Just Another Day in Florida…
Well, we’ve made it to Wednesday, July 22, 2020 – another day in COVID-19 era Florida. As I write this it’s almost 2:30 PM Eastern on a grey, cloudy, and occasionally rainy midweek afternoon. As someone who has lived in Florida for over 50 years, this is our “normal” weather pattern for summer – except, of course, for the fact that the temperature is increasing as a result of climate change.
Presently, the weather picture here is: it’s 80˚F with light rain with 100% cloud cover; with humidity at 75% and winds blowing from the east at 4 MPH (with occasional 12 MPH gusts), the “feels-like” temperature outside the house is 82˚F. Thankfully, there are no thunderstorms in the area, so at least I can write at my desk without worrying about lightning strikes.
As usual, I have been up and about since before 7 AM; I haven’t really accomplished much, though. I don’t have any ideas for “fun posts” such as a book or movie review, and I can’t do any online research for Project X until I can take my computer off airplane mode and connect to to our house’s Wi-Fi. So I’m on “standby mode” as far as writing my script or reviewing anything goes.
I’m also still not in the best of spirits. Late July is especially tough on me emotionally; I am reminded about my mom’s final days, her death, and the ups and downs my life has gone through in the five years hence.
The aftermath of Mom’s passing has been a mix of blessings and curses. Blessings because I was “adopted’ – for lack of a better word – by the family of a classmate from my alma mater, South Miami Senior High. As a result, I have a roof over my head; food and drink to sustain me; a room to write and enjoy some of my leisure time in, and a family group that gives me company and a sense of belonging. I help out financially by paying some bills on a monthly basis, but that’s fair, all things being equal.
The curses part? Well, I am not where Mom or I thought I’d be – in my old and familiar townhouse in East Wind Lake Village. My mother had bequeathed it to me in her 2010 Last Will and Testament, a document she had insisted on having prepared, witnessed, signed, and notarized a few days before undergoing a delicate operation on her back to repair a damaged spine in June of that year.
In a previous will, prepared mainly at my half-sister Victoria’s urging and without my participation, Mom had tried to be fair and stipulated that the townhouse should be shared – legally, anyway – by both Vicky and me. In addition, there was a long wish list of things on that will that favored my nemesis.
I can’t remember the whole shebang of things on the “Vicky Will Get This” section of the will, but clearly, the document favored her, especially with the more lucrative items.
For instance, when the will was prepared, my mother was still driving a Chevy sedan which she had bought in 1988. Vicky already owned a car, but she wanted Mom’s, either as a replacement for hers or to sell it and further fill her coffers.
Mom thought that she had made it clear that she agreed to those requests with the proviso that my half-sister would not only look out for my physical well-being, but also for my financial security. She didn’t pretend that her two children from two different marriages would live under the same roof; she knew that Vicky and I have not gotten along for decades, and although it broke it heart, she understood that we were happier apart than together.
Nevertheless – and this was the argument that Vicky’s attorney put forth at the July 7, 2016 hearing in the Honorable Bernard Shapiro’s chambers in the probate court of the 11th Judicial District of Florida – my half-sister promised that she would protect me from “undue influence” or “manipulation” by others, lest a friend or acquaintance attempt to swindle me out of my inheritance, modest as it was.
Well, as I have written in previous posts about this issue, that was not what Vicky and a few other persons had in store for me.
Vicky had no intentions to “share” the townhouse in East Wind Lake Village. Instead, she had a two-fold plan:
- First, she planned to sell the house, with or without my consent. She already had a real estate agent and a buyer lined up
- Second, she planned to have me admitted into an assisted living facility for the disabled
Her plan was not in accordance to Mom’s wishes, but she didn’t care. Her plan was also not an effort to protect my best interests, but she didn’t care. She simply wanted the boost to her – by her own admission, mind you – depleted finances from whatever she got from her half of the sale of the townhouse.
Bottom line: I miss my old house at times. I wasn’t crazy about the townhouse itself; it wasn’t in the best of shape because as Mom got older, she was reluctant to invest in necessary upgrades – such as new plumbing for the upstairs bathroom – or repairs that the house needed. But I did like the neighborhood. I could walk to a third of a mile to the nearby shopping plaza and buy groceries, get a haircut, or eat an occasional meal at one of the many restaurants there. If I needed to do banking, I had a Regions Bank branch a little more than 2 miles distant. I could either ask a trusted neighbor for a ride or walk there, even though that wasn’t exactly my favorite option in the summertime. I had more autonomy then, sadly, than I do now.
That being said, I had no way to remodel and renovate the townhouse on my own. My mom left me a small nest egg by way of a life insurance policy, but even if I had not used part of it to buy groceries or pay bills with, it would not have covered the $50,000 or more that it would have cost to remake Mom’s house into mine. And even if I’d gotten a good deal on the renovation, I still would have needed new furniture, new linens, new appliances, new…everything.
So even though I do get homesick – especially when I’m a bit down or frustrated over the changes in my life – and I wish I could own my own place (I obviously can’t afford it now), I don’t have the specter of having to deal with a selfish and manipulative relative. And, all things considered, I have more going for me here than I do in my old condominium.
In that regard, I am truly blessed.