Daze of My Life: Watch Over Ya
Daze of My Life
Watch Over Ya
For the past few years, ever since my father suffered his first stroke, and was unable to tend to his normal financial planning, I have been responsible for my parent's finances; paying their bills, managing their available credit, allocating their resources, etc.
With my father's recent death, and the subsequent adjustment by Social Security (now that there's a widow rather than two recipients) and miscellaneous debt issues yet to be resolved, it seemed logical that, moving forward, more supervision, i.e. more awareness by yours truly of what was happening, financially-speaking, in my mother's house, seemed prudent given her new found independence. Not so much that my mother would be spending money she didn't have, rather that she would now have more time available to her than she previously had, given my father's non-ambulatory, visually-impaired, in-home status the past few years. In effect, there will be a transition - on a variety of issues - to a different life, now that Barnet (my father's given name) has died.
Quite frankly, considering my mother's amazing strength and resilience, and excellent overall physical and mental condition, she and Maria - my father's former caregiver and now, my mother's roommate/companion, so to speak - will require much less of my brother Richard's and my time. That's not to say that our commitment will diminish in any way, it's more to realize that our presence and assistance won't be as necessary, vis-a-vis their activities of daily living, as they most definitely were while my father was still living.
As so often happens in life - or death for that matter, when one door closes, another one opens. And though my mother's health is not the issue, fortunately, certainly the quality of her widowed life is. And following our father's frequently expressed entreaty: "Take care of your mother;" that's just what Richard and I am to do.
And so we all decided that I could use a little help, help in the form of on-line banking, that is, thereby enabling me to monitor electronically the ebb and flow of my mother's checking account balance, the balance of which sustains the quality of life we want her and Maria to live. And in my capacity as one of her Power of Attorneys, I called my parent's bank's 800 number to make the arrangements, and after 20 minutes of patient assistance by their customer server, I was able to complete the process.
Did you know that code words, access code and pin number are not the same? Did you know that after picking one set of three word/code/pin numbers to gain access to the Bank's on-line banking system, one has to pick yet another threesome to then secure private access to the personal accounts so designated? As a result, by the end of the process, I was so confused, I was asking the customer server who was assisting me what the access code/code word/pin numbers I had chosen actually were. I understand that the bank is interested in protecting our privacy - and all of our respective dollars and cents, but preventing me, the account holder, from benefiting from the on-line services offered because of the difficulty navigating through all the bells, whistles and hoops offered through this extremely complicated system seems penny-wise but dollar-foolish. Moreover, if its details and procedures prevent me from fulfilling my fiscal responsibility, then what's the point? The bank is supposed to be working with me, not against me, right? Or am I a stranger in town?
(This column was intended to be funny but, in my on-line experiences to date - access code/code word/pin number confusion resulting in log-in problems; service off-line; web site pages expiring, etc. - there's been nothing funny about it. So far, the only thing I've been able to monitor is my own stupidity.)
Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.