The Future is Bright

I am executrix/administrator/trustee/attorney-in-fact for quite a few in the elder generation, whether alive and dead or, frankly, somewhere in between.

When ULOB died, he had no will.  So his only heirs at law were those immediate blood relations who survived him — SOB, BOB and me.   The word, “heir,” has a connotation that one sits back and someone unknown official throws money and jewels at such lucky heir.

Now, back to reality.  There was an apartment to clean out, assets to be gathered, debts to be paid and tax returns to be filed.  And that means that at least one person has to step up and seek appointment by the surrogate’s court as administrator.  Translation:  At least one of SOB, BOB and me.

I drew the short straw.  I don’t actually think we had a contest.  I think SOB and BOB met when I was in the bathroom and decided that I was in charge.  At least they apologized.

And so, I became the court-appointed administrator for ULOB.  The gathering of assets and paying of debts were not difficult.  Figuring out the fate of the annuities that named the two women of his life — AROB and POULOB — as joint beneficiaries, was harder.

SIDEBAR:  All I can say that if AROB and POULOB had both survived ULOB and I had to divide these annuities between the two — well, I would not think so kindly of ULOB.  AROB (z”l) made life less uncomfortable by predeceasing ULOB.

And then, there are three tax returns — one for the year in which ULOB died, one of ULOB’s estate and one that I have to file as the fiduciary of his estate.  Every one of these measures different periods and sometimes counts the same money.  “Whatever,” the three of us say, it isn’t going to bring ULOB back to life so we pay unto Caesar that which the Tax Code says.

Except we didn’t know much about ULOB’s finances.  I chose to continue using ULOB’s long time accountant to make sure we covered everything.  Continuity is important in these matters,  And, because ULOB’s accountant was probably older than ULOB, I also have a lawyer overseeing things.

I sent the stuff off to ULOB’s accountant and hadn’t heard in weeks.  I emailed the lawyer, wondering if perhaps the elder CPA had  . . . .  Luckily, he emailed me that day.  “I am missing social security and pension information.  Can’t do returns without them.  Also need 1099s through date of death.”

SIDEBAR:  ULOB never had very steady work, so who knew he had a [as it turned out, miniscule] pension?  And because I am also consumed with Dad’s taxes, I forgot about the 1099 for social security.  That was my oversight.

Aaargh.  The latter request was easy.  But what pension?  And the Social Security Administration?  The mail had stopped coming long ago.  Oy Oy Oy Oy.

KILL ME NOW.  I WILL MAKE IT EASY AND LIE IN THE MIDDLE OF SIXTH AVENUE.

I looked in ULOB’s decrepit files and figured out the pension source.  But I had to email my siblings.

From: [Blogger]
To: [SOB]; [BOB]
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:23:25 -0400
Subject: [ULOB]

 

So, I learned that [ULOB] got a pension from the Equity League.  Trying to get a 1099.  Also, on the phone with Social Security Administration for a 1099.  I am never being anyone’s executor again ever. [emphasis added]

 

I thought that was a clear statement of my intentions and future wishes.  In retrospect, I should have had a court “so-order” it.

Actually getting the 1099s were time consuming but not difficult (but absolutely bloggable –especially at the SSA office — at another time).  [P.S.: if anyone needs a guide through the morass, just call or email me.]

In four hours, I got both replacement 1099s.  In triumph, I sent an email to my siblings:

 

Got’em

[Blogger]

Sent:

Thursday, March 27, 2014 12:51 PM

To:

[SOB]; [BOB]

Went to the Equity League pension office AND the social security administration and got both missing 1099s!!!!!  I am basking the glory of a productive day.  (although not so productive from a career perspective.)

 

 

But still I do not want any more responsibilities, especially since managing the world of Dad (may he live to 120) is a constant project.  And then SOB, ever the protective older sister, sends me a reply email, gently quieting my fears about the future, all the while adding an additional burden:

[Blogger], Thank you for managing all Dad’s finances and [ULOB]’s will and finances.

