Thursday, November 18, 2010

My Ship Has Come In

My stepfather died last weekend. It was very sad, he was in his 80's and had spent most of his senior years as a vital, spry gentleman - a Clint Eastwood look-a-like - with a misspent youth and a colorful past. Jack Thomas had been a bartender and pro bowler, husband to 6, father to 2, stepfather to 4. He left behind a grandson and a mourning granddaughter who, even though he was my Mom's second husband, was the only maternal grandfather she'd ever known.

He lived in Las Vegas and I'd last visited him in August. I planned my next visit with him at the end of this month. He'd been in poor health of late and I'd always wrangle a little private time with him to check in and make sure that he was still happy with his living arrangements and that his caretakers were indeed taking good care of him. He seemed very happy during those final years.

My step father was the only thing standing between my brothers and I and our long awaited inheritance. My father had died at the age of 65, leaving behind a 3 million dollar estate. Under my Mom's watch, over the next 12 years, she squandered and dwindled it down to a few hundred thousand dollars. Poor health, gambling, moving 10 times in 12 years, giving in to the bullying of a greedy child - she and Jack had whittled away at it until little was left. A sad, sad story and a warning to others who think that a planned inheritance will see them through their retirement years.

When the dust settles, I believe I'll be coming out of it with a Thomas Kincaid painting, some furniture and a small inheritance, in the 6 figures. To to sum it up, my ship has come in but it's a leaky rowboat. The truly nice thing about all this though is that I no longer have to sweat the summers (if you'll pardon the pun) for many years to come. I'll be able to enjoy my well deserved 7 weeks from mid-June to mid-August off.

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