I wish there was a simple way to describe the last three plus weeks. I’m sure many of you will scratch your head and wonder if this is a true story. It can be validated by my brother, Billy and our Step-Father, Gus. Just remember as you read this, Gus is 90, Billy is 77, and I’m 69. The good news is we all found that we’re made of pretty good stuff.
Between the three of us, we can usually remember the important things…like where our list is hidden. Except for Gus, who has recently had open-heart surgery, we can lift heavy objects and still walk the next day. We have learned how to pile garbage sacks on a wheel chair and, with the aid of a flashlight, find the dumpster in the middle of the night. We’ve learned how to discard items belonging to someone who never throws anything away…and for the most part get away with it.
I’m from Texas, my brother is from Los Angeles, and Gus lives in Ontario, California.
It all started several weeks ago when I decided that Billy and I should try to gather all of the paperwork needed to help Gus file for a VA pension. At the same time, Gus was scheduled to have his chest opened up to replace a valve. Sounds easy enough. Billy put about 4,000 miles on his car transporting Gus to his regular doctor’s appointments and taking forms to said doctors to complete and sign. Be advised…you make an average of 5 trips and 10 phone calls to get one form.
By the time I got to Ontario for Gus' surgery, which didn't happen then, there was frustration in the air. You can smell frustration, you know. BTW Gus didn't have surgery until about two weeks later because his COVID test, which was part of his preop came back positive. That was a real shock to us as he had COVID last February and later had the vaccination. It was even more of a shock to the group of Gus' friends who were sitting with us in the bakery when he got the phone call. I came back to Texas and stayed the 10 days that Gus was in quarantine. I flew back to Ontario the day before he was scheduled to try it again. He sailed through the surgery and they released him 5 days later. His ribs are literally wired together. (My brother missed two vacations, and was picked to serve on a jury the week Gus came home. Kip and I got two new rescue dogs. We found one on the day I came home the first time and the other the day I came home the 2nd time.
The problem with the coming home part was that Billy and I hadn’t finished making our midnight trips to the dumpster so we couldn’t get the house ready for the recovering patient. Gus is an admitted, um… collector and we had to uncollect him.
One important lesson that I would like to pass on. Before you try to move a newly purchased recliner, be aware that with most of them, the back slips off, making it much easier to carry. We moved that sucker to the motel before we discovered that feature. If we hadn’t figured it out, we would have had to take an ax to it in order to get it through the door at Gus’ house.
Since we weren’t ready, Billy put Gus up in a very nice motel for several days and I stayed at Gus’ house.
Back to the VA project.
We finally got everything together and a Veteran’s Service Officer pronounced it ready to send off to the big guys who make the ultimate determination. Three days ago, we got a letter stating they needed another piece of information. We got it, took it, and handed it to a local VA Service Officer. We read they try to expedite the process if the veteran is over 90. Now we’ll wait and see.
The night before I left, I got to take a break and took the train to Los Angeles. My brother’s wife, Liz, picked me up at Union Station and I spent a lovely evening with Liz and Billy, my niece, Erin, and her boyfriend, Carlos. Liz fixed a wonderful dinner, and we sat at tables on one of the two beautiful decks that were recently completed. As they used to say in the Murdo Coyote, “A good time was had by all.”
Have a wonderful evening. I can’t sit and type too long. I stiffen up.