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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Workin' For A Livin'

This was going to be part of another post from last week but because I never really know when to stop, it ran a little long and then I went back to my parent's house, and well, you know the rest of that story. This was written a few days before my father passed away but I still feel the story is one that may remind us to make bigger plans for our future.

The following has me in a mini panic. I am feeling like now is the time. Time to get my shit together and here's why.

My father's situation sucks even more than just being really sick. I always thought he had everything together. He is 64 years old and has worked at his government job for 32 years, sounds good so far, huh? As a result of his cancer treatments getting the best of him, he ran out of sick days, which by the way, equaled months off, with pay. He'd never taken a day off of work before this illness came along, which is how he was able to have all of those days off. The problem with the pay was that my dad has always worked overtime, something you don't get if you are off sick. He relied on that "extra" money.

His checks were coming regularly but just were not covering the cost of living. That only added more stress to a man facing death.

When he ran out of sick days, his coworkers came forward to give him their time off. Although it was a very nice gesture on their part, it still wasn't enough. My father was forced into retiring. His retirement pay is still way too little for he and my mother to get by.

My mom hasn't worked in at least 20 years. Even when she did in her younger years, she never held a job for a long time or obtained any skills that would be valuable today. Needless to say, they went broke fast.

They filed for a Chapter 11 (or 13, I don't know which), to try to save themselves from losing the house they bought fifteen years ago. Before then, they had always rented apartments. When you have eight kids, making enough money to do more than get by is difficult to say the least.

All of us kids tried to scrape enough money together to save the house, but it was just too much money. Last week their house went on the auction block. They have to move by the first of March. (The judge gave my mom a little extra time because hospice wrote a letter.)

She found an apartment, paying a year's rent upfront. The place is okay. Not exactly home, but it will have to do, as my mother says.

They aren't going to be able to keep their cats but can keep their dog. Weird rules there, one or the other. Mom is more attached to the dog than just one of her five cats.

So how is it that a man can work so hard all of his life and still wind up with a terribly ill, losing his job, house, going bankrupt, losing his beloved pets and his life?

I look at him when his confusion takes over and think about how hard he worked and here, in the end, how much he still lost. The panic sets in when I consider if that were me. I'd be in the same boat.

UPDATE: My mom has until the 23rd to move but the survivor benefits are less than my father's retirement pay. I don't know what she plans to do or how she will get by. All I know is this is a lot to take in after already losing her best friend.