Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Letter

Neither Ellie nor I are fans of the annual Christmas letter, preferring to send cards with hand-written ( in fountain pen, of course ) notes. Our year, however, has been very untypical and we felt it deserved to be told as a story. I share our Christmas letter.

The end of 2015 is coming. Even without Pope Francis’s visit, his Family Synod, and ISIS’s terror, it has been an auspicious year for Ellie and me. It began with Ellie’s living full-time with our dearest friend Loretta, who had been battling cancer since her surgery in 2011. By last December it became evident that Loretta could no longer manage her meds. Ellie’s help, which had been frequent, became full-time. Little did we know what that would ultimately mean.

As Loretta’s ability to cope declined, I spent more time with them, retreating from more and more of my discretionary activities and many required household duties.

In home hospice from the beginning of the year, Loretta moved to the hospice facility on July 22. Although Loretta wanted to die at home, her pain forced her to the facility, where she died peacefully on August 10. Ellie was alone with her.

The experience has been both a blessing and a cross for everyone. Ellie and Loretta deepened their spiritual bond, I learned much about myself, and Loretta about letting herself be taken care of. There were many people who came to see Loretta at the Hospice facility. They came with so much love, neither the room nor Loretta could contain it. Their overflowing love blessed us.

We arranged the funeral and burial, putting into motion the plan the two of them had conceived. The funeral was beautiful, all Loretta, and included a champagne toast at the lunch. We buried her a week later in a columbarium at the St John’s Abbey cemetery. Fifteen people drove the eighty miles to participate in the ritual.

In spite of the difficulties, Ellie feels profoundly blessed and privileged by Loretta’s allowing her into her life and by the trust Loretta placed in her. That trust continues, as Ellie is Loretta’s Personal Representative ( i.e., executor ), so has charge of caring for the estate as well as the cats. These cats are two elderly, spoiled cats, which Ellie promised to take care of … and which have proven to keep her – and us – at Loretta’s. She continues to live there and I spend the huge bulk of my discretionary time with her there. Our plan is to adopt the cats as we bring closure to Loretta’s earthly life and as Ellie moves home. ( By the time you read this, she may be home. )

The estate project continues. Until that is further along, it will continue to “matter most” to both of us. Please pray for us as we will surely pray for you.

In spite of challenges and difficulties, we cling to the joy of the Gospel ( “All will be well; all will be well.” Julian of Norwich ) and wish you and yours a Christmas and Christmas Season that is Holy and joy-filled, and a 2016 that is filled with love, wonder and awe.


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Monday, December 21, 2015

Technical Difficulties

The other day, I casually browsed to this blog to find out what Walter had written.  What I found was a 404.  I could have started making snide comments about their technical support, but that person is me.  So, a bit of research, a chat session with my registrar, and it became obvious that the problem was my DNS.  One more chat session, and a technician admitted that they had lost some DNS entries.

I chatted with four of their people.  All had a picture of themselves up, and all happened to be hot chicks.  What are the odds?  The last young lady was able to put back some of the entries, and I was able to put back others.  The blog is back up, as you may have noticed.

But our email is another matter.  We chose Microsoft to manage it, for one very good reason; it was free.  Why do they manage personal domain email for free, when everyone else is charging?  They didn’t know either, and started charging soon after we signed up.  We were grandfather in though, which was good.  Until a week ago, that is.  The server information, needed to setup your DNS, can be found on the management page.  The management page is for paid customers only.

I don’t blame them.  I’d charge for my service too.  That does leave us with four options.  We could pay Microsoft, we could pay someone else, we could manage our own email, or we could give up.  It’s not worth paying for, to me.  Managing my own email is not something I’m interested in doing either.  Looks like it’s time to make a strategic retreat.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Time Off

I am taking some time off. 

Today's post is brief, next week I share something already written but I think will be of interest, and I am taking New Year's week off in its entirely. I urge each of you to do the same ( except for ... you know who you are ). 

Spend time with your family, your friends; be sure to tell you you love them. Because you do not because I told you to.

I wish each and every one of you joy-filled and holy Christmas and Christmas Season, and a 2016 that is filled with wonder and mystery.
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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bringing Wisdom to the Role of Will Executor

“I suppose you’d toss it; that’s your answer to everything.”

The work of finalizing our dear friend Loretta’s earthly life has been a tedious process. It has been tedious for me and I haven’t been the one doing it, for the most part. Ellie has been doing it and doing it ( I don’t mind saying so ) rather well. She has brought a level of wisdom to the procedure that I am sure I would not have had.

