Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Midnight on the ocean

Yeah, I'm still here.

Dad's memorial service was last Friday and it came off very well. Lots of family came and I enjoyed visiting with them after the service and during the luncheon. The church ladies who put on the luncheon guessed the attendance might be 100. They told me they served 120. There was still plenty of food, which we ate that evening.

One of my brothers and his family volunteered to have Mom come live with them in Texas. Mom, who has Alzheimer's, will receive much better care than my sister can provide. Saturday Mom was a bit panicky because she thought she had another week, would be seeing her house for the last time (lived in it 50 years), and wondered who would care for sister. She gets stuck on the question but doesn't remember the answer. On Sunday Mom was a bit panicky about getting packed – how many seasons do I need to pack for? – in spite of brother's assurances that there was plenty of time and his wife would help. So Mom took all her clothes out of her closet and put them on the bed, then asked each of us, one at a time, where the suitcase was. On Monday she was more ready to accept that one part of her life had ended and another would begin.

Brother, wife, and Mom left about 1:30 Monday afternoon. Yesterday afternoon they were scheduled to visit one of Mom's sisters in the St. Louis area. Today they were scheduled to follow the Mississippi River south before heading west for a night near Little Rock. Tomorrow they plan to visit Mom's other sister in northern Texas. They should be at my brother's home Friday afternoon.

One niece had raided Dad's closet and had chosen a colorful sweater. She has even worn it to her high school classes. That prompted another niece to see what she could find. She came down with a pretty one. She is quite slim so the sweater's shoulder seams were almost to her elbows. She has now worn it to her office.

Mom may not remember recent events, but her memory of things from long ago is still pretty good. Friday evening with lots of family gathered around the table we swapped stories of Dad. It didn't take much to prompt Mom to recite a silly poem she would say to us when we were young. Alas, I don't remember it all. I also can't look it up online because those versions are definitely different.

T'was midnight on the ocean
Not a streetcar was in sight.
The sun and moon were shining
for it rained all day that night.

While the organ peeled potatoes
Lard was rendered by the choir.
As the sexton rang the church bell
someone set the church on fire.
"Holy smokes!" the preacher shouted
and in the rush he lost his hair.
Now his head resembles heaven,
for there is no parting there.


The paperwork continues.

Yesterday I spent the morning dealing with my aunt's trust. Forty years ago she had a stroke, ending her working career. Thirty years ago my father and his mother set up a trust to help with her expenses. Grandma has long since died. My cousin is caring for his mother and all the money should be turned over to him.

But Cousin wasn't named as a trustee, being nine years old when the trust was created. I learned he has to create a trust so that the account can be transferred from one trust to another. My phone call was long, but my involvement should now be minimal.

Today the call was to Social Security. I had been sent a letter explaining why the SSA needed to be repaid nearly $600. Except, of course, the explanation was incomplete. So I called. The expected wait time was 24 minutes, so I made use of their call-back feature. The agent didn't speak English very well and seemed to be able to respond to only the most basic questions. He had to "research" every question I asked, putting me on hold, then he wasn't able to explain things well and frequently had misunderstood the question. After 20 minutes of this I asked for a supervisor.

It took maybe 5 minutes to get a supervisor on the line. Thankfully, he was a native English speaker. Even so, it took him 15 minutes to explain what was going on. The October 3rd payment went out before my Dad's death in September was recorded. That payment had to be returned. But that was balanced by a death benefit and an increase in Mom's payment because she is now a widow. The numbers still don't quite add up, but I'm sure that is due to adjustments in tax withholding and different Medicare payments.

So, yeah, on the phone for 40 minutes. I didn't get into why I had to send a check rather than have the amount taken from the next payment. And didn't want to repeat the hassle by calling back.

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