Mom was having a really hard time dealing with her financial situation by the beginning of 2010. She was paralyzed with fear about going bankrupt and had already been forced to move into an apartment after the bank foreclosed on her house. She would go for weeks without opening her mail and then be surprised when her power was disconnected or her cell phone stopped working.
In an attempt to help her, I convinced her to simply bundle her mail and send it to me so I could go through her bills. I got her username and password so I could use the Bank of America website to access her checking account and pay bills for her electronically. But she had been unemployed for so, so long by that point and had already burned through all of her retirement funds, etc.
It didn’t help things that she seemed to have completely forgotten how to use a computer. She would call me exasperated that she couldn’t access her email or find things on the Internet. It was driving me crazy, because she had worked for years and years using her computer every day and then suddenly started acting like anything even remotely technological — email, a remote control, the telephone — was impossibly complicated for her.
Here is an email I sent her and my little sister at the beginning of March:
From: Gagne, David
To: Gagne, Kathleen
Subject: Mom’s CD
Sent: March 2, 2010 10:43 AM ET
Bank of America sent you a statement about your CD and on the reverse you wrote, “I don’t know what to do about the CD.”
I don’t mean to sound harsh, but you need to understand that — for all intents and purposes — you do not *have* a CD. There is just about $7500 remaining in that CD, and on Saturday (if not sooner) I am going to transfer another $2500 from it into the checking account I use to pay your bills.
At that point you will have just about $5000, which — at your current rate of expenses — will not likely last beyond the end of April. That means you will not be able to pay your rent — or any other bills at all — for May.
I wish I could say that I can cover you for a month or two, but I really can’t. [Redacted] I simply don’t have any extra cash that I could give to you, so you need to plan on having some income by — at the absolute latest — the middle of April. And by that I mean you must have been working for probably the first two weeks of April so that you can deposit a paycheck by the middle of April, otherwise you aren’t going to be able to pay your May rent, and if that’s the case I honestly don’t know what you will do.
PS: Jenny: I am not sure if mom is actually receiving these emails. Occasionally she will reply but she hasn’t responded to any messages I’ve sent her about finances. Please let me know if you receive this message and — if you talk to her — try to make sure she is aware of the situation.
David Vincent Gagne