The Tenderest of Holidays!…A Thanksgiving Story From Today

Written By: Paula Hathaway

The Tenderest of Holidays!…A Thanksgiving Story From Today
*This story was written in November of 2012, the day before Thanksgiving

As I was driving back home this morning to Southampton from Sagaponack after working with a young woman and her 3 children, I was overwhelmed by tears that would not stop—they slipped from between my eyelids without me even realizing it until my face was drenched–then I could hardly see to drive!

Peeling onions had the same effect on me earlier today as I prepared part of Thanksgiving dinner… but they did not leave me in such a state as I was in now….I had to drive to the side of the busy road to pull myself together…then the sobs came and I was a heap of emotion behind the wheel of my car, trying to stop the flow of tears to no avail.

I am not the crying sort!!!

It is the week of Thanksgiving and it is slow in real estate right now, especially here in the Hamptons. There are a lot of people in need right now; none in as much need as the person whom I just met today. Thanksgiving has always been the tenderest of all holidays to me and this situation exemplifies that feeling.

I got a call from a young woman this morning, her name is Maggie (I don’t want to use her real name here) She was calling about one of my year round rental listings. She says she lives in East Hampton and needs a year round house, nothing fancy, for her and her 3 kids. She also said she needs to be in the house by December 1st.

Something in her voice told me that she is in a pickle–she really needs to find something and fast and since that house is already rented for year round, I needed to find her something that was close to East Hampton but was more than a beach shack.

I could have told her that she won’t find anything this fast, especially around the holiday time—people are away—people are hard to reach…and year round rentals are almost all rented now because of the economy.

I could have told her she was wasting her time and that she needed to go look in another part of Long Island like, maybe Hampton Bays.

…But I did not; something made me go forward and I found a house to show her; the only house available in the area.

I met her at the house in the more remote part of Sag Harbor; she is an attractive, well-spoken and tall young woman—her kids were typically active, a little disheveled but well behaved. There is a long driveway to the small house. It is a cheaply furnished house with just the bare essentials. There is a fireplace and there are decent appliances plus a full basement…not too bad; and it was clean.

She was pleased that the house looked like it would work–her budget is lower than the asking price and I told her I would try to get the owner to rent the house to her, at her price. “Do you work?” was my next question as we finished looking at the house…”I work at an office in Hampton Bays, but I will not be paying the rent” she said haltingly….I carefully listened as she spoke. “I am in a special program at The Retreat in East Hampton; I am not from around here. They sponsor me and they will be paying the rent on my behalf”….

My mind slowed to gather my thoughts—I had to stop to think…

I know The Retreat: It is a privately funded place for battered women to go for help. This retreat protects their charges in a cocoon of privacy with no contact with the outside world while they live in the residence. But there comes a time when a young family outgrows the place; where they need to make other living arrangements to allow for growing children.

Living in fear for her life–not a good thing!

That is what has happened here. This young family needs to find a place to start over–safely away from the threatening and menacing behavior of a controlling spouse.

At this time of year, a young mother, looking to find a place to live while in dire circumstances is the most frightening thing I can imagine. I cannot help but think: “Thank God she has a place to go like The Retreat!”

But now she needs to move on…. In my own family, I have an example of the dreaded, fearful life of a battered woman. She was my sister Laura and she didn’t stand a chance in her case because she never told a soul of her plight. She never asked for help and she lost her life in such a horrible way.

We, my family never knew she was in trouble with her Air Force Corporal husband; she never told us anything and she lived so very far away….

So, on this night before Thanksgiving, a most tender of all holidays, I feel I have a chance to do something for this young woman that I could not do for my precious sister.

I called the owner of the house and I told him of the situation….I told him she is a lovely young mother who is in real need for a home for her family and I am so convinced that she is a perfect tenant for him.

Because she can pay him only a small part of what he is asking for the rent I will not expect him to pay me a commission….this to help to make him whole. Because the rent is paid monthly through The Retreat, he will be sure to get paid.

He accepted the offer, telling me he would do it, simply because he wanted to help her as I did.

When I called to tell her she has a home for her family to live in she was so quiet; I heard her crying silently. The children playing and laughing in the background made me feel so thankful!

Written by Paula I. Hathaway