Monday, February 27, 2006

A learning experience

It is hard for me to believe that "cleaning up" after Dad’s death would be easy. I thought handling the estate wouldn’t be too difficult since I had been involved in it for three years. When my uncle died, I was co-executor. There was nothing to it. Perhaps the simple excuse for that was my second cousin who is an attorney married to an attorney was the other executor! It was a breeze.
The first stumbling point was when Social Security sent me a letter which be gins "We are sorry to learn of your recent loss. Please accept our sincere sympathy." Yeah, right. They then go on to say that even though he died on the 13th of the month,. He was not entitled to the monthly benefit since they didn’t stop the payments until February he was paid too much that should be refunded to them within 30 days. Well . . .
Dealing with the insurance companies is proving to be just as interesting. My mother died in 1972. She is listed as the beneficiary on a policy I didn’t even know existed. It was taken out in 1939 (Dad was 93 if you remember). I have to get a certified death certificate for her death. This is another quite unexpected turn. So we will wait for the state to send me the death certificates (I ordered 4 - never know when something will pop up again) which will take about 3 weeks. I know I could have gone to the office in town to get it right away, but I’m not good at standing in lines.
I did his income tax and realized I really screwed it up last year. G was so busy with ours that I didn’t want to bother him. I realize now after asking the insurance companies where the 1099's were that the interest was not taxable. He way overpaid. It will be interesting to see what would happen if that return gets audited. They will pay me back.
And pay backs - the wonderful mortuary send me a refund, but it was about half of what I wanted. I am torn. Part of me wants to fight the refund even taking it to the state board that governs the funeral industry, but the other part of me really just wants to put this all to rest. I think that is the way I’m going. This is going to be a long enough road.
My attorney is getting ready to file the papers to probate the will, and the CPA in her office is preparing the final posting with the guardianship thing. Someday, someday!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

This and That

I am still waiting for the refund of monies from the botched funeral. I knew it would take a couple of weeks. I guess we'll see what happens in the next few days.

With that in mind, I have been trying to attend to the affairs of bank accounts, insurance policies, having the will probated and getting the final estate accounting done with the court. I have to be very honest. I am so glad I don’t have that responsibility any longer. Keeping up with all the receipts was driving me crazy, but I guess I would become his guardian all over again. I’m still not convinced there wasn’t some "things" going on with the monies.

On a lighter note, we spent last weekend at our other place. I knew it would be cold on Friday night, but I expected sun on Saturday and certainly on Sunday. Was not to be! On Saturday, our thermometer never got above freezing! We were iced in. Sunday was a little better in that the temperature did rise above freezing, but the sun eluded us all weekend. Simone and I kept to the house as much as possible. I did manage to make 20 sets of jewelry for the Founder’s Day celebration in April. Now we just have to get the booth ready!

It appears we will do a couple of more fairs after the one in April. I think we will do one in June as well as July. I really would like to begin making some money with the jewelry.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Soft Place to Land

That’s what happening here. B and C asked if they could come to live with us at last night’s family dinner. It seems as though C’s mother is, at least according to C, going through the middle aged crazies. Her mom has had this particular boy friend for a long time. In fact, when they vacationed at the little hill country place, Mom and boyfriend went with them. It seems theat Mom has decided to move in with boyfriend and sell her house.

All this comes after two weeks of C and her mom not speaking. That is not a new situation, but this time it appears to be causing a real problem. I guess Mom is looking for a more simple life. From my perspective I don’t think this is the solution, but it’s not my decision nor my life.

When B and C moved in with Mom, I was afraid something like this would happen. C and Mom are together 24/7. That is just too much. K and I couldn’t do that, and we have a good relationship. C works for Mom in a child care facility. C doesn’t know how to work for someone else. She tried for a few months. She cannot take orders. Bless her heart, she just has not had to grow up. Her parents divorced when she was twelve. That was a bad situation for C. She had lots of money thrown at her. It's my understanding she got all the child support monies.

I know they hated to ask if they could move in here. I frankly am scared to death because I know how hard C can be to get along with. I don’t want to have this situation hurt the fragile mother in law - daughter in law relationship, but I cannot tell them they can’t move in here. B told us last week he is taking over the household money. I knew C would have a fit, but she keeps going through money like there was a big money tree in the backyard. He earned $700 in overtime that he wanted to be put away. It was spent.

