A Private Thought

This past Monday evening Laura called. At first I assumed it was her usual check-in with her father, but was soon surprised when the conversation was finished. Apparently she’s found a townhouse condo for sale ($138,000.00) around the corner from where they live now. It seems to be perfect – still close to the kids’ schools and friends, and is presently owned by an older lady who will be moving to smaller premises. The place is very similar to the townhouse condo that Laura and Shawn lived in when first married.

Of course, now that Laura is getting a divorce, is now a “single income” earner and raising two children, the finances are going to be extremely tight. The Bank, naturally, is looking for  a co-signer on any mortgage she’ll need and naturally, she called her Dad. He advised Laura that he would talk it over with me and we would see what could be arranged. Oh, and as an aside – she wanted an answer as soon as possible as she wanted to get an offer in on this house before anyone else. So it sounded like we only had until the next morning!!

After receiving the request my heart sank. Being a retired legal secretary I knew what co-signing any loan document meant. I also knew there were alternatives and wanted time to do some research and ask a professional for advice, but it didn’t sound like time was on our side. My first reactions were emotional, tearful and resentful. How dare Laura put us in this position! At what point in her life is she going to stop relying on her father? We’ve given Laura and Shawn enough money in the past when needed – for Lucas’ baseball lessons, for financial shortfalls that were unexpected, etc. Whenever Laura called and told her sob story, we were there with money. Plus these requests always seem to be made by phone. I would have at least appreciated that she discuss these matters face-to-face. I realize that’s not always possible, but this, to me, was a huge (and possible life time) request! I also felt that she should have thought about these matters earlier on when her and Shawn were discussing putting their house up for sale. A little advance research on what was to be expected and what financing (if any) would be available to her, would have been nice.

But none of these things were done and this sudden request was now on our shoulders. So, after a tearful discussion in bed, I convinced Nat that we should at least try to see if we could discuss our situation with our bankers. He agreed – we needed to have a clear understanding of what our responsibilities and obligations would be by co-signing or even acting as guarantors. With that in mind, we headed down to our Bank first thing Tuesday morning. Having an excuse of depositing our very nice car insurance rebate, we took a chance, got lucky and was able to talk to our usual Financial Manager. She was extremely helpful and we were now fully aware of the consequences from our Bank’s point of view (how this would affect our credit) and what we should be discussing with Laura’s bank. We drove home a little clearer-minded.

I was still upset and still having negative thoughts about this whole affair even after talking with our Bank. The both of us also felt we were in a “no Win” situation. We couldn’t say no and deny Laura a chance of getting a home for her and her two children. Plus if I were the one to say No, I’d be the bad guy, along with making Nat feel extremely distraught. I’d be resented the rest of my life by Laura and this whole affair would always “be there” between Nat and myself. I was beginning to wonder why I was even asked. I felt it was a done deal. I knew Nat had his fears and reservations, too, but in his heart of hearts he couldn’t say no.

With my bad feelings put aside, we called Laura’s bank, went through the motions of asking our questions, signing the authorization for a credit check via fax and discussing the next steps. Her bank would ask that she take life and health insurance and that they would pay the taxes. Her monthly payments would end up being around $850.00 (along with condo fees).  So now we sit and wait to see if Laura’s offer will be accepted.

This whole affair is going to have a permanent effect on me. We’re now obligated to Laura whether she gets this particular home or not. She now knows that we’re at her disposal for the next time. This to me, is extremely upsetting. I hate to be at anyone’s disposal. I hate the feeling of “obligation”. The only person I want to be obligated and responsible to is my husband. But since I’m only a “step”mother I feel “disconnected” to Nat’s two daughters. From the first day or our marriage, Nat’s two daughters have only spoken on a very personal level to him and to him alone. From Susan’s huge fall-out early on in her marriage to Laura’s divorce. Susan at least spoke to her father face-to-face, but each and every one of Laura’s discussions have been on the phone. I fail to understand why she can’t face her father in times of crisis! I understand why they go to their father first, but there have been times when “our” marriage has faltered because of these situations. I feel I’ve been put out on a ledge and asked to be involved only when there was no choice. I was only there because I was “financially” connected and was Nat’s wife on paper. Susan, at least, has shown true appreciation, affection and love in the past for whenever our involvement was required. With Laura, we get a phone call and I’m told “thanks” via her father. Never that personal touch!! Something I have to deal with, something I have to accept and something I’ll never understand.

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