Saturday, June 26, 2010

And Justice For All

Today is a glorious day - a day of celebration, a day of joy, a day of vindication, a day of victory, and a day of justice!

My very dear friend, who I will call Polly (because I know of no one named Polly), just shared the most wonderful news with me. She won! No, she didn’t win the lottery. She didn’t win a door prize. She didn’t win a race. Polly won something much more than that!

A few years back, Polly fell in love with a man she described as handsome, intelligent and righteous, a good man. It was a few months, though, before she told me he was a quadriplegic. This man, who I will call Herman (because I do not know any Hermans), used his good looks, bright wit and money to woo Polly and her three daughters, to romance her. Through their brief courtship, Polly saw only the good qualities she desired in a mate, not the wheelchair.

They married, and Polly, who’d had a very good job with a large firm in Austin, referred her new husband for a lucrative position with the company, which he landed. Then, she quit her job, as the two had agreed, so she could stay at home to care for the family and their home.

The home where Polly and Herman lived was owned by Polly. It was a modest country home on 10+ acres with a barn, pond and pool. Polly had worked hard to provide a loving home while raising her three daughters as a divorced woman, even achieving a master’s degree along the way. Herman had sold his home in Arizona, but brought with him a great deal of debt. With the salary he made of nearly $100k per year, the debt would certainly be paid off eventually.

Caring for the needs of a quadriplegic is no easy task. To lift a man out of a wheelchair, bathe him, clean his bowels and dress him takes great strength. Herman had used the services of home care providers in the past, but wanted his wife to now take over those exhausting duties. In fact, he insisted.

After two years of marriage, total exhaustion and depression set in for Polly. Try as she might to meet the demanding needs of her husband, both his physical care needs and his need to control Polly and her daughters, Polly could do it no longer. She was beat down. Her body, which had always been strong, was now riddled in pain. She asked him to hire a home care worker to help with his care.

When Herman realized he was losing his power to control Polly, he devised a plan, a plan to make her wish she’d never met him. He discovered that Polly had a great deal of equity in her home. Complaining about the problems with their septic system, Herman convinced Polly they should take out a 2nd lien on her home for $12,000. He told her he would take care of everything.

Herman convinced the bank his wife didn’t need to be present to sign the loan papers. The papers could be delivered to her at home. He convinced the loan officer that it was his wife’s wishes to have his name added to the deed, and papers were drawn up as instructed. With my background in banking, I was astonished. What loan officer would act upon the instructions of a person not on the original mortgage or the original deed? Polly explained to me that it was the wheelchair. Herman used his wheelchair as his tool to manipulate and influence people.

The papers were overnighted to Polly and arrived while Herman was at work. He ordered Polly to sign the paperwork immediately and return it, so the loan could get pushed through quickly. Never guessing the deviousness of her husband, Polly signed the documents without reading them, but instead of $12,000, the loan had been executed for $65,000. Herman explained that he could now pay off all his credit card debt. The septic system, however, was never repaired.

Two months later, Herman filed for divorce and moved back to Arizona, securing his old job.

This was no normal divorce. Herman was out for blood. He wanted to crush Polly. Polly, who was no longer employed, had to use money from her 401k to hire an attorney. The proceedings went on for nearly two years. One would think that with no children from the marriage, no consummation of the marriage, no property purchased together, this should’ve been an open and shut annulment. But, Herman’s pride would not allow for that. He lied by saying the couple engaged in sexual relations 3-4 times per week. (I don’t know many married couples in their 40s who have sex that often, especially when one of them is performing grueling physical care of an invalid, and the other one is the invalid.) Polly chose not to press that point, simply wanting an end to her marriage that had now become a nightmare.

The 2nd lien taken against Polly’s property was secured against the house and less than 2 acres of land, but Herman sought for all of the land in his lawsuit. The judge, a woman, saw only a broken man in a wheelchair, and allowed him to retain the right to claim the house and all the acreage, even that which Polly owned free and clear, if she faltered on the note. At this point, Polly had run out of money and was no longer able to pay her attorney, so although an appeal was to be filed, no court date had been set even several months following the judge’s decision.