I am sincerely hoping this situation will bring them into the world of mature married adults. They want to be there. They want to have all the things the rest of us have. They want a house, a baby and all the other things. I hope this is the turning point for them. In the mean time, this house will be their refuge. We will be the soft spot for them to fall, and we will be here to help them rebuild their lives. We will be praying for their success.

Friday, February 10, 2006


I guess being a squeaky wheel is a good thing at times. I sent the letter about how poorly the funeral service was to the mortuary. I requested more than $500 to be returned to me. As the days went on, I was afraid that I would have to take my situation further. In the original letter, I was going to contact everyone from the Texas Funeral Commission to the Attorney General’s office. G suggested that I not saber rattle at the beginning. I should save the big guns for later if I needed them. I was getting ready to write another letter with all the "cc’s" included.
Day before yesterday the phone rang. It was the General Manager for the mortuary. He told me he reviewed all my claims, and that I certainly should be reimbursed for those services that were paid for but not delivered. I further indicated that he would be finding out why the obituary was not published. Well, it’s all water under the bridge now and things can’t be undone. I just hope that the same things never happen to another family.
Yesterday I got a notice of a certified letter left in the mail box. Initially that got my goat because I was here. I believe the carrier was too lazy to get out of his truck to come to the door. So this morning I went to the Post Office to get the letter. My original thought was to put the notice back in the mail box and make him deliver it, but I didn’t. The letter was the death certificates. Apparently the General Manager called the mortuary here to have them delivered straight to me, without them going to San Antonio. Well, at least they are here. More importantly, I don’t have to deal with that San Antonio mortuary again - that is unless I don’t get my refund in a couple of weeks!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I spent about two hours yesterday with the banker I got to know well when I was the guardian for my dad. She is a very out going person, and we usually spend a lot of time talking when we get together. She was sharing some of the weird and terrible things bankers see in their everyday business. They see spouses that come in - some to take exactly half of the joint account - some to take the entire account before surprising their spouse with the news they are leaving. She was telling me about one poor woman who came in to open a checking account This bank runs a credit check before you can open a checking account. She was denied an account. She was appalled saying that she always paid her bills on time. The banker asked if she had any joint accounts. That was a bulls eye. Her husband opened a joint charge account, and he was often late paying his bill. Her credit took a hit because she was on that account. Ouch!

When I got home, B was here taking care of the cats. They have had a time figuring out their finances. C was used to being able to buy whatever she wanted and whenever. B really wasn’t too much better. I have no idea how much credit card debt they are in, and I don’t know if I want to know. At least they are not using the plastic anymore.
But just not using the credit cards doesn’t mean they are not still spending money. C has the idea that they will be able to buy a house, have children, and she quit working, and continue spending money the way they do now. If B wanted to take over the finances, she would have a temper tantrum, and he would back off. He told me yesterday he was taking over the finances. I was really surprised. He handled the situation really well. My baby is (finally) seeming to grow up. I really wish them well. He outlined the way they were going to handle money from now on, and it seems like a really good plan. I wish them luck. It isn’t going to be easy.

It is all too easy for people to get into real trouble these days. Credit is so easily available. I am
so sick of getting offers for cards. I use two on a regular basis. They are used like checks for me. At the end of the month I pay the balance, and it’s done. I also choose to use cash back cards. It works well for me. For some though, it is all too easy to just make the minimum one month or so. Before they know it, they are completely over their heads. I wish these people well. It is a rough way to live.

I really wish B and C great luck. I hope they can get a handle on their money management skills, and can make all their dreams come true. I also hope it doesn't hurt their marriage. I guess we will see what's in the cards.

Monday, February 06, 2006

It never ceases to amaze

I don’t know why I should have been surprised yesterday at church when our pastor used his mother with Alzheimer’s as an example. I could so relate when he spoke of going to see her, and she was non-verbal. He remarked how difficult it is to try to visit with someone when you are the only one who is doing the talking. He didn’t indicate how long these visits lasted. I would imagine they were to be rather long because he had to travel the 200 miles to visit, therefore he would only be once a month. My visits with Dad would be only about 30 minutes, but they seemed to be much longer.
I am really amazed at the number of in my circle of acquaintances are relatives of Alzheimer/dementia patients. Our Parish Associate had her mother die two years ago from the disease. She, too, had to travel about 250 miles to check on her mother. She would go every other week. I really admire her for doing that. I’m sure she did it to help her sister. Being the only caretaker - even if the loved one is in a facility - is a draining experience.

