Hey Buddy … Can You Spare Some Change?

  • Friday / April 29, 2022
Hey Buddy ... Can You Spare Some Change? 1

Hey Buddy … Can You Spare Some Change?

No. Change comes from within.

It’s been quite a long time since I last wrote. Numerous things have occurred, and for better or worse, I’m trying to navigate new terrain—both figuratively & literally. Yes. There has been a lot of “change” happening—both internal and external.

Lets’ start from the begining:

Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte

I lived with my mom for almost 3 years; from January 2019 until I recently moved. (More on that later.) My mom was in okay health for someone in her 90s at the time. On December 24, 2020 my mom had fallen in the bathroom & it took my older brother Dave and I to get her back up. For the most part she seemed okay.

Christmas Day she also seemed okay. But during the afternoon of the 26th, she started a “downward spiral”. She had pain in her chest, was fatigued, and was getting very forgetful. I called my brother & my sister-in-law to come take her vitals. My brother Dave, & his wife Pat, were bother former EMTs. They didn’t like what they saw and called for an ambulance. She was admitted to Community Memorial Hospital in Toms River by the AM of the 27th. Unfortunately we could not visit, because we were in major COVID lockdown mode. While in the hospital, from the UTIs, the IV fluids, and constant blood draws, lack of sleep, and or agitation, mom started hallucinating from “Hospital Induced Delirium.” They say most elderly people who do go through HID usually don’t live more than a year afterwards. Guess they were right.

Long story short: She came home after being treated for multiple UTIs & having her gallbladder removed. It took several months of home care, physical therapy, family help, and home aids to get her to a place of functioning human again.

Fast forward to December 26, 2021. Exactly one year later—to the day— my mom went back into the hospital again; for another UTI. But the UTI and her general state of health had declined rapidly in the time between Christmas Eve and the 26th. I had a feeling she was not going to make it out of this one alive.

changeWhile in the hospital this time, they cured the UTI but she was just not snapping back: sleeping constantly, plus being incoherent when she was momentarily “awake”. After a few days and a couple of different attempts at “curing” her ailments, she was put on hospice care in the hospital.

My brother Dave and his wife set up hospice care at their home. My mom was delivered there late afternoon on Sunday January 2, 2022. When they got her in the bed, my brother looked her in the face & said: “you’re home.” She smiled, connected with him momentarily and went right back to sleep. We went through all this because my mom did not want to die in a hospital. She really did wait until she was “home” or at least around family.

Charlotte E Streno passed away at the age of 94 on Monday January 3, 2021 around 1:15 AM.

Good-bye New Jersey

change 2It may sound crass, but once I knew mom was not long for this world, I immediately started bagging up clothes and getting them ready to bring to Goodwill. I think it was my way of coping. I already knew that once she did die, we’d be putting up the house (now our house) for sale & I’d have to find a new place to live. I didn’t really know how long I had left in that house. And so the good-bye process started. Saying good-bye to my mom, the house I lived in with her for 3 years and possibly to New Jersey.

My mom was buried on Thursday, January 6, 2022 in Toms River joining her husband, Joseph Streno Sr.

Because of COVID there was no funeral service only a private burial ceremony, which literally only lasted a few minutes. It was cold, (on multiple levels) and sad, but not much else could be done. From that point on … we all moved on with our lives.

I also started the process of looking to buy a home of my own with the moneys inherited from my mom’s passing. I really did look in EVERY state, plugging into my search criteria including what I could afford ≤ $135,000. You really don’t know the scope of inflation, and the real estate market post-COVID, until you realize that because of all these phenomena, you can no longer afford to live in your home state. Very sobering! To say the least.

Hello KCMO!

change 4 change 3The search led me to many places. But on either side of Kansas City was where I was headed. Strange but true! They call the area “the land of second chances.” Seems many people over the years, end up here because of the affordability of rent and home ownership.

For four days in March I flew to Kansas City, Kansas (KCK) & started a search in real time and in earnest. I thought that by the time I found a place my mom’s house would be under contact and closed on by early April. In hindsight, that did not happen.

change 5change 6So here I am in a suburb of Kansas City, MO (KCMO): Raytown. I found the place through my realtor. His realtor friend had a furnished apartment including utilities and Google Fiber Internet all for $1000 a month.

I finished packing my 16′ POD, had it picked up on March 29, and was on the road with my three kitties to Raytown, MO the next day.  I started this new adventure at 8:30 AM, March 30,2022. It took two, ten-hour days of driving to get here; with one stop at a nasty Red Roof Inn—at literally the half way point of my midwest journey.

I arrived in Raytown on March 31, 2022 at around 3:30 PM, unpacked my new roof cage and roof bag, as well as the kitties and began to settle into our new rental abode.

