Sunday, January 21, 2007


There is a check in my wallet right now. Don't get excited, you can't buy a Nissan Versa with it, the IRS wouldn't care, but it was a lovely gesture.

I never would have asked for it, but Cousin C, bless her hilarious heart, got through to my mother, who was totally agreeable and thought it was a lovely idea, but never would have thought of it herself. And I wouldn't have asked, because it would be icky to go to my mother with my hand out in less than a dire situation. But I am treating this money like a dire situation and sticking it in savings. I now have my survival cushion for Whatever with this job. Bless Cousin C.

If you want a mental picture of Cousin C, she's 64 this week. She's my godmother. In her 20s she was a ringer for Ann-Margret, and is still a babe who takes care of herself, but not in a plastic surgery way. She is a pretty, trim 64 years old this week. Personality-wise, my shorthand is "Rizzo from Grease, post-menopause." She has attitude. She was a working mother before it was cool, battled a weight problem and won, divorced an asshole husband and spent 20 years with a much better one, and nursed him through terminal cancer. She is a smartass with a heart as big as the world and a mouth damn near as big. She also has style, and can whip a silk scarf out of her bag and tie it expertly in a high wind near the beach, and make me feel like a complete lout for not having a silk scarf in my bag at all times, because that is just so useful and cool. She is at home anywhere in the world and has proved it in several countries, can talk to anybody about anything, and is a role model of how to be outgoing without being overbearing. She never set foot in a college classroom but is wise in the ways of the world. She is, in short, a real trip and great fun to be around, and I love her to pieces.

She is also my mother's favorite niece, hands down, so she has an "in" with her in a way I never could - the middle generation in age and Not the Daughter, she has a different influence than I have or would choose to use. I so regret that my father's controlling ways (the ones I escaped at first opportunity) kept them apart for many years. And I'm glad that C would never hold a grudge, because family is everything to her and did I mention the heart as big as the world? She is back in her aunt's life. And I'm sad that my father had to die before this could happen.

So I have a check, and I am putting it into my savings account this week. It's more symbolic than anything. It's a sign that my mother has come out from under the Fear of Eating Cat Food and may actually spend some money. I would love to convince her to do something radical and crazy, like take everybody to Paris for a week. Let my mother see the Eiffel Tower and eat in a sidewalk cafe, at 80. Do what they should have done with their money, instead of leaving it to me. That won't happen.

I'm not ungrateful, it is a blessing that it worked out this way, because nobody could have predicted the Cancer Tsunami hitting us and security is a good thing. But I do wish my parents had blown more money on enjoying themselves when they had the chance.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Cousin C can engineer the Paris trip?

Catherine said...

I think that would be beyong even her considerable powers. And my mother would not get on a plane to Paris without medication, which she will not take. That's another story, for another time.

Catherine said...

beyond, not beyong. I'm in an awkward typing position right now.

Kerstin said...

It is sad they didn't spend some money to do fun things but I also admire that generation for being able to save enough to give it away after death.

I'm in the position of possibly having to care for both my parents at some future date. From what I've gleaned from older friends, that is a Tsunami in its own right and not one that I'm looking forward to. I'd much rather be in the position of both parents sitting on a pile of cash than of them facing a life of future deprivation and dependency.

Glad you have a bit of a safety net. We're big on that here.

Bess said...

Good for Cousin C and for you all! But best of all, good for your mom to be visiting with Cousin C again.

Geogrrl said...

Who knows where the fear of being poor came from. It's too bad, and it does prevent a person from enjoying life.

I'm glad your Cousin C was able to reason with your mother. IMHO, it is better to start giving away some of it now rather than have it eaten up in estate fees.