Friday, March 15, 2013

Hearing Shakespeare, Living in a Closet, and Money Money Money!

I've got a lot of things to tell you about today, instead of one long story. So here we go.

1. Last Sunday I was driving to Cambridge (NY)to attend a presentation of MacBeth by a local troupe. Jackie had opted out, and I was glad to let her have some time on her own. The only new wrinkle is that I have to have my cell phone with me at all times, in case I fall down, forget where or who I am, or need to check a score (Mets fans are masochistic enough to want to keep up with failure). The drive to Hubbard Hall in Cambridge is a real stretch of back roads and horses and cows, with the occasional llama. I've done the trip many times but this time it took well over an hour and by the time I found the Hall, the play had begun and the main door shut. Ten minutes late and no way to get in. Oh, well. Now, class, here is what I did. I could hear the Scottish play from outside the door, the opening scene with the witches. So I sat there on the step and the Bard's mighty words. Bipolar reactions could be anything from tears to yelling and pounding on the door to numbness. Me, I knew the play would be held the following and vowed to leave the house at least a half hour earlier. The drive through the small towns and farmlands was soothing as was the fact the Mets were winning. A coffee beverage in the round slot next to my seat, and all was well. Also the fact that Hubbard Hall was built in 1880, and watching Shakespeare there is like watching the play over in the same place 100 years ago. I will get to it.

2.Fast forward to Tuesday, and I've got water therapy at a local center(see previous post). I left earlier than I usually do, and was heading south down the Northway (I-87) in a good mood and in my Saturn, with a reminder to get gas after class on the way home. I slowed down once I got to exit 11 (my center is at exit 9) and settled for a few minutes wait as a lot of cars and trucks, I guessed, were getting on. My class began at two PM. So I waited and waited, and waited some more, and we all stopped moving. 2PM, 2:15PM (maybe if everyone starts moving right now, I can get there)2:30 PM (hey, I've moved a few feet) and suddenly it was 3:30 pm (and as my window of opportunity fades like the sun behind the mountain) now almost 4 PM and finally we move. There's that bizarre angry part of me that says when I get stopped by some traffic problem, I want to see carnage. Busted up cars. Small fires. TV cameras. How dare you inconvenience me! Peasant! I am the great and powerful Tom! And my gas gauge is on empty! Out of my way, I have to walk around a pool and move my arms and legs. By five PM, I was home and the only actual complain is the fact that I sat seat belted for three and half hours and drove two miles, causing back spasms. But a number of people were injured in the crash, and one died. While I was sitting in my car I was listening to a Buddhist lesson on my iPad. Its always good to be reminded of patience, compassion, awareness. I hugged my wife tight when I finally got home.

3. Wednesday we met our financial advisor and started the talk that no one wants to have....death. Our adviser has been with us for a long time, and is there in good times and bad, and she has had a rollercoaster ride in her own life as well. We could speak easily of the fact that I am not as well as I was the last time we were all together, that I stammered, talked slower and would occasionally stop in the middle of a sentence and forget what point I had if any.  We started the talk about transferring assets, long term care insurance (for Jackie, not me - too late for me) and look toward other changes as time goes on.  One thing I have sworn since Jackie and I married, is that she will not be in the financial mess my mother had.  Jackie and I have worked hard to put a few dollars aside.  My parents tried but my mother's mental problems, especially after my Dad died, made it impossible, and she would not listen to anything I said. She was wiped out financially, and after her death I had to handle the mess. That and my time working in the Medicaid unit of Albany County demonstrated to me how essential it is to make sure you've got everything in order.  Wills, health care proxies, living wills, protecting assets, setting up pensions, annuities, it is needed - check it out.  I'll discuss them in another post, but at my last breath I'll know my wife will be fine financially. If she screws it up after, well, too bad.

MS is considered a disease of the young, but the average age of diagnosis is 40, a disease that affects women mostly (men do get it - trust me - or ask my father - only you can't) and you can live a full life with proper treatment and support - unless there is none available.  What you can do is determine for yourself what life may and can be, and how you, and the ones you love, can keep a legacy going but the only true legacy, as Captain Picard said, is how we live.

More soon. Thanks.

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