I have had writer’s block of late, pretty sure I didn’t want to delve into the obvious topic, the election, even if I can’t resist reading the multitudinous attempts to understand it. Thanksgiving was a challenge, but we kept things civil by focusing the kids on the workings of the electoral college and the impeachment process. Anyway, I think this is one of those rare cases where everything has been said already AND everyone has said it. So, let’s try something different.
My brother died mid September, already 2 1/2 months ago. Your support during this time has been most welcome, especially as the loss has been heavier than I anticipated.
Being the only survivor, I took on the tasks relating to clearing out Steve’s apartment and going through his papers. It’s not that much fun, as some of you know who have done this. I feel like a voyeur much of the time and everything I touch that he touched makes me a little sad.
You learn a lot about somebody from doing this. People collect the oddest things, and Steve was no different. Others retain every piece of paper; Steve was one of those too. He kept elaborate records also. The most interesting of the latter is the record of the approximate mileage he put on each of the cars that he owned, from the 1959 Ford with a mere 30,000 miles to the 1969 Pontiac with 77,000 to the 1984 Chevy with 92,000. The last cars were the 1994 Ford with 65,000 and his first (and last) foreign car, a 2002 Nissan with 89,000 miles when he traded it in a few months before he died. Grand total: 560,000 miles. Can anyone tell me their totals? I also noticed that he got a new car every few years early in his life, then it was ten years or more between cars as I guess the novelty of having the latest model wore off.
Steve also seems to have kept every financial document and statement he ever received – carton after carton of cancelled checks (remember those?), medical bills, lab reports, bank statements, social security notices, you name it. I guess he didn’t know about the six year rule for saving things. Anyway, it turns out that it was not in vain. An annuity that he had taken out is being transferred to me. The insurer says its basis is about 6% of the current value of the policy which was taken out in the late 80’s. There is no way a conservative annuity could grow that much in that period of time, but the insurer (biggest in America) insists that is all they can verify and the total of the increase will be taxable. But there in all the boxes were originals from the late 80’s, some handwritten by the broker, indicating much larger initial contributions. Uncle Sam will get less, but don’t feel too sorry for him.
Being the last left of our family still is weighing me down. As Congregant D wrote to me, “People experiencing sibling loss have compared it to losing a deep part of their childhood. The ones with whom you share the same heritage, upbringing and values during an entire lifetime are no longer present in your life. “ D remembers me talking about growing up in Philadelphia and the sense of joy I had about those years. Give us a ball and we could play all day. Life was simpler. And there was only one person who experienced it all with me. And he, all the sudden, is gone.
You know what to do this weekend. Call your siblings. Shabbat Shalom and best regards. Bill Rudolph