That Sunday, George and Alice were still distressed after the party.
They met in 5thgrade when they were both kept after school to clean the blackboard. Now in their mid 80s, yesterday they celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in their back yard. George dreaded the family gathering.
On Saturday, everyone was there, the 3 children, Roberta, Wes and Sara, 7 grandkids and 4 great-grandchildren. The grand-kids decorated the yard with streamers draped from tree to tree. The great grandkids played tag, blew bubbles and dug in the sandbox, then they collapsed. Starting mid afternoon, George and Alice sat in the shade visiting with everyone. Occasionally someone would go to the kitchen to get food and drinks. On each of her three trips to the kitchen, Roberta filled her red plastic Solo cup with cooking sherry she knew Alice stored under the sink.
Later in the afternoon, just as George anticipated, Roberta sauntered over to visit with him when no one was around. Roberta, their oldest, is fifty-one, petite, pretty and way overweight. She has been divorced for over a decade and hates her life. She works at a call center and lives with her unemployed daughter, Kathy, in an apartment. five blocks from George and Alice. Roberta has been hinting for weeks that she needs a new car. Today she told her father she has decided on a Ford Focus. It will only cost $25,000 with the “add ons” she likes. She asked if she could go to the bank with him this Thursday to get the money on her day off.
George put her off, saying he first needed to talk to Alice.
In the last two years, George and Alice have been asked more and more to help their family. Take Bill, their grandson, with two young children – they paid his rent for six months when he was between jobs. They paid two years of college expenses for Kathy, Roberta’s daughter, who dropped out of school and plays video games. Then Bill’s boy, Sam, fell out of a tree and broke his collar bone. The parents had no health insurance, so George and Alice paid $12,000 to help.
George and Alice find they can’t say “No.” They are starting to panic about having enough money for their own future. Before talking with Alice, George added up what they have paid to help the family. It totaled more than $50,000. He was shocked. They don’t have that kind of money to give away. They know the requests for more will keep coming.
George and Alice are private people. The only person they confide in is Eliza, Alice’s sister, when she calls like clockwork every Sunday at 8 p.m.. They told Eliza about the party and Roberta’s request for more money. They asked her if she had any suggestions on how to stop the requests without hurting everyone’s feelings. Eliza didn’t have an answer. She did mention a friend, age 90, who asked a Court to order that someone manage her finances and pay all her bills,. Now her friend has no financial worries. Perhaps that would work for George and Alice.
Monday, George called to make an appointment with an Elder Law Attorney. At the end of that meeting George and Alice decided they too would ask their local Court to appoint Keith, a professional, to handle their finances and protect them from having to say “no” to all the family requests.
Now when asked for money, George or Alice just say “You need to talk to Keith. It is out of our hands.” What a relief.
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