Friday, November 09, 2018

In an Instant

Thank you so much for all of your condolences.  That was, of course, one of the hardest posts I've written here.  I'm so glad I have you all to share these things with, even if I'm not around near as much as I used to be.

The last week, evenings have been spent trying to make sure all of her various accounts (water, phone, insurance, etc.) have been notified and her accounts closed.  Some companies have been very accommodating; others, not so much.  Dear ATandT:  Seriously?  I have to bring in her most recent bill AND a death certificate IN PERSON to an ATandT store in order to cancel her phone service?  What. the. hell.

I've been emailing back and forth with her lawyer regarding getting her estate settled.  She didn't have a lot of "real property"; she rented a townhouse and had a 10-year-old car, so I imagine the estate part will be fairly straightforward.  Her financial advisor wanted to meet with me while I was in Texas, but our schedules just didn't align, so we agreed that we'd speak by phone once I was back home.  I knew that she was very careful with money and had invested for her retirement. She told me once that she was planning on making me beneficiary of her investment accounts.  I told her I appreciated the thought very much, but why didn't she just leave it to charity?

She didn't.  She left it to me.  I had no idea how much money she had; she'd been retired for 15 years and was drawing off those investment accounts, which is how it works, after all.  When her financial guy told me she had indeed made me beneficiary, I just hoped that there would be enough left in the accounts to cover her outstanding bills and pay the lawyer and funeral home bills.

The financial guy called me Wednesday night.  She left more than enough money to pay off her outstanding bills.  She left ... a lot of money.  Not "buy a private island in the Bahamas" money, not "buy a private island, well, ANYWHERE" money, but enough so that my life has changed.  Just like that.

I always assumed that I would have to work as long as I was able to do so, because I certainly had never made enough to set anything aside over the years.  I was looking forward to getting my house paid off next year, because that would be one less bill to pay, and would give me a little more breathing room when the furnace needed to be fixed or the roof repaired.  I was hoping to move someplace warmer .... someday.  But no matter where I moved, I'd have to keep working. That's just the way it was.

And now, just like that, retirement is a reality.  If I want to move someplace warmer tomorrow, I can.  If I want to take a nice trip, I can go right ahead.  The financial guy flat-out asked me, "Do you have a bucket list?  Pick a couple things and go right ahead."


I still can't believe this is real.  I can't believe she's gone, and I can't believe the money.  And I will tell you right now, I would give that money back in a heartbeat if it would bring her back.

I could turn down the money, but it wouldn't bring her back.

And with one half-hour phone call, my life has changed.  In an instant.  Oh, Arline.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Passed Away

 From left:  Arline, my mom, and two of my sisters.  1963.

Longtime readers here will remember my sister Arline, known here on the blog as "Texas".

Last Sunday, Arline passed away.

She had had jaw surgery for a bone infection a couple of months ago, and had been losing weight ever since.  By the time a friend convinced her to go to a doctor two weeks ago (who sent her home, advising her to "drink more fluids" (she weighed 70 lbs. by then)) and then to the ER a few days later, CT scans revealed metastasized cancer and she was becoming non-responsive.   She was transferred to inpatient hospice care last Saturday.  I spoke with the hospice nurse Saturday night, who advised me that Arline had less than a week to live.  On Sunday morning, I booked a flight which would leave on Monday morning.

I didn't make it in time.  Her friends were there holding her hands when she died, but I was not.

 Arline and my mom.

I flew down anyway, both because I just wanted to be there, and also because as executor of her estate, I know that I would have responsibilities that needed to be attended to.

 Arline digging up daylilies.

Arline was 75, and was a beautiful, gentle yet strong-as-steel person.  She was a role model for me; from her, I learned that you don't have to have a husband or children in order to live a full, complete life.  I learned that having a fulfilling career is important to women as well as men.  I also learned how to think for myself and face the consequences of my own decisions.  I learned that just because everyone around you is spouting a certain opinion, it doesn't mean that you have to agree.  I learned that there can be strength in gentleness and listening.  I will miss her very much. I hope she knows I thought the world of her.  I hope I expressed that often enough.

Rest in peace, Arline.  I will miss you very much.