It just makes me wonder if we will ever find a real cure for this disease. I really believe it won’t happen. We are living so much longer these days. I believe our bodies simply wear out. But when I do see hale and healthy (for their ages) people who are 95+ and they are sharp as a tack, I wonder why my dad was stricken. That is the factor I hope will be discovered.

Be sure to visit with your older loved ones when ever possible and let them know how much you love them while you can. They will not always be with you.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Last evening’s ER was quite an emotional ride. James Woods portrayed a patient who had ALS. He had reached the stage where his facial muscles and throat had gotten so paralyzed he could no longer swallow so he had a feeding tube inserted. I drew a little analogy with Dad. He had forgotten to swallow.

The character was also admitted with pneumonia. That was the death knell for Dad. He could not get over the pneumonia. At least there was no mention of putting him on a respirator, whereas there was that decision made on James Wood’s character. For that I am grateful.

These situations brought raw emotions flooding back. The gut wrenching decisions that have to be made by those who love the patient. The agreements and disagreements. But after I could separate Dad from this, I thought about out friend/relative J who is suffering with ALS now.

J is such a great man. He was an educator, a principal, an administrator, and finally an author. He and his wife V retired to little hill country area a couple of years ago. He was active working cattle, as well as the activities of the area. I so clearly remember him coming over to out place one morning to look for a lost bull. He was seemingly in top condition.
All that was to change about two years ago. He had a sensation in his left hand and arm. He went to the doctor, and came back with the diagnosis of ALS. Things went well for a while. Not many people knew he had the disease. We had contacted J about leasing our land to him and his then partner E for cattle. He said that his son was now in charge of the cattle business. We didn’t think much about it.

About a year later, he had published an editorial in the little local paper stating he did have ALS. He too, like James Wood’s character, is waiting and hoping for stem cell research. I’m afraid he, like so many others, will die before there is any cure coming for this disease. J’s left arm is unusable, and the right is being effected. I try to stay away from controversial and political themes here, but this is terrible. Stem cells do not have to come from aborted embryos. Stem cells could be a saving grace for so many diseases like ALS, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s. I have seen too many close to me die of these diseases.

These diseases are horrible. In ALS and Parkinson’s, the brain remains alert. The patient is aware of what’s going on. They can’t control their bodies. Think about that. What a prison. Eventually ALS patients suffocate. This is a horrible way to die. In a way Alzheimers is easier for the patient, but all of these deteriorating diseases are sheer hell for the family.
I worry about the decisions V and her family are facing in the future. I pray they will be given the strength to make wise decisions,. and more over, the strength to believe they made the correct decision. They are in for a really tough time.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

First pet

Sunday night before dinner, Lady Bug got her first pet from her Aunt C and Uncle B. She got a Beta. She was so excited she could barely eat her dinner without worrying about the fish.

When I was talking to K the other evening, Lady Bug interrupted with the news that it was 6:30 and time to feed her fish. I can only hope the two resident cats in that house don't decide to make the fish their dinner.

I wonder what she named him. I'll have to find out!

I really don't remember what my first pet was. I am sure it was a cat. Since my dad was a waling letter carrier, he professed his complete dislike for dogs. The funny thing about that is he usually had at least one dog on his route that would accompany him for many streets. He was a natural "dog person."

Over the years I have had many pets, and I cannot see myself without one. I guess my love for animals spurred my interest in biology. Of course my high school biology teacher really helped my along that path. In the 38 years we have been married we have had 12 pets - six of those were at one time. We only have one now, that being the rescued boxer, Simone. I don't count the two cats that we are fostering for B.

I hope Lady Bug had a long and happy life of enjoying pets. They can being so much to human lives.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


After V's funeral, I was able to take a kalanchoe plant that had been sent. I have nurtured, petted, sung and pampered in everyway I could imagine. It never bloomed again. So I decided to ignore it. It still never bloomed. It just sat in its pot looking ratty.

Dad died on January 13. That blasted plant began sprouting blooms. What do you think?