We often believe bad things only happen to others

We often believe bad things only happen to others

It could never happen to you.

Other people have problems. They don’t plan, they don’t act, they aren’t paying attention and that leads to issues they can’t deal with. That kind of thing happens to other people. In the new book “Flat Broke with Two Goats” by Jennifer McGaha, it can’t happen to you – until it does.

After the mailman bounced his way up a mile-long, rutted mud driveway to hand Jennifer McGaha a registered envelope, she didn’t want to open it. She knew what was inside. It was confirmation for something that had already happened: her beautiful, sun-filled, large-kitchened house in North Carolina was already in the process of being foreclosed upon.

The nightmare started with a bad economy: as neighbors and clients lost jobs, they stopped needing McGaha’s husband’s accounting expertise. Because of home repairs and private school tuition for the McGaha’s three children, there was little money for savings. And when McGaha heard her husband crying into his pillow in the middle of one night, things became worse: they were in debt to the IRS for a lot of money – as in, almost-mid-six-figures.

Possible jail-term aside, McGaha was stunned and terrified. She’d grown up never having to worry about money. Now, the worry never left her mind and she considered walking away from it all, but her youngest son was still in high school. With few options left, the family moved to the only place they could afford: a lush valley with a snake-and-mice-infested, half-rotted ramshackle cabin with no internet, no cable TV, spotty cell phone reception, and a boiler for making hot water. Adding insult to injury, McGaha lost three beloved elderly relatives in quick succession.

Bereft and grieving, she took a job out-of-state and contemplated staying in Illinois but she couldn’t: home was in North Carolina . So was her heart, a penitent husband, family, chickens, eventually goats and, eventually, a decision: in thinking about her old life and yesterday’s actions, says McGaha: “I choose this.”

There but for the grace…

You may say that a time or two or ten as you’re reading “Flat Broke with Two Goats” – and for good reason: statistics say that more than half of our neighbors are uncomfortably close to the first part of its title.

For sure, author Jennifer McGaha tells a lip-biting story that starts out bad and grows worse, as tragedy piles on top of hardship stacks on humiliation. If you’re rolling your eyes, though, stop: while McGaha abundantly writes of the pain of loss and the turmoil in her emotions, she takes her share of responsibility here. She also admits how she almost didn’t do even that. The anxiety is almost like putty, it’s so thick.

By the time you get to the section of this book that contains both a sense of uneasy relief and droll humor, you’ll be wrung out and ready for it, especially if your imagination follows along. You’ll be alarmed, breathless, and ultimately charmed by “Flat Broke with Two Goats” because yes, it could happen to you…


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Life

Renton resident Kat Lieu, author of “Modern Asian Baking at Home.” (Courtesy of Kat Lieu)
‘Subtle Asian Baking’ founder Kat Lieu publishes best-selling cookbook

After being told ‘Asian culture doesn’t sell,’ this Renton resident built a whole community.

t
Rainier Youth Choirs brings on new middle school choir director

Jackie Grant will lead choir; group draws students from Kent, Auburn, Federal Way and other cities

t
Disney On Ice returns to Kent’s ShoWare Center Oct. 26-30

Road Trip Adventures to feature Mickey Mouse and friends in nine shows

t
Cruisin’ Kent Car Show set for Aug. 28 at Kent Station

Free event to run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Perseid meteor shower in August 2021. Photo courtesy of Nasa.gov/Bill Ingalls
Meteor showers light up August nights in the Pacific Northwest

Stargazers can track Perseids at sites around Washington state.

t
People fill up downtown streets during Kent Cornucopia Days

Popular festival returns after two-year absence due to COVID-19

Jarod Newlove
Gold Star Family from Renton has breakfast at the White House

Jarod Newlove’s wife and children found comfort through Wear Blue: Run to Remember.

t
Kentridge High drama teacher earns Outstanding Educator award

Jennifer Grajewski honored by The Fifth Avenue Theatre; Kentwood, Kent-Meridian muscials also recognized