George called at about 6 pm, when I was starting to think about heading out. His wife has renal cell carcinoma. She had an 8 pound, volley-ball sized tumor removed and her abdomen is held together with staples. The surgeons didn't think she'd survive the surgery, but she did.
Then, a month or so after her big surgery, George took his car in to be fixed. It was a Cadillac; George and Teresa had done well in life, and they drove big cars and lived in a big house. They were both professionals; he was a hospital executive. They thought they were set for life.
Anyway, the Cadillac dealership said the car was fixed, so he brought it home and put it in the garage. Then George smelled smoke. In the end, their $800,000 home was reduced to rubble and flames.
George filed a claim with his homeowner's insurance, but State Farm -- his insurer -- denied the claim. He got a lawyer, but somehow, State Farm got the judge to exclude all evidence about the Cadillac, the dealership, the repairs -- the source of the fire. The jury found against George. He is now trying to appeal, but he doesn't have the $9000 he needs to get the trial transcripts he needs to appeal.
The house is a pile of rubble, but George has tried to hang onto it. He promised Teresa that she would not die in the three room "cave" they live in now, where Teresa sleeps on a broken couch and George sleeps in a chair. They have no working kitchen -- no refrigerator or stove -- so they can't go to a food bank for food. They tried Meals on Wheels but they both got sick after three days, so they gave up on that. George hasn't eaten yet today.
George and Teresa had burial plots. He sold his about a year ago to pay Teresa's medical expenses. He won't sell Teresa's because she deserves a proper burial, he says.
Teresa is on Social Security disability -- their only income -- and she has Medicare, but doctors and radiologists and other health care providers won't treat her without payment of the 20% coinsurance up front unless she has a Medicare supplemental policy. Teresa's policy costs $420 per month. George doesn't have it this month. He doesn't know what he's going to do.
I spent an hour and a half going through all the resources I know about with George. He has 3 pages of names and phone numbers now, so he will be busy on Monday. And I will try to do some more work for him next week. At the very least, they ought to have a bed to sleep in, so I will try to find a bed or furniture store to donate one.
But there it is -- a picture of what can happen to any of us if we're hit with a health disaster, a house fire, a nasty insurance company, a bad lawyer, a judge who actually high-fived the insurance company's lawyer when the jury brought back its verdict against George. It can happen to any of us.
Every day we have a roof over our head, a hot meal, a bed to sleep in, we are so very fortunate.
I will take that with me into the week-end. I hope you will, as well. Jennifer