I am writing on behalf of my dear friend Viviane McCreary, who lives just across the street at 511. Many people in the neighborhood already know Viviane as a free spirit, an enthusiastic gardener, and a lover of animals. But she is also the person responsible for the creation of the much beloved hobbit holes on our block. When my wife and I first bought this house, we didn’t know anything about gardening. We struck up a friendship with Viviane and she began teaching my wife how to garden. I wasn’t that interested until Viviane suddenly said, “You know what you could put right here? A hobbit hole!” Being a huge fantasy fan, I was from that point on fully committed to learning how to garden, with Viviane as my new sensei. Together, the three of us designed this hobbit hole and the surrounding greenery. Then our neighbors asked us to build one for them across the street, and soon after that our other neighbors built one in front of their house just a few doors up from there. The hobbit holes have brought so much joy to our neighborhood. Children passing by always stop and knock on the doors, or leave gifts for the hobbits. When I sit on my front porch in the summer, someone stops in front of our hobbit hole to take a picture about once every hour. Artists in the neighborhood sometimes add their own decorations and signs to Mr. Baggins’ front yard. It has truly become a piece of communal artwork.
Ok, now for the ask. On the fourth of July this year, Viviane’s next door neighbors broke into her house to find her laying semi-conscious on her second floor. She was rushed by ambulance to Presbyterian Hospital where she was slurring her words and gradually becoming more and more paralyzed. She had massive infections all over her body and for several days the doctors could not figure out what was wrong. Finally, after sending her blood around the country for exotic testing, they realized she had inhaled the Legionella bacteria somewhere, contracting a bad case of Legionaires disease. They began treating her with the appropriate drugs, but it was very late. She became catatonic and had to be put on a breathing tube. No one knew if she was going to survive.
But as anyone who knows Viviane can tell you, she is a fighter. She is one of those people with a huge spirit and an unstoppable will. The infection was eliminated, but it left Viviane partially paralyzed, unable to walk or speak. Through months of hospital treatment and physical therapy, I watched as Viviane fought and fought and fought. And over the months, she went from bed, to wheelchair, to walker, and finally to walking on her own again. She went from slurring her speech and grasping for words, to fully understandable speech again. The doctors were all telling stories about her to each other. “Don’t tell me no,” she would say, “Tell me how.”
I am so happy to say that Viviane is back at home again, and that her employer has reached out to her and asked her to return to work in a couple of weeks. But like many Americans, Viviane did not have health insurance when this tragedy struck her. Viviane has pushed her financial resources to the limit in order to make arrangements to settle the massive debt she owes to the hospital. Thankfully that is taken care of. But it’s left her with nothing, and she has missed six months of work during her recovery from this near death experience. She has fallen behind in her mortgage payments and is desperately trying to keep her house out of foreclosure until her paychecks start rolling in again. And so here I am asking you, dear kind-hearted hobbits, to please make a donation to her gofundme page, to help her catch up on her bills and get back to her regular life again. We are hoping to raise $20,000.00 for her. Donations are needed immediately, before the end of the month, to keep the house out of foreclosure.
When kids ask me if there really is a hobbit living inside the hole, I like to joke that he has 4,000 square feet in there, that his place is nicer than our house, that don’t you know he made out well on that whole dragon adventure business, and that he has plenty of treasure stashed away in there. But maybe it’s not a joke. Maybe there is treasure in this hobbit hole. I want to believe there is.