I’m sorry but  I listed you as my executor, but don’t worry as we will both be demented and incompetent so you will be excused from the task. [emphasis added]

 

Love,

[SOB]

After a moment of shaking my fist at the screen, I laughed out loud.  SOB always brings me back to the proper perspective.  We will both be in our 90s (G-d willing) and then . . . who cares?  I will be executor.  No problem, SOB.  Bring it on.

The future is, indeed, bright and carefree, after all.

 

Life in No-Fi

We all await the excitement of that moment — that one moment in time — when we are actually in the “4G air space” so we enjoy the rapid connectivity for which we pay extra every month, but never actually receive because we live in a “3G” world.

But I don’t always want to be connected.  I also dream of “unplugged” time during which I can relax and think deep thoughts and ponder the universe or my navel (whichever), over wine, music and a barbeque.

And then I spent a year one week in Wainscot (a sub-township of East Hampton) where Verizon has no “G”s at all.

None. 

Zero. 

Not a “G” within miles.

To get one bar of “G”-ness, I had to go north, cross a highway filled with aggressive sports car drivers and go in the direction of the North Fork.  I am glad that Verizon services the crunchier, family friendly North Fork, but Verizon must take pity on those souls who do not, by choice (rather for familial obligations and homesteading), inhabit the tonier side of the highway.

For work-related calls, I had to drive around for connectivity and then find a safe place to park.  I got so desperate that two bars of connectivity was a G-dsend.  When asked where I was — just to have idle chit chat until all parties to any given call dialed in — I simply could not mention that I was parked in the lot right near the King Kullen supermarket and, as luck would have it, in front of the liquor store.

Yes, yes, the Hamptons can be glamorous.  For some.

Being disconnected was not so bad, except for the essential people whom I needed to call or with whom I needed to be in contact.

But talking on the phone was unbearably like that commercial, “Can you hear me now?” except there was no “good” following the answer.

Only, “You are breaking up.  Text me.”

Which even worked for SOB, one of the most technically un-savvy 50-something year-olds I know.

But not for almost 93 year-old Dad who isn’t so great on the phone anyway.  Even when I had THREE bars in Montauk, it wasn’t enough for Dad.

Hello?

Hey, Dad! It is [Blogger]!

Helloooo?

Dad! It is [Blogger]!

Helloooooo?

DAD, DAD, CAN YOU HEAR ME?  IT’S [BLOGGER]!

Yes, darling, how are you and everyone there?

SIDEBAR:  If he can’t hear, then he can’t remember.  So, he didn’t really remember where I was or why or with whom.  Then everything goes to shit.  I get why the phone is hard on the elderly.

We are great, Dad.

Who is there?  Where are you?

Dad, we are away for a week.  There is bad reception.  Can you hear me?

Helloooooo?

DAD, DAD, I will text [SOB] and she will call you and let you know what I said.  ok?

Ok, sweetheart, where are you now?  Hellooooo?

CALL DISCONNECTS.  My heart sinks.  I have only confused my Dad, not helped the situation by checking in.

I text SOB.  I must speak to Dad through an interpreter while I am in No-Fi land.

No-Fi land.  A land of legend and dreams.  Of gods and monsters.  Of serenity but also of being with the person you have become.  Good, bad and, sometimes, ugly.

Still, I yearn for this land.

Or so I think.

No-Fi is in the future — when I don’t worry about parents but my loved ones and children (who may be aliens, depending on age and stage) are with me (which may mean building a compound for the multitudes).  But therein lies the rub.  If I am not worried about my Dad (or aunts and uncles, or fake aunts and uncles), then that means they are gone.

So, I guess I would rather live in Wi-Fi for as long as I can.

No-Fi is not uncomplicated.  It is a place you go to heal after life’s journey relieves you of some of your most beloved companions.  And the quiet forces you to think about who you are and what you want to become.

