Friday, May 20, 2005
lessons learned
Jim Dine, Two Hearts for Pathways

10 years ago my mother had quadruple bypass heart surgery. She had just moved out of the home we had lived in for 14 years or so and it had been a really stressful move. We had lived in a geodesic dome (which I only mention because I liked that house) and it was a huge house. Like people do, my parents had filled it up. David and I helped with sorting through what to keep, what to give away and what to toss. There was a lot of each.

Among the hardest things I've ever done are say goodbye to my mother before she went in for surgery, wait, and then see her after surgery. My mother was not afraid to die, but I did not know how to deal with the possibility. Waiting was all worry and trying to remember to breathe. When it was over, it was a relief that everything had gone well, but she didn't look well. She looked like these tubes and machines were the only thing keeping her alive, and just barely.

Thankfully, each time we saw her, she looked better and better. It was a hard recovery, and a stressful time, but she got through it.

Before my mother's surgery, she had dealt with the bookkeeping and bills for my dad's office. I did the patient and insurance billing. After the surgery, I took over my mom's job. And, oh man. That was almost as hard as going through the surgery. I had a 9 month old and a full-time job, and suddenly here was a second full-time job. And it was all stress.

I suddenly found out that when my mother said we didn't have enough money to pay for things, it wasn't just about keeping to budget, things were tight. My dad had made a lot of money and my parents weren't extravagant, but they helped all of us kids through college and none of us knew what help they needed. They were in serious debt. No wonder my mom had heart problems. Ack.

I found myself running numbers through my head before I went to bed at night. I'd feel like something was wrong, like some sort of black cloud was hanging over me and I couldn't figure out what it was. Then, I'd realize it was the money and the bills. I can't imagine how that felt for my mom. At least I could distance myself from it a little bit.

I made out a budget and plan for paying off the debt - and luckily, my dad's business in his new location was doing well enough that I could actually implement the plan - and things started to get better. After a year or so, my mom took back the job. And, things have a good ending. My dad sold his practice and they are happily retired.

One of the most important lessons I learned from this was to be careful with your money. We took a new look at the way we handled our finances, and it has made a big difference for us.

Even more important than that, I learned that nothing is more important than family, I love my mother like no one else and I'll do anything for her. I'm grateful I could be there to help out and take over. I am even more grateful that 10 years later, she is still here.
posted by lochan | link
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Name: Laura

I have five kids including triplets. I'm too busy to blog, but I do anyway (uh, sometimes).

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