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Cleaning up

That last post seems to have worried some of my friends. Well, I'd had a run of dispiriting days, aggravated by lack of sleep. I'm normally a light sleeper anyway, and the heat and (especially) humidity here in the east make it even harder to get a good night's sleep. Yes, I have an air conditioner in my motorhome, but it's mounted in the ceiling only six feet from my bed... so even if I'm wearing earplugs, the noise keeps me awake. Can't sleep with it, can't sleep without it... a lose-lose situation. The best I can do is go to bed early and stay in bed as long as I can in the morning, in hope of getting almost enough sleep.

Anyhow, I'm feeling better rested today. I spent yesterday afternoon at the house, bagging up stuff to put out with the trash on Tuesday night—mostly old papers, bedding, curtains, and other things that should have been discarded decades ago. Ever wonder what happens to a hot water bottle when you leave it in a drawer for fifty-odd years?

Hot water bottle

This house is full of things like that, because Donald never threw anything away. When I cleaned out the medicine cabinet in the upstairs bathroom, I found prescriptions that had been filled for Donald's father nearly half a century ago. The back porch is completely filled with carefully saved cardboard boxes, paper bags, and sacks of styrofoam packing peanuts. I'm going to be keeping the sanitation workers busy for the next few months, that's for certain.

By the way, speaking of cleanup, I have to tell you about the phone call I got from Aftermath, the company I hired to clean up the kitchen area where Donald died. They had sent out three young men who spent five or six hours thoroughly sanitizing the area, even going so far as to pull up some of the floor tiles.

I gave them the policy number of Donald's homeowner's insurance and they were supposed to bill the company for the cost, which their dispatcher had estimated as "a couple thousand." Well, a week later they called to say that Donald had no current insurance policy (more on that later), and I was on the hook for $10,585.70! When I expressed shock, the rep I was speaking with said he'd talk with his billing department. Half an hour later he called back to say that because I had no insurance, they had approved a 40% discount, bringing the cost down to a mere $6,351.00.

This story has two morals, I guess. First, if you call in one of these crime scene/unattended death cleanup firms, be prepared to pay a hefty sum. (According to the itemized invoice they sent me, their labor charge was $285 an hour per person. No, that is not a typo!) And second, if you make the reasonable assumption that Aftermath wasn't losing any money on the $6,000+ fee they ended up charging me, then if an insurance company had been paying the bill, Aftermath would have cheerfully padded the bill with an extra $4,000 of pure profit. Wondering why your insurance premiums keep going up? Well, this kind of thing is one reason.

About that insurance: I found out later that Donald had let it lapse three years ago, so he was completely uninsured. And as it turned out, even when he had insurance, it was a pitifully inadequate fire and theft policy that undervalued the house by about 80%, with no liability coverage at all. If the postal carrier had slipped on the icy front steps and filed a million-dollar lawsuit, Donald wouldn't have been covered. And because the house was also in my name ("joint tenancy with right of survivorship"), I would have been liable! Now that's a scary thought. I'm glad I didn't know about it at the time. Needless to say, I got on the phone to the insurance agent and put a solid homeowner's policy in place to protect the house until it's sold.

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