Wednesday, May 18, 2016

17 Days Late

This morning, I learn two remarkable facts. First, it will not be raining today. Second, apparently I forgot to pay my mortgage last month. 

Yes, there's nothing quite like the feelings that flood into your mind when you open your bank account app and get greeted by a blinking pop-up that informs you that your mortgage payment is now 17 days late!! What the heck? What do they mean with this 17 days late nonsense? I pay my mortgage on the first of every month, have been for 204 consecutive months now. I hit the transfer tab and send the payment automatically each and every month...on the 1st. Only, upon further review, it appears that I had indeed queued it up to send...but never actually hit send! Perhaps I got distracted by an incoming phone call. Maybe I was prepared to hit send and got sidetracked by a bout of rapid fire sneezing which disoriented me. Whatever the reason, I did not pay my mortgage and it is indeed 17 days late. 

Unfortunately, this issue brings back some unpleasant memories for me. Four years ago my Mom called me in a panic. Dad was horrified to learn that his checking account was terribly overdrawn. He was embarrassed and mad at himself for making such a mess of his checkbook. She asked me if I would take a look at it. So, I drove over their one night and sat down with them around the kitchen table to get to the bottom of it. My Dad was a proud man. Although he had never made a lot of money, he was proud of his exemplary credit and how he had never bounced a check in his life. Now, suddenly...there were 14 such bounced checks, and he had a defeated look on his face like nothing I had ever seen. I immediately started cracking jokes, desperate to keep things light. It wasn't working. After a couple of hours I found the source of the problem...a month previous to all of the bounced checks Dad had entered two consecutive large payments as deposits. Consequently, he thought he had plenty of money in his account. Finally the math errors had caught up with him. I managed to make him laugh about it eventually...perhaps my finest comedic performance of all time. But there was something else I found which was more disturbing than a mere math error. Dad's handwriting always had a bold flair to it. His penmanship, like so many others of his generation, was flawless. But, several months back in his ledgers I saw abrupt departure from meticulous to sloppy. It hadn't been a gradual thing, it was immediate and total. It was about the time where the error was found.

Not long after, Dad made me power of attorney for his affairs and turned the checkbook over to me. He actually seemed relieved, but sad at the same time. So did I.

So, when I see the flashing warning about my late mortgage payment, I think of Dad. No, I haven't started bouncing checks, this was just a random mistake. We all make them. But it serves as a reminder that we are all getting older. Wiser too, but older nonetheless.