Monday, November 26, 2012


Whether it be 'to exhale' or 'for Godot', I seem to spend a lot of my time waiting. Frankly, it's neither a good nor a fun thing. There may not be anything I can do about the amount of waiting I have to do, but I really don't much like it.

At forty-mumble, one really doesn't have the luxury of time to fart around (excuse my French). At forty-*&@$, one can ill afford to be out of the work environment and unable to make any contributions to one's pension (if one still has one). Is anyone else as worried about my future as I am? I doubt it. I have friends who talk alot about God and His provisions, but see me here (as the Jamaicans would say), right about now, that kind of talk does NOT sustain me. Usually I talk a good game, I have this business idea that I'm developing and about which, on good days, I am excited and hopeful. But on dark days - and it's pretty dark today - the future looks very, very grim indeed. Unlike my mother, I haven't even got a kid I can press into service as my devoted caregiver. Things could get very dark and dicey for me.

There's no point to fretting about whose fault any of this is. At this stage of the game, ain't no *fault* to be applied. It simply is what it is. That aside, I'm clearly the one who will most directly have to pay the bill when it comes due someday in the future. I pray that my business idea will sustain me, either with work for a lifetime or income and benefits for a lifetime. Clearly, retirement is NOT in my future....unless we're talking at age 99 or thereabouts.

Waiting. I spend a lot of time waiting. It's hard, hard, hard, but it's what I seem to do best: wait. Godot better come quick. I'm running on fumes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Not too long ago, US Presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney, said in an interview that the uninsured should use the Emergency Rooms for their care. It was, I think, his "Let them eat cake" moment. As I thought about it, I wondered if my suggestions about making property income-generating, renting space in your or your parents' homes was my own "Let them eat cake"?

About eighteen months ago, I had the opportunity to make a presentation to a committee of the Board of one of the larger credit unions in Trinidad & Tobago. The pitch I was making, was to share some of my insights gained in this crucible that is caregiving and financial management, with credit union members. During the course of that presentation, I was asked what I would suggest for people who were not already home owners. The premise of my recommendations at the time being: leverage the home you have to create a stream of income.

To be completely truthful, it was not a question I had even considered. My insights were/are drawn from my experience. My mother is a homeowner. She owns something that she can turn to a profit no matter how small, but I had not really considered what suggestions I might make to someone who had no property that they could leverage in this way. Perhaps like so many political candidates, I was speaking to others with similar experience and had not seriously considered other situations or perspectives. I now think my response was on the low end of "Let them eat cake". I didn't say, "Well, I can't help them" but I did suddenly find myself in the awkward position of being a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck. I came up with something, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't well-articulated or well-considered because, it obviously wasn't.

There has to be something though, there has to be a response that makes sense and I think I now have it: you have to generate resources from skills or abilities if you don't have assets to do it for you. It's really pretty simple. You either have money at work for you (assets) or you're at work for you. There are no other options. As someone who doesn't own a home of her own, this is where I find myself. I must put my shoulder to the wheel, even as I do the other things - management of resources and care - for my mother. Not only must my shoulder be pressed hard against the wheel, it cannot be at a j-o-b. Jobs don't pay enough to get you where you need to go quite frankly. If someone wants to pay me goo-gobs of money to do my thing, that's great, but given what I know about how care costs can explode, goo-gobs of salary, do not trump goo-gobs generated by a business of my own.

Suggesting entrepreneurship may be yet another "Let them eat cake" moment. Let's face it, not everyone wants to be self-employed. I don't particularly love the idea myself, but I do recognize that this is where I must go if the future is to be brighter still than the present. So I apologize to anyone I've 'caked' by talking repeatedly about turning property into profit and I offer this instead. Try your hand at entrepreneurship. I'm about to. Stand by.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Excuse me while I have a moment of doubt

Some weeks ago, in another post, I said something about being at a strategic inflection point, and the need to do something big and different if we were to be able to manage the financial challenges ahead. That remains true. What is also true is the risk inherent in taking action is significant. If I'm wrong, there's a lot on the line. We're already in the pass, so it's not like we have all this time to make corrections if I get it wrong. I really wish there were someone out there who could guide me. I am out here on entirely my own, and though I have successfully made big choices before, there are no guarantees that the next big choice won't fail miserably. There is a lot on the line, not just money wise but also time wise, peace of mind wise and there's not a lot of real help figuring out what to do, how to do it and how to minimize the risk.

This is truly insane, and because it matters, the stress level is great.

OK. Moment of doubt over. This will be just fine. I hope.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The top of my pointy head

Two anecdotes................

My sister chronicles my mother's decline by watching how Mummy handles communion. In the Methodist church, United Methodist in the US, we take communion on first Sundays. That means that 30 days or so elapse between experiences of the communion ritual. For Mummy, that's an eternity. Every month, the process is a little harder, the elements a little more unfamiliar.

Yesterday was first Sunday. We went through the process and it became increasingly clear to us that the world is becoming increasingly remote to her. The bread - at the old church they used wafers - she simply didn't know what to do with it; the wine, the pastor had to help her put it to her lips. It really is hard to watch.

The black and white on the status of the disease is: progressing, probably faster than we'd like.

Speaking of black and white........
The truth is that Mummy doesn't recognize us any more. The caregiver will tell her "Liesl is downstairs" and she'll respond with something akin to incredulity, "Liesl is here?". Some days, when the chaos is deeper, she'll say, "Liesl?" in a tone that suggests that the name is familiar but she doesn't quite know why. Anyway, yesterday, we went to our old church which is a predominantly African-American congregation in DC. There, anybody could be her people. People kept stopping her and speaking to her - as I marched briskly forward trying to get to my seat. On more than one occasion, I found myself having to turn back to find her, because she'd got sidetracked. One time, she was entering a room where folks were congregating because I had turned a corner and was out of sight. Any black face could be the face of someone connected to her.

Our other church, is up in Annapolis and is a predominantly White congregation. There, we are one of maybe three families of color. A few weeks ago, I realized what a good thing this was for her. There, when she looks up and sees a dark face, she simply gravitates towards it. It must be connected to her you see. How could it not? At the old church, we are just three faces among sea of unfamiliar faces. In Annapolis, there's less of a question and perhaps slightly less confusion but what do I know? I'm well past the point of knowing anything. I'm deep into 'making it up off the top of my pointy head' territory.