Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The countdown is over

   22 hours and 27 minutes. My retirement countdown is almost to zero. It seems like yesterday it was at 300 days. I was looking forward to retirement. I announced it to the world. I am now less than 24 hours from the day I was to leave the mill for the last time and I am still no closer to retirement than I was last year. I may in fact be further away than ever.
   Last June our labor agreement expired. After 7 months of negotiations we are not even close to a new contract. As part of the companies proposal they want to eliminate the permanent and total disability benefit from our life insurance. I'm sure they don't realize, nor do they  care, but that life insurance is the only life insurance that I have. It is the only life insurance I can get. If I am forced to quit working due to a disability my family is going to need that money. I'm sure that the company's proposal looks good to the stockholders but I think it stinks.
   My doctor told me a couple weeks ago that he could not, in good conscience, write a letter to the Social Security Administration stating that I am disabled. I'm just not sick enough. My PSA is at undetectable levels. I have no tumor mass that would show up on a CAT scan. There's nothing in my bones that would show up on a bone scan. I have stage four prostate cancer! I have failed three different treatments. I have had multiple doctors tell me that I have terminal prostate cancer, but I am still not sick enough to retire on a disability. 
   If the company that I work for is successful in their endeavors, it will mean that upon my disability retirement I would no longer be able to collect 75% of my $65,000 life policy on my way out the door. My retirement plans were contingent on receiving that money. No money, no retirement. At the rate I am saving it will take me another four years to put that amount into savings. I'm pretty sure I don't have any wealthy relatives who have included me in their will so it appears that at least for the time being, retiring is off the table. 
   I guess the real question here is how do I feel about this?. I'm healthy. How could I possibly be upset about that? Mandy tells me that I'm too young to retire and that I have way too much energy. I guess it's kind of hard to be upset about that as well. At the time of  my diagnosis I truly believed that I would never live to see the age of 50. A month ago I turned 51. I always felt that if I was ever going to retire I would have to retire early or work until I die. The odds of me living to normal retirement age are getting better all the time. 
   In the last three years Mandy and I have traveled more than I ever thought possible. We have been to places we never thought we  would go. We have seen things we never thought we would see. The future is an empty page that is yet to be written. When we began our life together Mandy and I were like two kids just out of high school. Neither of us really had much of anything to our name. In  eight short years we have gone from having very little to having it all. We have beaten the odds in every way. We are truly blessed. 
In three short years many of our monthly expenses will be paid off. We will no longer have to worry about paying the student loan or the mortgage insurance or car payments. In three years my 401(k) will be fatter and our savings accounts will be healthier. In three years we will be better prepared for me to retire. Perhaps I will reset the timer. Call me Mr. 1095

Thursday, December 4, 2014


   Two weeks ago I said goodbye to 50. I am sad to see him go. We only knew each other a year but it was a year of fun and friendships. 
   I first met 50 somewhere in the midst of the Caribbean watching the  Seahawks dismantle the Saints with Mandy at my side and 28 new friends who for the most part were rooting for New Orleans. It was a birthday celebration like no other and one I will never forget. At the start of the game we were surrounded by a sea of black and gold and could not get near the television. By half time we had front row seats. Our new friends were gracious losers that night. God bless the Saints fans.
   As the year went on I realized that 50 was going to be a lot of fun. To be honest it was just like 40 but with a discount. I had to laugh when my aarp card arrived in the  mail. 
   I was not sure I would ever meet fifty. There were those who claimed fifty was not in the cards for me but I guess nobody knows what the future hold except for the future. As time drew close I wasn't sure I wanted to meet him but in the end we became good friends. 
  After a year of hanging out with my good friend "50" I had to say goodbye. I know I will never see him again. In his place I have a new guy to hang out with. His name is "51"! He looks just like 50. I find it hard to tell them apart. His arrival brought with him none of the dread nor any of the pomp and circumstance. It was a quiet evening spent with family when he showed up. He is quiet and laid back. He is perhaps a little more patient and hopefully a little wiser. He is taking Mandy and I to Hawaii in a few months. He is putting me to work paying off bills afterward. 51 seems to worry about stuff like savings accounts, retirement, and debt reduction. 51 is looking to be anal. Time will tell. Thanks again for reading. Todd