Yes, it is easier to be connected.

Seinfeld and the Gang — Part 3: The Love Hangover

Every generation has its sci-fi flick about hell having no fury like an artificially intelligent computer scorned.

And, because I am partial to women, my own personal horror flick would probably have a robot/computer who looks like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction (www.imdb.com/title/tt0093010/).

NOTE TO ALL:  I really do not spend much time thinking about this.  Really.  No, really!!

All I can say is welcome to our new family relationship with mini storage.  On Saturday, both my cousin and I engaged (grudgingly) in the ceremonial coma-signing of more paper than anyone could imagine for less than 100 square feet of real estate (even in New York).  On Tuesday (today), we were both sent TWO questionnaires about the quality of service and attention and our overall experience when renting the storage space.  I guess the computer really wants to feel the love.  Whoa.

SIBEBAR:  Maybe, my cousin, who is straight, would agree on my choice of Glenn Close.  Note to self: ask cousin about his ideal pyscho stalker.  P.S.: try not to freak him out by the question.

We exchanged ooked-out emails about the incredible attention paid to our mere rental, albeit on the NEW 9th floor of the facility.

SIDEBAR:  I am thinking about the movie adaptation:  trapped with the devil on a non-existent floor of an apartment building . . . maybe a twist on Rosemary’s Baby?  Paging Mia Farrow (even if you looked like a pre-adolescent boy in that movie and really DID marry Woody Allen).

I told my cousin that maybe he should have thought to send flowers and candy, because they know where we live.  He did not respond to that email.

SIDEBAR:  I am thinking that I don’t have to worry about whether or not I will freak him out.  I already have.

But, hey, I am still not as scary as a computer in need of love and affection.

 

Seinfeld Gang and me, Part II

Picking up from the prior blog entry:

SOB and I park the car and go to AROB’s house.  POB meets us there.  Our cousin and his wife are already packing things up.  This is a hoarder’s home.  Don’t look too closely.  POB had to leave in short order.

photo(6)

 

We box up anything and everything of value — sentimental or otherwise.  We load into the BIG F’ING rental car and we all drive down to the storage place.

SIDEBAR:  Did we ever determine whether I needed a trucker’s license and a tattoo?

I had two emails from Alan Dumpit, my reservation number and the memories of two inane conversations to poison my mood as soon as the guy behind the counter welcomed us, and wanted to understand our storage needs.

“I told this all to Alan Dumpit!”

“Why are you not smiling at me?  This is all good.  Alan isn’t here and I want to welcome you and make sure you are getting what you want.”

“I want a storage room big enough to store a one bedroom apartment equivalent of stuff.”  [Of course, if we were talking about all the stuff crammed into that apartment, then I would need a McMansion sized locker.]

“Who is renting the storage space?”

OMG.  SOB doesn’t understand why I am foaming at the mouth.  She doesn’t know the whole back story.  [Until she read it last night in the last blog entry.]

“I am, but it will be under my cousin’s name.”

“So, I should be talking to your cousin,” and, as he turns, I realize my poor cousin is a sitting duck, “Let’s discuss what your needs are . . . .”

After I watch my cousin endure the “creation of the storage relationship” phase for 30 minutes, I take pity and I interpose my credit card between the men and offer to move on to the paying ceremony.

photo(3)

Oh no no no no.  We had not begun the ceremonial paper signing phase of the new relationship.  That required two storage consultants to get the papers and involved initialing obscure provisions everywhere in the documents.  My cousin and I were not exactly robo-signing; I think we were more probably coma-signing. I was waiting for incense, holy water and Aaron’s priestly blessing.

And, of course it was a very, very special day because, we were told, it was the grand opening of the 9th floor of the building.  Still, no discount; instead, overpoweringly toxic paint smells and near-deafening drilling noise.