Meanwhile, Herman filed a complaint with local law enforcement, trying to have Polly arrested for some erroneous, false charge. He made 20 phone calls to the Sheriff’s office, wanting to know why Polly hadn’t been detained. The sheriff, after questioning Polly, discerned the falsehood, and the charges were dropped.

All of Polly’s friends and family felt an enormous injustice had occurred. We all felt so helpless. And, then Polly’s father, her icon of strength, support and love, died. To help with her court costs, Polly’s father had put his own finances at risk. After her husband's death while coping with her grief, Polly’s mother lost her home of over 30 years.

Polly was devastated. Had Heavenly Father abandoned her? Was all this loss, tragedy and despair punishment for choosing to marry a man she believed was good and righteous? Perhaps she, too, had been unable to see past the wheelchair as so many others had done. She pleaded with the Lord to help her understand, and it was revealed to her that this time of tribulation had been a test. Not her test, though. Herman’s test. And, he had failed. However, that knowledge did little to alleviate Polly’s grief over the death of her father and the emotional and physical devastation that had been wrought.

Having looked for work for 1 ½ years after her husband moved out, Polly was finally offered a wonderful job as Director of Training with a state agency. Her friends and family united in prayers of thanksgiving as we watched our beloved Polly regain her equanimity and her joy.

And then, the little man from Arizona, with a heart of stone, filed yet another lawsuit. This time, Herman, who had already racked up attorney’s fees of over $70,000, accused Polly of 21 violations of their divorce decree. He was also demanding that Polly pay his attorney’s fees for the cost of this latest lawsuit in the amount of $5,000.

Served with papers on a Monday, Polly was expected in court on Thursday. She was overwhelmed by disbelief and fear. She couldn’t reach her attorney, who was no longer returning her calls. After much thought, Polly decided to represent herself in court. With no money available to retain a new attorney or pay her existing attorney, Polly felt she had no option.

The day she was served, I invited Polly to my home, wanting to be supportive and motivational, as well as a sounding board for her thoughts and feelings. Also, I had arranged for Polly to receive a blessing.

As a faithful and righteous member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a Priesthood holder, who has been endowed with the authority to act on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ, may administer a blessing. The Priesthood is a selfless calling, only to be used for the benefit of others. I have received blessings from many faithful members of the Holy Priesthood and testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, to the power and personal messages I have been given by God to endure my trials and physical ailments.

Although Polly had received a blessing a few weeks before, I felt impressed that she needed another blessing before entering the courtroom again. As the Priesthood holder placed his hands upon Polly’s head, the blessing that flowed so easily from his lips, undoubtedly from our Heavenly Father, brought tears to my eyes. And, then he proclaimed that the Lord was on her side. Polly, too, was in tears. It was a few moments before she could speak and acknowledge the wonderful comfort she felt during her blessing. She said that never had she been told the Lord was on her side, and it was a question she had pondered.

As Thursday’s court date approached, my husband and I knelt in prayer, praying that not only would Polly be upheld with strength and comfort, but that the judge would also have the scales removed from her eyes to discern the deceitful, little man behind the wheelchair, and allow justice to be served.

Polly and I spoke after the hearing. Unbelievably, the lawsuit had been assigned to the docket of the same judge that had proceeded in Polly’s divorce. This was not good news. Polly had made note in her legal response document that her attorney was seeking for an appeal of the judge’s decision to allow Polly’s parcel of land and the portion securing the 2nd lien to be considered one parcel, rather than separate parcels, even though the bank only required the house and less than two acres as security. Polly thought her chances at a fair hearing were slim.

But, Heavenly Father was on Polly’s side, just as the blessing had indicated. The judge’s decision, which was swift, stated that Polly was not in contempt of court in any of the 21 frivolous violations cited by her ex-husband. Polly was vindicated. Not only did Polly win this frivolous lawsuit, her faith in the Lord increased and she felt the serenity and power of the Lord in the courtroom as she provided her own legal counsel that day.

I am so proud of my friend, Polly, and her willingness to fight for justice rather than give up. And, I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for my answered prayers for Polly.

“When a man is at his wits' end it is not a cowardly thing to pray, it is the only way he can get in touch with Reality.”--Oswald Chambers

“Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.

“The foundation of justice is good faith.” –Marcus Tullius Cicero

Rely On God To Bring You Through It, Y’all!!

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