of people who ask for help, just as I am not inclined to do. While I don’t ask much for us I have no problem asking for someone else and that is the purpose of this letter.
The shower. It's a PVC pipe frame staked down to prevent the wind from blowing it down. It still does. Chuck only recently was able to get the well going and ran water to the house with a garden hose. They were able to rent a trencher to dig a trench so they could lay pipe from the well that is fifty or a hundred yards away. Up until then it was bottled water for everything. Fortunately they are able to use a relative's bath to keep clean but they're not too keen about doing that
The "hot water heater" for the shower. It's a garden hose spread out to collect the sun's rays. On some days it will get scalding hot
Chuck is digging this trench to run a gas line to the house by hand. Make no mistake, he works hard to create a home for his family, when he has time between handyman jobs and has funds to buy needed materials.
Chuck and Lillian’s experience with a local church has been one of judgment, not the love of Jesus. This has naturally soured them when it comes to the established church. It is my hope and desire that this can be remedied through true compassion and love being demonstrated by the Christian community towards them as it was for us.
Miracle, a precocious three year old who loves to play with her food. She has no idea things are hard
As I was putting this together it dawned on me that I have made no avenue for people to help. I will talk to some at church to see about setting up a fund or opening a bank account as well as oversight to insure any donations are handled properly. In the meantime please Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my cell 432-488-7346
I would greatly appreciate you sending this post to as many friends and associates as you can. You can click on the envelop icon at the end of this post to do so. Thanks in advance for what you can do. If any want to donate some time and labor let me know and we will get something figured out. God bless