Active Rain February 23, 2009

The Hero: Yonkers, Westchester County Short Sale

I recall reading a letter from my father written in August of 1945 to his parents on the news that the Second World War was over. He said that the feeling among the men was not one of celebration or joy, but weary relief. My Dad was in the Signal Corps on Leyti Island in the Pacific Theater. He, like many Americans, bowed his head in thanks when the Japanese officially surrendered on the USS Missouri.

On the Missouri that day of the surrender was a young marine who would move back to the USA and live in Yonkers, NY, just a few miles from where my father and mother raised my brothers and myself. Our families would be a few zip codes apart. My Dad never met this Marine. I met him just shy of a year ago.

Once a Marine, always a Marine, and this Marine, now this dignified octogenarian was in, to use his own words, a pickle. He was in the car business for many years, raised a son and a daughter with his beloved wife, and by the time they were retired, their home was paid for. However, she became terminally ill a few years ago, and the Marine did everything he could to get her better. He borrowed every cent he could on the house to pay for a cure, but a remedy, as many of God’s answers are to our ears, not the one he sought. Then, when the rate adjusted up and the economy shifted down, he found himself drowning in debt.

I will never forget our first meeting. Walking through that house and hearing his story and how he got where he was struck me as the ultimate irony. I remember thinking that this guy right here is a HERO, and he deserves better than this. Each room had a story. Even his workshop, where he made model planes, gave me a tangible awareness of his family’s 50 years of happiness there. As bad as the circumstances were, he wasn’t a victim. He just wanted to know a plan to make things right. The only way out would be a short sale, and I promised him my best. 

I will tell you now that this has been one of the hardest files I have ever worked on, and it has taken me and his attorney a full year and two buyers to get this short sale approved. It has been so hard that I am even reticent to write this post for fear of jinxing the good news, but I can’t be silent. I took this file extremely personally, because this is how I would want someone to treat my father. This is also one of the very few times I had a client who had every reason to be high maintenance and difficult who instead always spoke to me like I was a boxer returning to his corner. We were on the same team.

Moreover, I feel that I owe my client a debt of enormous gratitude. As hard as this was, and as beleaguered as I feel right now, I know this my experience is NOTHING compared to what this Marine has been through. My Dad and my client had a far better reason to be weary in August of 1945.