It takes the passing of a parent to finally realize what is the truth of living a fulfilled and satisfying life. I was very fortunate to have a loving Mom for close to seven decades. She was always so generous to me, my wife Teresita, her distant relatives, friends and charities. Her passion was knitting blankets(crocheting), instead of being the concert pianist her father so wanted her to be, she used her small fingers and played her own blanket symphonies at least a thousand performances. I would estimate the costs of her yarns must been to some $30,000.00 or more. She certainly had her final game plan, starting in her nineties which at times was very hard for me to understand at times. Mom wanted to live life of excellence, not to be a burden to anyone, be able to read, knit, and make as many friends as if she was collecting baseball cards.
Having two husbands that never made much of an income. Her first husband Jack Silvers, my father never made more than a $150.00 a week and her second husband Morton E. Wolf, probably was lucky to make $30,000.00 a year, and after some thirty five years as a proof reader, he was called in the office, fired, no severance pay, and not even a pension. Mom knew she had to be the sole bread earner. She made over $60,000.00 a year as a Michigan Avenue shoe sales woman, and finally retired at the age of seventy eight she hung up her shoe horn and was ready to retire.
She first had her own Sheridan road apartment, on a high floor looking over a fabulous view of Chicago’s Lake Michigan. After a couple of incidents of falling(my opinion that it was not having a good balance that were causing her falls, but a weakened heart that made her faint.), she soon realized that she needed to be in an independent facility, The Breakers. Many of her rich Jewish friends spent their remaining years, the only problem she had to face was being able to afford almost some $3000.00 a month. With her added expenses as Medicare, prescriptions, doctor visits, food costs and her yarn costs, perhaps another $500.00 a month. How could she manage her last Hurrah?
Not believing ever owning a house, or caring about her finances, she found herself weighing what was really important to her. She did not want to be a BURDEN to me and to what little of family that she had left. With only just having $200,000.00 in savings, she opted with making the biggest gamble of her life, a Lifetime Annuity. It gave her $3200.00 a month for the Rest of Her Life. However it also meant that there would be NO inheritance for me or the rest of her family. At first I became bitter that she never let me and Teresita help her, but mom wanted and lived her life her way. With her wonderful Social Security, pension, and now her annuity, she was able to spend her remaining sixty five months as an independent mother, relative, and friend for all of us.
Even though my Mom died financially BROKE, she has taught me that one has to live life to the fullest, having friends is more important than making money. At the end of our lives we also have to make that decision if we can be that unbroken warrior after all? For my mom she was a warrior to the end.