ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Every time I look out my back window, I think about Laura Zimmerman and her mom Janet Yocum.
I met them at their Devonshire Road house in Allentown in June. The first thing I noticed was the bird houses hanging in the front yard.
Janet, who everyone calls Nana, told me her husband Bill made them. He passed away in 2010, but the family kept the houses up, so Bill's birds keep coming.
But while the birdhouses are full, a water main break and a sinkhole drove the family from their home in December of 2020. Although they had sinkhole insurance, their claim was denied twice.
Laura and Nana were left with a house they couldn't live in, and repairs they couldn't afford.
"We didn't ask for anything above and beyond. All we ask is for our house and our property to be fixed," Zimmerman said earlier this year.
My heart broke when she started to cry. I wanted to help, but all I could do was my story. So I kept in touch with Laura and Nana.
Even though they couldn't live in their home, they returned every week to feed the birds, and do their laundry.
When I visited the house for the second time in August, Laura had good news. The insurance company changed its mind. The damage would be covered after all.
"It was a big relief," Zimmerman said.
That's putting it mildly. I covered a lot of bad news in 2021. So needless to say, it was a really good day.
A week before Christmas I visited Laura and Nana again. They were celebrating an early gift. The sinkhole was filled in with a special stabilizing material. And soon the raze or repair sign that's been up for a year will finally come down.
"We're getting our house back, yes!" Zimmerman said.
It was exhilarating to see the joy on their faces as they chatted about moving back in.
Although it wasn't my house, I had been on this tumultuous journey with them, and in the process, we became friends.
Because I kept talking about Bill's birdhouses in my stories, they gave me one. My husband put it up in the back yard, right next to a bird feeder. Its stained wood and fitted shingles serve as a personal reminder that Laura and Nana never gave up, that perseverance pays off.
"Hopefully it's occupied," Zimmerman said.
Not yet. Maybe the birds are waiting for Laura and Nana's 2022 homecoming, when we can all look out our window and see Bill's birds.