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This little house at 5 West Street in Medway was new once.  Someone bought it and lived there.  He painted the walls, swept the floors and mowed the lawn.  When something was broken, he fixed it, because he lived there.  And because the owner took care of it, the house took care of the owner, keeping him warm and safe and dry.  It was a nice little house. 

Then something happened to the owner, something unexpected.  Perhaps the owner ran into financial trouble, or got sick.  Whatever happened, the owner couldn’t take care of the little house anymore. 

Maybe this was like the story that my grandmother told me, about the house next door to hers that was inherited by 5 brothers, who were too busy squabbling to fix the roof.  The floor rotted and the furniture all fell into the cellar.

Without an owner, the little house couldn’t repair itself.  The windows broke and the rain came in, the floor warped and the roof leaked.   The poor little house can’t do anything about any of it.  Now it looks so sad, so wet and miserable and dirty, that its very unlikely that anyone will buy the poor little house and fix it up again.  It just needs too much work. 

All day, people drive by the poor little house and shake their heads.  “Too bad” they say to themselves.  Nobody should let that happen to a nice little house.  Then they go home to their own houses where they paint the walls, sweep the floors, and mow the lawns, not thinking about who will do these things for their houses if something happens to them.