Saturday, January 5, 2008

How it's been since...

Okay, it's been nearly 3 weeks since Spouse passed away and the peace that once surrounded me has totally dissipated. Where I once felt a calm presence, right after he died, insanity and fear has taken a firm hold of my mind and senses. A brochure, sent from our vehicle insurance company helped me to understand that many of the emotions and physical things I've been enduring are quite natural, so there is a bit of comfort. Anyway, it helps to know that much of the "stuff" I must deal with takes time and eventually, everything will be okay again. I only hope I survive the stress of the bill collectors banging on my door and phone. Where there was an income last month, there is none this month. The VA cut me off completely, with absolutely no way to pay the bills, until I have filed for widow's compensation. What totally sucks is that when Spouse and I first married, over ten years ago, we were informed that if we remained married for at least ten years, then I would be able to collect 80% of his pension. Now, however, the terms have changed and the amount the VA will be giving me is more like 40%. Yes, I realize that is better than nothing, but what blows about that is any income I make will be deducted from the sum coming from the VA.

I guess what really burns my attitude about that, is if I earn a whopping $500 a month, working minimum wage at the grocery store, then what the VA will give me is going to be $500 less. Why bother clocking in, if I won't be able to get ahead by going to work? I feel so cornered right now, by the mountain of debt which accrued while Spouse was sick this past year, especially while he was in the nursing home. When he was living at home, it was easy to stay away from using the credit cards, but with his hospitalizations and the stay at the nursing home, coupled with rising fuel prices, I often had to resort to charging a tank or ten. The p/t job at the store helped to alleviate the need to charge so many tanks of gas, but barely. As much as I loathe even considering it, it appears I might wind up having to file bankruptcy or something like that. Not a pleasant thought, not for me, since I was always so good at paying our bills. It makes me sick to even think about it. But with the only job available around here that I can do paying such a lowly wage, I don't know what else to do. I've been advised to get a lawyer, but they don't accept bartering for payment normally.

What I'd love to find is some sort of work I could do from home. Something which pays a living wage, something I could do at my own pace, that doesn't require me to burn up a tank of gas getting to & fro. So, I've searched the internet for possibilities and have found a plethora of scams promising this and that, sadly. If that doesn't depress a person, what will? How about learning that the VA has informed my *dead* husband that they apparently feel they overpaid him the last three months of his life and he must now repay the amount? Only nearly a grand that they are requesting. *sigh* How about learning the mortgage insurance that he was supposed to get, was never gotten? That, and I must somehow come up with the funds for a new title, since his name must be removed from the current title on our home? The auto insurance rates will now go up, too, since I'm the only driver on the policy. Let's not forget that lovely speeding ticket I got last November, too, which will cause yet another increase in my auto insurance in April. I feel so... f*#@%!!! It all seems so hopeless right now. Absolutely, utterly hopeless.

My dear sister flew in to stay with me, so I wouldn't be alone during the "day at the funeral home" and the holidays. I was glad she was here, providing lots of diversions and support. We went to the movies on Christmas day, watching two flicks. Her choice was "I Am Legend", which was a bit of a let down, after all the hype on the tv trailers. It was okay, but we both thought it could have been much better, considering the budget they had. The second movie, my choice, was "Alvin and the Chipmunks". I sooo want to own this movie! It made me laugh out loud, repeatedly and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone, of any age. It was just so cute, even if there was less budget spent on it than the first movie we watched. *smile*

Dear Sister also suggested we head out to a casino, so I humored her... three times. The first night we went out was the Sunday that we had a small "memorial visitation" at the funeral home for the community. I took advantage of the event to kind of dress up, in my finest black skirt & shirt, my favorite black granny boots and a new shawl that I'd never worn. Love this new shawl, created by my favorite designer... "Clearance!". ;) Four of my co-workers from the store showed up, stayed for awhile and we chatted about Spouse and other things *read that: other people at the store* One funny thing that made us all giggle that evening was when our mail delivery person showed up. He was the first person to ring the bell at the funeral home's front door, according to the sign that instructs folks to do just that. The Funeral Director *FD* opened the door, the mailman stepped across the thresh-hold and his belt broke. Now, he's lost a lot of weight lately, so the second his belt broke, his pants slid down, airing his kneecaps for all to see! Of course, he was thoroughly embarrassed and I felt so bad for him. He came on in to the room where we had a small buffet of meats & cheeses, a veggie platter and some Christmas cookies for folks to munch on. BTW - a huge thank you to Treasa & her sister, Etainne, for sending the meat/cheese/veggie platters - I really appreciated your kindness so very much! So, here's the sweet old mailman, clutching desperately at his trousers, trying to be somber and respectful, with a room full of ladies (the girls from work came in right behind him - *gawk!!*) giggling and snickering as quietly as they could. Poor man. Bless his heart, he offered his sincere condolences and scrammed as fast as he could. Nobody blamed him one bit! The girls from work left after a bit, just as my neighbors down the road showed up. I was glad to see my neighbors, knowing they'd probably driven like crazy to get there in time, since they'd had a commitment in Minnesota earlier that day. It was time to leave, soon enough, so Sis & I gathered up the food trays, the couple of plants that the FD discovered in another room that were sent to me and headed home. We unloaded the Jeep and I changed into more appropriate clothing for the bitter weather.