Finally, we were all initiated into the storage community, complete with the ceremonial handing over of the dead bolt.  I was, in fact, a little disappointed about the absence of incense, holy water and Aaron’s priestly blessing (especially since the latter is in this week’s Torah portion).

We ran to claim the dollies to haul the stuff. Or, rather, we ran FROM the storage consultants.  We unloaded the behemoth of a car and did a quite respectful send-up to Four Stooges and The Marx Brothers, as we dropped boxes, scraped the newly painted walls and drew a little blood from each of us.  The race to the elevators from different aisles was kind of fun, too.

Finally, the FAB FOUR put Aunt R’s valuables and effects in a safe (if toxic) place and closed that dead bolt, baby.  (SOB, photographer.)photo(2)Relief and laughter broke out as we got back into the BIG CAR, and I asked, “any other justice need dispensing? We have the car until tomorrow!”

To review:

  1. AROB was buried by two cornerstones of family (her chosen family and her family of origin) in a plot that will have her headstone.  CHECK
  2. ULOB’s rights, etc., are resolved.  CHECK
  3. AROB’s sister is being looked after and my cousin and his wife are rehabilitating the souls of a generation who neglected her.  CHECK
  4. Apartment to be given back to Landlord.  HALF CHECK  (some things need to happen still)
  5. My cousin needs his well-deserved, if surprising, inheritance.  OPEN

SOB and I will be there to help with the last points.

SIDEBAR:  But first, after this day, we needed some wine and hors d’oeuvres.

We will be there to help because our cousin and his wife are good and kind people who are generous with their time and concern.   And by helping AROB’s sister, they (who are not Jewish) are doing charity in AROB’s name as is Jewish custom.

And I think for SOB and me, through this excruciating process, we have accepted that AROB had flaws that recalibrate our views of her present but don’t tarnish our visions of her as a hero of our youth.  I know I have gone from harshly judgmental to willing to allow that there may facts I will never know that may be kinder to AROB’s choices.

This week, we will tackle Item 4.

Stay tuned.

 

SOB, welcome home

Welcome back, SOB. You took a jaunt across “the Pond” and all hell broke loose.  Just as I flipped you the keys to the family’s asylum, put my feet up and broke open a bottle of red wine, I got really sick.  So glad you are a doctor, and the prescriptions were wine and soup.  Because I am so much easier when I am mentally lubricated.

Happily, SOB shared her first day back as MOW (medical officer of the week):
  • Lunch with Dad.  He looks good.  He won’t remember though.  I threw out LOTs of solicitations and sweepstakes.  I think we should send those sweepstakes people to jail.

SIDEBAR:  I am thinking death penalty for scammers targeting the elderly.  For crimes against people and against the environment (so much paper).

  • Called Michael’s dad.  He really appreciated seeing you, BOB and Dad at Michael’s funeral.

SIDEBAR: Whoa, can you imagine a father thanking us for paying respects at his 36 year-old’s funeral?  The pain is burning a hole in my heart.  I don’t know if I could breathe if anything happened SOS.

  • ULOB.  No medicare services unless patient needs physical therapy or nursing. So, ULOB’s frailty and general inability to handle life don’t count. Nevertheless I tried suggesting to ULOB he may need help with daily living, even if it costs money.  But ULOB is not really interested help with food, cleaning, shopping if it costs money [sidebar: he can afford it; WE can afford it].  But, he “will consider this.” The dentist wants ULOB to have implants since he teeth are horrible; he is concerned about cost. And he said that he wasn’t sure it was worth it as he didn’t think he would live that much longer.  OY OY OY OY.

SIDEBAR:  We are more concerned that the several month period of wounds, healing from the incisions would lead him to not eat and lose even more weight, which is more of a health threat.

SIDEBAR OF SIDEBARI can’t possibly handle a health threat at this moment.  Please, let us have a quiet period in our family.

