Our city was NOT the enemy, as the local media portrayed, when it came to allowing Joshua’s dream to come true!
Josh’s dream was big from the start. From the beginning, he insisted it was to be a “HOUSE in the Trees” (his words) not a tree house; complete with a kitchen, a garage, a shower and bathroom! And he wanted all seven of us to sleep there. Five years old and in the middle of a grueling treatment for Ewings Sarcoma, this vision was what gave him hope. He talked about it during the day and he dreamt about it each night and also when he was sedated for numerous medical procedures. Of course, we had to make some limits; there would be no flush toilet or shower in his House!
Josh and one of his sisters captured his dream on paper and it caught on like wild fire! Many of our friends and neighbors, talented people from our church and community stepped forward telling us they wanted to help make Josh’s wish come true. Soon an architect drew up a plan, and then companies from all over the area began to offer donations: lumber, siding, roofing, window materials and workers.
After the city had been notified, the plans had been examined and we’d been given the go ahead to build without permits, the “barn raising” began. It was a warm weekend in August 2005. Unfortunately, Joshua was in the hospital, unable to participate as he was receiving yet another round of chemotherapy.
I LOVE sharing this story with you, but like many good stories, there was a bad guy…and it wasn’t our city. One of our neighbors did not like what was happening and he began to make phone calls. I couldn’t believe anyone would try to stop the dream of a little five year old boy who was fighting cancer. He called the city and reluctantly, they came out to look at the job site. They had no choice but to stop the work, saying we needed to get permits. The neighbor’s complaint? He was worried about the safety of the children who would one day play in the House in the Trees. Oh, really? He had also told another neighbor it blocked his view. Anyone who has visited the House in the Trees will tell you this simply isn’t true.
About this time we almost lost Josh. He went into anaphylactic shock just after a platelet transfusion had begun. Thank God his doctor was nearby and knew exactly what to do. So while my husband and I were in the hospital taking care of our son, the halt to Josh’s House in the Trees was all over the local news. Every major television station called wanting interviews. And the bad guy the news papers and radio talk shows were attacking was the city. Yeah, right... My husband and I wanted to set the record straight, but we realized giving the name of our neighbor wouldn’t help the situation. So we just ignored all the calls, focusing on our little boy.
The city soon called a meeting and like a group of lawyers looked for loop holes in the law, discovering a simple way to make the House in the Trees comply with code. Creative ideas were implemented and permits were given and the House in the Trees was once again under construction! In the mean time, our neighbor called an environmental agency twice, hoping the project would be stopped. He came over to complain about the construction noise. Still we did not give his name or cause him any trouble. We were found to be within the law with the environmental agency and today the House in the Trees is 99 percent finished!
We sleep in Josh’s House in the Trees most every night, Joshua, his daddy and I. Sometimes the girls will join us too. It’s a House of blessings to us. Our neighbor, the one who tried to stop the House in the Trees, is building a large garage in his backyard now. We have said nothing. It’s a cold, sterile building, not quaint with a “cabiny” feel like Josh’s House in the Trees. But we will not complain to the city. We will not call the environmental agency. We wish the neighbor well. God tells us to pray for our enemies and so I do.
Josh began fighting cancer in October of 2004. Just last June 2007, the neighbor asked, for the very first time, how Josh was doing. I see him walking around his job site, seemingly happy with the progress. I heard he will fill it with his “classic” car collection. While Josh, my husband and I snuggle together each night in Josh’s cozy, warm pine scented House in the Trees, we soak in the love, feeling the blessings and caring of others surrounding us and we sleep in peace. Thank you one and all.
Thank you, city of Tigard!