Cat Chaos

change 7Oh gee! Did I not mention that my boy, Rudie had to have emergency surgery two weeks before we left for Raytown, MO? He was days away from his 1st birthday too. More change!

Oh yes. He was acting lethargic. I was finding puddles of yellowish “mystery liquid” on top of my night stand, and in the kitchen sink. He was hiding a lot and not being social. I couldn’t figure it out until I started Googling symptoms. Once I figured it out I brought Rudie to the local vet. They did all they could do, and told me he needed “overnight observation” and was probably going to require surgery. That cat emergency visit cost me a cool 1K.

Once at the the new animal hospital Rudie was hard diagnosed with bladder stones and needed emergency surgery to remove them. Yippee! Poor boy. It seems stones are common in young male cats. And Rudie was unlucky enough to be one of those statistics.

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Another long story short: he got the surgery. Seven grand later, I took him home to recover. He was released from care and okayed to travel a short 10 days after surgery.

Oh. BTW … the camo cone didn’t last a full day. By the next morning he wouldn’t tolerate it and I couldn’t keep it on him. Though to his credit he barley touched/licked his incision.

change 12Ten days later the boy was given the green light to travel. All I had to do was eMail a photo of his healed scar to the surgeon, he looked at it, and called me with the okay. Rudie was fully healed and good to go! We had to wait about 2 weeks to get back the results of the stone analysis.

The results were good too. He had the more treatable type of stones—struvite. The only drawback was Rudie needed to be on a prescription urinary care diet for the rest of his life. But it’s better that, than him not being around for a very long time to come—in his hopefully new permanent home. And BTW … Rocco and Rose are doing fine and settling into their new/temp home, with much less kitty chaos than on those final days of living in the empty house in Lanoka Harbor, NJ.

Where Do We Go From Here

I’d say, that’s a very good question. I have been searching for houses before I got here. Without the sale of the NJ house, I was cash poor. I spent a good chunk of my inheritance/insurance money on paying off ALL my debt—on top of the nearly 8K I spent on Rudi’s vet and surgery bill.

Paying off all that debt raised my credit rating into the 800s. I have never been in that bracket—ever! But here I am now using a conventional loan vehicle to buy my home rather than an FHA loan. Who’d-a-thunk!!! Before getting in to the 800 club, my realtor Scott Harvey of Scott Harvey Real Estate Services & I tried to put together creative “rent to own” offers that of course got shot down twice. This was before knowing our initial NJ sale contract fell through. I thought I’d be in a place to buy with an all cash offer, once the NJ house sale cleared probate. Did I mention how fun fun fun real estate can be in this post-COVID market of multiple all cash offers? Fun! Yes! Fun!

There’s No Place Like Home


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Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

– Dorothy – Wizard of Oz

No. We’re not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy! We’re in Raytown, MO living in a rental. Since being here, I, with the help of my creative realtor, have put in three bids on three different houses. All of which we lost.

But I must say: the fourth time is the charm! For a change, we hit pay dirt, Dorothy! And you too Toto (or is that Jonesy)! As of yesterday Thursday, April 28, 2022 we have a signed contract on a new home at: 1623 S Harvard Avenue – Independence, MO 64052! It’s a cute little sucker, in a cute little town. I mean, there’s an old school cinema just 2 block walk, plus I saw a sign for a Ben Franklin Five & Dime (Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean). There are other shops, and not too far off, Independence has it’s own farmers market.

Things are certainly looking up for me, Rudie, Rocco, & Rose! I’m sure the kitties will love their new digs too. It’s our “forever” home; unless of course I hit the Lotto. But even if I don’t—this is a place to hang all our hats!

Now starts the closing process. I’ve already procured a home inspector: Steve Rodriguez of Bulldog Professional Inspection Services. My mortgage broker Paul Hughes formally of Novus Home Mortgage & now First Savings Bank Mortgage has lined up an appraiser. I’ve made my earnest money deposit, also a “good faith deposit” with my mortgage company to pay for the appraiser & other sundries, as well as my home inspection fee. So yes, the wheels are turning—and money zooming out of my bank account! The home inspection should be Wednesday morning 4/4. If all goes well, and there are no huge negatives & or surprises—we’re one step closer to closing & moving in! Woot!

As soon as I know my closing date (possibly 4/26), and can have my PODS unit delivered to my new “Harvard Yard”—then the real fun begins!

This has been a long an arduous journey. My mom gave me a gift three years ago, letting me move in with her when I wasn’t well. I gave her the gift of company, and caregiving for the three years I was there. We shared some wonderful experience, right up until her last days. On her passing she gave me the greatest gift (outside of birth)—the ability to own my own home. For this—I will be forever grateful.

Thanks, Mom! Love you! Miss you!

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Joe Streno

Joe Streno

artist . musician . photographer . retired apple computer consultant . residing on planet earth with his two cats rudie, & rocco & living to tell tales about it

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