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Life-Changing House

Suzie Lechtenberg

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Sweet Home
(Karen Tips)
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Seven years ago, Karen Tips of Winston-Salem, N.C., bought a house for herself and daughter Katie Rose, who has cerebral palsy. Prior to that, they'd been living in a worn-down shack. The new house completely changed their lives. Below is the letter that Tips sent to us about the experience of her life-changing purchase.

It's a long story, but early in her life, my daughter, my husband and I lived in what a British friend kindly described as "squalor." It had a very leaky roof, no walls, just studs, concrete floor, no heat or air conditioning, no stove, no septic tank or sewer. Impossible to describe, really. My husband often reminded me that we lived as well as people in Bosnia or Africa, better really. But we were living and working among people who had homes, not sheds.

Katie Rose, my daughter, who has cerebral palsy and cannot speak, was always so visibly amazed and pleased by our friends' beautiful homes. My husband died in 1999 and left us $50,000, the only money he ever gave either of us. And I promptly used most of the money to buy and furnish a house. It's very small;a doll house! There are some renovations we need to make (and can't because we can't get a home equity loan, with the housing financing scare on right now), but our home is comfortable and pretty. We both enjoy decorating and we are able to have friends come to visit. We have all the basic modern tools and appliances: electric lights, refrigerator, stove, microwave, stereo, TV, computer, washer, dryer, furnace, air conditioner. All the things most Americans consider merely basic.

My point is that our house is not luxurious or fine by the standards of this country. But Katie Rose believes her home has made a huge difference in her life. We are both grateful, and we both believe that what we have is abundant. Katie Rose, even with her disability, is aware that we have so much more than so many people, and we believe that everyone should be able to live in comfort and with beauty.


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