Of course, we're lucky to get anything at all. There was a time during our estrangement mom wrote us out of her will. Not saying it to paint her or us as a villain - it's just what happened. We never expected to receive a dime after that whole mess. But here we are, beneficiaries 1 & 2.
A stubborn woman with brain cancer and a debit card is a dangerous thing. Toward the end, mom let me take over paying bills, but that didn't mean I got to regulate her trips to Walmart. I'd have to remind myself...Mom earned every cent of this money. If she wants to use it to buy 6 million trash bags per week, so be it. Up until then, mom was on top of it with spending. Not a penny unaccounted for. As the cancer and confusion took over, the funds in her account dwindled, and it broke my heart to watch. With every swipe at the cash register, she felt in control again for just one moment. It didn't matter that the identical contents of her shoppping cart were already mirrored at least 2-3 times over in her cupboards at home. It didn't matter because she didn't remember.
I started to worry that mom would outlive her checking account. Haley and I certainly didn't have the money to cover her expenses, and I couldn't imagine her being willing to live with me and Audrie in San Diego. (Could you imagine? That sounds like a sitcom..or drama, not sure). When I tried to broach the subject, she got SUPER offended. I think she thought I wanted that money for myself, which hurt my feelings a lot. We did it up until the very end - hurt each other's feelings without trying.
When I brought up my concerns with the rest of the family, they reminded me that mom outliving her savings probably wasn't a real concern. She probably doesn't have a lot of time left. But...what if she does keep living? my hopeful inner 7-year-old asked with a pleading whimper. I mean, she could keep living, right? She is the strongest woman I know. She will outlive you and me and money and cancer and time and she will be the last soul standing. Right?
We continued to pay mom's mortgage and related expenses with the remaining money in her checking account. That money is gone now. We paid for the funeral with our credit cards, and we're still paying that off. We practically had to wrestle her retirement money from "the man" - I think I might be on a watch list after that debacle. I didn't know I could unleash such rage on strangers over the telephone. As of now, what wasn't taxed from that money is going right back into paying the aformentioned mortage and related expenses while mom's condo is tied up in probate court. (By the way, what even IS probate court besides a way for lawyers to make money off of human sorrow?) After that, it will go to lawyer fees, property taxes, realtors and whoever else comes with their hands out. Thank GOD for that retirement money. There's no way we could have absorbed mom's expenses on our own without making drastic changes (ie moving back in with dad).
We are lucky, no question. The light at the end of the tunnel is that maybe, just maybe, when all this stuff is taken care of, Audrie and I might be in a position to put a downpayment on a home of our own, or cover the costs of baby-making for lesbians (turns out not having a penis makes this process very expensive). Thinking of those moments gives me a little hope and a lot of gratitude...
...And also a heaping shit-ton of guilt because a) I sometimes don't feel I deserve to be mom's beneficiary at all, and b) I'm not sure mom would have wanted to fund my lesbian family starter kit.)
...But mostly a heaping shit-ton of sadness because taking those steps in my life will mean saying goodbye to my mom's condo - the only piece of this planet that still looks, feels, and smells like her.
For the sake of being honest (at the risk of sounding ungrateful), I am mostly just exhausted and stressed out by all of it. I want it to be over, and I want my mom back, and I would like to reclaim the space in my brain and the time in my life that is being swallowed up by worrying about money.
Add to that, for the first time in ten years, my job is in jeopardy. As various company owners negotiate and play a chess game with the livelihoods of myself and my colleagues, all I can do is wait and hope for the best. This source of income has been the one steady factor in my adult life, and now it hangs in the balance. It's an eye-opening reminder that nothing is guaranteed or permanent.
Add to that, the fact I'm leaving on tour in a week. In past years, I've been able to fundraise prior to tour. It wasn't much, but starting a tour with several grand in the bank to cover the costs of gas, food, lodging, etc. is comforting. With mom dying, I simply couldn't make myself exert the extra energy to come up with a creative fundraiser.
Maybe I should have cancelled the whole thing, but it's too late now. I'm at the top of the roller coaster, it's about to drop, and I'm thinking OH SHIT² not only because it's about to be a scary ride, but also because it's a ride I probably shouldn't have snuck onto in the first place.
For this reason (and for a lot of other reasons that have to do with believing in the value of art and the importance of genuine connection with people) I launched a Patreon page for all those people out there who believe in me and remind me to believe in myself. So far, only three takers, but I already feel a deeper connection with them, and that is the whole point. Are you one of these people? If so, hope you'll get on the ride too. Being scared is less scary when you're surrounded by people who love you.