The Kitty’s Gift

Standard

Just now, while I was sitting at the computer, editing a blog post, my little cat just came and sat in my lap, quietly. Just sat, and purred. Of course, I stopped what I was doing, and rubbed the cat in long strokes. She responded by purring her very quiet rumbling purr. She stayed there for about three minutes, then moved on.

Now, my little black cat, Arya, is an interesting little girl (about eighteen months old). She is not a lap cat, but is always in the room with me.  If I am working  and move to another room, she follows within a few minutes.  She quietly sits on the highest point she can find, (or, in contrast, on a chair under a table, or just on the floor under a chair, under some “cover”), tucks her front feet under her chest, and snoozes. Very quiet, very subtle. Just there, just company.

Arya very rarely purrs, and her purr is so quiet you feel it if you pet her, rather than hear it.  My other cat, 14-year-old Mew, has the world’s loudest purr – and she purrs often.  It also is a gift…in the evening, she will crawl up in my lap, or beside me on the couch and purr, and then, often, go to sleep nearby, seeming to purr when she is asleep sometimes.

But little Arya’s gift of a lap minute and a little purr was rare, and special.

I am blessed with two lovely feline friends.

Father’s Day with the Kids

Standard

Of course Fathers Day was going to be a challenge.  Both of my children are adults. That makes the issue of the recent loss of my husband more complex but definitely still present.

My son teaches High School and coaches soccer, so the weekend agenda began with the World Cup Games. That was a great help.  He enjoyed himself watching expected and unexpected victories while my daughter and I drifted in and out, participating as the tenor of the games dictated.

Saturday night we all went to dinner at a great restaurant that the four of us had visited many times with bitter-sweet memories. Sunday my daughter’s mission was to fulfill a promise she had made to her Dad – to dress our one-year-old cat in the jersey of her dad’s favorite college team.   Around this activity I tried to make quiches for “brunch.”

The two required trips to the college gear store (of course the first jersey didn’t fit!) kept both my son and me engaged with my daughter for the rest of the afternoon.  Brunch turned into dinner as we settled in for a World Cup game (the quiches surprisingly delicious dispite the disruptions).

All-in-all, the weekend was successful as we all came together and created new memories. It will not be easy for a long time, and maybe never, but we will keep walking those new paths as a family.

 

 The Lawyer and Avoiding the Estate Account

Standard

My husband and I were frugal throughout our careers, and always contributed to any plan that offered an employer contribution. He was a community college instructor, I worked with nonprofit organizations. We anticipated both of us living to the age of 80 (and beyond), so we saved our money anticipating 20 to 30 more years with income only from his teacher retirement, Social Security, and our savings. We have accumulated an amount that I assumed would throw me into an Estate Account requirement (for those who don’t know, if the deceased spouse has accrued more than $30,000 in separate assets, the surviving spouse generally must establish an Estate Account).

I applied to the IRS for a Tax ID number for said account. However, thanks to the guidance of my lawyer, that number will not be needed. Fortunately, we had set up all our financial assets (investment account and checking/savings accounts) as joint with right of survivorship, so all of the assets passed to me, avoiding the Estate.  The joint accounts also did not count toward the $30,000 “year’s allowance” for widows in my conservative Southern state.

In our state, the house also passes to the surviving spouse, not counting toward the “allowance” (providing husband and wife purchased the house as a couple). What I have left are three cars, my husband’s last paycheck (written after his death) and a few other small odds and ends.  I will have to take a trip to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, with a Death Certificate, to transfer title of two of our cars to my name – still not meeting the $30,000 threshold (the cars are quite ancient with very low market values).

This is a MUCH less arduous process than I initially anticipated – thinking I would have to set up an Estate checking account, leave it open for a year to satisfy claims against the Estate, and make a public declaration.

I also have a great lawyer: a young woman who is generous and efficient with her time, even returning part of the initial fees she collected as “not utilized”.

There is yet another benefit of our relationship.  The second week after my husband died I had the substantive meeting with her (please note that I called her at 9:00 AM the morning after he died for specific guidance on anything that needed to be done immediately, which she provided, graciously.  It was Sunday morning). My late-twenty-something niece was visiting, so she accompanied me to the meeting with the lawyer.  My niece is in one of the longer-term arrangements common to young people.  She and her boyfriend co-habit an apartment, but there is absolutely no legal commitment/relationship between the two. When we left the meeting with our lawyer, her first comment was “now I see why people get married.” An astute observation.

A Speeding Ticket

Standard

A week after my husband’s death, my brave 23-year-old daughter went back to school to face a nationally proctored sign language exam, and the usual battery of year-end tests. A month later she received her first moving violation ever – a speeding ticket. Heavy traffic, major interstate highway, slow driver in the far left lane, passing going too fast on the right.  Thank heaven for good friends. One of our long-time family relationships began when our now 30-something sons started soccer at the age of 5 – a team that stayed together through high school, and won the state championship their senior year. The friend’s dad was a lawyer in an organization offering services to member lawyers throughout the state.   He recommended contacting an experienced criminal attorney. That connection proved to be one of the most efficient and effective professional relationships that I have ever enjoyed.  After talking with the officer and prosecutor the attorney was able to have the citation amended to a non-moving violation. No points. In the last two months, I have found myself asking for special consideration in many areas. People have been honest, sincere, and amazingly helpful.  It is leading to a new perspective – less pessimistic, more sincere. What irony.