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Daniel Rubin: One catastrophe at a time, please

The good news - if there is any here - is that when the sheriff's deputy knocked on Eva Moos' door at 8 a.m. Monday and served the foreclosure papers, there was little else anyone could do to her.

The good news - if there is any here - is that when the sheriff's deputy knocked on Eva Moos' door at 8 a.m. Monday and served the foreclosure papers, there was little else anyone could do to her.

She looked at the document, and the 15 lawyers from the firm of Phelan, Hallinan & Schmieg who were suing her, and laughed.

"Perfect timing," she told the deputy. "My son died yesterday."

If there was ever anyone who could use some kindness right now, it's Eva Mauchly Moos, a 50-year-old single parent and part-time music teacher, who until the accident was caring for two disabled children in her Ambler home.

Gini, 19, is deaf. Bob, at 17, the youngest of five, had autism.

"So my little guy had a wonderful last night," Moos says, launching right into it on her back deck. "We sang Beatles songs, which are his favorite. He woke up Sunday, was doing fine, then started to take a bath. Then I saw the water dripping into the living room."

Bob Moos loved listening to music and windmilling his arms, and four times a day he took long baths, which he was able to do on his own.

Several members of the family have the vascular disorder called HHT - hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia. The Montgomery County coroner says the boy bled into his stomach, then drowned.

Moos' eyes are red-rimmed, but her voice is light. "I'm doing my best to live in the moment," she says. The house is chaotic. People come and go. The place is filled with guitars and books and chairs from two weekend gatherings - Gini's after-prom party and her older sister's 21st birthday. Gini has stuck a Post-it on the front door with the words, We love Bob! 1991-2009.

To understand how Eva Moos got into trouble with her bank takes a little explaining. "It's a whole Lemony Snicket thing," she said, a series of unfortunate events.

The house was new when she moved in with her husband and children in 1988. Her stepfather, a renowned photographer named Severo Antonelli, had lived across the street in a manor house. He sold some of the land to a developer, and Moos paid $160,000 for the house on a cul-de-sac named Pleasant Acre Drive. Her mother held the mortgage.

At first, there was plenty of money for rent. Moos' husband was working in advertising. The couple received Social Security payments for two of their children. Then the husband drifted, got sick, stopped contributing. When he died, he left debts, not an estate.

For the last year of her life, Moos' mother allowed Eva to skip her mortgage payments when money was tight, which was nearly always. The mother, Kathleen Mauchly Antonelli, had programmed the first electronic computer, ENIAC, which her first husband and Eva's father, John Mauchly, had developed with his partner, J. Presper Eckert.

But when Mrs. Antonelli died in 2006, Moos owed that money to her mother's trust.

She borrowed more than she needed for the house, $270,000, but thought she was protected since the value of the property had been rising. She started waitressing, cooking, teaching voice, guitar and piano.

A year and a half ago, she negotiated with Wells Fargo to get a better mortgage rate, down from 10 percent to 81/2 percent.

She tried in March to get a better rate than that and be given time to catch up with her back payments - she owes three months' worth. It's her only debt other than $800 on a credit card. The bank said no.

Moos is hoping for a change of heart. I talked about her case to a few public-interest lawyers who specialize in bankruptcy and the rights of the disabled. Her best bet, they recommended, was going to a group like ACORN or the Philadelphia Unemployment Project (PUP), and having one of its counselors negotiate with the lender for her.

John Dodds, who directs PUP, said she also might be eligible for a three-year loan from the state through the Homeowners Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. But that program, he cautioned, is "horribly underfunded."

After the funeral, which is tomorrow, Moos will start thinking about working more, she says. Her music lessons are booming: 12 students last fall and 40 this spring.

"I'll have more time on my hands," she says quietly.

There's a real question about her Social Security benefits, however. She says she'll still get those intended for her son. Others aren't sure.

She sounds like a good test case for the Obama plan. Taxpayers gave Wells Fargo a $25 billion bailout. Wasn't it for cases like this?

"To the extent we helped them," Dodds said, "they should help others." Note the use of the word should. "She could be in trouble," he said.