Sunday, September 13, 2009
In order to feel better, sometimes it takes a step or 2 back to appreciate how far you have come. Randy and I have had one of those inexplicable 'coincidences' that culminated this last week in another layer of the onion being peeled back.
The onion is my description of grief, if massive enough, your brain (soul) will allow you to put the event in cold storage until you are better equipped to handle it. Then, bits by little bits, you are aware of 'things' again. If you are not ready, it goes back to be dealt with another time. The center of that onion might drive you insane if you peel it too quick.
Jill and Greg, their daughters Steely and Demi (8 and 3), moved in next door to us in February. Our area had suffered a 10 day deluge of ice that forced many people out of their homes to seek warmth in hotels. We even had our good friends Ron and Pam move in with us for 7 days...which was a party all on its own!
Anyway, within hours Randy found out that they leased the furnished house next door because when the power came back on at their home, it somehow caught on fire. Because the house had been closed up for 3 days or so, the fire simmered for a couple hours. Greg got a call from a neighbor. By the time they arrived in 15 minutes or so, he went into the house with an extinguisher and thought he had caught it in time. NOT. He turned around and saw a huge wall of flame being fed by the new oxygen coming in the door.
Fortunately, they were not home and asleep at the time. Unfortunately, the fire department arrived soon after...and while their house was salvaged, it took 6 months to 'fix'. Hence, their move into our nucleus. They have gotten a real good dose of American insurance settlement policies since. And that is another entire story. However, upon review of my writing this, I've decided that IS the story. Greg says it was a mistake to try to save the house.
Health Insurance is not the only agency that needs a complete overhaul! Unless you have had a major claim with insurance loss (non-medical) you probably have no clue what they do to make you give up and go away.
We've become good friends over the past few months, love to watch Demi dance in her tutus, barefoot, up and down the driveway...and have thoroughly enjoyed those spontaneous summer nights sitting out in our driveways for hours. (ps: this is a good neighborhood, just we all have dogs in the backyards).
Turns out that Jill is an elementary school qualified art teacher, so we have lots in common there. Also turns out that they were shocked to find out they had moved in next door to people who really understood their trauma, and didn't try to blow it off, or make inane comments about things being OK, and how fortunate they are. Bulls**t!
Fast forward to this last week when they moved back into their 'new' home. A restoration company delivered 90+ big boxes and 3 van loads of clothes on hangers on Thursday evening next door. Jill was absolutely overwhelmed, didn't know what to do first. They had planned a garage sale beginning the next day at 8am...it was 8pm thursday when I saw what they were facing.
Instead of their insurance company giving them the appraisal value of the clothing (Jill's old clothes dating back to high school, every baby onesie, outdated shoes, belts, etc), they had it all drycleaned and ozoned to the tune of $31,000! Since February, the girls have outgrown those clothes, Steely gets a rash from the chemicals, and basically other than sentimental reasons, $31,000 was spent on nothing of value. Now stay with me...the insurance company was willing to pay $31,000 for restoration but NOT give them the money? WHY!
Jill was in tears, I was overwhelmed at boxes stacked to the ceiling, and had NO CLUE how to help her manage this task. I vowed to do anything I could do to make this easier on them...and didn't realize I would be peeling a few layers from my onion. As long as I didn't have to be up at 8am!
Jill kept wanting to talk about our fire and our Sarah. We would both cry a bit and go back to laughing at the sociological events of people sifting through her 10 years of memories. Laugh and cry. For 2 days. She kept saying I was the only one who realized how traumatic this was for her...do you keep your favorite baby clothes? do you rescue the outfit your now deceased dad gifted the new baby? How does she go through 90 boxes and pick out the things she really does want to keep, while strangers are digging through them as well?
I wasn't much help the first day. Another great neighbor, Luciene Pinto from Brazil was around off and on, and helped communicate to the shoppers with her Spanish. Lu brings an entirely new perspective to the situation because she tells us how different and easier things are in Brazil than the US. Saturday I was able to engage and help Jill realize that come winter, wool hats, velour throws, gloves and socks might come in handy. I filled several boxes of 'keepables' for her to sort through later. Thank goodness both grandmothers love to keep the girls in clothing.
Jill and the girls really wanted me to come see their 'new' house after we helped Greg load all the leftovers into a truck for delivery to the Women's Abuse Shelter. Their house is fabulous, by the way. We sat and talked, and I have to say that Jill is one of the few people I've met who really wants to know about Sarah...and is curious about what it is that brought us into their world...about what brought the Garage Sale Angel to her at 8am on Friday morning. This woman spent 8 hours in the house sorting and folding clothes from the boxes and all she asked in return was a small bag of size 7 girls clothes. And she disappeared, saying she woke up that morning knowing someone needed some help with a garage sale.
Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus. And, Jill's kitchen is empty of dishes, glasses and other essentials...they are getting the shaft insurance-wise about how the destroyed items are to be compensated.
I am drained now. peeling onions always makes my eyes leak. AND I may have another diatribe about the crooks in the homeowner insurance field. You had better hope you never have to experience how they operate. Funny thing is (a twisted funny) is the similarities of how both our families were treated...from different insurance companies...guess they teach how to be bullies in insurance school. It is, after all (in their eyes anyway), all about the bottom line and their bonuses.
Posted by VickiRossArt at 7:39 PM