* Note: This is the first in a series of diary entries written by the winner of the 2005 HGTV Dream Home Giveaway, Don Cruz.
March 1, 2005
My family is very important to me. I have enjoyed many wonderful events with my family and friends (or extended family) as well as shared their pain and grief. When I was growing up, my family experienced many hard times. My father worked up to three jobs at one time. But he always found time for me when he was home.
Unfortunately, there were still times where we did not have much money. I remember eating grits for three meals each day for three months straight because they were only a nickel a box. I remember my Mom giving extra helpings to each of us at meals, and barely eating anything herself. Her excuse was usually that she had eaten while she was cooking, but I always knew the truth.
My mom was strong and would find a way to accomplish any task, always putting her best effort forth. Sadly, we found that she had Multiple Sclerosis and a lot of complications. She still did everything for her family, even when she became paralyzed and was confined to a wheelchair.
My wife and I have been married for over 17 years, enduring our own struggles. We both have had to work long hard hours to make ends meet until the day that I was injured while working. Since we were blessed with a wonderful son, we decided that I would stay home to take care of him and be "Mr. Mom." For a while, we had even taken in foster children. But, that proved to be too heartbreaking for our son to endure each time a child left our home.
Even this morning was difficult. We just buried a dear friend, part of our extended family, who meant a lot in our lives. His life was taken suddenly from us and we had to find a way to accept the tragedy. After we had returned home from the funeral, we needed to return some phone calls. A few people had left messages and we needed to follow up. Our house has been for sale and some of the calls were from a woman who expressed interest in seeing our home and property.
She mentioned that she would be leaving the state the next day and really wanted to stop by with her husband. Of course, I told her to come on over. My wife said she needed to do some cleaning, so she asked that these people come over closer to 7:00pm. She agreed.
Around 6:30 pm, I noticed that the light on our two-story barn had not come on at dusk. So, I went outside and opened the barn up to be sure that the light had not been switched off. My wife had noticed several cars pulling into a driveway down the street, but not going up the driveway. So, she came out to ask whether I had noticed. (Of course, I had.)
An SUV of some sort also pulled into the phone transfer station across the street from us and shined its lights onto our property. We figured that the couple had arrived early hoping to catch a glimpse of the land before coming into the house. They sat there for a few minutes...