This is a guest post from Sheryl in Ontario, who is 40 years old with a grown daughter, and is trying to rebuild her retirement dream just 20 years too late for early retirement.
As it turns out, I was wrong. I don’t think we ever truly lose all control. My father was determined not to go into a nursing home, and after he learned that was where he was going, he didn’t last very much longer, almost as if he’d do anything to avoid going. Strange thing was, it almost seemed like his life force was keeping things working for everyone close to him. My washing machine, and my mother’s dishwasher (two things he would have fixed for us) broke the same day he passed away.
Needless to say, my life has been a whirlwind ever since, but is finally starting to settle down to a point where life is feeling as normal as it can again. Being the only child in the area, and my mum being in shock, most of the final arrangements were left to me. I was moving as though in a daze for a while, and I allowed myself to completely lose track of my spending. When I finally sat down to catch up on my tracking, I don’t think I did too bad, but there is $140 dollars I spent that I cannot account for. I know I bought things like coffees and some meals that I didn’t get receipts for, and I’m not going to beat myself up over it.
My sisters and I are working on a replacement dishwasher for my mum, we have identified which parts her old one needs, and have figured out it will be cheaper to buy a used one. She has a well, and the water has a lot of iron in it, so any appliance that uses water doesn’t last long there.
I tried to fix my washer. My father taught me how to problem solve things like that, and the machine being too old to have circuit boards helps with diagnostics as well. I have an appliance repair and parts store local to me that is an excellent all around business to deal with. They told me some things to check, asked me to take pictures of a few things so they could see anything that was broken, and enjoyed a good laugh with me when I told them about the newbie mistake I made of not having a bucket large enough to contain the water when I was disconnecting some of the pipes between to motor/pump and the tub. (Insert picture of me sitting in a large puddle here) I narrowed it down to either needing a motor or a timer. (I could have narrowed it down further if I could have found my father’s multi-meter to see if I was getting any power at the pump from the timer, I’m still having a hard time going into his workshop, and only he knew where he kept most things.) They don’t make timers for my machine anymore, and I could have purchased a used motor/pump, but for $100 more I bought a refurbished washer instead. I’ll weigh the old one in for scrap metal value which should lessen the damage to my finances. I’m back on track now, June was a 3 pay month for me, so that lessened the impact of spending extra money
We held a small, personal Celebration of Life for my father in the local community centre. I was the Master of Ceremonies, and while doing some research on my fathers life, we found a letter he had written a little while ago outlining his early years. He and his father had created a charter coach company in England in 1946. The perseverance to overcome obstacles was admirable. In exchange for parking for their first bus, they fixed the vehicles of the man who owned the lot, and before they could use the pit to get under the trucks and buses, they had to bail water out of it for 2 hours each time as there were some ponds nearby and the ground was porous. They did anything legal they could to get money together to live on and get the business off the ground. A little while later, they rented a piece of land (which they ended up buying some years later), and my father got some loads of fill that were demolished air raid shelters. Any good bricks, he cleaned and re-used to build the wall they needed, and the balance of the loads were used to level the property. He was not yet 18 by the time he did all this, as shortly after this yard was operational, he was conscripted into the military for 2 years, stationed in North Africa.
Learning this (and more) truly humbled me. I know as parents we want a better life for our children than what we had, and I am grateful of the sacrifices my parents made to provide the best life they could for me. I know I can do better than what I have been. My father gave me the most wonderful gift of believing in myself, and I have not been living up to my potential. It was easy to let him fix things for me, and I feel in the last months of his life it helped give him a sense of usefulness that he had lost. Now it is time to put into action more of the lessons I learned from him. I know I have the same internal drive he had, and I would be doing myself a great dis-service not to use it.