Wednesday, October 24, 2007

If it doesn't kill you...it could be worse

I don't remember experiencing a week like I've just had for several years. It seemed as though every time I turned around I was being told that someone else was in need of our services and it never ceased. Of course that's a good thing from a business standpoint but it can become quite tiring and exasperating. As of last night, things seemed to have finally calmed down so today I am taking some time for myself; to rest, relax, refuel.

I guess my week was a piece of cake in comparison to the week that some others across the globe have had so I'm not complaining at all. Right here in our country, almost the entire West Coast is ablaze, California to be exact. Anyone who has even one eye or one ear has heard of or read what's currently happening and I hope that everyone will eventually be safe after this is somehow under control. Even the smallest children are now aware that there are "Santa Anna" winds. These disasters that happen all over the world claim more than lives, cause more than death and this was made clearly evident to me just three days ago.

I was busy with paperwork when one of our employees came to tell me there was a man in our lobby who was looking to speak with a funeral director. Quite honestly at first I inwardly felt a small pang of dread because I had so much to do yet without hesitation I went up front to speak with him. He was a small man clad in a red plaid shirt, had on a khaki colored cap and was wearing crisp looking faded jeans; he was using a cane. His immediate question was "can you help me with my funeral?" and we began our conversation.

He told me that he had been living in Mississippi when he had earned the designation of "survivor". You see, he was a victim of hurricane Katrina, the first I had ever met. He lived there with whom I presume was his second wife ( an invalid who also had "Old Timer's") based on the fact that he kept referring to her children not theirs. A lot of what he told me I had to piece together because he was very difficult to understand, I at first assumed a stroke was responsible for his using the cane as well as his hampered ability to speak. He explained that his deceased wife had been younger than he and his decision to put everything in her name was a precautionary measure should she outlive him; he wanted it easy for her in her condition. Unbeknown to him, she had apparently taken similar precautionary measures.

He was initially going to weather the storm until he knew of it's intended landfall and magnitude and quickly decided against doing so. They had fled to their other home which was further inland when he realized that he had forgotten something. She had a certain doll that kept her calm and it was left behind. He had a neighbor sit with her and he went back to get it for her. This is the part I couldn't quite get exact because he really wasn't mentally there after it hit. He remembers walking from the house with the doll on his way to his car when he heard what sounded like roaring. He turned towards the noise and way up the road he saw what he said, as he held his hand way over his head, a wall of water headed towards him. He ran back into the house, locked the door and heard and felt the crash all around him. Water began gushing in everywhere and he was soon standing in his living room, chest deep in water, terrified. His next memory is waking up in a hospital.

Apparently he had somehow survived the water and was rescued but suffered some sort of damage that affected his speech and ability to walk; not the stroke I thought. Before he could get out of the hospital, get to his wife's side, attempt physical therapy, talk with insurers and make a decision where they were going to live he got the news that his wife had died. It was her son that broke the news to him in the hospital; he was a nicer boy than he had thought. He assured this gentleman not to worry about any of it, he was there to help him to sign papers, get him to and from her memorial service, was taking care of both properties and later visited him twice weekly at the rehab home he had gotten him into for the two months it took for him to recover.

Don't ask me how it was possible but he told me that when he finally did get out of the reab center he took a taxi to the flooded home; it was completely destroyed, ruined, not much left but an empty shell with half of the siding ripped off. He then went to the home where he had left his wife only to discover that the for sale sign in the front yard said "SOLD". Sold? My house isn't even for sale! He tried to call her son, his helper, his caretaker for the past two months, but the number he had was disconnected. He contacted an attorney only to eventually discover that all of the property and assets that he had put in her name many years ago were willed to her children who wasted no time in liquidating them all. He now had nothing, their joint bank accounts had been drained and even the insurance money was going to be going to her children. But the best is yet to come.

I asked him how and why he was in this area and that's when I found out that he did in fact have a daughter of his own who hadn't spoken to him in years after his divorce from her mother. He had no choice but to try to contact her and when he did she agreed to help him, she paid for him to get here. Once here however, he was told that he could live in the camper that was parked at the rear of her property, not in her house. He's eighty one years old and gets enough from the government to live and has nothing else; he begs to die daily.

It's stories like this that make me ever thankful to the powers that be that have allowed me to live the life I've led. A roof over my head each night that I can call mine, money enough to do what I'd like, food to always keep my belly full, a place where I can earn a living, a few bucks in the bank, and most importantly, the feeling of being wanted and loved. In the past I could never understand why someone wouldn't want to live when there was so much for us right here but I now see. If I were he and the tables were turned, I don't think I'd really want to go on either. Even though this mans situation could have arisen whether there was a hurricane or not, his life is still in disaster. As I said earlier, it is now very clearly evident to me that disasters come in many many forms and take more than lives, can cause more havoc than death and sometimes death is the easier of the many ways out......

5 comments:

Matty said...

I wonder if he asked for this disaster. I wonder when he divorced his first wife..did he also divorce his daughter and not bother with her.
I can see her point as well...although it looks callous on her part to let him live in a trailer...maybe he ignored her all his life and now when he has nothing, all of a sudden he expects her to take him in.
Makes you wonder.
There are always 3 sides to every story.
Sad no matter how you look at it.

paisley said...

amen... and after reading that i am even more interested in signing up for that "will myself to die" class you talked about!!!!!!!

deathsweep said...

I agree matty, sad no matter how you look at it. I don't think anyone knowingly wills disaster on themselves however they do have to live with the consequences of their actions, yes. In this case I have no idea what the other sides of the story are so we could imagine any cause.

DS

deathsweep said...

Hey paisley wouldn't it be great if all we had to do was to take a class, learn a system and we could hop on out of here when we were ready?

DS

Anonymous said...

What a moving story. Thankyou for sharing.

What a journey life is for all of us.

So different for all. And yes we must be thankful and grateful for what we do have and for what is going right for us.

Jen