Loretta was nothing if not organized, and, boy, was she organized! Ellie has found many boxes with a handwritten comment on the side, purportedly describing what’s inside. And, viola!, that is what she found inside. And she has found things ranging from pictures of her trip to Greece, to slides ( yes, transparencies ) of her two trips to Israel, to undeveloped film canisters, to papers documenting some family
history … birth certificates, marriage licenses, death certificates and the like. Ellie’s found things with huge sentimental value to Loretta. These things strike an emotional chord for Ellie; but they are, ultimately, of no value to her. As mentioned previously, Loretta was a voracious reader; there have been enough books to both float a battleship and choke a horse.

We’ve taken over 50 pounds of paper to be shredded and I’m not sure we’re done. Ellie has carefully decided that each of the sheets is not worth saving. She has set aside a fairly significant number of pictures, planning to offer these to Loretta’s nephew. She has asked my opinion about something, I’ve given it, and she has accused me of insensitivity, “I suppose you’d toss it; that’s your answer to everything.” There is more truth in that than I’d like to admit, and it’s her willingness evaluate everything that marks the wisdom that I say she is bringing to this endeavor. I am almost certain I would not be doing that.

Organizationally, while there have not been glitches at every turn, there have been enough glitches to keep it “interesting.” Our attorney failed to send us copies of various communications mailed on our behalf. Different people at the financial institution that held Loretta’s investments gave us different answers to the same questions. The nephew who lives in Chicago decided he would take the care after initially declining it. When I called our Department of Motor Vehicles to see about transferring the title the answer was, “Talk to the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles, that’s where the car will be titled.” When I spoke to the Illinois department, she asked whether the nephew will have the necessary paperwork to drive the car to Illinois, “after all, it’s not his name on the title.”

Good things, too, have happened.

Communication with our attorney and the investment company is improved.

Loretta’s estate sale is scheduled for next month. A real estate agent recommended to us will be selling Loretta’s condominium after the estate sale.

About the cats, the friend of a friend of a friend of ours ( or , perhaps, the friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of ours … I get confused ) is looking to replace a cat. Via this chain of friendship, or somehow, she heard about Loretta’s cats and we are in the process of exploring with her the possibility of her having them. We pray for a successful outcome there. Please pray with us.

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

My Spouse is still not Home

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I said, recently, that, after caring for our dear Loretta, burying her cremains, and staying to get her affairs in order, Ellie is coming home; I was excited. I was also premature.

The work to get ready for the estate sale, scheduled for mid-January and for which Ellie has to be out by the end of December, is still significant and both Ellie and I have found it advantageous for Ellie to stay at Loretta’s to be close to the work. Moving home and driving eight or so miles to the work, is both unappealing and a huge hassle. 

Of course, that’s not the whole story.

I also said in my prior post, “I will be sharing the space of which I have had exclusive (mis)use for over 10 months ... ” Consider that (mis)use. My belief is that it would not be unusual for a man, in my circumstances, to turn the place into what I would deem a pigsty. Used unwashed cups, plates and silverware are everywhere; clothes too; crumbs and other reminders  of meals past are on the floor; seat cushions are in disarray; dust bunnies are everywhere and dust is an inch or so thick on all horizontal surfaces.

Except for the dust issues, none of that is me. What is me, however, is paper almost everywhere. Office paper. The kind delivered  by the USPS. I collect these under numerous categories. One is, “Gee that was mailed to Ellie; she doesn’t need to see it now, but she should see it someday.” A pile begins. Another is information she and I should go over ... sometime. Pile 2 begins. An information packet that clearly has a home in my office in the basement; but I am upstairs and not going to the office right now, so I put it on the stove near the stairs to pick up next time I go that way. There are several subcategories like this, and so several piles accumulate on the stove. Another category is, “Yes, I really want to read this, but I don’t have time right now.” Anothert pile starts. I can’t keep track of all these piles, so I might start a second pile for a category for which I’ve already got a pile going. I have a serious tendency to do this to paper ( Ellie calls it a sickness; I cannot disagree much ) but Ellie would not put up with it. She’s not here, so there’s nobody to call me out.

I have not kept this a secret. Ellie knows I have work to do to make Ellie feel like something other than she’s moving from an estate project to moving to a fix-up project when she walks through the door. I want to do this and have not done very much yet. My excuse is that I am still spending a lot of time with Ellie at Loretta’s. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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