Keep going, SOB, you are doing great as MOW.  I am going to a spa for a day and then I will camp out on your couch on Saturday and let you recount war stories.  This is how I like to lead — supine and from behind.

You are doing such a great job, maybe, we will make you UOF (uber officer forever).  BOB, you agree?  2/3 vote carries.

Be afraid, SOB.

SIDEBAR:  I would never do this to SOB.  What we have to do we do together.  Oh, and, SOB? no more vacations until you know when . . . .

I love my family and I am grateful for SOB.

When Life Alert Calls

As I walk upstairs to The COB’s office to consult about a deal, my cell phone rings. It is a California number.  I am suspicious; I assume that it is a spam call.  At the same time, I get an email that I have voicemail on my office phone. 

After some confusion, I ascertain that the “dispatch center” calling from California is Life Alert.  Oh, no.  Dad has Life Alert and Life Alert is on the phone.  My heart is now in my throat.

The dispatcher advised that the fire alarm went off in Dad’s house and he did not answer the Life Alert intercom, his house phone and his cell phone. The dispatcher already called the fire department. I get off the phone with Life Alert and retrieve my voice mail from SOB. Cool as a cucumber, she says, “hey, [Blogger], it’s [SOB]. Hope all is good with you and the family. [Pause] Listen, Life Alert called me and told me [and she recounted the above].  Anyway, call when you can. Bye.”

Wow, SOB could describe the horrors of war and make it sound like a bedtime story. But even before I could call her back, she called again. Because SOB panics gracefully. Even from across the Pond in London.

Dad’s cell is useless; he can’t hear it and, if he does, has no idea what the beeping is for. His attendant doesn’t answer her cell. So, I keep hitting redial until she answers.

I reached the attendant just as Dad and she were rounding the corner and seeing the firetrucks.

SIDEBAR They were at the library. Before they left, the attendant put fabric softener in water and heated it on the stove, to freshen the air. Then Dad wanted to leave and she forgot.

The pot was burning on the stove and made a lot of smoke and a noxious smell.  The firemen opened the windows and all was good.  While I was talking to the fireman, I hear Dad’s attendant in the background, repeating: “He didn’t do it.  It is MY fault.”  I love her for making sure that everyone knew that it wasn’t Dad’s fault.

So, I spoke with the fireman who was lovely, with Dad’s attendant who was so upset, and with Dad who had no clue.

Since we love Dad’s attendants, I told her that I would be happy to get an attendant for her as well so the attendant could watch her minding Dad, but we just can’t afford it right now.  For now, she, like Dad, is not allowed to operate any electrical equipment until further notice. 

SOB spoke to the attendant and reassured her as she was feeling so badly about it all.  I called later and she was feeling better.  Dad?  Still confused.  A typical day.

So, everyone was safe at all times, except for SOB and me. Both of us were out on the ledge.

At least I have blog material.

 

 

Seder

One month ago, when I invited the “family” to Seder, there was some trepidation.

Why trepidation at just another annual ritual?  Well, here is a partial list of the invitees:

  • Dad (who is not the man he was prior to his brain injury), accompanied by his Guyanese home attendant who had never been to a Seder;
  • Shelly who is not romantically involved with Dad, regardless of what Uncle L thinks (we will get to THAT later);
  • Our g-ddaughters, who are not Jewish and one of whom has never cracked open the Bible (but she makes amazing Kosher for Passover desserts, so go figure);
  • My Uncle L, who having recently lost Aunt R just a few months ago, wanted bring his paramour of 25 years (will someone PLEASE shoot me);
  • My Aunt R’s blood nephew and his wife, who may not be so psyched to know that Uncle L had a side gig (a shonda — embarrassment — for the neighbors);
  • FOPOB who is not always emotionally or mentally “present” and SOPOB who is not always physically present;
  • Cousin Gentle, CB, SOB and HOSOB — thank G-d; and
  • my personal trainer who gave me good arms for my wedding dress.

