Homeless, Carless and Filled with Miracles

DumpsterThe housing market drop plummeted the value of my residence during the time I ventured back into the film and television industry. Instead of having $45K in equity, I was suddenly under water. If I sold my house, I’d still have to pay an additional $70K back to the bank. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make my mortgage payments and was forced to short sell my house to avoid bankruptcy.

My developing stories weren’t ready to cash in, so finances got very tight. A little project here and there covered my minimum living expenses, but only because close friends and family invited me to dinner often. The generosity of others made a significant difference in my outlook, but I still had to face reality.

If I was living within a tragic story, it was the perfect time for my car to breakdown, which it did. Being without a car in the Chicagoland area was a bizarre experience. Yes, there’s a lot of public transportation, but not at the times of day/night and locations that was necessary for my projects.

The good news is that last week ended on a high note. The house sold and the banks waved the remaining debt – A miracle. I was able to walk away from the house without any baggage. As for the car, it went to the compactor and I was paid enough for scrap metal to cover the towing service that took the heap to the scrap pile – Another miracle.

On the day I was moving out of the house, my helpers pointed out that I needed a 20 yard dumpster for all of the trash, the equivalent of a single car garage packed to the five-foot level. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a waste collector that could provide same day pick up service for under $700, until one person gave me the name and number of a waste collection driver.

The man had time available during his lunch break and a 20 yard dumpster that was only 10-15% full, so he negotiated a cash deal for a third of what others had quoted. He swung by and a half hour later the garbage was gone – Miracle number three.

Moving items into temporary storage was a stressful situation, as we had enough unloading to make our truck return an hour late, incurring overtime charges and penalties. But, miracle four showed up when the truck rental company called. They had just received an identical truck, which meant we could take the rest of the night to empty the vehicle without charge.

There were three other miracles that I counted and I realized that just because a person is down on their luck or having a very bad year, doesn’t mean that someone isn’t watching out for them. Too often we see our circumstances as a thermometer of our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual condition, when in reality it’s just a measure of our circumstances.

A smile comes to my face when I think back on all of the miracles from last week. The biggest miracle being friends and family who worked for hours helping me move a four bedroom house into two 10X10 storage units, not counting the trips to Goodwill and the dumpster.

Those who stuck by my side and the list of miracles both help me to understand that my situation is not me, but only a temporary situation that touches me. I’m not a loser because of my losses, but rather a winner who had friends and family members prove their love through exceptional and humbling service.

While I’d never want to put anyone through that turmoil again, I’m thankful for the faithful few that were there for me when I was overwhelmed. They’ve been endeared to me and etched into my heart. I hope to reciprocate with my service in the future, but if not, I’ll certainly pay it forward to others in need.

Attended My Ex-Father-In-Law’s Funeral

© Argus - Fotolia.comNot once did I think that I’d be out of place attending the funeral of my ex-wife’s father. Nor did I receive anything but love, as I visited with the family after the funeral. In fact, it was a time filled with rich smiles and a lot of catching up on all of our lives.

I was 20-years-old when my dad died and I have few recollections prior to age six, which left me with about 14 years of memories. My ex-wife’s dad was like a surrogate father of sorts and our relationship lasted 25 years prior to the divorce with most of its memories intact.

My dad taught me about integrity, family, creativity, leadership, and how to serve and protect others. My father-in-law taught me integrity, family, business, and how to be second. I honored both men at their funerals and held dear to my heart the impact they each made in my life. Both men had richly blessed me.

While some might think it was odd for me to attend, I wasn’t the only ex who showed up at the funeral. No one denied the honor due my father-in-law regardless of how old the relationships were. He deserved every word of appreciation and the family was thankful for each comment and shared story.

The funeral opened with family participation. My youngest daughter shared a letter she wrote her grandfather, which was read to him before he passed. Her reading brought tears and smiles to many including me. I was very proud of the woman she’s become.

My ex-wife then shared a personal conversation with all in attendance. Her words were well chosen and painted a picture of hope that lifted the heaviness from the room. I was amazed and proud of how well she delivered her talk, which was filled with grace, diplomacy and compassion.

My son and oldest daughter both shared scriptures and a heart-warming song that stirred every soul in the room. They were clear, dynamic and articulate with each reading and their musical prowess obvious to all. I had hoped that they would continue for another hour or two, but their blessing came to an end as the service continued.

During the long ride home, I wondered how many divorces stopped others from saying goodbye to loved ones. As I crossed back into my state, my heart filled with gladness that the divorce hadn’t defined our family. Everyone had viewed the divorce as just one moment in time – one painful event.

It’s been more than ten years since the divorce was finalized and while it changed our circumstances, it didn’t make us bitter.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that after the funeral I shook the hand of my ex-wife’s husband as we exchanged genuine smiles and started to catch up on each other’s life. Nor should anyone be startled when I told my ex-wife that I was proud of her for giving such an excellent talk.

Divorce is not like death, although many say that it is. Sure, to some extent we can talk about the death of the marriage, but the person is still a part of your life afterwards. We share time with the kids, participate in special family events, and spend time with our grandkids. We also both believe in integrity, family, and all the other great things that our family stands for.

The core essence of who we are never changed, so showing up to my ex-father-in-law’s funeral was natural. And, together we all said goodbye to a man that deserved the honor. After all, he made a lasting impact in everyone of us and we were all more than happy to say thank you.