Nurturing the nerds

NerdMy daughter graduated from preschool yesterday. We sat on a grassy knoll at the park, as the teachers called the kids up, one by one, up to get either certificates or “diplomas.”

The teacher called a name I remembered — Owen – not because he was my daughter’s friend, but because he wasn’t. Months back, she’d refused to go to his birthday party. When we got the invitation, I’d accepted, like I do for every birthday party, and told my daughter. “I don’t wanna go,” she said.

I figured the kid was mean to her or otherwise a jerk and made an excuse, but I never questioned why she didn’t like him. I did notice, when I changed my RSVP, that there were only a few “yes” responses to his invitation. read more


Dad’s pride and joy

old_man-2When it’s about Dad, you know nothing comes easy. For a guy who spent a portion of every visit showing me where the keys to the safe were – in the baseboard heater, the old vacuum cleaner bag, tucked under the ironing board cover – he sure didn’t do anything to ease the transfer of his estate. When I asked him to just give me a key to the safe, he refused. Didn’t want it falling into the wrong hands. I live 3,000 miles away. Which wrong hands were going to steal the key, fly to New York, find his house, and break into his safe? read more


In Dad We Trust

old_man-2After my dad’s funeral, we began the first monumental task: wrapping up his financial affairs. Dad’s money was his favorite thing. We thought he would’ve treated it better.

My Dad got his will from legalforms.com or whoever else peddles legal forms to unsuspecting octogenarians on the web. For a man who always claimed his browser was “broken,” he found a way to buy and print a will. Then, in all caps — he couldn’t work the shift key — he typed his name, my name, signed it and had it witnessed and notarized. If he’d stopped right there, it would have been easy to transfer his stuff to my name. But nothing is easy with my dad. He downloaded another form to establish a trust. The trust is another way to pass on money, and totally unnecessary. To use a trust, you must set your money up in trust accounts. Loosely translated, a trust is an account that requires your beneficiary to jump through more hoops than Shamu trying to get a fish. My father did all of this jockeying to avoid paying a lawyer to write his will and to eliminate the need for a lawyer when he died. read more


His favorite things

old_man-2After my dad’s funeral, we spent a week working on financial matters and loose ends. After that, we dropped the kids off with their Yiaya in order to start the epic and nightmarish task of cleaning out my father’s house.

My husband took the basement and garage and I took the upstairs. In the garage, my dad had strung a board from the wall at ground level that groaned from the weight of all the crap he’d stored behind it. My husband found tools, pipes, brooms and every wooden handle to every shovel or rake my dad had ever owned. In addition to that, he found three lawnmowers and a nook with charcoal stored next to gas, next to brake fluid, next to matches, oil, cans of compressed gas, cleaning solvents, and old rags. “I can’t believe this place didn’t go up in flames,” he told me. I wished we were that lucky. read more


Anger has its price

Angry guyI’ve been nagging my husband about his temper since we had kids. Come to think of it, he really didn’t lose his temper until we had kids. Hmm. He yells at them, then I get on him for yelling, and he tells me that they gave him an excuse to yell. We’ve been doing this dance for some time now, and I could never convince him that his anger had a price. Until now.

We were leaving Target, and my two-and-a-half-year-old son had followed my daughter and me into the ladies’ room. When we came out, he headed to our special two-seater cart  and tried to climb onto it. Not wanting to take the cart to the car, my husband grabbed the bags out of it and said, “You grab him.” I did, he held fast to the cart and he started to cry. Wail. Scream. I held him across my body like a sash while he kicked and screamed, all the way to the parking garage. read more