tribulations

A long time ago, I came across a saying, attributed to a Nantucket sea captain. It went something like this: Most people don’t care about your troubles, and the rest are damn glad of them.

Tribulations. That’s what’s kept me away from this blog since…erm…some time.

I am responsible for handling my elderly mother’s financial matters. It fell on me, as the only child living here, though my father did everything he could to make sure the passage from his hands to mine would be smooth and stress-free.

Yeah.

He organized everything as best he could with the limited eyesight he had left.

He paid for a funeral, though we never did locate the proof he’d given the funeral director a check for $5000. When he died, we had to pay everything, which, because my Dad was a meticulous and money-wise guy, was no burden on my mother.

Odd how we are told to retain records seven years in case the Internal Revenue wants to squeeze us one last time. That always was my understanding anyway.

Yet my Mom and Dad’s bank retains records five years, which proved to be a few months after the check my Dad thought he’d written to the funeral director was written. My brother and sisters, when they visited, helped me by going through the piles of paper and checks trying to find anything that proved the case. Nothing.

Then, in the stress of my Dad’s passing, I retired. Not connected, just coincidental.

In the jumble of papers regarding my retirement, I was receiving another jumble from various insurance companies requesting proof that my Dad was dead.

I put it bluntly. They had verification from Social Security that he was off the list because of death or I wouldn’t have heard from them. I learned this later when a couple annuities I didn’t know about sent out letters saying my mother had to respond to the request for proof of her relationship to Dad and of his death, in the form of yet another death certificate ($6.00 per copy) from the State of Nebraska, proving what we barely had time to absorb: Dad is dead.

Assholes.

Yeah, yeah! Insurance fraud is a big deal, and it increases the cost of insurance. Blah-blah-blah.

“Just give her the f’ing money!” I’d scream at the walls as I tried to pull together all the signatures and paperwork required for Mom to get what was HER money, not the damn insurance companies’.

Of course, the more circuitous the path, the more vulnerable the people involved in trying to retrieve necessary money from these bandits, the longer the insurance companies had the money to make money through their investments. How’s that for insurance fraud!

Yeah, yeah! It’s money made legally. It just has a taint of immorality about it, the stench of blackened corporate souls. Oh. Corporations don’t have souls. Right! So they can do anything the SEC or whatever agency regulates their business deems OK- until the whole rotten pile falls, and the world has fallen into an economic collapse, such as we saw in other parts of the economy in the past couple, three years. Don’t let me get started!

I finally (I think) managed to stumble my way through Mom’s insurance and care center payment issues (all the time dealing with a major one of my own), barely closing the door on the hungry wolves of the billing department of the care center where she lives.

She’s allowed to keep $4000 in assets under the rules of Medicaid. Her application wouldn’t go through until I could establish for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services that two annuities she receives money from are for her life, that nothing will be there to inherit.

By the time the insurance companies coughed up the information needed, weeks after the request, I had to pay Mom’s January health care bill of $6343.61 or the billing department was going to get rough, really rough with me. That also took her below $4000 in assets, something I was told not to let happen.

What was I to do? They won’t throw Mom out on the street, but I apparently am the “guarantor”, which I take to mean, “The person who will end up f’ed if the money isn’t turned over. NOW!”

(Gad, don’t you wonder if the people in the upper 10% have to grovel and suffer these indignities in their own way, or do they just pay someone to grovel and suffer indignities for them. I feel more like a socialist the older I get, the closer my association with people with financial and political power.)

Oh, yes, the billing department of the care center also wanted their money for February, though I’d told them the application for Medicaid was in process. They sent me a letter. Blah-blah-blah…. I call this sort of letter a “…then we hold your children hostage and kill your dog” letter.

Very sensitive. Yeah.

I called Mom’s caseworker at Health and Human Services about the application. Seems Mom’s bank changed the rules about how outside agencies such as HHS had to request financial information, so the request had to be resubmitted using the new form, I suppose. It’s always paper in this litigious country, the United States of America. If it isn’t a new form, it is an old form: those yummy pieces of paper with Founding Fathers and dead Presidents on them.

As Judge Judy says, if you want to find the bad guys, follow the money trail. That’s a paraphrase, but how true.

It so happened that Mom’s caseworker received several of the new applications back from the bank that morning. Mom’s was with them. She quickly resolved the matter, allowed for payment of Mom’s care center bill back to January, sent me the verification, answered a question or two for billing at the care center, and Mom was once again a welcome part of the residents, not some piece of refuse to be bartered over. Bastards.

Postscript. My Dad lived in the care center from the end of August 2004 until his death on Election Day, November 4, 2008. Every penny of his care came from funds and savings he and Mom put together in their working and early retirement years. Mom went into the care center in November of 2007. Until October of 2009, all her expenses were paid by her and Dad’s hard work and smart investing. Medicaid paid from October 2009 until October 2010 (I think…too tired at this point to verify.)

