I remain in a funny place after returning from Ann’s service in Minneapolis. Ann was my mother Ginny’s oldest friend who had recently passed. (Here is a link to that story. In an unexpected development, this is Part 2.)
As I had mentioned, the service and weekend spent with her family had held many emotional swings ranging from grief and nostalgia to full-on celebration. And in almost a delayed affect, I came home with an awareness about the mortality of my own 88-year-old mother. We don’t like to think about it, but it’s a truth. How much time is left if a parent is getting close to 90? How will I feel? I was lost in my head with so many emotions flying around.
I had called Ginny to share everything about the service. My sister Hailey had checked in with her too. We knew we would visit her soon to show her the photos and the service program because Ginny’s fear of technology meant no computers or smart phones to share them electronically.
I had flown home after the service. Hailey stayed to spend some time with her close friend Karen – Ann’s daughter.
A day later, it’s around 5:00 pm and I’m watching television with my laptop on my lap. My phone rings and I’m surprised to see it is Hailey. I had just left her in Minneapolis.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“I wanted to share a conversation I had with Karen” she began. “She wanted us to know something.” Her tone is elevated. Different. It’s an odd combination of trying to sound normal, but suppressing excitement. Suspenseful.
“Ok” I reply with curiosity.
“She told me that mom is in Ann’s will and that she should receive funds by the end of the year. The funds should help with additional costs for her.”
I am speechless. I stand and forget my laptop is still on my lap and it clatters to the floor.
As some readers know, money is a major issue with my mother – in fact for many aging parents. At age 88, she has outlived her savings, there are no more assets. We were able to successfully get funding through the Veteran’s Administration and she has Social Security. But it’s not a lot. Hailey and I have supplemented as needed. We paid for her hearing aids and we currently pay for her one day a week home caregiver. “When the Money Runs Out” is the story of her financial situation.
Then Hailey shared the amount. I am choosing not to openly communicate that out of respect, but it will certainly help mom.
I am shaken. This is an extraordinary gesture. Ginny’s oldest friend in life was reaching out in death to help us take care of her. I am overwhelmed in this moment – a moment of feeling love and help around us. With my dad gone over 40 years now, we have always just tried to plow ahead on our own. It’s been our responsibility to find a way to make it work; to do our best. It’s been challenging. Suddenly, out of thin air, help arrives at our doorstep. It’s a weird feeling to swing from praying for no major bills for her or wondering how something will be covered to suddenly having more of a financial cushion. Feeling yet another emotion, gratitude washes over me.
Not long after Hailey’s return, we pick a day to share everything with Ginny together in person, including the news of Ann’s will.
We meet at Ginny’s apartment. About a half hour later, we sit in her living room and start the conversation.
“First, I want to double-check. Do you have your hearing aids in?” Mom nods yes.
“Well, we have been told some really good news. The family has shared with us that Ann left money for you in her will. You’ll be receiving a letter soon, confirming this information. I believe that it will show all the people who are in the will. You really were like a sister to her mom.”
Of all the reactions I had anticipated, I did not expect what I saw. Mom started to cry. She turned to me and asked for a Kleenex from the Kleenex box on the side of the couch.
Ginny typically gives us nothing. She either “already knows” something or she is silent. Stoic. But I never would have expected tears. The woman can still surprise me.
She wiped her eyes and said “I don’t know where to even begin. And that means you are off the hook for me” and she wiped her eyes again.
We decide to go out to dinner that night. When we receive our drinks, we make a point to give a toast to Ann, thanking her for her kindness and generosity. We order dinner, have another round and truly enjoy our time together. Since we would not have had this dinner without the visit to share photos and the news, I think Ann is giving us this night. And the good time we are having reminds me, regardless of what lies ahead, to enjoy the small moments with Ginny. This day was a success I’ll remember. And good memories will help.
Like a feather, my emotions from the last two weeks start to slowly settle down, falling into a place of happiness for mom. And some direction for me. The evening was capped off with a huge brownie with chocolate mousse and chocolate sauce for mom. We were allowed a couple of bites. I laugh out loud thinking about it. She has always had a sweet tooth.
I turn to her and ask “What do you think about all this?” and she replied “it’s soooooo Ann.” As her friend, she knew her better than we did, and it was clear that she had a heart of gold for those she loved. And she was helping Ginny one last time.
Next: Investigating Possible Inheritance Consequences