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‘Home’ eludes hurting family

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Recession, cancer dampen spirits

By Cindy Simpson

Bridget Fritts would like nothing better than to come home.

The former Dyllis resident, who still owns the property where her Pine Ridge Drive home burned in October 2008, rents in Oak Ridge.

She, like so many others, has been hit by the recession, with the jobs through union Laborers Local 818 drying up.

The divorced mother of two also has had to deal with uterine cancer and other health issues — and the loss of health insurance.

She doesn’t expect handouts, but she wishes people were more aware of the hardships working-class people face.

“We have survived a lot, and we’re doing well for what we have survived. We just want to go home, and are not sure how to get there,” Fritts said.

“I guess I really kind of want to raise awareness more than anything of the people out here struggling so hard to make it,” she said.

She’s learned of a fairly new home that will be moved with the opening of a Super Kroger in Oak Ridge. The price for the 3-bedroom home and moving it to her Dyllis property is $30,000.

It is a dream of homeownership she doesn’t see much potential for coming true, but at that price tag it’s a steal.

“I’ve called all these places — Habitat (for Humanity) — and they are like ‘no, there is no program to help you,’” Fritts said.

“You find an opportunity like this to get your kids home, and I can’t get home,” she added.

Fritts said banks won’t finance her because her credit rating was damaged when the family didn’t make timely payments on a truck that is now paid off and sold. She also said her cancer diagnosis also worries finance and insurance people.

“I cannot even get life insurance,” Bridget Fritts said. “I just lost my (health) insurance I guess in October,”  she said.

The family currently lives in a two-bedroom rental, with Brook and her mother sharing a room.

“She’s got bunk beds,” said Fritts.

She misses the rural Dyllis. She grew up in the Cove community of Oliver Springs and lived in Dyllis since 1993 before moving.

“We do not want to be in Oak Ridge. I’ve lived in the country my entire life, and I’m 39 years old,” Bridget Fritts said.

Daughter Brook, 8, wants to move to the acre they own, as well.

“Mama said when we move back to our old property, we can either have a pony or a mule,” Brook exclaims.

“That is all she wants,” Fritts said.

“The more I see pictures of them the more I want one,” Brook added.

Brook enjoys country nights as well.

“We would stay up and go out on the front porch, and we would see deer, and there was this little deer that looked like Bambi,” Brook said.

Daughter Breanna, now a freshman at University of Tennnessee, did a fundraiser pageant last year as a senior at Oliver Springs High School, inspired to raise money by her mother and other family members affected by cancer.

Bridget Fritts was diagnosed with uterine cancer in March 2010 and also faced precancerous cells in her colon.

An infection after surgery for uterine cancer left her very ill.

“I had it on March 25, 2010. On May 9, 2010 I was taken to the emergency room. They told me that if I hadn’t been brought in I would have died in 24 hours,” Fritts said. She said an infection had set up after surgery causing fluid to build up in her lymph nodes.

Fritts returned to school after being laid off in July, looking to find more opportunities for herself, while optimistic that at least her name moves up the list at the union for future jobs.