I detailed in another blog how an annuity I was unaware of and a clerical error at Blue Cross Blue Shield Nebraska (they continued to take a premium payment for a dead man’s health care insurance for two years…because they hadn’t attached a Social Security Number to his account that would have flagged it when they got a roster of the newly deceased removed from Social Security), and the nightmare that was to resolve. The money from these two accounts paid Mom’s care center bill for three, maybe four months after I told Health and Human Services about them so they could stop the help they gave.

All of those months at almost $5000 to a little over $5000 for Dad at the first to almost $6000 to slightly over $6000 add up. When both were in there together, they paid over $10,000 a month for both. They bought a wing to that care center! No kidding. They spent over $300,000 of their own resources to occupy a double room (Dad, though the last year his roommate was Mom) or a single (Mom, after Dad died and we decided she was going to go out in comfort one way or another).

The lady in charge of resident welfare says I should feel proud of Mom and Dad that they were able to provide for themselves this well in their last years.

Yeah. I’m trying to feel proud. I know they would have wanted to donate a nice sum of money to the church at the end of their lives. I know they wanted their children to get something from them at the end of their lives. Their children wanted them to spend their money on themselves, so the lack of an inheritance is no issue, but I still feel bad that the church won’t get anything. It was a big part of their lives.

Dad didn’t want to die in a care center or a hospital. He was content, though, once he reached a point where he was unable to do things for himself, to live there. Of course, Mom and I visited him daily and ate one or more meals a week with him. Sometimes, when we were up to it, we’d have Dad over to visit us since we were half a block away. (I had some serious health issues in 2007 that wiped out having Dad over at the apartment.)

Mom is content over there. She is waited on hand and foot. (At the charge per month, I encourage her to insist on it.) I visit her nearly every day, and we watch “Down Home with the Neelys” and “Judge Judy”, our routine.

Me? I’m trying to get past these tribulations. It is sick. I feel tainted by the issues of money and the people whose lives are centered on taking it from others. I use the Lenten season to work off grudges. More than any other Lenten season, I pray I get past the hate and resentment I have come to feel for the insurance and care center money people. It is a sickness that consumes me and leaves an empty shell.

WWJD? If I were Jesus, which I am not. What would Jesus want me to do, is a better question. It is my Lenten quest to find out.

end abuse

This entry has a religious content that may be offensive to non-Christians or non-believers. That’s fair warning, I think. More than any other entry I’ve written, this one touches on matters of my faith. As such, I hope it burns brightly with the guidance of the Holy Spirit

I have strong feelings about what should be done to people who abuse spouses or children, their own or not. I suppose it is rooted in my Christian faith, the Golden Rule, yet people from other backgrounds and faiths stand with me: spousal and child abuse must end, and the perpetrators must be dealt with severely. Death? No, that they be removed from decent society. Forever.

I am concerned that that statement has an internal contradiction. Shouldn’t I love the sinner, if not the crime? As a Christian, that’s the path I am committed to, yet…!

I pray for the victims I know of, of course, adult or child. Those that appear in the paper, at any rate, as part of the summary of District Court proceedings, I pray for. I pray for those I learn of because a victim comes to ask for prayers of my Prayer Team partner and me after church. I pray that I always remember to ask the right questions before that victim leaves the prayer room: Have you talked with the pastor about this? If not, will you? And so on. Abuse is a complex issue that needs a gentle, accurate, and sensitive course of action.

How can prayer help? To those without faith or a different sense of prayer, the answer may be it doesn’t help, it can’t help, it’s a waste of time.

To those of faith, the answer is prayer is a living conversation with Our Heavenly Father, that He hears our prayers, and those prayers are answered in ways with many times we miss if our ability to discern the answer is clouded by doubt, non-belief, naysayers in the victim’s circle of support. Or discerned in changes in the way people respond to the situation that brought about the prayer. Just as we don’t always get what we want on this plane, we think we know what’s best for us when we approach the Lord in prayer, ignoring the possibility that He has a different direction in mind for our lives. If we can discern it.

Another way prayer helps is to unload a terrible burden Our Lord, on the shoulders of others, if only for a few quiet moments in the prayer room. Typically, those on the Prayer Team assignment for any given week continue to offer support and prayers for those who sought prayer from them. It’s the humane and Christian thing to do. It’s a way of restoring some small corner of a victim’s life, one where people offer hope, not destroy self-worth and offer nothing but despair. It’s a light touch on the shoulder, a hug, a reassurance that the victim isn’t the cause of the abuse.

In all this prayer, too often, in my anger, I forget the most important prayer: for the abusers. It also is the most difficult because of my williness to judge, not forgive, to hate, to fall outside of Christian love and forgiveness.

But I try.

And I ask God to forgive me, too, for my hard heart, to guide me toward acceptance of His wisdom and ultimate judgement of us each, including the abusers in this life.

I love history!

