I read something this morning that has bothered me a little bit. It was something a guy stitched together where he had a screen capture of the last couple dozen or so texts he exchanged with his father before he committed suicide back in the latter part of April. Father and son apparently live in different parts of the country, and a sister lives in a third part of the country. The son seemed to think the suicide was related to the c19 isolation. His father lived alone and had retired a couple years ago. I don't have an opinion on the veracity of that theory. Two facets of the exchange and commentary got to me though.
First, his father seemed very upbeat and engaged (and successful) with some leisure pursuits. He was interested and paying attention to c19, but appeared to approach the glut of information rationally and reasonably, optimistic about the probability of eventually getting past it. The son described his dad as a bit of a "loner" so while having some concern about his increased pandemic-related isolation, it wasn't a paramount concern (given the apparent positive and "normal" tone of the text exchanges). That got me thinking about my dad. He doesn't text but we talk on the phone weekly at minimum. He seems upbeat and his sense of humor is intact, but he's lost two since-high school or longer friends during April, and his social routine (Fridays beer at "the club" with his high school pals, weekly breakfast with other school pals, bi-weekly poker night with his old work pals, and church on Sunday) is completely shut down for now. Even the family gatherings are curbed as both my Aunt and oldest sister (who share the family matriarch role since my mom passed) have health concerns and are being extra cautious in their self-quarantining. My brother and other sister look in on him as often as they can, but they both struggle with maintaining an orderly lifestyle so it's haphazard. Reading those texts knowing the end result has me a little worried that Dad's putting on a brave face that belies something a bit more concerning.
Second, the father in some ways reminds me of the me I envision. He'd apparently worked his way to being a fairly accomplished guitarist and was in the process of writing arrangements of all his favorite songs for solo guitar and recording them. The son played as well and they'd collaborated on some things. The father had also taken up painting, converted an extra room to an artist's studio, and had produced a steady output of increasingly better work. Some of the specifics are different, but if someone told me that's more-or-less what I'd be doing ~2 years after retiring, I would say that would put me in the happy camper bucket with a good deal of contentedness.
Suicide is a complicated thing and there might be a lot the son did not reveal, or didn't know. I also don't think my dad is the type to actively take his own life, nor is it anything I would posit for my own future. But the story did remind me both that things aren't always what they seem, even from a relatively close perspective, and that having interests and activities that would get general approval for enriching and making a life worth living don't guarantee success. Adds some urgency to my timeline, and combined with my recent pandemic-tinted reflections have me questioning my future road map. It's probably not a bad thing to continually reevaluate plans but I also believe a degree of underlying confidence is an important ingredient too.
I have the ball rolling for getting my upstairs HVAC replaced, one of my larger get-the-house-ready-to-sell expenses. The thing is > 25 years old and basically does its job. I really don't like replacing items like that while they are still working. A new one will be more efficient, won't use freon, and should be more reliable, but a new one already comes with a certain amount of sunk energy and legacy of pollution. The old one did start producing a sort of swampy smell late last season when the AC runs. Probably over the years of he heat exchanger doing it's job in the high summer humidity up in the not-climate-controlled attic, algae and such has built up on the coils. It could be cleaned/restored for a few hundred bucks probably, but I'm not comfortable sinking that money into something that has a nonzero probability of giving up the ghost for good in the next year, and the last thing I want is an 11th-hour problem of significant magnitude cropping up on the eve of a closing. I've always been amazed by how frequently things like that seem to happen right around final inspection time based on listening to different peoples' anecdotal tales of woe. A few thousand bucks feels like a lot to spend in such an economic environment even though it's been in the plan and the money set aside for two years plus now. At least I'll have clean-smelling AC for my last Southeastern summer, and eliminate a potential liability when it hits the market.
Next up is an exterior paint job, which I'll also probably hire out. My discomfort with heights and ladders is an expensive personality trait, alas. That will then leave a much-needed kitchen refresh and some other interior spruce up odds/ends to get it to where I've been advised it should be for decent salability.
Several of the local real estate outfits are advertising programs where they'll buy your house as-is (the claim is generally "we'll give you what it's worth as-is minus 6%, roughly the going commission rate in the area). Before I go beyond the exterior painting I'm going to bring a couple of those guys in to see what they'd give me. I truly dislike interior remodeling, and so if I'm not grossly overpaying for the convenience of letting someone else deal with all of that, I might just go with it. I'd have to find somewhere else to live for a few months, but my next door neighbor has a significant rental real estate business and says he's usually always got something open if I don't mind living in a downscale apartment or trailer in a downscale part of town. Unfortunately, right at the time everything shut down the local market was getting hot (houses in decent neighborhoods were often selling for above asking price within days of going on the market), which was probably what prompted local brokerages to get into the flipping business. They might be abandoning that now. But since my new cell plan has unlimited calling minutes, it doesn't hurt to make a few calls.
Mondays are getting to be bad days for me for the first time I can remember since I was in grade school. This past Monday I was once again on the cusp of just saying to hell with it and checking out. The next 11 months of net salary does still have some marginal utility offsetting relocation expenses and some of the losses incurred by the stash, I'm still down 4-5% or so for the year after new contributions. For a lot of reasons I hope the restarting of the economy goes fairly smoothly.
I turn 56 tomorrow. Technically that constitutes a failure relative to some goals I set for myself back in 2011 when I said I'd retire no later than the year I became eligible to separate from the company as a retiree (age 55). One of the reasons I hung around this year was the hope of getting a severance package of some sort related to a recent merger. Unfortunately with c19, our sister businesses from the other side of the merger are being devastated (large dependence on the aviation industry) so enough folks on that side will probably be let go to cover the expected "efficiency enhancements" The Street is waiting to see. No need to tempt people to leave from my side of the new entity, which is chugging along with relatively minor impact beyond struggling to keep up with the business we have because of absences and other pandemic response concessions. I'll probably be back on overtime next week.
I'm going to do my bit today and head by the local big box home improvement store to get some fertilizer for my lawn, my first nonessential outing since before St Patrick's Day. Just need to run my just-laundered bandanas through the dryer so I can don my desperado-style face covering.