I was feeling poor. Not poor in spirit. Just poor. Once the bills were paid, we had $2.94 in checking. It was only Tuesday. And to deepen my melancholy further, this was going to be a two-funeral week.

My wife, