Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made: Our times are in His hand Who saith "A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!" - From "Rabbi Ben Ezra" by Robert Browning

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's A Hard Life!

Toby, chillin' by the rose bush in the front yard
You know up there at the top of this blog where it says, "Where age, infirmity, and financial hardship meet faith, hope, and a simple dream to be self-sustaining on a small Georgia farm"? Well, I've talked a few times about age and infirmity. Today it's all about the "financial hardship" part.

Samantha's favorite thing to do, checking out the chickens
We had a plan last fall, a good plan ... renew our equity loan in January (which we had previously paid off) and use the money to push us further into the "simple dream" part. A big leap forward, instead of the tiny steps we've been taking. The plan for the money included a new roof, a new  HVAC system, fencing, cows and pigs (for the freezer), and a small heard of meat goats for income. Then our little farm would start paying for itself, freeing up our limited income to repay the loan quickly. That was the plan.

Old, faithful Charlie, always nearby, watching
In January, when we went to renew the loan, they determined that our home value had dropped significantly in this economy. (Thank you, Mr. President.) They renewed the loan for less than half of what it had been. There is so little money available, we can't afford the roof and the HVAC system. It means we also can't afford the fencing for our five acres, which means we aren't going to get cows, pigs, or goats this year.

But there's more.

Beautiful Maggie, the mama of the group, so patien
In February, the transmission in our 5-year old van went out. That cost us $2400, which we had to take out of the equity loan.
Patty, snoozing between adventures

In March, while Dad and I were on our trip to North Carolina, I noticed the transmission slipping in my car. The same thing happened when we went to North Carolina 1.5 years ago. It cost us more than $2000 to fix it then. Today, the mechanic called and it's going to be $2200 to fix my car. The mechanic who "fixed" it before, didn't update it (don't know what that is exactly), but it meant the transmission had to be broken down completely this time to figure out what was wrong. Next time (please God, no next time) it will only need to be hooked up to a diagnostic machine to determine what's wrong with it.
My Dad, 85, and still here with us. Thank you, God!

Today, while mulling over all our financial problems, and wondering if we're ever going to have the farm of my (simple) dreams, I started a load of laundry, only to find that the washing machine has stopped working.

Our budget is tighter than a violin string right now. There is no spare cash. Dad is helping us out a bit, but he's not the fountain of financial relief. And he's trying to help someone else, who needs more help than we do.

I didn't ever think that I would be 55 years old and still struggling this hard. I thought, after a lifetime of working hard and doing my best, that I'd reach a stage in my life where I'd be able to live more leisurely, that I'd be comfortable financially, and that I would not be stressed about money. I guess the laugh is on me.
John, in a rare, not working moment

When I was younger, I faced many financial struggles trying to live as an underpaid single woman in a two-income society. I would bemoan my circumstances to my mother, looking for advice and sympathy, and, frankly, a handout. My mother was faithful to rescue me from many of those struggles. She'd ask me how much I needed, and she'd write me a check. In the "memo" space at the bottom she would always write, "I love you."

But Mother always gave me one more thing with the money, and it has stayed with me far longer than the money ever did. With every handout my mother would say, "It's a hard life!" She almost always laughed lightly when she said it, and smiled wryly at me, like she knew something I didn't.

My mother said, "It's a hard life!" so often, I'm inclined to say it was her mantra. I often said it with her, laughing, trying to make light of the circumstances which precipitated my need, her gift, and the statement. But I didn't get it, not then, not like she did.

I get it now Mom. I really get it, and I'm laughing, lightly, and smiling, wryly. "It's a hard life!"

Love you, Mom! Miss you more than I can say!

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