PALESTINE,TX — A young Russian girl in need of sugery for a congenital birth defect that causes excess fluids to build up inside her skull, a condition commonly referred to as “water on the brain”, will see her prayers answered after City of Palestine utility workers removed the family’s faulty old water meter and replaced it with a new one earlier this week. Villie Spendolovit (Spend’-oll-of-vit) and his wife, Ivanna, say they will use the savings in water costs to make a downpayment on their daughter’s surgery, a downpayment that is long overdue.
The Spendolovits moved to Palestine just over a year ago after enduring almost 9 months at sea battling the wind, waves, and sun, in a homemade boat, as they slowly, but gallantly, fought their way to America on behalf of their little girl, Mia. According to the Spendolovits, America offered the best health care in the world, so Villie and Ivanna sacrificed everything, leaving behind their jobs, families and friends, in order to bring hope to their precious little girl. Their teenage son, Donte, whose dream was to come to America and play football for the Dallas Cowboys, died during the trip, a victim of severe dehydration. Villie explained that fresh drinking water was running short, though they were just a couple of days from the American shore, “Donte is hero, sacrificed self for sister, for all of us,” Villie explained as tears velled, uh, welled up in his eyes, “vee never forget our son,” then, wiping away his tears, made the following observation, “Funny ting is, during trip, vee vould have paid any price for vahter so vee vould all be safe, now, vee get here, nutting but big reepoff.”
The Spendolovits rented a 1200 square feet home for $700 a month in a poorer section of town. “We tought price bit steep, but nutting cheap for laborer like me,” Villie said, “based on price, you tink vee live like kings, sometimes, I vish to join my son, life too hard.” The Spendolovits set up utility accounts for water, gas and electricity. They could not afford cable or satellite TV nor do they have a phone. When the first water bill arrived, the Spendolovits couldn’t believe what they were seeing, “one hundred ninety fife tousand gallons, one hundred ninety fife tousand bill say, no vay, no vay in hell it dat much,” Villie recalled, “I say to Ivanna, no vay, baby, no vay! One hundred niney fife tousand gallons, save our son, God rest his soul, vhere all this vahter vhen vee on boat and need to drink?”
The Spendolovits went to city hall and complained but were told there was “nothing the city could do” and that “perhaps you have a leak, maybe you should call a plumber.” But, according to Villie, he knows plumbing and had already checked for leaks after the first bill. “Someting not right,” he told himself. He and Ivanna discussed how they could not afford to make payments for Mia’s surgery if their water bills were to continue at that amount of usage. To their dismay, month after month the water bill came, and each time, the Spendolovits just shook their heads at the usage, one hundred ninety five thousand gallons. They had fought city hall and lost. They had given up hope for the extra money they needed for Mia. They were even living without electricity and gas just so they could afford to pay the city for water they knew they were not using.
Then, “vee get a miracle” as Villie calls it, when news of a water meter study became public knowledge. Armed with the new information, Villie and Ivanna went back to city hall and demanded answers. Their insistence paid off as they beamed with excitement when the new meter went in this week. “Vee save money now, vee save our little girl,” the couple cheered as they jumped up and down in jubilation. Ivanna leaned over, pointed to the meter and told Mia how the new device was going to help pay for her surgery, “You vill be able to live long time,” the proud mother explained. Mia, wearing bright yellow rubber boots, a necessity because of the large drops of water that routinely fall from her ears and nose, was not quite sure what to make of the situation, so she just smiled, then ran off to play, the sound of sloshing water clearly emanating from within her skull.
City officials predict the Spendolovits will see the monthly usage drop to the minimum 2000 gallons a month. In addition to the surgery, the couple now hopes they can afford a little electricity and gas, now that their over-recording water meter woes have been solved.