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One Woman's Opinion

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Planning for the big bad wolf

Urbanna, Va.—There are some advantages to being married to a lawyer. One is, if need be, he can bail you out of jail. Two, he is sure to advise you to plan for trouble.

My attorney’s recent knee replacement surgery was scheduled for an early-bird 6:30 a.m. check-in. Why surgery is scheduled at such ungodly hours is beyond me.

It was still dark outside when Chip left for the hospital. I was left to comfort the dogs, “Lord” and “Lady,” who were upset at such early departure. Dogs do not like to be disturbed before their usual time for awakening. 

“Now, now, dears,” I said, as they settled their big bodies in bed with me (the dogs, on rare occasions, can get into my bed). At 8 a.m., when the dogs were a-snooze, I tiptoed out of the bedroom. Only a fool disturbs sleeping dogs.

In the front hall awaiting me was a thick, yellow envelope labeled “Death Instructions.”  If that wasn’t enough shock, when I turned on my computer 40 email attachments were waiting for me with copies of important papers that Chip had sent me just in case he “didn’t make it.” It took 20 minutes for all the documents to load.

Only more grist for Jack Sprat and his snappy wife. He could eat no fat. She could eat no lean. They made a perfect pair for the many challenges of life.

Ah, so now it was time to think of death, was it? For years Sprat had been advising his wife to get “her affairs in order.” This included buying a long-term healthcare insurance policy “in case she should ever need it.”

“What nonsense!” Mrs. Sprat would reply a bit testily. Her arguments being twofold: “My parents never needed long-term healthcare so why should I need it?” or, her favorite, “I’m not going to die, dear.”

“What nonsense!” Mr. Sprat would reply. “Everybody dies and so will you, my dear.” (Only lawyers remind their spouses that they will die.)

What Mrs. Sprat also imagined was not only would she never die, but she would also never become ill. What? What? Why would she become ill? Surely she would live forever and enjoy perfect health!

The only fly in the ointment was apparently Mr. Spratt, pro-lean as he was, would become ill. His recent surgery pointed this out and also a very serious reality: exhaustion for the caregiver. Just several weeks of carrying all the housework, shopping, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the dogs along with meeting his needs were overwhelming. Along with emotional stress and not sleeping well at night, Mrs. Sprat soon appeared a walking zombie.

The worst of it were the dogs. They needed to be walked three times a day. Up in the morning, ready or not, leash the dogs and off for a walk down Kent Street. And twice more before the sun set in the evening.

The experience taught the fearless Mrs. Sprat a lesson. She could not manage without help. She is now looking into long-term healthcare plans on the crazy supposition that she might need to have it one day.

What happened to Mrs. Sprat was a wake-up call. She, like everyone, needs a plan that includes growing old, becoming weak or ill, and no longer being able to take care of herself.

Especially now since the federal government can’t possibly keep its promises to continue to provide the same medical care to seniors as before. The Obama plan proposes to cut Medicare by $600 billion in wasteful spending, as it promises free medical services for all. The proposed Obama plan will add to a $10 trillion U.S. debt in the next 10 years to be laid on the backs of younger generations who may never see the day when this nation pays off its gargantuan loans to foreign countries.

Flashes of three little pigs come to mind. The first two pigs dancing beside their straw and stick houses while the third pig builds his brick house. Mrs. Sprat, stubborn as she tends to be, gets the picture. She must not count on government to take care of her, but rather plan for herself for the coming big, bad wolf.

Long live the indefatigable Mrs. Sprat!

The sooner we all realize such universal truth, that we the people can plan for ourselves far better than government, the better off we will all be—not only as a freedom loving and self-reliant citizenry, but also as a financially sound nation.  ©2009

posted 09.24.2009

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