It always comes back
Karma – good or bad – always come back to you.
This is a long one, folks, but I need to get it off my chest.
A little back story. When our dear friend Emory passed away in January of this year, he left quite a few possessions behind. Most of them held no real value, but a few held a great deal of sentimental value, and a couple held some monetary value.
The night he passed, our landlord (husband & wife ) was called in to survey the place, to see what needed taken care of immediately. Mostly, it was making sure the place was locked up against weather and intruders, and getting rid of any open containers of food that might attract pests. The coroner’s office said they would attempt to find next of kin, and that if none were found, they would send someone out to pack everything up and put it in storage for a set amount of time for when someone eventually comes to claim it.
Our landlord decided that wasn’t good enough, and 2 weeks later, they opened up the apartment and started “cleaning” it out. First to go was the obvious – food and trash. They did a more thorough check through the place for anything that needed repaired or anything else worthwhile. They asked us if there was anything that we knew of that was important. They told us they were upset that the coroner’s office hadn’t been keeping them up to date on their proceedings, and that they were basically denied entry into the place they owned until the 30 days were up. We started to see a side of our landlord that we hadn’t previously seen. They kept trying to assure us that they were only doing what was best, and that they weren’t “slumlords”.
3 weeks to the day after Emory passed, on my Son’s birthday (that’s how I remember it so well), they again came back in to empty the apartment out completely. They told us that they coroner’s office had “contracted” them to clean it out, and that the coroner’s office said they had no intention of putting anything into storage because it cost too much. We tried to call the coroner’s office, to verify this, but couldn’t get anyone to answer the phone or return our phone calls. We probably left 2 dozen messages over the course of a week.
During this week, the landlord had parked a dumpster in the driveway. Not one of those little ones, either. The kind that needs a tractor-trailer! He was serious about getting rid of everything, that’s for sure! He enlisted the help of his family to get the place cleaned out. They started a burn pile in the yard, for anything that could be burned instead of putting it in the dumpster, which I assume charged according to weight.
My Husband and I were in a state of panic! We had been told by Emory that he had no next of kin. But his ex-wife told us that there was definitely someone out there, and she thought that maybe a relative was in Hawaii, but had no name to give us.
While the landlord was haphazardly tearing through the place, my Husband and I were looking for anything that might have some importance. The landlord was convinced that there was absolutely nothing important in the apartment, and voted to trash anything he could. Anything that the landlord decided might be worth money, he took for himself or gave it to his family.
We were sure that something was just not right with this, so we did everything we could to salvage whatever we could. We managed to find family pictures and other sentimental items. We took his computer, because we knew that there was sensitive information on it, that Emory would have never trusted anyone else with, besides us. Because of a previous arrangement with Emory (nothing to do with his death), we made sure to get his television set safely out. When my Son saw the video camera that he and Emory used to use together, he asked if he could have that. Apparently, the landlord thought it wasn’t valuable (“Nobody else would want something like that”, was the exact quote.) so we were given “permission” to take it. I understood then, that they were absolute idiots, in addition to all the other negative words used to describe them. They are Mennonite (a branch of Amish), so they saw no value in anything that they didn’t personally use.
While sorting through some things in the garage, which included some very expensive tools (all given to the landlord and his family – grrrr), my Husband found a box full of computer “stuff”. He thought my Son and I should go through it, to see if there was anything important or valuable. What I found in that box went beyond valuable … his family! I found Emory’s mother’s will, which named several family members as beneficiaries. I immediately placed a call to his ex-wife, who confirmed that one of the people listed was the one that lived in Hawaii. A quick search on WhitePages.com, and I found one listing in Hawaii. 5 minutes later, I was on the phone with Emory’s first cousin.
I had to break the news to her that her cousin had died. She was the only remaining family member listed in the will. She and Emory had apparently been very close during their childhood, and through the first half of their adult life, but had lost touch with each other after their parents had died. She was sad by the news, but happy that Emory had such good friends to care for him in his final days. She wanted to do whatever was necessary to help us through this difficult time. I explained to her what was going on with the landlord and coroner’s office. She was livid that things were being handled so terribly! She contacted both the coroner’s office and our landlord, to explain that she was next of kin, and everything needed to go through her from now on. She even offered to pay the rent and have the remaining items put in storage. The landlord fought with her on the phone, and threatened to charge her to store Emory’s vehicles if she didn’t get them off the property! Now I ask you, is that any way to treat someone who just found out their family member passed away?!
