Friday, March 20, 2009

An Obituary and a Memory

This past week, I read the obituary section of the newspaper. Like my father-in-law says, one reads it to make sure one isn't in it. I came across an obituary of someone from our family's past.

Years ago, FHA and I were looking for student housing. We wanted to live in the same neighborhood we were in before housesitting for the summer. We found the perfect apartment: 2 bedroom, clean, well-maintained, upstairs with a washer and dryer in the apartment. The rent was affordable, but the trouble was we were so broke we didn't have enough money for a deposit and lacked significant steady work. The only money we had was from FHA's part time job (even though he wasn't supposed to be working while in law school) and a relatively small student loan. I had just lost my paid internship in the organization's budget cuts.

J was a smart, astute woman. And shrewd, in a good way, though. She would collect the rent in person on the first. This way, she could see how things were with each renter. She had been a widow and I believe she owned the apartment complex before marrying her second husband, A, who was a kind, quiet man. A would always accompany J on her monthly visits and would work hard maintaining the apartments.

We told her we really wanted to live there, but had one part-time job. We were anticipating another small student loan and told her if she rented to us we always pay rent.

J could have said no because we didn't have a significant income source. She could have said no because we didn't have money for a deposit. But she said yes. She said since FHA was studying law, she knew FHA had to have integrity to be in law school and we would be people who would be honest in our dealings with her. She took a leap of faith with us and we didn't let her down. We rented that terrific apartment for five years, never missing a payment or having to ask for help. J appreciated those we referred to her as well.

J died several years ago and I thought about this story then, but recently it was my reading A's obituary that made me think again about taking a leap of faith in trusting another's character.

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