Wednesday, July 1, 2015


July 1st 2015… Today is my 25th Anniversary of moving to Rockford.  I approach this milestone with a mixture of deep gratitude, unending joy and deepest sadness. On the 23rd of this month my home will be put up for sale as part of its foreclosure process.  This is the home I raised my children in and that has been the locus of thousands of memories.  On the other hand it is also showing definite signs of age and wear and maintaining it all by myself is daunting to say the least.  Twenty-five years ago I could have never predicted where my life would be today.  I had always assumed I would be permanently moored to the Chicago area.  But Rockford has become my home physically, emotionally, and psychically.  I love this city despite its flaws.  The vast majority of people in my life today would not be had I not landed here a quarter-century ago.  As I have journeyed through the last decade those connections have become all the more important as little-by-little my life untangled itself from its Chicago roots.
In just a couple of weeks my first grandson will be born – the first Ruszczak born in Rockford.  I look upon this event as a brand new chapter in the Ruszczak-family-saga.  And here too I am reminded that the woman that took my oldest son’s breath away would have probably never met any of us had we stayed in Park Ridge.  Truly this city has given us life.  Looking out my back window onto a seriously overgrown garden I am ruminative about how things would be different had Erhard not died almost four years ago.  My leaving this house would not have been part of the landscape.  But then again losing Erhard changed everything about me.  I am quieter, more resilient, more introspective than at any other time in my life and I have learned to like and love the woman I continue to get to know.  I have been schooled by fate into a deep gratitude for all the people that have ever touched my life and continue to play huge parts in its unfolding.  I cannot fathom what I would do without all of you – I don’t want to try.
In the next few weeks I will have more to say and share – there will be open-house-days and garage sales as I attempt to purge all but the most cherished of possessions so moving won’t be so onerous.  I am trying to figure out how to save the money for a Security Deposit on a new place, what I will do to re-home my beloved pets in the event that my new location won’t accept them.  My mind flat-lines sometimes just trying to grasp everything and were it not for the local community I have grown into I would lose my mind I think.  But I am not ready to throw in the towel just yet – there are more adventures to be had here – I just don’t know what they are right now.  But I do know that all of you will be ever in my heart no matter where I might land in the future.  As it is written in Ecclesiastes “there is a time and purpose for everything under heaven” and my job now is to uncover mine in the next weeks.       



Saturday, May 30, 2015

the ebb and flow of life...

Life is never as static or as simple as fixed numbers depict & the amount of work needed to make life good should be honored and voiced.  I am ready to admit my imperfection as well as cheer my bravery and tenacity.  While I am using the last of my reserve money to ransom Steve’s ashes I am ready to have him home and feel it is the right & good thing to do.  I rely on my faith – in God first and foremost, and in those I love next to guide me and support me as I walk my way through this new beginning.  Reaching out to people I have never met through the GoFundMe campaign is just one more step of faith and hope.  I hear the clock ticking in my head, feel the time needed to rescue my home slipping away in every fiber of my being – and yet I must release my future to serendipity.

On June 13th a local senator is hosting a Homeowner Mortgage Resource Fair here in Rockford.  I want to attend to once-and-for-all see what I might be able to accomplish.  But in truth I am starting at zero monetary reserve – although for the moment I am self-sufficient (not counting housing costs or any funds devoted to ever managing the acquisition of a vehicle).  I am doing my best and allowing the larger universe of love & luck to carry me forward.  Pray for me… share my campaign… and contribute if you can and my journey resonates with you.  I will continue to post here and on my blogs.  I know I am not alone – there are many more hidden stories like mine & I hope to somehow reach them and give them voice as I go.

  

Friday, May 8, 2015

Another Update to my GoFundMe campaign - 5/8/2015

I slept in until 9am this morning, the latest I've gotten up in a very long time.  Got dressed and took Kazé for an extended morning constitutional – and even picked-up his poop.  I did a lot of thinking during the walk – especially as I passed properties that are being fixed-up.  I don’t know what I should do – save the money it would take to fix this place up, knowing I will leave it in a couple of months, or try like crazy to keep this house and them put in some money and sweat equity to fix some of its problems.  This house means the world to me – there’s no denying that if I had a choice I would stay here.  I have lived in this house longer than at any other address and every nook & cranny is filled with memory.  I watched my boys grow into men here, nurtured an entire cadre of rented kinds within these walls.  This house is home for me – Erhard and I began our new life here in Rockford at a different address, but considered this house our true Rockford home.  Now the thought of leaving it behind because I've lost it to the bank is heartbreaking.  Every time I think I’m over it – and ready to move on something pulls me back here.  It feels like another death of family event.
On top of that I have been informed by Muzyka Funeral Home that my beloved brother (Steve’s) cremains are finally back (he donated his body to medical research following his death from the autoimmune syndrome know as Wegener’s Granulomatous).  I have waited 2½ years for him to return and now I can’t ransom his ashes because I don’t have the $225.00 required to close-out my account with the funeral home.  I don’t blame them – they handled all the arrangements and transport beautifully and deserve to get paid – I just don’t have the money.  I want him home.  I have my mother’s and Erhard’s ashes and have always imagined interring them all together.  But I cannot conjure money out of thin air and although I am taking on as many hours at work as I can get I am just beginning to break even and being able to support myself somewhat.

