Blog: Life Management SIMPLIFY - GET OUT OF DEBT...YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT'S AHEAD!
Come back with me to approximately 1985...my husband was successful in his work as General Manager of a Robotics Company and his income was becoming more than adequate for our family. Our three children were in their teen years and doing well. I was enjoying building my speaking career in time management and organizing without having to worry about bringing in a "bread winning" income. We were all healthy. Life was good.
Over the years of married life we had always carried a certain amount of debt for various reasons. My husband began reading some materials by author Larry Burkett to seek financial information and assure we were doing the best things possible with our money. Upon finishing one of Burkett's books, Debt Free Living, he exclaimed to me, "We need to do this!"
It took me a bit by surprise because, though we'd carried some debt it was somewhat manageable, and after all, it seemed to be the way our society operated. This wasn't really like him to want to pull in the reigns so tightly. My main financial goal had always been to be able to pay bills as they come in the mail and save a little on the side. That would be a great way to live in my estimation!
Though uncertain that we could actually achieve this goal of debt free living I went along with his quest. My thought was that it would get me to my main financial goal of paying off the bills as they arrived and relieve me of the stress of not knowing where we would come up with money for those unexpected bills or bills that were annual or semi-annual that would throw you for a loop because you weren't working within a real plan (known as a budget = knowing where your money is going rather than wondering where it went!)
Over the next five or six years my husband diligently went about paying off bills until he came to our final and largest debt, the house. The day soon arrived that we made the final house payment making us debt free!
Then on August 7, 1991 our lives changed forever. My husband, after forty-four years of excellent health, going to yearly physicals unlike many men, going to aerobics also unlike many men (though I accused him of enjoying being behind those women in their tight outfits), and exercising by running (even ran in our local 15K race called the "River Bank Run") was suddenly struck with a grand mal seizure while attending the funeral of a dear friend.
Once at the hospital they cat-scanned him and found a large mass of malformed veins, larger than a man's fist, on the front right lobe of his brain. It was called an AVM (arteriole venous malformation). This is a large mass of malformed veins that are thin walled and ready to blow at any time. He had a literal bomb in his brain! AVM's are fetal malformations so it had been there since developing in his mother's womb. It was sitting in there ready to go off at any time known, until then, only by the good Lord.
The doctor's said it had not yet bled but they didn't want to touch it given the size of it. They did, however, send the scans out to several doctors asking if they would consider him as a candidate for their procedures in an attempt to shut down the mass. This was a frightening time for us to say the least!
We received word from one of the doctor's at the University of Virginia that they would be willing to do a procedure on him called Gamma Knife Therapy. This is a non-invasive radiation type treatment that, hopefully, would shrink these veins to the point of looking like disintegrated rubber bands. This sounded like our answer to our prayers.
While waiting for this procedure in January of 1992 my husband was let go from his work as General Manager of a local robotics company because the owner was going to disband the business. Here we were now with our major bread winner having no job and, oh yes, a bomb in his brain!
Wondering who would hire him with this, to put it mildly, delicate health condition he began the interview process. The time came for his procedure at the UVA. During the procedure something happened to cause his left side to become paralyzed. We returned home to check him into a rehab facility where two weeks later her returned home fitted with a full leg brace and decreased mobility on his whole left side. Each day we prayed for his toes to wiggle signaling the return of his left side so that he could resume a normal life and his hunt for work.
I need to insert here our "Five Days of Grace" story. For over 20 years my husband had a personal disability insurance policy from his self employment. When he took the position with the robotics company we decided to cancel this insurance because he had one in his new line of work. We applied for the government's disability but that takes months to kick in. Now he found himself with no work, no insurance, and a bomb in his brain.
One day, nudged by the Lord I believe, my husband decided to call his former insurance company to find out what could be done. What he found out was that there were 5 days of grace left on the policy and if we could get $600 to them before that ended (in 5 days!) he would be reinstated. It was the best $600 we've ever spent! The two policies that were reinstated have kept us afloat in the life style we'd become accustomed to and will end at age 65.
My husband's toes did begin to wiggle, he did begin to walk and run again, and he did get a job. He was hired into a position that was perfect for him and offered the income we needed. Only one week into this new job he suffered a major brain hemorrhage. After getting him to the hospital that night they said I should call our children home because he was not going to live.
Hebrews 9:27 says, "It is appointed unto man once to die." It wasn't his time because he held on, went through various stages of coma, and they eventually did surgery on him to remove the mass. He went from the critical care hospital to a brain injury unit, a rehabilitation center, and finally returned home for continuing therapy...one year to the day of the brain hemorrhage.
It's been fifteen years now since he returned home. He has a left side deficit and cognitive deficits. He will never work again. He doesn't drive. He does have a great sense of humor, a gentle spirit, and a joy filled life of volunteering opportunities and family activities that now includes 9 grandchildren that he dearly loves.
Though I still don't know what tomorrow holds I know who holds my tomorrow. I believe simplifying your life by living within your means is the least stressful and best way to live.
The moral to our story: seek to become debt-free and if you're self employed, paying on a disability policy may be the best money you'll ever invest.
Judy Warmington, Woman Time Management (owner) -- Busy wife, mother of three adult/married children, grandmother of 10 (5 boys and 5 girls!), former high school teacher (M.A. from W.M.U.), Speaker, Author, Radio Personality, and Trainer of Professional Organizers.