The following story has been changed from its original.
It has been slightly adapted and altered. But, the lessons
are still there. And they are definitely worth a read.
My Paradise Life – from Life in America
My name is Casey and I’m a teenager.
Some people say our family must live on the edge
of despair. We say that we live on the edge of
wonderful things to come.
Thinking this way saves us from feeling worried and
We are very poor. Our family doesn’t know whether
it will make it day to day. Even though we have a
house, it’s upside down. That means we probably
owe more than it’s worth.
We could easily lose our home… and knowing that
day to day can be a bit distressing. But we go
through our days as if we will be here forever.
We realize there are many others in MUCH worse
circumstances than us… and we pray and hope
that things will get much MUCH better for everyone.
But this story is about us… so I will write from my
My Mom works 7 days a week, 16 hour days. She
works at home so we are near her. She smiles alot,
and we know she pretends everything is okay.
She is handicapped, and has health issues. But these
are not so terrible that she can’t work everyday. And
laugh with us.
Our father left long ago. I don’t know the whole story,
and don’t think I want to know. It might make me sad.
We don’t receive child support. That’s another story
I’m not sure of… but, perhaps it’s best… sometimes
child support can bring despair and fighting to a family.
So, my Mom has muddled through day to day on her own.
We were on welfare long ago. But, when Mom discovered
ways to work and home and make some money, welfare
went away, we moved into our own house.
At first, it was scary. But, I had my Teddy. : ) And, Mom
and us all slept together. We really didn’t need more than
one room as we always hang together anyway.
But, one day, I moved into my own room. I’m not sure
I really need it – we are always usually together in our
And, I think that’s why I live in Paradise…
Mom has made little areas of our little yard very pretty.
We have a birdbath, and beautiful lanterns. We have a
wooden bench and table from a garage sale. We have
crowded little fruit trees only a few feet from each other.
They are cozy – and don’t seem to mind having hardly
any space. It’s been 5 years… now we have fruit! We
have little garden pots with greens, herbs, tomatoes,
squash, potatoes, peas, and more.
We even have a tiny watermelon patch 4 feet square.
We grew a beautiful watermelon – but he was so
beautiful, so cute, that no one could eat him.
Eventually we buried him with honors so that he would
have watermelon babies. We want him to live on forever
and ever through his children.
Can you imagine loving a watermelon? I can, because
I did. And, still do. : )
The most important thing about our little house is
that our living-kitchen room has wide doors that
open to our little backyard. They are always open
during the day so that our dogs and cats can come
in and out whenever they like.
Also, that means our outdoors and indoors are like one.
Of course, if you have dogs and cats, you will know
that they mostly just follow you wherever you go. So,
we go outside and inside all the time to keep things
lively and fun.
The sun shines so beautifully and it’s like heaven
outside. We have shade where we need it, and sun
on our plants. We move our little umbrellas here
and there for extra shade, and we have a see through
awning that lets in the perfect amount of light.
Our little kitchen living room is very crowded, but
we all don’t care. We each have our little computers
or laptop, our tiny TV, a portable DVD player that
requires frequent bashing to operate, and a hotplate
We would each rather have computers than a stove! : )
We get to eat the yummiest things. We eat what we
grow, and it’s always delicious. Then, we buy nice
organic things at the store.
Since food is not cheap, we supplement our diets
with grains that we sprout so they go farther.
Sprouted grains grow like magic and triple in size!
Very filling, and totally delicious.
It can be amazing how little we spend and how full
We don’t have medical insurance, so we seldom if
ever get to see a doctor. But, when we last had
checkups, we were doing great.
But, if there’s an emergency, we all know that we
will most likely lose everything… except each other…
My Mom hates this. But, it’s either food or medical
insurance. We choose food.
If something terrible happens and we need super
expensive care, we realize that we will probably
have to die rather than get treatment.
Personally, I am willing to take my chances. But,
since I am a kid, I have been accused of not having
much sense about these things.
Medical insurance costs several hundred dollars a
month. We don’t have that unless we give up our home.
It’s a big dilemma.
My Mom won’t talk about it – I know she feels
I told her not to let ANYTHING hurt her heart that
way. It is what it is… and perhaps we will all be
So, as far as I’m concerned, we live in Paradise.
You see, it’s like this.
We have a warm home, blankets, wonderful food,
laughter, sunlight, dogs, cats, computers, and our
Mother at home anytime we need her.
We get to watch movies on the weekends on our DVD
player. We make air popped popcorn with yummy salt,
and it’s exciting and fun.
We talk about the funniest, or strangest things.
Sometimes we all laugh so hard that the house will
shake! Even the dogs laugh. They dance and prance
and their tails way a mile a minute.
The cats just look at us. They endure us with loving
We talk about EVERY subject. Nothing is off limits.
That way, we all learn good, bad, right, wrong, happy,
sad, what to watch out for, what to search out in life.
Someone said that you musn’t spy on your kids or
they will go elsewhere to do bad things.
But in our family, we’ve been told NOT to go elsewhere
and do things we wouldn’t do at home.
Guess what? We listen. Why? Because we love and
respect our Mom, and wouldn’t want to hurt her. Also,
just because we are out and about, doesn’t mean we
leave morals and values at home.
That’s what we we TAUGHT. Someday maybe we will
disobey. But that will be on our heads. Disobeying
carries its own pain. Maybe enough to stop us from
making wrong choices.
It just wouldn’t dawn on us to dishonor our Mom
or ourselves by doing bad things just because our
Mom isn’t standing there.
She told us so. And, you know what? I think most
all kids want to do what their parents ask of them.
Parents, tell your kids what to do, what’s right and
wrong, home, or not at home. Explain why. With love.
Kids WILL listen.
In short, I live in Paradise because my family is so rich…
rich in love, in laughter, in food, song, dog dancing and
We live in Paradise because our outside and inside
are pretty much the same. And, we get to do what we
want, like fall in love with plants. We get to be silly,
and be totally accepted.
I just wish EVERYBODY could be as rich.
I also know that it could all end in a second, and we
could lose everything.
But, even then, if we have each other, we will STILL
Oh – also… call me foolish, but, if we lost everything,
I would still dare to hope. That things would get better.
In fact, better than ever!