Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Proof Is In the Paperwork

I'd like to say I gained some traction today, but it was slow going.  Very slow.

For all those pondering becoming a family caregiver or simply being the child of an elder parent, begin with the paperwork first.  I'm talking Vital Records.  Gather ye offical papyrus while ye may before entering the world of 24/7 caregiving.  Don't leave this task until after the funeral as I did.  Well, to be kind to myself, I had most of the paperwork, but missed one important piece of the puzzle - the marriage certificate.  My mother swears she put it someplace safe, but that safe place eludes her.  Now, these two folks have always been my parents, I had no reason to doubt their union.  Mom has records from her graduation from elementary school, so the question never entered my mind.  I thought when they applied for this and that, they supplied said vital stuff, but that's not the case. 

This lapse in record-keeping provides its own measure of embarrassment as a)  I pride myself on having my ducks in a row, and b)  I'm taking a genealogy course for crying out loud and that stuff should have been resting nicely with the hundreds of family records already in my possession!  Forehead slap!

So, with great deal humility, I set out to visit our fair city's Vital Records folks to acquire said missing piece of my parents' history (and mine for that matter).  I wrongfully thought this small errand would be a quick in and out.  No worries.  Um, well, my time did prove to be a quickie as I discovered that the cartridge containing the document legalizing their "I dos"  became an "I don't" as in, "Sorry.  I don't have this record."  Done.  Nadda.  The clerk couldn't have been sweeter.  She offered to order the document from the State.  I declined telling her I needed to get things taken care of soonest.

So with a heavy heart I returned home to complete the State request form, check on Mom, and wait until 12:30 PM, the time when our fair Vital Records Department opened and prayed the next level of government had this record.

When I arrived at Vital Records, I could not believe the line!  My heart sank.  I needed to get home.  This odyssey had entered its 5th hour!  A sign posted at the entrance directed me to "Take a Number," which annoyed me to no end.  "Great, now I'm at the Vital Records deli.  I'll have one marriage certificate to go, hold the mayo!"  (Note:  I hadn't eaten yet, so pardon the deli analogy.)  I took the number, saw it said "38," looked at the "Now Serving" number and lo and behold discovered it flashed "31."

The clerk knew her stuff, found the record, and got me out of there in less than hour.  I still don't know where all those people came from and they were still there when I left.  All told, this short errand involved 6 hours of my time, but I had what I needed.  Finally.

I guess I gained a bit of traction, but this wee hill took forever!   

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