I read something inspiring this week. I mean really inspiring. It’s not so much the words themselves (although they are awesome), but the power those words had to fell a giant. I don’t know the girl who wrote it and probably never will, yet I feel totally compelled to turn over my stage this week to this miracle making letter writer.
The gist of the story is this: Her parents, like millions of Americans, we about to lose the home they had lived in for 23 years. An inflated mortgage, coupled with a stroke, job loss and piling medical bills, created to a situation in which they fell behind on their payments. And although were up front with the bank from the get go and tried to renegotiate all kinds of offers, the bank did not care to listen.
Until she wrote this letter. And they did.
Her words are an amazing reminder of the mountains we can move by simply speaking from the center of the heart. Her strongly worded letter contained no F-bombs or other colorful language. She slung no mud whatsoever. She didn’t pull any punches. But she didn’t throw any either. She simply said what was in her heart clearly, directly and without hesitation or apology.
And once a letter like that, with energy so clear and strong, gets out into the world, there is just no telling how far it can go. In this case, it went to the upper atmosphere of the bank’s ivory towers. And, on the night before the house was to be auctioned, the bank called it off. Sent a workable agreement to her parents.
That, in my book is a modern day miracle. A Dr. Seuss fairy tale come to life with cold hearted, big business, bonus loving Grinch of a bank growing a heart and giving a family back its home.
I salute this girl. And send a special shout out to her parents — you raised her right in that home I am so happy to know you are still living in.
I hope this boosts you all the way it did me.
January 18, 2012
Dear Bank of America,
Walking through the front door of our house with tears in our eyes after a coach unfairly cut us from a sports team or a teacher treated us badly, my mom would always threaten that she was going to write him or her, a strongly worded letter. My mom and dad, like most parents, hated seeing their children get hurt. They saw the hurt in our eyes and wanted to make everything better.
Well, my siblings and I are all grown up now and we are seeing the same hurt in our parent’s eyes. We saw the hurt in their eyes as they struggled to figure out how to pay for an inflated mortgage payment. We saw the hurt in their eyes when after job loss, a stroke and increasing medical expenses became too much, they could no longer afford their mortgage. Now we see the hurt in their eyes after countless nights of losing sleep, worrying about where they are going to live. Seeing this hurt in their eyes over the last year is what prompted me to write you, Bank of America, a strongly worded letter.
My parents, my four older siblings and I first entered the house on Alejandro Drive in the middle of winter twenty three years ago. In the time since, we have left quite a mark on the house. I am sharing this with you because I want you to really understand what you are getting when you take that house-our home-on Alejandro Drive.
When you enter the house, you will notice the colorful walls and vibrant tiles. We call that my mom’s “mid-life fiesta.” Enjoy that. It was a labor of love. Each colorful tile was made by mom and laid by my dad.
Those book shelves, that mantel, the fence in the front yard…my dad built those. You are welcome.
When you look at the walls, you will see holes. The holes once held nails, which held some of the finest art you have ever seen. This is not art by Picasso or Van Gogh, but by the Bay Area’s best fiber artist, Oregon’s finest calligrapher and New York City’s best abstract artist. You can’t have the art.
There are bigger holes in the walls of the bedrooms from when our teenage angst got the best of us and we slammed the doors so hard it left a bit a mark. Have fun fixing those.
You might see some screws, way up on the highest ceiling. Those were securing the famous “Schmidt family Christmas mulberry branch” to the wall. This probably warrants a bit of an explanation but quite frankly, you don’t deserve one. Good luck getting them out.
You will notice railings on the walls. Those are a new addition to our house. My brothers built them. They were for my dad, to help him learn to walk again after he suffered a massive stroke last November. You probably remember; it was right around the time when you sent my parents a letter telling them their loan modification had been rejected. We really appreciated that.
There is much more that you will never understand about the true value of this house. It is worth more than whatever monetary value my parents owe you. The dinner parties, the sleepovers, the birthdays, my first steps down the hallway, graduations, weddings, and funerals all happened within those walls but they also happened within each of us and you can’t take those memories.
Tomorrow that house, my childhood home, is going up for auction. I will go to my parents house this weekend and pack up the stuff that my parents have accumulated over the last forty-two years. Forty-two years my parents have lived in that town. They have been teachers, mentors, community organizers, coaches, and so much more. They have given back so much to this community and now you and your corporate greed are kicking them to the curb and letting them fend for themselves. I hope you’re happy with that decision. I hope the money you get for the house is worth the loss that this community is going to feel in my parent’s absence.
Wurd, Mary Schmidt.
© 2002 The Book of Duh, Merry Carole Powers, Sarah Lorraine Feit