Sometimes someone else’s column just smacks you up against the head trying to understand what they are thinking. Mitch Albom, the sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press and author of Tuesdays with Morrie among other books, wrote such a column which in many ways defines what is wrong with America today.
Albom’s column centered on the challenges of Texana Hollis, who had lived to be over 100 years old. He starts by telling how she had lived in her home for over 60 years. Then at the age of 101 years old, as Albom states “she was thrown out into the street.” He does state that her son took out a reverse mortgage, and then failed to make payments at some point or to pay the property taxes.
That is the final mention of her family in the column. He tells nothing of what her family did to help her with her problem. This is a woman that one could presume had at least great grandchildren if not great, great grandchildren. There was no one to help her keep her house in these three-plus generations of descendants? The house she lived in was in Detroit. They are giving away houses in Detroit. How much would it have taken to straighten out this situation? But her family just apparently disappeared.
To Mr. Albom’s credit he never mentions who evicted her from her home, but he makes clear that the payments had not been made for her mortgage or her property taxes. Then he states “They say the mark of a society is how they treat its oldest citizens.” It is not clear who “they” are that says that, but we can all agree that it is not nice to throw a 100-year-old widow out on the street. But is it an implied responsibility of the lender that did their job or the government who has not received their tax payments? One might again think where was her family?
Here is where the good happens. Mr. Albom finds out about the plight of this grand old lady and intercedes. Through a foundation he operates he purchased the house back for her. He talks about the struggle of working through the paperwork to regain the title to the house for Ms. Hollis, but the charity did just that.
Then he speaks of how the community pulled together to help repair the house. He states, “Many Detroit volunteers helped clean her rooms, paint them, refurnish them.” Then they all gathered to celebrate her 102nd birthday. She thanked everyone for coming to her rescue.
Then again Albom bemoans, “That’s how it feels getting old in this country. You need someone to come to your rescue. If not, you are left to go broke from doctor bills, or to be tossed from your home, or to die alone, unattended.”