“You mean, it’s ours? It’s really ours?”

They were so excited. Even after I handed them the keys, they were slow to believe that the modest Spanish bungalow was now in their adoptive custody. Over the course of four exasperating months, we must have seen and dismissed close to a hundred homes. This one needed too much work. That one had a poor kitchen layout. Yet another sat on the “t” of a subdivision’s entrance: bad feng shui, or so I was told. Before the market skies parted and yielded the seventeen hundred square foot, clay tile miracle that appeared to have met extinction in their price range, our flagging spirits were all but ready to pack it in. The May 5th, 2005 discovery saved them from another year of apartment living. A challenge, at best, with a ten year old daughter, let alone with a half-baked bun in the oven.

“Can we go in,” the wife asked in a small, cautious voice.

“Of course,” I responded. “It’s your house, Liz, you can do whatever you please.”

She ignored my extended hand and engulfed me in a fierce hug. Her husband clasped my shoulder in a vice grip which betrayed an adolescence spent laboring on the family farm in Iowa. His curt nod spoke volumes.

“You’re welcome, Mel,” I replied.

“Thank you both for hanging in there with me. I know it hasn’t been easy, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the patience and trust you’ve shown. It’s been a long, tough slog, but I think we got it right.”

“Yes, we did,” Mel said, breaking his silence for the first and only time that morning.

“We would like to have you and your wife over as soon as we get settled,” Liz added.

“I’d like that,” I told her.

I meant it, too. I like just about every client I take on, but felt a special kinship with this couple for reasons that surpassed the extended time spent in each other’s company. After bidding the happy couple farewell, I glanced in the rearview as I navigated my way down the tree-lined street. Instead of going inside, they remained rooted in place, holding hands and staring at their new home.

I received a phone call from Liz this morning. Turns out that Mel has been out of work for some time now, and they cannot afford to keep the house. Might have to move back to the Midwest and look for a position on the farm. See just what kind of life is left in those gnarled, old leather hands.

I hate this job sometimes.


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