Friday, July 25, 2014

The Year That Was

So, yeah, it's been almost a year since I posted.  I think that excuses for long absences are self-indulgent, but once it gets to be more than a few months, I also feel like I have to at least acknowledge the hiatus.

Anyway, I don't have any explanation for the first couple of months of not posting -- beyond the obvious lack of something to say -- but then shit really did start to happen.  Last December, my daughters and I were down in Florida for a just-before-Christmas visit with my mother.  It was a Saturday, and she made us all breakfast, and then the girls and I went shopping for a couple of hours, and when we got home my mother was dead.

It took us a few minutes to figure this out because she was sitting in a chair at the kitchen table, and it looked like she'd fallen asleep, so we all tiptoed past her.  Then when I came out to talk to her about what was going on with the rest of the day, she didn't answer, and then, well, I couldn't find a pulse, and my oldest called 911, and there followed a lot of CPR and paramedics and police officers and funeral home employees and calls to relatives and lawyers and and and. 

I don't know what all else to say about it.  I've had a long time to process it now, and as deaths go, it was maybe about as good as we could have hoped for?  There's every indication that she went very suddenly, and she had just spent time with us, and I guess that's what she would have wanted.  My father died four years ago, after a long illness and a period in a rest home, and overall, quick is better.  But still, it's undeniable that having your mother die sucks, and it was not something I was expecting to have to deal with for another ten years.

And having no parents at all is just weird.  As Mr. Wilde said, "To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."  I find that statement sits well with the surrealness of suddenly being an orphan/patriarch at 52. 

Anyway, a lot of the last eight months that wasn't taken up by work or the kids has been taken up by estate management.  My brother and I were named as co-personal representatives (Florida doesn't have executors), but everyone agreed that it would be better if I handled the estate administration. (So much paperwork!) It's a relatively modest estate, and when it's all done, the 1/3 of it that I get won't be enough to change my life currently, but it might be enough -- if prudently invested -- to let me retire a couple of years earlier.  And given that I'd expected to inherit nothing but some pictures and perhaps have to pay some nursing home costs, I'm fortunate to be getting anything.  But I'll be glad when the administration is finished.

In other matters, life continues apace.  At the end of this year, I will have been at the same firm for ten years, and I appreciate the stability among so much change.  My oldest daughter returns to Bolivia next week to do her second year of teaching fourth grade there.  I was surprised that she decided to return, but I'm pretty sure this will be her last year there. She loves the kids and teaching, but there's been some culture shock ("all the men are Catholic and sexist").

My youngest goes off to college this fall.  She'll be attending St. Mary's, in Southern Maryland.  I'm really glad that's where she chose to go.  The college admissions process these days is nothing like it was when I was a senior in high school.  These days, almost everyone uses the same application form, and it is, apparently, a somewhat frequent practice for colleges to increase applications by offering to waive the applications fee.  At that point, the applicant really only has to click her mouse to apply, which is why my youngest had offers of admissions from places like Hofstra and Wichita State (prompting the only absolute declaration I made during the entire process: "I may be a friend of Dorothy, but I am NOT sending you to fucking Kansas").  But in the end, she went for a good school that's only two hours away and that won't leave her with a lot of debt on graduation.  I don't know how I ended up with such sensible children, but I'm both proud and grateful.

All of this together means that in about another month, I'll become an empty nester (unless you count Luna, who's as sweetly weird as ever), for at least nine months of the year.  I have no idea how I'm going to cope with that, and I'm a little nervous about it, but I reckon I'll adjust.  Maybe I'll blog more.  Seriously, I might, but for obvious reasons, don't hold your breath on that one.