Often I have lately remarked that my life seems uncommonly busy for one who is retired from the practice of law. It has however dawned on me that there is a complicating factor in addition to straddling the international boundary between Canada and America every six months or so. That factor is my mother. As she incrementally declines in every respect so too my duties escalate commensurately. It is fair to say that I handle her residential care, her finances and her professional health issues. Add to that the distance of approximately 100 kms between her and me (and the fact that I visit her almost every day howsoever briefly) it is small wonder that so much of my time is consumed in occupation of one sort or another. Not to mention that our personal grocery shopping has been delegated to me as a trade-off for evening food preparation though I still insist upon preparing my own breakfast as any gentleman would of course do. If we occasionally have lunch it is normally at the Golf Club in Appleton, the Ivy Lea Cub in Gananoque or Atomica in Kingston. The rigidity of our schedule speaks to our conformity to patterns generally, both here in the summer and on Hilton Head Island in the winter (though naturally the conventions differ noticeably given my abeyance from my mother).
Anyway all this is by way of introduction to what prompted us to go to the banks this morning. My mother instructed me two days ago that she needed some cash. I acquiesce not because I believe she really needs cash (she can charge anything she requires to her account at the retirement residence or use her debit card on the rare occasions she goes to the pharmacy) but because it clearly gives her a sense of participation to pay cash to her hairdresser or to dole it out to me or my sister as repayment for some little thing we may have brought her (a chilled drink, chocolates or an article of cheap clothing from Costco or Joe). Whenever I accommodate my mother’s wish for cash she invariably questions whether she must write me a cheque as repayment. I then inform her (as I always do) that I used my Power of Attorney bank card to withdraw the funds directly from her account. This instantly precipitates a knee-jerk contraction of her thinking and an avalanche of fears about possible abuse of her finances. It does little good for me to remind her that I have been looking after her financial affairs (and those of my late father) since 2008 when I established for them the Declaration of Trust to permit my sister and me to own all our parents’ assets with them jointly (to avoid probate fees on death and to facilitate succession of their respective estates). Not to mention that I regularly provide my mother with itemized bank statements and account summaries, the details of which she promptly forgets though she is never at a loss to revive the threat of seditious encroachment upon her private affairs. I am reminded that years ago my mother’s constant refrain was “Don’t touch my savings account!”, an especially preposterous assertion at the time because it contained over $200,000 earning about 3 cents interest per month. However I was at that juncture erroneously persuaded of my mother’s capacity by the strength of her admonition and I therefore inexcusably tolerated this banking anomaly, not exactly a recommendation of my professional management skills. That of course has since changed and now her savings account contains a perpetual sum of $20,000 which satisfies her perception of financial viability (in case, as she says, she needs to buy something or go somewhere, both highly unlikely).
My mother deals with the Royal Bank of Canada, a tradition fostered by my late father throughout his lifetime. There are in fact two places in Town where one can get money from a Royal Bank of Canada ATM, one on the property formerly owned by the Bank (and since bequeathed to the HUB, a local thrift store), the other at its new local branch in one of the two malls in Town. In the interest of protracting our cycling outing this morning we chose to go to the mall as it is furthest away. On our way to the mall we diverted ourselves to go around the entire building of the new Orchard View Lodge, a seniors’ retirement residence. Already we’re planning our transition to that place from our apartment if either of us has the indignity to survive the anticipated declension. Orchard View Lodge is unquestionably a credit to our community and yet another reminder that we have here in Almonte at our finger tips everything one could possibly desire; viz., shops, salons, grocery stores, banks, dentists, doctors, hospital, nursing home and retirement residence.
We deal with Bank of Montreal (an institution which pointedly provided the first of many business loans). Our own personal requirement for cash is not much more enlarged than that of my mother’s. Primarily we only need cash for payment of our housekeeping service. Even the parking meters in Kingston take credit cards. I continue to harbour a small bit of change in the car for the occasional toll road we encounter (mostly in the United States). From time to time we need change to drop into the box of the Lions Club when the volunteers set up a toll booth on the bridges in Town. And perhaps I feel the necessity to pay cash for my three dollar cup of espresso (though a young “baristas” told me she thinks nothing of charging as little as 99￠ to her credit card). When we left the Royal Bank we detoured across an open field behind the Almonte General Hospital to the Old Town Hall where we sidelined onto the River Walkway to view the current construction related to the much maligned Enerdu hydro-electric project. Interestingly we found nothing particularly offensive about the construction and we are encouraged to believe that the well-known “Midas Touch” of the Cavanagh family will ultimately redeem the enterprise.