Ali, true to form, was honest and positive. What a great girl she is. I miss all those kids in her family. They were the best neighbors - quiet inside their house, considerate at play outside, friendly conversationalists with adults, and gentle with our pets. More importantly, they all love one another and treat one another with respect. I recall with sadness now their first weekend in the house next door. Their stepfather had returned from Iraq a few months earlier (there are three birth fathers for the five siblings), their mom had begun her degree completion program at the same university where I completed the same (she lasted two weeks), and they were celebratory over being together in the "rent-to-own" two-story, yellow house with the big back yard. They worked together as a happy team in the yard and painted the front porch and the trim on the windows. As months passed they did some nice landscaping and showed pride of ownership. The house was decorated for a modest Christmas the last two years, but after last holiday season it was evident that things were unraveling.
We now have our former neighbors back next door, the ones who'd made the rent-to-own arrangement with Ali's mother! They actually had to move back in or lose the house altogether. In some strange switch, Ali's mother is now at the house they just left. This couple had been playing the sub-prime, no-money-down, rent-to-own, real estate game with high hopes of becoming moguls by now. None of it has turned out the way anyone dreamed.