Excuse Me... 6-19
Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dear Readers,

      Do you ever get that sinking feeling every single time you get a phone call?  Kids, haircuts for the boys, hair appointment for my daughter, the last newspaper deliveries and yes of course, food shopping was what was on my mind when I got “the call”.  
      Food shopping is extremely stressful for me.  I can't just go to the store and pick up a couple of things.  I have to shop from aisle to aisle trying to make sure that I haven't forgotten anything. There's nothing like trying to remember whether or not you have cooking oil when you didn't make a note of it before you left your own kitchen.  
       When I go shopping at the superstore Meijer, I have the non-food things in my head like the replacement for the spatula that rested on the electric grill after a 30-pancake bonanza.  Mom madness takes over me every once in a while and pancake-making frenzy takes over.
       Small plastic Ziploc bags hold the leftovers; three pancakes to each and in the freezer they go.    At least for breakfast, they could've hot pancakes without Mrs. Risper waking up at the crack of dawn.
        I wonder how Mrs. Beaver of the 50's show “Leave it to Beaver” did it. I wonder how she could get so much hairspray in her hair and the perfect creases on her son's pants.  Did they spend $100.00 a month on dry cleaning bills?
       Anyway, while looking for a non-stick fabulous looking spatula and trying to steer one of those shopping carts with the chair in the front for two children, I got a phone call.
    I had my daughter, Anissa, with me so that was super crazy.   She had the whole front seat of the Cadillac shopping cart to herself.
     “Mommy, remember when I cleaned up my room you said that you would paint my nails.  I want red.”
     I thought, “ I don't think so missy.  I have enough problems remembering to change my own nail polish.  Chipping red nail polish is not so cute at 6 years old.”  
     My phone began to ring and for a brief moment I did not recognize the area code.  Maybe it was that my mind did not want to remember it. I thought, “Oh, no”, as I told my daughter to keep her hands inside the cart. I juggled the phone and said, “Hello, Kendra.”  She is my sister.
     I said to Anissa, “I have a lovely sheer lavender nail lacquer that would look so fabulous on you.  I would bring out the natural beauty of your nails.  Besides we are looking at spatulas right now.”
      She gave me the “is Mommy kidding me” face.   I was good though, I was very serious and she said, “Oh, all right.”
      As I apologized to my sister for keeping her on hold, I realized that was my way of stalling for time.  My 30 second interval. My heart was beating miserably fast as the steel spatulas blurred into the Teflon ones.  I guess she could hear the fear in my voice as she told me that everything was all right.
      She was calling me to tell me that my father was going to return home under hospice.  I stated, “So they (the medical team) are preparing for him to die.”    My sister and I we are on a conference call with my other sister, Lenka.  For the past month, we have been preparing for my father's death.  About two weeks ago, we decided that we were going to really start preparing.  I was given the responsibility of getting the obituary information together.  Some people thought that wasn't the right thing to do but we had to prepare ourselves.
       In past letters, I explained how my father lost one of his legs to diabetes.  Since then, he has been in and out of the hospital and now he is a double amputee.  It is horrible waiting for the call.  All summer I have had devastating thoughts of my father dying. My father was in unbearable pain from his diabetes and I don't think that people really understand what diabetes can do to your body.  I know more people who have died from diabetes than any other ailment.  I'm frightening when I see someone limping or someone having trouble seeing.  We have a responsibility as relatives and loved ones to make sure that we are doing preventative maintenance.
      I'm sure that there are many men out there who haven't had a prostate cancer screening or a colonoscopy. 
      If you aren't thinking about yourself think about the people that you'll leave behind.  I thought about my children and my husband, Frank and how they would deal with me being gone.
      My brain could hardly function as I tried to absorb the monumental task of preparing the newspaper, preparing my children and preparing myself.
      My packing skills need help.  I recognized this after I had packed.  We pack for specific events in our lives.  When pack when we go on vacation.  But for me the two most memorable packing experiences were for the impending birth of my children and the impending death of my father. 
      After a week, all I could think to take was my black dress that I had rolled up and put in my carryon four weeks ago. 
      I feel very helpless living in Michigan.  My sister, Kendra, has been carrying the burden of taking care of my father for the last several years.   There is nothing that can really be done from here.    When I visited New York two years ago, I visited him every day at the hospital but that was difficult.
      We really wanted to be prepared for anything in the event of our father's death.   My sister went to pick out the coffin and make the arrangements so that when the day comes we are not in complete disarray.  When she was at one of the funeral homes that she interviewed, families were in there arguing about the burial.  She said they were practically fist fighting.  It's a shame.
       For all of you who have been to funerals like that and shake your heads make sure your own business is in order.    When a collection has to be taken up in order for the funeral to be paid, it causes economic problems for everyone.  The buzz at the reception after the funeral would revolve around the difficulty that incurred because of improper planning.
         I've found that talking to friends and family about insurance companies help.  I'd also suggest that if you have an insurance policy at work that you talk to them about getting insurance for the rest of your family at open enrollment.  Remember, when you leave your job, you no longer have insurance. 
          There are also other resources for finding resources for minimal amounts of insurance.  You can also check with the Department of Insurance.  Be very wary of companies that make you pay for financial planning on top of the commission that they make. 
        You can also ask for ratings for the companies from Standard and Poor's, which is a rating agency.  Also make sure that you get a will explaining what you want and look it over yearly.  It is important that you keep it updated.  There are many people who remarry and never change their beneficiaries  on their life insurance, annuities, retirement plans and the like.  Ask your spouse who would they like to have certain items, you know those family heirlooms that were passed down through generations.  No one wants to fight over a ring that belonged to your spouses great great grandmother.   Everyone has heard of the story of items that were left with so and so's sister and after she died the heirlooms stayed with to her “no good husband”
      Take care of your family, by making sure that they are taken care of.  It is not something that you want to think about but be rest assured the rich do.  For the most part those who are in the upper income racket, make sure that their family is taken care of.  Start thinking rich by not putting your family members in the poor house.  Start thinking about who is responsible enough to take care of your children in the event of your death.   Start thinking about it…


Rina Risper

P.S.  My father, Daddy as I called him, passed away on September 29, 2007.   Alvin E. Haynes, Sr. was a good man who led an interesting life.  His obituary is on Page 1 and I will be writing several articles about my journey during this time.
    I would like to thank those who sent cards, money and well wishes.  Your graciousness has been appreciated at this time.
   I have found that the people in Lansing are beautiful.  I missed Lansing when I was in New York. Remember always to support those who support you.


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