The phone rang at almost exactly 2:00 on Friday afternoon. I knew the appointment with the judge was at 1:30 (the meeting with the lawyer was at 1:00), so I didn’t think it could be Megan.
But it was.
Megan: “It’s over! We won!”
It was almost the same kind of stunned feeling I had when she called me to say Dad was dead. I heard the words, but there seemed to be a disconnect between my ears and my brain.
Eventually I learned that they had gotten a really nice judge, and that their lawyer had read all 600 pages of Rob’s medical records and condensed them down into two pages of notes. She had every fact about Rob’s medical condition at her fingertips.
The lawyer led with the three spinal surgeries, the last of which has failed and must be repaired within 6 months. The judge asked Rob a couple of questions, and then made a bench decision, granting him permanent disability payments, as well as back pay – this process has been dragging on for four years. He should start receiving payments as early as next month.
This will enable Megan and Rob to move onto the property with Jonathan. We are hoping that Jonathan can start working a little less once the money starts coming in. He works 60 hours a week to keep the mortgage paid, and lives on $200 a month in a 29 foot trailer, with water from the well he dug and electricity from solar panels he bought and bartered and installed. There aren’t too many people who could or would live so austerely, all in order to save the family land.
On the way home, Rob confessed that it was a little painful to be officially disabled, instead of unofficially, even though it didn’t really change a thing about his physical condition. Still, it’s a little hard to celebrate being officially too damaged to work ever again, when you are still in your 40s.
Still, the relief of the long ordeal finally concluding in the best possible way overcame the sadness, and it happened that the Vintzes, who are buying the property with my siblings, and Jonathan’s old friend Carrie happened to be here that day, so we all gathered at Megan and Rob’s little house, where so many celebrations were held in the past; where Mom lived out her final illness; where Dad visited and Jarrett lived for a while – so many happy and sad memories in one little place. We toasted the future in Champagne, and while remembering the past, looked joyfully toward the future. Together.