So, bottom line:  lesbians, their baker g-ddaughter, an uncle, his lover, a Greek Chorus and a brisket.  La follie. Madness.

Ok, by the grace of G-d, my aunt’s nephew and his wife couldn’t come so we didn’t have to create even more lies about the state of affairs (pardon the pun) of the family.

Because Uncle L keeps white wine in his refrigerator for his paramour, I bought very good bottles of various white grapes. Only to find out that she likes red wine, but Uncle L won’t buy red because he thinks it doesn’t keep for long.

Sidebar:  Really, Uncle?  Dirt has thrived in your home since 1954.  New life forms and strains of antibiotics could be discovered in your slums-of-Calcutta-apartment and you are worried about whether red wine will go bad?  I know people draw lines in the sand but, but, whoa, that is really strange.

A second sidebar:  I asked S, Uncle Larry’s paramour (and our new relative), whether she had been to a Seder before, and she said she had been to four, to which SOS exclaimed, “wow, she has more Jewish connections than we thought!!”  Oy. Oy. Oy. Out of the mouths of babes, indeed, but, sometimes, a muzzle would work just fine.

Even another sidebar:  When will I stop calling her, “the paramour”?  Check back with me in 25 years.  A generation is a biblical time period and quite possibly after 25 years we will not remember that there was an “overlap” when Uncle L was with Aunt R.

I told S she was welcome in our home as long as she could handle loving references to Aunt R.  Wow, now that was a tense moment.

And I haven’t even talked about the preparation for the Seder or the Seder itself.  More anon.  Stay tuned (with pictures from SOB).

 

 

Once they were young

I was cleaning out a relative’s apartment this weekend (yeah, more death and destruction in Bloggerville).

While I was cleaning the Collyer Brothers-like apartment (though not a home) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collyer_brothers, two timeless axioms of my youth (one from my grandmother and one from the rabbis) came to mind:

  • Wear good (and clean) underwear just in case you are hit by a bus so the emergency room doctors will know you come from a good family (and presumably treat you better); and
  • Live every day as if it were your last on earth.

How do these concepts work together, you ask?  Work with me, here.

While there may be loftier connections, mine is decidedly mundane:

DON’T EMBARRASS US OR MAKE US CRINGE AFTER YOU DIE.

And the corollary:  Get rid of pictures, outfits you haven’t used in a long time, do your laundry EVERY DAY so that no one has to see anything that could make him or her go blind.

Because everyone was young, wild and stupid, once (maybe more than once).  Just don’t leave a record of it, for others who are cleaning out your home to find.

Examples of acceptable things to leave behind:

  • Kick-ass black leather skirts (regardless of your age at death) and even tasteful lingerie;
  • Memorabilia and photo albums (that don’t have nude or semi-nude pictures of you with other, now aged or dead relatives, however young or not you were at the time);
  • Keepsakes, necklaces, etc. (of whatever or no value) that your family members can wear to carry you with them always;
  • Phone number of 24-hour cartage company to cart away some of the inevitable detritus;
  • List of accounts and financial representatives; and
  • A last will and testament.

Examples of things NOT to leave behind:

  • Dominatrix outfits, even if still in the box;
  • 1970s Polaroid photo album of various poses of you and your partner naked from the waist down;
  • ANYTHING from the 1970s for that matter;
  • Collection of 20 years of junk mail (not every collection has value); and
  • Gross piles of dirty laundry strewn about.

Did you stop at “Polaroid photo album of various poses of you and your partner naked from the waist down”?  Yeah, I knew you would.  Yep.  I almost went blind.  And I had to stop once I realized what it was I was looking at.

I know, once they (and we) were young.  Once, they (and we) were middle-aged.  Hell, do it in your 80s.  But if you are in your 80s, burn the pictures every night.  And in your 90s, don’t take pictures.  Because you will forget that you have them.  Because, with most of your life in the rear-view mirror, it is almost a certainty that you violate the Rule of the Ages:

DON’T EMBARRASS US OR MAKE US CRINGE AFTER YOU DIE.