I pray every day that my story makes it out there and that serendipity is generous.  I want to turn back the clock to a time when I was the “fairygodmama” to others – helping them in their time of need or want.  I know that once I can I will do it again.  But right now I am the one in need and this is the only forum I know of that might prove my solution.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

TOUCHING BASE 05.02.2015

Today would have been my 34th wedding anniversary.  Its days like this that give rise to much introspection on my part – of where my life has taken me and where it’s going now.  I've just finished my third week of work and I am glad that I have the opportunity to contribute to my own support.  I am also more keenly aware than ever of how much more difficult my life is without a car.  I took the bus to work yesterday – and while I am rejoicing in that feeling of independence it comes with a price – it adds a full 90 minutes to my commute one-way.  Taking the bus both ways would turn a normal 8-hour workday into an 11-hour sojourn.  Besides leaving me completely exhausted and in more pain than I have had in quite some time, it makes it difficult for my dog, Kazé as well – perhaps a side concern – but a very real one for anyone who has ever cared for a beloved pet. 

This morning, as Kazé & I took our usual hour-long constitutional I was also very attuned to the fact that while I need cat & dog food, kitty litter, and household supplies, I have no way of getting to anywhere that sells them.  Nothing is within walking distance here – even though I live in the heart of Rockford.  While I have the money to buy my cats’ food I have no rational means of transportation that would allow me to bring those purchases back home.  I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the support I have already received – I am flabbergasted and humbled by the outpouring of generosity I have experienced.  

I just fear that I’m not getting any further than this.  I have been looking at cars – hoping that I could find one for less money than I had originally asked for in my campaign – but the truth of the matter is that not a single usable car was priced under $4995 (and even then these had well over 150,000 miles on them already).   If I don’t increase the amount of my campaign goal I simply won’t be able to get my freedom back.  I won’t be able to do the things I need – and that leaves me saddened and frustrated.

My sister Angie will soon have major surgery and getting to her is absolutely impossible without a vehicle.  There is nothing running south from Rockford along the Rock River – no bus, train, or pony ride I could take.  Oregon is over 30 miles away – way too far for even my “Chicago-legs” & my love of walking and hiking.  I am her guardian and I am getting desperate.


Looking around my home I am also acutely aware that the clock is ticking on my being able to remain here – I have less than 2 months in which to raise enough money to attempt a reasonable modification and/or renegotiation of the mortgage on this property.   Since my name did not appear on the loan, and my beloved husband left no will or final instructions, I am required to have far more money up-front in order to begin this process.  I have almost nothing to start with.  Every cent I have been given so far has gone to pay-up my past-due utilities (which are now current – and for which I am immensely grateful & relieved).  

But if I can’t rescue my home or act as my sister’s guardian in the fullest sense of that responsibility my campaign will have only  succeeded in making my situation better and I will still be prevented from “giving-back” to those I love and beginning the process of empowering others in my position to rebuild their lives.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Life Makeover 3.0

I am a 57 years old widow that is looking for a way to reboot her life and also "pay it forward" as I go. After years as a caregiver I lost almost everyone in my family over the course of the last seven years (my mother in 2007, my dear husband of 30 years in October of 2011 and my beloved older brother just 11 months later). Then just four monthes after that my sister Angela got very sick and spent the better part of the next 15 months in-and-out of intensive care.

I was widowed suddenly, and we had used up all of our savings in the months prior on my husband's deteriorating health and he left no life insurance or will. As a result I have been thrust into poverty. While I have finally graduated from college (after taking an additional two years off to care for my dying brother and my sister) I am unable to find a job that would allow me to do this on my own in the time allowed me.

My home is in foreclosure and I only have 90 days to rescue it, I am two months behind in all of my bills, I just got a job - but it's part-time. I need a car first and foremost - so that I can continue to act as my developmentally disabled sister's guardian and to take on a second job because my own car finally died. I suffer from severe fibromyalgia and arthritis which makes doing things extremely painful.

I want to be independent and productive and a car and the ability to rescue my home would allow me to do this. I want to help other women who are in my position - finding their entire lives turned upside down just as they are reaching their 50's. I want to continue to offer solace to young people who would otherwise not find safety in their present situation. I have a B.S. in Psychology and a loving, caring heart and given the chance I can make a real difference in people's lives.

I owe several years past due Real Estate taxes (ever since my husband died), 5939.47 is the minimum I need in order to negotiate a loan modification, student loans will start in June, I presently owe 1256.24 in utility bills so I don't have everything shut off, and a decent, not fancy car. There are other expenses I haven't listed because it all seems a bit overwhelming - even to me.

I have lived in this house for almost 25 years and it has always been a refuge for others. It's an old house and over the years has accumulated a number of serious maintenance issues - none of which I can pay for right now. Many a "rented kid" has found a home here - even a single mother and her kids trying to put their lives back together.

I am not sure I could continue to do this in any other space and without help now... please help me continue to be a source of solace and support. I know there are other women who find themselves here after a sudden radical change in their lives and young people who need a place where they can feel safe being who they are.

But right now I desperately need to catch-up on my bills and then more than anything I need another car because my sister will again require extensive surgery and there is no other way to get to Oregon Illinois from Rockford (no bus or train service) and I have always been there for her - it's only been a year since she was so ill I almost lost her. Back then I had a car (12 years old) but now even that is gone.

http://www.gofundme.com/serendipitysditchd