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The friends listened. Their eyes betrayed the length and depth of the relationship as they picked over the remains of brunch at the sunroom table.
"So, how did your Mom handle selling the house?" Sally asked.
Marlene paused. The Saturday rain tap tapped on the skylights. Four pairs of soggy walking shoes stood like sentries beside the door. The weekly walking date was always fun. Brunch afterwards was even better. The last half-mile slogging through the rain today had been a stitch.
"Oh, she was amazing. I was truly surprised." Marlene said. Her hand hesitated over the last strawberry as her eyes asked, "Who wants it?" The nods said, "Go ahead," and she swooped it up before anyone changed her mind.
"She was like a general. She supervised the yard sale, negotiated a commission cut with the realtor, even told me and Joe to stop being so sentimental over the memories when we walked through the rooms for the last time."
The main house door slammed and Joe blew through the sunroom. "You've gotta be talking about Mom," he said as he shrugged on his coat and hesitated long enough to plant a kiss on his wife's lips. "Hmmm. Strawberry kisses! Love 'em. See ya, Babe."
He hesitated at the door to the backyard. "Ya know, that old gal, she'll outlive us all," he said with affection. He paused for a moment, said, "Goodbye, Ladies," and was gone.
"Always good to see Joe," Linda said. "That was Joe that just blew through, right?"
They all laughed, then fell silent.
Clara finally spoke. "Your Mom probably will outlive all of us."
"Amen to that," added Linda. "In fact, odds are that we're all going to outlive all of us."
Everyone chuckled, but they got the point. "Marlene, mind if I ask you something?" asked Clara. "How is your Mother going to manage? You know? Financially?"
"No, it's a good question. Pop was never rich, and they got along financially just fine. But still, it was a concern. But not now."
Clara and Sally looked a bit confused. Marlene went on. "Linda, as the family's New York Life agent, would you please explain?"
Linda smiled. "No. These things are private. I can’t talk about your mother's affairs. I can say that we met, worked out some plans, coordinated them with her attorney. That’s it."
'Not quite," Marlene just about snorted. "You can’t discuss details, but I can! Mom had one fear in recent years. She did not want to end up a burden to Joe and me. She said more than once that she and Dad didn't raise me so that I could start supporting her when she got older.
"And trust me, Mom is going to live to a ripe old age. The problem with Mom – and it's not a bad problem to have -- is that she's as healthy as a horse. In our family the women are blessed with longevity. We go on forever."
"Blessed?" commented Sally. "I for one do not want to limp along frail and living on cat food when I'm 95 years old."
Linda jumped in. "Oh, no, it doesn't have to be that way. There are no health guarantees, but this stuff," she said, pointing to the shoes at the back door, "the exercise, that improves the odds of good health as we get older."
"As for the cat food stuff, oh, I don't think so. There are ways to avoid that sad situation. It need not be a problem! Get that out of your heads. Women today are living longer than ever. Most of us will outlive our husbands. Or in your case, Clara, ex-husbands."
"I hope so," Clara threw in, with a chuckle, and everyone paused to finish the last of the coffee, giggling over Clara's lack of luck with marriage.
Marlene's cell phone rang. She picked it up and walked away from the table.
"Forget the numbers," Linda began again to the others. "All of us may well live into our 80s, even our 90s, and some of us will be dancing at our one hundredth birthday parties."
"So, what can you do for us, Miss New York Life Agent?" asked Clara, with concern. "Seriously, Linda. My folks never had much. When my father died, he left my mother mostly with bills. I helped as I could, but she got by on Social Security. Not a plush life."
"I know," Linda replied. "That's one reason I became a New York Life agent. I want to help people avoid this type of situation. It starts with planning, mapping out a strategy."
Marlene's phone snapped shut and she returned to her friends with a smile. "Speaking of the devil. That was old Happy Feet Mom. She's been at the independent living "resort," as she calls it for a week now, and she's getting them straightened out. She put together a walkathon to raise money for heart research. Tomorrow. I'm expected to be there. If you're my friends, you'll be there, too."
"I'll try." "You bet." "If I can."
"Thanks. So, Linda, did you tell them about New York Life’s Lifetime Income Annuity? It's real simple. Thanks to our friend here, Mom has a guaranteed, locked-in, lifetime income. Even she can't outlive it."
They all looked at Linda, who nodded. "It's true. It also has an inflation protector, so benefits can rise to keep pace with inflation."
"And you were going to tell us about this when?" asked Clara, as she looked at her watch and got up. "I have to go."
The others rose, as well. Linda put a friendly scowl on her face. "I've been trying to get together with you. Remember? You say where and when and I'll be there."
"How about Tuesday at noon? Over lunch?"
"It's a date. I'll meet you at your office. And we'll see if we can find some ways to make you a woman of independent means in the future."
Marlene handed her friends their walking shoes as they exited. "See ya next week. Sally, it's your turn to cook."
She closed the door and enjoyed the gentle sound of the rain on the roof for a moment before clearing the table.
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|"She'll Outlive Us All!" A Daughter's Conversation|