Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Tooth that Broke the Camels Back

   Does anyone else feel that there is somewhat of a general theme to the difficulties we each experience.  The theme of my life for that past several years has been that there is never enough money.  I appreciate that so many people have difficulties far worse and more intense than mine.  I also know many people who have gone through worse financial situations than my own.  No matter how much I know or hear about others situations, rarely does that lessen the frustration, self-pity, pain and worthlessness I feel as a result.  As the provider for my family, I take the load of financial struggles on my back and carry them, humps, lumps and all.
   Most recently, meaning yesterday, we were all in the car, driving around looking at places to rent trying to find somewhere to live.  Let me backup a bit and give you a little history.  Four years ago, we set out to start a new chapter in our life.  I had been working in misery for the same company for six years.  For whatever reason, the duties of my job had begun to slowly rot away at the core of my soul.  I had finished my Bachelors degree the winter of 2007 and had been looking to find a new job ever since.  I had established a few years before, a business on the side where I was fixing and building computers for relatives, friends and anyone who needed help.  With support from my incredible wife, I decided it was the right time to try this business on full scale.  We obtained what little financing we could get from a select list of assets and received a small amount of unsecured debt from the SBA.  We opened our doors August 2008.  For anyone paying attention, that wasn't a good year to open a business.  Long story shorter, the business worked well for a while, but the impending recession and our inability to secure additional cash-flow solidified the chain of unrecoverable events.  Sensing the signs, I started a new job in April 2010.  We officially closed the business July 2010.  Shortly after, because of the decreased income over time, we short sold our home, and eventually filed for bankruptcy due to the insurmountable amount of debt related to the operation of the business.  After the short sale, we moved in with my parents who were kind enough to offer us a place.  We have been here almost a year and now feel its in the best interest of our family, and my parents sanity, to find somewhere to be on our own.  And that is where the story continues.
   As we are driving around, we stopped at the store to pick up a few treats to try to keep the kids happy while we looked.  After a few minutes while biting off a piece of licorice, I heard and felt a crunch as the crown on my front right tooth gave way to the licorice.  As if the instant pain wasn't enough, the blood was a great indicator that something was severely wrong.  We quickly visited the last home we had arranged to see and set for home.  We contacted our dentist to confirm our suspicions and verify I didn't need any immediate care.  This morning, I headed to the dentist and after a short examination, confirmed indeed that the entire tooth was shattered and that the repair meant an implant.  A dental implant isn't the end of the world.  They are quite common and relatively expensive to the tune of three to four thousand dollars.  I probably sound quite shallow whining about my little tiny tooth problem, and you would probably be right.  I may appear to be a little bit shallow, but as I explained earlier, as the only breadwinner in the family, all financial problems are my lumps to take.  What I haven't yet shared with you is that less than a week ago, I was informed by that same dentist, after a basketball accident where one players head wound up basically in my mouth, that my other front tooth would also need an implant.  I have dental insurance, and they cover $1500 annually, but I am already maxed out this year due to some work I had been putting off from the previous year.  Needless to say, things are not going my way.
   The tooth that broke the camels back doesn't quite fit the story yet.  What I also need to tell you is that over the past 16 months, we have had extensive vehicle repairs including replacing two transmissions all totaling $9000.  The first vehicle repairs including the transmission repair totaled $5000.  We had some incredible experiences finding the money to pay for these repairs which I will definitely share with you another time.  During our bankruptcy proceedings, just two months after the transmission was replaced, the trustee advised us to return that vehicle to the bank as we were too far upside-down.  Shortly after returning the vehicle to the bank, my parents assisted us in purchasing a less expensive vehicle trying to be wise in our financial situation.  The transmission went out just 5 months later.  A whopping $4000 bill on our 2004 Honda Odyssey took what little amount we had available as a loan from of my 401k.

   The financial struggles are not why I share this very difficult part of my life, but what happened after.  As I got home today, ragged from the information the dentist had just provided me, my soul broke.  As I laid on my bed, I felt weak and a failure to my family.  How was I going to provide a new home for my family, which they so desperately need, keep food on the table, and take care of all of these unplanned obligations.  My 8 year old daughter and 5 year old son in the next room, must have overheard my conversation with my wife and tears of frustration.  A few minutes later, my daughter came in and offered me an envelope.  I opened the envelope and found the following.

   My daughter and son had given their dad every cent they had to try to help make him happy.  They had also provided me a perspective with the picture.  I don't know how we are going to come up with the money to pay for the dental work I need to have done and our new apartment and everything else we have to pay for, but I know that I'm not going to let financial problems get in the way of being a good husband and father and letting my kids know how awesome they are.  
NOTE: I have no intention or desire to solicit money.  All I want to do is to share with people my experiences and how we can all find the joy that comes from the love and kindnesses of others.


  1. Okay, I wanna hug your kids right now. Thanks for sharing, we have had the same kind of 2 years with cars and health care and dental bills. Good thing God told us to adopt JosieMae the year before or we wouldn't have dared spend the $33,000 for the adoption! GOd has a plan for all of us and you guys will look back one day and wonder how you did it and see, once again, that you secured what was important, your family!

  2. Brandon my heart goes out to you and stacy. We will pray for you. Your kids are awesome :-)