Thanks to the Hip and Knee doctor for editing assistance.
I guess my big mistake was not manning up earlier. I let myself get into a funk and now I was paying the price. To be honest with you, it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. A man is supposed to hold up and carry on, but I just didn't feel like it. Mary, was gone and at the time, as far as I was concerned, my life was over. All I wanted to do was mope around and wallow in my own misery. Without Mary, there was nothing to live for. I know that sounds corny, but we had been married for almost fifty years and it was hard for me to adapt. My kids tried to console me the best that they could, but something was missing.
I am sitting here in my son's house, listening to him arguing with his sister, my daughter, about their plans for my future. Of course, they are in another room, but I am not deaf and I am not senile. In fact, my only problem is depression, which was brought on by my wife's death. I am actually in better shape physically that either of my kids, who are both in their forties. It would have been nice and considerate if they included me in these discussions, but they seemed to feel that I am not mentally capable.
After Mary passed away, I stayed in the family home for about a year. I admit that I was in pretty bad shape emotionally, but I wasn't incompetent: I was just not interested. My son, Bob, and daughter, Denise, suggested that I sell the house. I didn't offer any resistance. It was actually the only good idea that the pair of them had. I didn't feel like living in the empty house or maintaining it. The mortgage had been paid off many years earlier and the house had appreciated nicely. The first indication of a problem occurred at the settlement. Denise arranged to have half of the proceeds put in a money market account in her name and my name. The other half of the money went into a tax-free municipal bond fund, with Bob as a joint owner. I paid attention, but didn't say anything at the time. My loving children had both gotten dibs on my money and I wasn't even ready to die yet. Were they concerned for my welfare, or just greedy? At this point I wasn't sure.
Bob was married for twenty-two years and had two sons, both in college. Denise married a year later and had two daughters, one in college and one exiled to the far end of the earth for committing the crime of getting knocked up.
Bob worked as an insurance adjuster. Denise's husband was a county building inspector. Neither one of them was wealthy, but they were comfortable.
The argument today was about where I was going to be living for the next six months. I stayed with Denise and her husband during the first half year, and I had been at Bob's place since then. I didn't consider myself to be any trouble at all, so I had a hard time understanding why there was a problem that had to be resolved. I didn't care where I lived.
After listening for about twenty minutes, I grabbed my jacket and drove over to the mall. I didn't have a house, my kids controlled most of my money, but at least I could still drive. In addition to my Social Security check, I had a small pension. I gave my benefactors five hundred dollars each month to off-set expenses, which I thought was generous, and I still had a nice wad left over to spend on fancy lunches, snacks, and car insurance.
The mall was air conditioned and full of life. I had just settled in, when I got my first surprise.
"Hi, grand-pop. What are you doing out so early? Trying to pick up girls, I bet." Wendy was the black sheep of the family, but she was always my favorite. For some reason, I just could not be upset around her, even if she did get herself into a family way. She was cute and perky. Any boy would be lucky to get to spend time with her. She was the only one of my grandkids that ever send me a birthday card.
"Jason, say hello to your gramps." The tyke in the stroller was almost old enough to be walking. I wasn't sure if he could talk or not. Being cloistered in Bob and Denise's places the last year, did not give me much time to see Wendy, or her son.
Wendy and I enjoyed each other's company for almost an hour, before she had to leave to go to work. She didn't get to finish high school, but she was working hard to make a life for Jason, despite being ostracized by her parents. She served lunch and spent the afternoon doing prep work at the local Olive Garden. In the evenings, she watched two kids for the girl who took care of Jason during the day. I never asked her about Jason's father. I didn't think it was my place. If she wanted me to know, she would tell me.
The short visit with my grand daughter made my day, but it was destined to get better. I watched as a van from the Bear Valley Community Village pulled up in front of the main mall entrance. Eight to ten people got out and all started off in different directions. I was expecting walkers and wheelchairs, but that was not the way it was. All of them were normal active people, just a little older than most. Three of the ladies walked in my direction. As they got closer, I recognized a smile. It was from Janet Moyer, a high school classmate from fifty years ago. She was older and grayer, but her smile was the same. Janet and I had dated a few times, before I met Mary. Actually, I didn't meet Mary until after Janet's family moved to Lancaster.
I sat quietly, while watching in fascination as they walked by. I was smiling to myself, because I had a good feeling when I saw her. It was a feeling that I hadn't had since Mary died. As I was recalling old memories, she broke through my reverie.
"John? John Terrell? Is that you?" Janet approached me as her two friends stayed back. I stood up with a grin on my face like a teenaged boy.
"Hi, Janet. You look good." I was flattered that she remembered me. She turned and waved for her two friends to go on. We talked for a few minutes and then wandered over to the food court. An hour later, her friends came to get her, because the van was returning to Bear Valley. She gave me her phone number. I was like a teenaged boy all over again. I was happy for the first time in two years.
Before going home, I treated myself to a couple of new shirts. I realized that I had not bought any clothing for several years. I felt like a resurrection was coming on. It was a good feeling.
Bob's wife, Marsha, was just setting the table for the evening meal. She smiled and reminded me that supper would be ready in twenty minutes. I put my shirts away and washed up for the family gathering. It was a somber meal. Nothing was said about the earlier discussion. I could only guess that I did not have a need to know. It was time to make my own plans.
I spent the rest of the evening in front of the TV with Bob and his wife. She was knitting, he was reading, and I was recalling my afternoon conversation with Janet.
She had married a fellow named Felix Simons, a year after finishing high school. They had two children who were both grown up, with families. Felix died from cancer three years ago. He had set things up so that his insurance money and cash from the sale of their home would go into an annuity fund. Two hundred thousand dollars in savings were set-aside for her to buy a unit at Bear Valley. Between her Social Security and the monthly draw from the annuity, she was set for life. When she died, her children would get what was left of the annuity plus the resale of the retirement unit. She said it was a CCRC, which meant she could stay there even if she got sick and needed nursing care. It sounded good to me. I went to bed that night with a smile on my face. I had big plans for tomorrow.
I was up and out of the house before anyone else. I got breakfast at IHOP, and when I finished eating, I realized that nothing would be open for several hours. I was so damn anxious that I jumped the gun. To kill time, I drove by the Bear Valley facility. It was just as Janet had described it. At least a dozen people were wandering around the grounds. There were jogging paths, but everyone was walking. That was fine with me, because running hurt my knees. I looked around, hoping to see Janet, but nobody can be that lucky. I spent about an hour checking things out and trying to look as if I belonged. It wasn't too hard to do, because I already felt comfortable there.
I stopped by the mutual fund office just as it was opening. Bob had Tom Trench set up the tax-free municipal bond fund to hold his half of the money that I got from the sale of the house.
"Mister Terrell, it is nice to see you. Where is your son?"
"He isn't here today, Tom. Can I call you Tom?"
"No problem. What can I help you with?"
"Do you handle annuities?"
"Excellent question, John. If anyone was ready for a life annuity it was you. Your son, however, wasn't interested. How much do you want to know?"
"About an hours worth. I won't be able to absorb any more than that."
Well, it didn't take that long. In half that time, Tom had convinced me that an annuity would be a perfect fit. There was only one catch: he wouldn't take care of it for me without either Bob's approval, or a certificate of competency. I opted for the second one. I figured I would also need it when I went to close out the money market account.
While any licensed medical doctor could take care of the certificate in our state, Tom felt that a psychological examination would be stronger. He set things up, and before lunch I had my certificate and Tom Trench had arranged for the transfer of all the money from the bond funds into my new annuity. He smiled when I told him to make the death beneficiary Wendy Gibson.
.... There is more of this story ...