I am a history buff. I am a life member of the Nebraska State Historical Society. I like to read everything I can about how things were, why people took certain paths in reaction to (always “in reaction to” it seems) events that were as ordinary as a pope authorizing indulgences, for example.

As a Presbyterian, I recognize sale of indulgences as one of Martin Luther’s issues with the Roman Catholic Church of his time, and understand that “Protestant” comes from one who protests those issues and attempts to reform (“Reformation”- there we are again!) the only church in town. I don’t intend this blog as a platform to proselytize, so I’ll stop there.

The Norman invasion of England in 1066, where Norman influences on language, for just one aspect of change, reshaped the language you and I speak and write today. Normans wrote the history of the Battle of Hastings, as is the prerogative of the winner of any battle or war.

Try to read a paragraph written in French. Unless you studied it in school, you may be surprised that many words look oddly familiar. The Battle of Hastings affects our lives over 940 years later! Amazing! The Battle of Hastings is another historical event you can study your whole life, gathering degrees left and right, and still never exhaust the topic! 

The Battle of Midway in World War II was pivotal. Up to this battle, America didn’t look like it was on the winning side.  Luck- American!- won the battle, even though the it started out disastrously for the United States, with heavy loss of men and fighting capacity. In this video, you hear a curious fact: the Japanese painted the decks of its carriers yellow, and painted the Rising Sun on the deckside of the elevators that took planes below deck, making their carriers perfect targets for American planes coming in to bomb them!

Those of us who weren’t alive during World War II often don’t realize that Germany had a long-range bomber capable of bombing New York, but Hitler decided against its use. The German atomic bomb efforts are a bit more familiar, but the Nazis had a jet in 1939 that wasn’t produced because Herman Goering, a World War I ace no less, apparently didn’t see the strategic value of the technology until too late in the war.

Big events and small decisions won a war in which 50 million people lost their lives. Big events and small decisions determined everything from the language we speak to our form of government. 

History is familiar, it is yesterday’s news cleaned up. Sometimes it presents a particular point of view. Sometimes it presents a point of view you like- or not! Sometimes you don’t recognize it as history because it goes against everything you learned in school. That’s what reading about familiar historical events through the point of view of the other guy can do. The video above tells of an American loss in the War of 1812, through a Canadian history familiar to all Canadians, but totally alien to Americans.

I like the 20/20 hindsight of historians, who re-evaluate events, try to understand how ordinary and extraordinary people worked through the large and small crises of their lives.

War has to be worse that even the worst natural disaster because other people- probably just as nice as you under the right circumstances- want to destroy you and your family, your way of life, your home, and anything else that stands between them and you. Compare war with natural disasters. One often displays the worst of human nature. The other often brings out the best of human nature. Yet each changes us in its own way. That’s where history becomes important and interesting. History’s where we learn not only who we are but why we are what we are.

Whew!

weggieboy takes on weggieboy

Responses

  1. Why didn’t you post something in June, you slug?! Family visits aren’t sufficient justification to stop posting. Slug. SLUG!
    How do the texters put it? U r a slug.
    ^
    | \                   o o
    \ \________\/
    \_________/< SluG!
    • Edit Comment

    By: weggieboy on July 5, 2009
    at 4:10 pm

    Reply

     

    • Dear weggieboy-

      I feel your pain, literally. I am both your best friend and your worst enemy. I know your strengths and your weaknesses. We are related to the same people. I’m surprised and hurt you call me a “SluG” . That was a lame effort on your part to create, typographically, a slug to further point out what you feel is a great oversight or failure on my part: slugishness. On the contrary, mon ami, mon frere, mon- erm!- moi! Familial visits are the source of great amusements, mutual ribbing, shared happiness, recalled sadness. They refresh and charge our batteries. They reconnect us with the people we love most, yet see all too rarely! That requires effort and time to reconnect to this wonderful world into which we are most accepted as we are and because we are. Families are the treasure we all seek but oftentimes forget is as close as a phone call, as easy as a letter posted, as fun as a web camera and a hilarious collaboration among siblings to produce a video to show those who couldn’t make it (nieces, nephews, their kids) 1. nah nah, you aren’t here having fun with us, 2. love you, and want you to see how much fun we can have as a family, and 3. give you a chance to see your aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, get “stoopid” in a way that reconnects them with us in a big loving family. No in jokes here, bub. Well, maybe one or two. But sluggishness? How many people will read the June blog? How many people read any of these blogs? They just happen when they do. They aren’t a thing to schedule. They must be spontaneous and fun for me or they just won’t be. One month might be a blog-a-week month. The next might be a blog with another waiting to be hatched month. They create themselves in their time. I’m on sun time now, friend. Call me a slug if you will, weggieboy! The label sticks to you!
      And I know where you live…!

    • Edit Comment

    By: weggieboy on July 5, 2009
    at 4:29 pm

    Reply

     

  2. p.s. I happen to know you are addicted to Japanese cat videos on YouTube, sicko.