Atlas, Giles Corey and Me

My writing these past few months has been spotty, at best, and I’m finally going to come clean as to why. I have been under a phenomenal amount of stress for the last two years; but, the last six months have been particularly bad. And when I talk about stress, please know that I know of what I speak. I’ve been a single mother for nearly 22 years. I’m a Katrina survivor. I was a caregiver when my mother had terminal cancer. I’ve run charter departments at non-scheduled air carriers. I’ve moved more times than I care to count. I’ve buried friends and a parent. I’ve negotiated, authored and executed multi-million dollar deals. I know stress and the last months have been among the most stressful of my life. The last few weeks have been nearly intolerable. Atlas carried the world on his shoulders, but I really felt more like Giles Corey, a Salem man who was pressed to death after being accused of practising witchcraft. One thing after another piled on top of me until I could hardly breathe.


You see, the bank set a sale date for my house that has been in and out of foreclosure a couple of times. I was facing the very real spectre of homelessness….again. It would have been my third round of it. The first time was just after my mother’s death when I asked for a couple of weeks off from the charter company I worked for. Granted the time off, I was fired when I came to work the next day. My son and I ended up living with my cousin Jeanna and her boys for awhile before moving to New Orleans and finding a job there. The second time was after Katrina when we ended up staying with my father until I found another job. Then we stayed with my friend Kay until we could close on this house.

This time, I would have had to rehome all of my furry children before finding a place for myself. It was bad enough feeling like I’d failed my son as well as myself during rounds one and two; but, I knew people who loved us both and would take us both in. It’s different with pets, though. Not everyone will take them in; so, this time, I felt like I failed six creatures who count on me for everything. I was devastated at the prospect of deserting them and terrified that I would have to surrender them to a shelter that might or might not have to kill them. I’ve never ended up in a cardboard box and I doubt I would have this time, either; but, I couldn’t say what would happen to them. Thank goodness I don’t have to find out.

Because, once again, my father came to the rescue. This time, he did it in 1971.

After my infant brother’s death, my parents had to borrow money to bury him. After all, no one saves for that, right? Babies mean nurseries, not headstones. However, for my parents, the unthinkable was a reality when J.David died at less than 24 hours old. So that he would never have to deal with that financial strain in addition to the trauma of losing a child, my father bought small, $5000 whole life burial policies on both my sister and me. That little policy now has enough cash value to save my home.

During my stint as The Worst Insurance Salesman in the World, I often advised people to purchase at least some of their life insurance in the form of a whole life policy, in spite of what you hear on the radio. There are many reasons and I won’t go into them here; however, I just gave you a solid example of how those policies can be useful during your lifetime, not just after you die. This one saved my home. When I wired the money to my mortgage company on Monday, I was so relieved that I could barely stand. I was too exhausted to even cry from the relief, although I’ve since recovered that ability. Hurray.

Although my modest mortgage is still over half of my base bring-home pay, I’ve put a plan in place to keep me from getting into this situation again. And, perhaps, some day soon, I’ll be able to find a bank that will actually work with me to lower my monthly payments. Until then, I’m going to be getting even more creative to make ends meet.

I’ve spent a great deal of the last couple of days getting really restful sleep for the first time in a long time. My dreams are no longer plagued with monsters, sharks, tornadoes, people chasing me, stabbing me or any of the other horrid things that have frequently led me to fear closing my eyes. For the first time in a long time, I feel guardedly hopeful at my financial future. I feel the stones lifting one by one, allowing me to breathe a little bit.

The air tastes good.



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