Needless to say, since my Husband and I had no legal rights to do anything, and the cousin was in Hawaii (we’re in PA) and unable to travel, the landlord did whatever he wanted. Over the next several months, we did whatever the cousin wanted us to do. It was the only right thing to do. We helped to get rid of the vehicles on the property. We gathered his mail every day, and helped get account numbers so that the cousin could do what she needed to do to get his financial affairs in order. We worked as a team to take care of Emory after his death, and we worked well together.
We had originally offered to help the landlord get the place in rentable condition, once the coroner’s office emptied it out. But once the landlord started being an absolute asshole, we refused to help out in any way. We eventually found out from the coroner’s office that the landlord had never been given any kind of permission to clear the place out. The coroner’s office was just as shocked and pissed off about what took place as we are.
And this is where the bad Karma comes into play … it took them 6 months to find another tenant, so they took a huge financial hit! Do we feel the least bit bad about that? HELL NO! Fuck them! They got what they deserved! Karma is a big ol’ bitch!
Fast forward to October, when the cousin was finally able to travel to PA, and we held the memorial service. During the days she was in the area, she did a lot of running around to finalize many of Emory’s accounts. One of those was his bank account, that she needed to close. There was a small sum of money in there, which we knew from opening his bank statements (with permission, of course); just enough to cover the cost of the memorial service with some left over. Never once did my Husband and I even think about that money as anything but being the property of the next of kin. In fact, we tried to give the cousin everything that we salvaged from his apartment. She refused it all (the tv, computer, video camera and other odds & ends) except the family pictures.
On the day the cousin left to go back home, she stopped by our home to say goodbye. Just before driving away, she handed us an envelope, and said it was a letter expressing their gratitude for our help. Then they drove away quickly, leaving my Husband and I at a loss for words. Both of us immediately started crying, and neither wanted to open the envelope, because we knew instinctively what was in it, besides a letter. After pushing it back and forth at each other, I finally gathered the courage to open it. Our instincts were right. In addition to the letter, was a small sum of money that we knew came from Emory’s bank account.
If anyone has ever received anything like that, then you know how we were feeling. I don’t even think I could put into words all the emotions that flooded over us. We read the letter, and put everything back in the envelope, and put it in a safe place. We didn’t feel right taking the money, let alone spending it on anything. So it sat … and sat … and sat … and constantly reminded us of the goodness of Emory and his family. We vowed not to use it unless it was something that Emory would have wanted us to have.
A couple of weeks later, we spent a little of it on clothing that my Son desperately needed, and a pair of work shoes for my Husband. The rest of it went back into the envelope, and back into it’s safe place.
By the time we were packing to move, the envelope was completely pushed from our minds. Eventually, the envelope was packed among other things, without even giving it any thought.
Now to the current part of the story.
We’ve been in our new apartment for 5 days. Anyone who has moved knows that it can get a bit expensive – food for the “help”, extra gas because of towing a packed trailer back and forth all day long, having to buy small things to fix up the old place to ensure a return of your security deposit (spackle, paint, cleaning supplies, etc.), and eating dinner out because you can’t find your dishes and cookware (besides, you’re too exhausted to cook) *grin*. When you’re living on a fixed budget, those costs can really do some damage to your checkbook! We ran out of money before we ran out of week. $20 left in the bank to last us another week.
Things were looking very bleak. We were sure we were going to have to beg for money from family, just to put gas in the truck and food in our bellies until the next paycheck comes in. Then, my Son needs money for a school dance – the first one he’s ever asked to go to! We’re digging everywhere to find spare change. We’re frustrated, my Son is crushed, I’m on the verge of tears. My Son goes to bed knowing how embarrassed he’s going to be to have to pay his admission with a handful of change. I’m embarrassed for him, and feeling very low myself, but I will not deny him the privilege of attending his first dance, especially when he’s done nothing to deserve that kind of “punishment”. Our life sucking is not his fault.
So, it’s midnight, and I’m still fretting over the money situation. My Husband calls me from work during his break. We start brainstorming, trying to remember if anyone owes us money so we can call in their debt. I start thinking about Emory, and how he’d help us out when we were in dire straits in the past. Then it hits me …
It was in the exact box I thought it would be in. I dug it out, counted the money, and promptly burst into tears. I’m pretty sure I cried for at least a half hour, and as I type this, I’m starting to cry again.
Right when we needed it most, Emory came through for us one last time! That, my friends, is some fucking spectacular Karma!
Thank you Emory! We love and miss you something awful!