For three long years, my family's life has been on hold. Will we lose or keep the home we have lived in for 55 years? The verdict came a few weeks ago — arriving hand-in-hand with winter’s chill.
It was like I missed a step walking up the stairs in the dark. An icy feeling caught me at my core.
My grandma told me that the house her mother raised her in, the house my mother grew up in — the house I grew up in — was no longer ours.
A house that has seen four generations of our family was pulled from beneath our feet for $43.
To you, this story most likely isn't new. The news has spread like wildfire. My grandma, Dolores Pittman, has been on the front pages of newspapers and on TV stations. Our small home in Cedar Lake has been photographed and broadcast.
But there is a huge lesson to learn from this heartbreak.
I have seen people with the power to change this situation do what isn’t right. The town denies its errors, and the company that mistakenly sold the property, Lake Region Christian Assembly, washed its hands of the travesty.
Bob Grove, the president of the Board of Directors for LRCA, told The Times' Bill Dolan, "We have no legal or moral obligation to this woman. We have no further comment.”
Clayton Pullins, who bought the property for $43 pushed for eviction, fully aware of the consequences.
Hope was shrinking as the court dates dragged on, and it plummeted when the eviction notice reached our door. It’s not as if we could easily afford to pick up and move on.
And then my grandma’s phone started ringing.
People from around the nation have called to console her — old friends, family and stranger alike. Some have offered money, while others offered prayer. One woman, with no cash to give, offered to help my grandma pack boxes. A man from Florida called to express his personal outrage about the situation and talked to her for almost half an hour.
Tears have been shed in this process, but not all of them sad. It has been a blessing to see that, as human beings, we still group together from across all corners of the nation when we see someone in need.
Hearts still break for strangers, and hands seek to help those that need it. The Good Samaritans from states away are close as next-door neighbors.
As Americans, isn't that worth defending over all else? Our humanity and empathy — the ability to help those in need — not profits, power or selfishness. To put the latter above humanity is a disservice to ourselves and to our freedoms.
Only the minority, the deep-pocketed few, seek to capitalize over someone else’s misfortunes or are satisfied to look the other way.
We might never get our house back. It is too special to be replaced. My grandma loved being next to the park to listen to the kids play, and while she could no longer see it, she loved living next to the lake. While we didn't have much, it always made us feel lucky.
There is still danger and trouble ahead, but you, all of the people who have cared for my grandma, have made us feel lucky again. Thank you.