All grown up now

Originally Posted on September 15, 2011

This has been a wonderful, strange day.

Not terribly different from all the others since Janie passed on. Kids up before the sun is, doing the morning routine and off to school we go, back home to do work and such… but then…

One contractor after another began to arrive at my doorstep. That’s right, Casa de Jones is getting a facelift. New floors, new carpets, new lighting… it goes on. For those of you living in the Durban area, we’ll do us a new house launch when all the work is done. It’ll be epic…

And where do I get the funds to do this? Life insurance. Yeah… it’s a weird one. I’m beyond excited about getting the house fixed up. I’m ambivalent as to where the funds came from. We’d never have the opportunity to fix the place up now if Janie were with us. As it is, the payout will more than cover all the upgrades. And it goes further.

Today I went to my bank and cut a check to pay off the house. Back when Janie, the kids and I were all living under the Spence roof, we went in on a property together in a kind of equity split where we had 50% percent of the property. Our half of the property included the two room house where me and the babies live in. Today, I paid that half off.

So I’m suddenly a home owner. I don’t know how to feel about that.

I’m excited and somewhat ambivalent at the same time. In a sense, that’s why I’m diving in with renovations. This was always “our” place, as in Janie and me. And the kids, but as parents know, homes are where we raise the children. They occupy a family space that is primarily ours in a way. They don’t get much say on the decor and whatnot. They grow up here and become the people they will be in this common area known as home. That common area used to include Janie. We’d have been paying off this place for years to come, but with the life insurance…

See what I mean by ambivalent? It’s cool to have the house paid off, but…

I suppose that drives back at the heart of the whole gratitude thing I’ve spoken about in recent posts. I am grateful to have the house paid off, and I’m not going to get all wishful thinking and say “oh but if only…” Sadly, there is no if only. There is only what there is.

So the house is now mine… well sort of. See, I want to diverge into a different topic.

GET A WILL. Let me try that again: GET A WILL. If you are alive and married, especially if you have kids, get a will. When I next see you, I will ask: “have you arranged a will yet?” I’ve drafted a will and will be finalizing it as soon as possible. You HAVE to do this. Let me explain.

Since Janie and I never wrote a will, our property is now in my name, as well as Seanie and Sophie’s. Now, you might ask, what possible good can there be in including Seanie and Sophie’s names, both minors, on the title deed? Well, since the property was in the names of dad Spence and Janie, and Janie is now dead, and since we did not have a will, the house is now estate property. Therefore, the estate passes on to me and Seanie and Sophie. There are all myriad complications with this scenario that I will not bore you with, but please, please, PLEASE, get a will. Outline where you want your stuff to go and to whom, and do it right away. The stress and pain on those left to pick up after you are on your way is enough right there to make you get off your duff and do this. It’s important. All the business of death that I deal with these days could have been drastically reduced had Janie and I had the presence of mind to just go out and do our wills. Too late for us, but not for you.

And get life insurance. Like, today.

So, back to the topic… the house. We are doing upgrades. Our share of the mortgage (bond) has been paid off. We are now free and clear without any overhead excepting living expenses and various an sundry kinds of insurance. I think that many people would find this to be an enviable position to be in. And it is. But it came at a very steep cost.

I think this whole battery of feelings can be lumped into the broad category of “I shouldn’t enjoy good things in life now that my loved one is gone.” That’s a rough sentence to pass on those who survive a major loss. It’s not bad enough that you lost someone so very dear to you, but now you are not allowed to actually enjoy life any longer because of that. I feel terrible that all this good stuff is happening now that Janie has passed on. I do. It’s weird. Here the house is paid off and the kids will now have a major leg up in their tertiary education as a result of the life insurance payout, but dammit… Janie died and then that happened, that payout. It wouldn’t have happened were she here. I’d rather have her here and figure out repaying the kids’ education until we were in our retirement homes or whatever, but that’s now how it went. That is not how the cards fell. That is not our story. So… now what?

I think it’s unfair to tell myself that I shouldn’t be grateful and rejoice in this event, no matter what had to happen to make it come about. I know for a fact Janie, if I could talk to her spirit in person, would tell me that it’s okay to rejoice because she never wanted us to be in any kind of debt whatsoever, no matter how small. She was frugal in the extreme. She would be pumped to be in the clear.

However, I’m aware that she would likely feel very much the same as I do were our roles reversed. It’s called survivor guilt.

It’s odd to be a survivor. You spend a lot of time just contemplating being alive. Then good things happen after the ONE REALLY BIG, TERRIBLE THING, and you wonder… is it okay to be okay with this?

It is. You won’t feel like it is, but it is. We reject it because death is a curse and we feel like we ought to be accursed for having survived, but that’s not true. Life goes on.

Life goes on.

And on.

And on.

One day, if you’ve lost someone dear to you, you will need to get up and live. That’s because you haven’t died. You haven’t died. You haven’t died. And to do things that affirm your life isn’t a denial or denigration of the loved one who died. Think of it: what would that person want for you?

So I guess that, at least intellectually, I’m okay and excited about the upgrades that are going to be made to the house. Making the place mine will go some length to restoring the sense of “home” in this house for me. I won’t turn the place into a shrine or mausoleum for Janie. I think she’d be repulsed by the idea. No point in turning the joint into a boneyard. Nah… rather turn it into the home the kids will grow up in. Rather make it fun, make it us.

I think it’s gonna be cool.

I think you ought to come around when it’s ready.

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