Don’t worry, Gentle Reader. This happened a few years back. I don’t intend to talk about the night he died (I happened to have a coffin in our backyard, as a prop for a party; there were questions), the funeral (a friend cockslapped a frenemy), or the wake (there was a mechanical bull that I don’t remember). No, I intend to address the aftermath. I was still employed in concrete, at the time, but it was fall, verging on winter: I had perhaps one day of work a week, if I was lucky, in the winter. Ma hadn’t worked in a few years, having to become a full-time caregiver to my father and her parents. In short, we were destitute.
One day, Ma received a letter from Dad’s union, concerning his pension. That really saved us. We were still pretty deep in debt, though, and that’s when Ma decided to go to the union, to ask about the life insurance policy that they had on Dad.
Now, you have to understand that my mother takes her dogs with her everywhere. To the bank, to the post-office, to the grocery-store, to the D.M.V. Until she’s been yelled at for bringing an animal into a place of business, she’ll assume that her dogs are welcome. The trip to see the board of the union would be an overnight one; there was no way that she was leaving her Golden Lab behind.
To say that the only motel I could find that accepted dogs was a cockroach nightspot would be an understatement. Further, despite our reservations, they were entirely booked when we arrived. Helpfully, they suggested the Seattle Marriott, being the only other establishment in town that they were aware of that allowed pets, and whose prices can be found here.
When we got to the hotel, the staff were amazingly helpful and kind. We explained the situation, and the reason for our stay, and not only offered us a two-bedroom suite but also gave us a steep discount. The staff wished us luck with our hearing, and that’s how two penniless ragamuffins ended up in one of the most superb hotel rooms they’d ever stayed in.
The next day, as we went before the union’s board of directors, I was certain that we would be denied. I had read the paperwork; Dad’s insurance policy had been canceled when he was forced to take an early disability-retirement. However, he’d told Maman for years that it was all taken care of and in place, and perhaps he even believed it (Dad was no good at paperwork). Nonetheless, Ma felt that morality was on her side, and felt sure that her impassioned pleas to do the right thing would be heard.
I couldn’t watch, and I couldn’t look away.
Needless to say, she was denied. However, as we walked away from our meeting (they didn’t even validate our parking, the cheapskates), Ma’s cell phone began to ring. It was a call that would change our lives.
TO BE CONTINUED – !
(Imagine dramatic music here, please)