This blog will self-destruct in 25 years.

Blessings of a Snow Ball Fight

SOB and I went over to Dad’s house to pick him up for lunch.  Our destination? The Coffee Shop of the Un-Dead.

SIDEBAR:  SOB and I, in or nearing our 50s, bring down the average age of the patrons by at least twenty years.

After the usual scavenger hunt for important papers that Dad has hidden among the solicitations for fraudulent charities, we worked up an appetite.  His home attendant, Heather (who is fabulous) joined us for lunch.  (Dad’s and her rapport is terrific.  We are soooo lucky.  And I hope she feels the same way.)

The snow made getting to the Coffee Shop of the Un-Dead a little treacherous.  SOB took Dad’s left arm, Heather took his right and I walked behind, with my arms out and my stomach tight, ready to catch him under his arms if he fell.  All was fine and Blogger Family Protocol, while ready, did not have to be engaged.

After lunch, when we cleared the treacherous parts, and having survived the meal without any of the Un-Dead patrons actually becoming Dead, we all got a little giddy.

SOB was walking behind, and I was holding Dad’s right arm.  When I came upon some snow that had settled on shrubbery, I whipped my hand around and —

SCORE!!

Direct hit on SOB.  Heather, holding Dad’s left arm, not to be outdone, slammed me with snow with an impressive hook shot behind Dad.  I made SOB substitute for me on Dad’s right, so I could take the offense and pummel Heather.  Then SOB and Heather ganged up on me.  All the while, two people are making sure Dad didn’t fall.

It was a winter ballet performed by people in their 50s with the precision and grace of children (ok, maybe not, but this is my blog).  Then, as we are about to walk into his lobby, we needed to pelt Dad a little and very gently, so he didn’t feel left out.  So add a 92 year-old to our folly and frolic.

When the doorman saw us all, he said to Dad, “Doc, looks like you won!!”

He did.  We did.  A snow ball fight (after a fashion) in New York City with my Dad and our new extended family that includes Heather.  In life, things never turn out the way you imagine.  But not everything has to be tossed out just because life has its own trajectory and its own timeline, separate from our hopes and expectations.  Nope, not everything we know needs to be tossed out, even in the despair of reality.  Except for snow balls.  They need to be tossed every time there is snow.

The art of racing past the pain

Shortly after Dad’s injury, SNOBFOB took me to lunch, to guide my entry into the “new normal” of my family responsibilities.  She ever so gently (ok, Jewish-gently) inducted me into the club of people with dead and dying parents.  It was also a little like when your mom talked to you about the joys of tampons.  You knew you needed the information but you really wished you weren’t old enough for the conversation.

SNOBFOB set about to prepare me for the ups-and-downs, the despair and the acceptance.  The rollercoaster.  As only someone who has lived this can.

In the months since, SNOBFOB has tried to help me see what is doable (and the best way) and what is not doable.  What is and IS NOT my responsibility.  What I can and CANNOT change.  I am not always good at setting limits.

So, just yesterday, over lunch, SNOBFOB hit me with a whopping reality check:  I do not need to take on every enfeebled family member’s problems and still I can keep my promises to Mom and Grandpa. I know what SNOBFOB did for her parents and aunts and uncles.  She can tell me to slow down or “chill” or stop being so damn depressing.  It was so incredibly LIBERATING.  Because Dad I can handle, but . . . .

Today, SOB and I were reviewing the past week’s worth of Dad-related snafus, bizarre behaviors and tense moments.   And, the tone of our conversation was, well, (new) normal. 

The new normal is getting to be ok.  Not great, but ok.  And I can even laugh and have fun during the ups-and-downs.  In fact, the laughs and the fun are much more important now.  Precisely, because life is a roller-coaster. 

Thank you, SNOBFOB, my very wise friend.