Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Wish List

I end up doing a lot of financial counseling as a therapist. Money is a pretty big topic for people, loaded with issues of power, control, and desires. The amount of debt the average American carries around is pretty staggering. When I suggest to people that they save and wait until they can pay for ______ (fill in the blank) with cash, the look on their faces is priceless. But then I would have to wait! And that is usually unacceptable.

Anyhow, this blog isn’t actually about money. It is about how Tim and I tried to manage our own selves and our finances. We started out with more debt that income. We set up a strict budget and also developed a wish list. We were always wanting to remodel something or other. I truly don’t think there is one part of our house or the property it sits on that hasn’t had some kind of makeover.

We kept our check register in Excel so I didn’t make any math mistakes. Underneath our balance, there was always a long list. We would discuss what we wanted to see happen and then prioritize what was most important to us. The most expensive items generally stayed on the bottom of the list.

In my conscious mind, I never really had some kind of mission to make all our dreams happen. As I reflect back though, it makes me feel tremendous inside that we accomplished so much. When Tim got sick, we discussed his bucket list. He didn’t have anything wild. I was pushing for an African Safari but he had much simpler goals. The summer he was diagnosed, we had already made arrangements to start remodeling the pool. It was a three-year plan we sorted out with the pool company so we could afford to pay for it. Tim wanted to finish it in one swoop. He wasn’t really thinking he only had one summer left, but just in case, he wanted to spend it looking at the finished project we had been waiting a decade to start. With the help of a whole ton of people, this was what happened.

56 Creekward- pool remodel

56 Creekward- pool remodel

Not bad, eh? We had a new concrete patio put in, resurfaced the pool surface, and did some other repairs. Some of the balance was paid by the proceeds of the benefit that was thrown in Tim’s honor. He was so proud of the home he made and wanted to leave us with something to enjoy. We certainly have and everyone knows they are welcome to swim here anytime. (And they do!)

A year after Tim died, I was suddenly hit with the idea of finishing the basement. Tim’s dream was to make it a sports’ bar after he retired. He could work on it slowly and use all the memorabilia he had built up over his lifetime. That became my mission on the year anniversary of him leaving us. It wasn’t very expensive to do, but I tried hard to imagine what he would have wanted it to look like and I think we did a pretty good job with it. It is now dubbed “Frankie’s Man Cave.”

Two years ago I got the house resided. Now that was ridiculously expensive. We found a super good crew and it looks beautiful. The trim got changed to gray and I made sure every spot had the vinyl product so I don’t have to keep hiring people to paint every few years. It is now maintenance free and Tim would have loved it. The irony is, I would have never been able to pay for it without his life insurance money. It is sad, but I try to look at it like he participated in it a different way than if he were still physically with us.

This year, I had a contractor redo the gazebo. The goal was to be maintenance free. Painting it was a horrible job and I am always trying to find ways to be more independent. Like any other job, once they started taking things apart, the job was bigger than anticipated. There was no shortage of rotted wood. IMG_20160621_085804533

Imagine my surprise when I saw that at the end of the first day. Yikes! But alas, here is the finished project:
IMG_20160623_124528057_HDR

And the best part is the maintenance free, beautiful floor. It warrants its own picture:
IMG_20160623_124536098

Isn’t it gorgeous? Who would have thought you could love a floor that much.

It hit me the other day. The gazebo was it. It was the very last thing on our wish list. So Tim, it has taken me almost six years without you here, but we have managed it. Our house is what we worked hard for and dreamed big on. I know there will be maintenance and repairs forever, but this was the last of our visions together now realized.

So come on over and take a dip in the pool and enjoy our hospitality. The goal was always to have a place where people would feel comfortable coming. We never wanted to be private or alone. It’s been hot so far so don’t suffer. Come jump in and celebrate with us. xoxo!


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Begging

This blog is a little bit different. It has a specific agenda in mind. And it is written to one person. I do not know who that person is. Only that person knows who they are.

If you know me, you know I pride myself in being hospitable. I love having swim parties and campfires. I have them often and everyone knows you can call me and invite yourself over anytime. I’m social, and more than anything I want people to feel comfortable here.

If you know me, you also know I am meticulous about my finances. I think it’s a combination of my father drilling it into my head growing up, and that of having certain times in my life when I was very poor and limited. I’ve learned to be a master of budgeting and living within my means. Comes in handy when I give financial counseling to clients too.

For years, I have used the “envelope system” to budget. It means paying for everything with cash. The concept is, if you don’t have the cash, you don’t buy it. That’s why I have no credit card debt. There are repetitive expenses like groceries and gas, and once a year expenses like snow plough service and season Sabres tickets. It’s worked extremely well. Until this weekend.

Where is all this leading? Somewhere between 8:00 PM on Saturday night and 9:00 PM Monday night, someone stole all of my envelopes, container and all. All of it. Every penny I have for an entire year’s budget. Gone.

Without getting into tedious details, let me just say because of certain factors, it has to be someone who is extremely close to me. They had to know exactly what they were doing. Someone I love dearly, someone I trust. Someone who has broken my heart in two.

When I filed the police report, I had to list everything out. I was shocked at the total. Even I didn’t realize how much it was. Are you ready? FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS. Cash. No way to trace it.

I truly think I would rather have had some street scum break in and take everything. I can’t even fathom that any of the people who were at my house during that time period would do this.

It changes everything. I don’t even need to tell you the financial devastation of an amount like that. I’m a single mother that works four businesses. You guys get that. Without minimizing the impact that has on me and my son, that’s not the most important thing to me.

I don’t even know how to wrap around this. We are keeping our doors locked now. All the time. I don’t know if I can stomach having another swim party. If I do, I will probably keep all the doors locked. I will have to let people in to use the bathroom. How do I trust?

I can’t suspect even one person that has been at my house. And because I can’t, I have no choice but to suspect everyone. That goes against everything inside of me. I don’t want to think like that. I don’t want to live like that. And I certainly don’t want to feel like that.

So this time I am writing to one person. I am writing to whoever you are that took my money. The thing is, I love you. I would have loaned you the money if you needed it. You know I would have. Hell, I would have given it to you if you truly needed it bad enough. Please, just give it back to me. Send it in a box or something. Just give it back. I just want some peace in my heart. I want my heart rate to go back down to normal.

If you come forward, all will be well. The detective comes tomorrow and then everything changes. If the detective finds you, there will be charges to be pressed. Don’t let that happen. I AM BEGGING YOU. Please, please, just make things right again. PLEASE.