This is the second time I've gone to the Casino, but the first time really didn't count. Spouse & I had gone there once, to check out the buffet, but it was closed when we got there, so we turned around and went someplace else to eat. I am not one to gamble, especially since I knew things were going to be really tight financially for a long time. So Sis handed me some money and told me to just have fun. With her money, I won a whopping $40, which was kind of cool. It would have been more, but she urged me to keep playing, but once I realized my winning streak was short-lived, I quit. Sis, however, played all of her money, winning and losing, winning and losing for the couple of hours we were there. She was down to her last $20 and I suggested we just go home. She mentioned that she "felt" the $5 machines calling to her and I tried to talk her out of playing them. Instead, she walked straight over to one of them and put a $5 in. She won $175 on that! I was floored by her good fortune. She then played a couple more fivers in the same machine, then decided to try the machine next to it. I *for some weird reason* panicked and told her to try the next one, instead. She put ten bucks in it and won $345! THAT just blows my mind! She handed me a fifty and was giggling all the way to the parking lot. Silly girl should have quit while she was ahead, because she didn't do very good the next two nights, winding up with handing all of that easy money right back to the casino. Still, we had some fun and that's what we intended. A couple of times I've had the thought enter my head that maybe I should go out to the casino and try my luck... but better sense takes over, when I think about the gas it would take, the probability of me losing my shirt and how dreadfully worse I'd feel when I come home poorer than I'd been before leaving the comfort of my home.

Anyway, the remainder of Sis's visit went too quickly. She helped me go through all of Spouse's clothing, bagging up the jackets, shirts, socks and pants that might benefit others. Spouse had a lot of coats and thick shirts, which I am hoping will bless the homeless or less fortunate this winter. They are all in the living room waiting for me to take them to some organization which might distribute them freely. I've saved some of his shirts and boxers, for future use in a quilt. Not sure when I'll get to that, but eventually, I'm thinking I'll make a small quilt for each of his sisters, so they can have that to remember him by. In the meantime, I've been going through other things, trying to figure out what can be sold, so I might put a dimple in the debt.

While the beginning of my post probably sounds like a huge pity party, my friend will recognize that I just needed someplace to vent. Since my sister left, I've been alone here. When Spouse first died, there were lots of phone calls and friends from all over said, "... if there's anything I can do... anything... let me know." I can't, in any way, see me calling them up now and asking for any sort of financial help. Nope - my husband loved me and I know he really thought he was doing a good job of taking care of me, just like he promised he always would. It's not his fault the VA changed certain things. All I can figure is he thought it was not a good idea to get the mortgage insurance *???* when we bought the house. When I have called some friends, after Sis went home, I have found myself wondering if they are already tired of listening to me babble on, when conversation used to come so easily. Maybe it's just my imagination, but the last thing I want to do is alienate my friends by being overly needy. So, I have spent the past couple of days, wishing I could blog about this, but forgetting I had this blog going here. The other blog I have is messed up right now, preventing me from being able to unload, even if it's just to an audience of me. Thank goodness this one is here.

Oh yeah, I probably have lost my job at the store, too. On Thursday, I called the boss, basically because I was in a panic over the finances, and told him I could come back to work part time. I did ask if he would be able to pay me any better if I worked full time and he said no. I went in Thursday evening and checked out the schedule, learning that I was going to have to work that one shift that I absolutely loathe.. the one where sweeping and mopping the entire store is included. Not that I mind doing that back-breaking task, but I do find myself resenting the other part-time cashier who works that night lounging up at the register, reading magazines while I'm breaking a sweat and my back! I don't really care if I lose the job, not right now. The thought of going back to work had my stomach in such a knot and it's gone now, since I called the boss and told him I couldn't come in yet, after all. My energy will be better spent in trying to find a decent paying job someplace. Or inhaling/exhaling until the tears stop.

Ah well, that's the past couple of weeks in a nutshell. If anyone has any suggestions as to how I can earn money, especially from home, that doesn't involve being a "telephone actress", feel free to let me know. Thank you, also, to my many friends who have continued to keep me in their thoughts and prayers. Your love is felt and treasured. I know everything, with time, will be okay and all I have to do is hang in there - one day at a time.