Issue 3.2 – Declined

It had taken Charlie a few weeks to work up some motivation to venture out of the suite more regularly. Unlike Hazel, who had taken part in various activities around the Manor, Charlie was used to his creature comforts…his armchair and crossword puzzles, shooting pool with his friends, playing a game of cards, and maybe the occasional ice cream when animals were brought in for visits.

Fred had been a good friend, checking in on Charlie and encouraging him to join “the boys” for bowling, movie nights and the odd pint. It was a little too much socializing compared to what Charlie preferred, but he was grateful for all the distractions. Fred was doing a great job at providing them.

“So, have you given any thought to what you might do this summer Charlie? Maybe take up a new hobby? Go out to Ontario to see your sons?” Fred brushed the foam away from his white moustache after taking a sip of his beer. Matthew and Alf were on the other side of the table arguing about politics, as per usual these days. “I’m not really sure Fred,” Charlie admitted. “I haven’t given it a lot of thought. Kind of taking it one day at a time lately.” Fred nodded his head in understanding. “When Alice passed, that’s how I did things for about two years. But then I got myself busy, and it helped Charlie. It really did.” Charlie spun the cardboard coaster on the table, trying to avoid feeling everything that was rising to the surface. “I just don’t know Fred.”

“You know Charlie, Alf and I both get golf memberships. It keeps us pretty busy in the nice weather…and even when it’s not so nice. Just don’t let Alf near a golf cart, cause he can’t see when he drives. Likes to run people over.” Matthew chuckled. Alf slapped his hand down on the table. “That only happened once you old man and you know it!” Matthew laughed even harder. “In any event Charlie, you’d be welcome to join us. Do you like to chase balls around the green?” Charlie thought about it. “You know, I haven’t played a round of golf in years. Hazel never was a fan spending time at the course when there was so much work to be done on our acreage. I’d actually enjoy that.” “It would be a lot of fun Charlie, to have you join us,” Alf smiled. “You can drive the cart, Charlie!” Matthew chuckled. Charlie hesitated a bit, “Well, I would need to buy myself a new set of clubs. I got rid of mine when we moved. Figured I wouldn’t be needing them anymore.” “Well, go treat yourself Charlie!” Fred said spiritedly.

And so Charlie did. After finishing up late afternoon pints with his friends, Charlie took the bus into the Commons to go look at golf clubs. Usually he wasn’t so impulsive, but for the first time in a long while he felt…excited? He wasn’t really sure. All he knew was the thought of golfing again made him feel good, and he was going to keep that feeling going.

Golf clubs certainly were more expensive than what he remembered. The salesperson was very helpful, though he had more information than Charlie felt he needed. All the talk about various alloys and technologies made Charlie’s head spin. He was a science teacher and loved this stuff, but admittedly, a lot of what the gentleman was going on about sounded like nonsense. “So basically you’re saying this putter has been engineered like a space shuttle and that’s why it costs about the same?” Charlie asked sarcastically. The salesperson laughed awkwardly.

After much humming and hawing, Charlie finally settled on what he felt were a good, yet reasonably priced set of clubs. He made his way to the till and took out his credit card from his wallet. The salesperson scrunched up his face. “I’m sorry sir, but your card declined. Do you perhaps have another card or some other purchase method?” Charlie took his card back, confused. “There’s money in my account, and my pension payment went in a few days ago. That doesn’t make sense.” The salesperson thought for a moment. “Well, that is your credit card, so maybe it’s not connected to your chequing account. Did you want to try a debit card?” Charlie shook his head. “I don’t have one of those.”

And then it hit him. Hazel always took care of the banking. He only had the credit card and Hazel was the one that made sure it was paid off each month. With months of eating out, parking at the hospital while Hazel was there, groceries…not to mention some of the funeral expenses, the credit card hadn’t been paid off in months. Charlie wondered how much was on it. Come to think of it, Charlie had not been to the bank in months. Hazel handled everything electronically. Were bills even getting paid.

“Oh dear,” Charlie anxiously sighed. “This isn’t good at all.” He put his hand on the golf clubs and gave an embarrassed look. “I’m sorry to have wasted your time today.” And with that, he put his wallet back in his pocket and all the excitement he had coming into the store left him.

***************************************************************************************** One of the biggest changes that happens after the death of a spouse is the transfer of responsibilities. This can be frustrating if the person is unfamiliar with those tasks or never had to handle things before. Responsibilities that were habitual and routine for one person, might be new and daunting for the other.

Financial management is a huge challenge for individuals who had these responsibilities handled by their partner. Banking, bill payments and monthly budgeting aren’t easy to learn for seniors who have not had to deal with these tasks before.

What do you think of Charlie’s predicament? Are there any tips or resources you know of that could be of help to seniors in similar situations?

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