Saturday, February 23, 2013

Weathering the Storm That Wasn't

Q Storm and Chris Botti

As of this morning, the "Q" Storm that was to have dropped up to 12" of snow in my city fell short with only three inches accumulation. As a newly retired person, it was still reassuring to know that I would not have to travel the slick and icy roads to get to a job. I could stay safely indoors, checking weather updates on various local news apps and occasionally tuning in to The Weather Channel which was broadcasting from 10th and "Q" Streets in Lincoln.

I had to make a decision about whether or not I would attend the Chris Botti concert at the Lied Center Thursday evening. I originally saw him perform in Sting's band in Des Moines nine years ago and met him at intermission. Yeah, I was smitten and have bought all of his CDs. In 2006, I missed his winter concert in Omaha due to bad weather conditions. Chalk up another one to that list. While I may have been able to negotiate the snow covered streets to get to the venue, I had less confidence in my ability to not slip and fall on the street. Friends will confirm that I sometimes have difficulty remaining upright even on a dry sidewalk! This is apparently a gene I inherited from my maternal grandmother, whom I've been told used to say, "Wait! I'm going to fall down!"

The snowfall resumed about 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon and that confirmed my decision. I would miss Chris Botti yet another time due to weather conditions. I read online that he and his essential bandmates were traveling to Lincoln from Des Moines via bus and the smaller show could perform. The remainder of his band was flying in to Omaha and would then get to Lincoln via the Interstate. Apparently, the entourage arrived and in true show business fashion, the show went on. Instead, I still spent the evening with Chris Botti, listening to several of his CDs. From what I read in the newspaper, the concert venue was only half full, with other patrons making the same option I did and playing it safe. I've missed many concerts over the years and have never second guessed or regretted the decision.

Medicine, Medicare and Mayhem

Last year, my father's company decided to eliminate the health care benefits it had previously provided for retirees and we had the daunting task of choosing his Medicare supplement and drug insurance. In the eight years that I've been his caregiver, I've looked at dealing with his insurance and health care issues as a dress rehearsal for what I may face once I turn 65. So this is my schooling in Medicare and insurance for seniors.

After not receiving six of his prescriptions via mail order 10 days after his doctor placed the order, I started making phone calls. At least each person I spoke with seemed knowledgeable and was cordial. Unfortunately, they had to keep transferring me to a different department as the hierarchy of our issues started to get more complex. At least after a half an hour of calls, it was confirmed that his order was being processed.

Thursday evening, a representative of the pharmacy called to confirm the order and get a credit card number. He informed me that the copay was well over $1,000. As I put down the phone to talk with Dad, the rep heard me exclaim quite loudly, "Holy Shit! Your copay is over $1,000!"

By the time I picked up the other telephone extension, I heard the clicking of computer keys on the other line. The representative said, "I heard your reaction, so I'm double checking your order. The price I gave you was full retail, they haven't billed it to insurance yet." Whew. The total started to decrease until it was less than $300. That's still a hefty sum and that isn't even the full array of his medications. The same fellow called again the next morning to confirm shipment. I wrote down his name so in case I need to visit with someone who can get things done, I have the name of someone who is very helpful.

Dad and I both wonder how other elderly people manage all of the medical bureaucracy. He says that he could no longer deal with it by himself. I view myself as fairly intelligent and I have trouble untangling and understanding it all. And I'm concerned about my own ability to deal with these issues for myself twenty years down the line. I do have a health care power of attorney, but she's only 13 years younger than I am. I'm hoping she'll outlive me and will be there if I need her. It's something that every senior needs to plan for.


Much of my time as a retiree focuses on genealogy - researching my own family history, volunteering for the Lincoln-Lancaster County Genealogical Society (LLCGS) and teaching classes and giving lectures on genealogy. This was another whirlwind week, with two more speaking engagements added to my calendar, a society board meeting and keeping the LLCGS Facebook and Twitter feeds active.

The most fulfilling activity of the week started when I saw a post come through on Facebook from KMTV in Omaha. It was about a group from the Bellevue Cemetery Committee who is trying to locate living relatives of seven Civil War veterans so tombstones can be placed on their graves at Bellevue Cemetery. I shared the link on Facebook and a lengthy conversation ensued - with my other Facebook friends (I know them in "real life" too!) wanting to help move the project along.

To get the Bellevue group included in our discussion, we moved our project to the Nebraska Genea-Peeps Facebook group, an online community that I created a year or so ago. Things took off like crazy as a core group of genealogy volunteers started searching our various subscription sites, census records,, FindAGrave - you name it. We posted our findings, shared documents we located online, put our heads together for problem solving. By the end of the day, solid leads were found on living relatives for several of the veterans.

The woman who was interviewed on KMTV commented that we did in two hours what had taken her two months. A representative from the Sarpy County Museum is also participating in our quest and helping fill in a few details. Of course, the soldier who I "adopted" is being quite elusive! But on Thursday afternoon, I discovered 14 pages of his Civil War service records. His enlistment record showed the location of his birth which led me to find him in the 1850 census. There are some new clues to follow and I will keep on looking for his family.

Now that we have made so much progress in only a few days, we are all looking forward to being present for the ceremony when the headstones are placed on the graves in a few months. It is so exciting to me that we can have such a purpose-driven online collaboration that produces results in a short amount of time. And it's helping to honor these Civil War veterans who have had no tombstone to mark their graves. This type of collaboration is what I love about the internet and what I love about genealogists!

I'm now three weeks into my retirement life and still loving every minute!

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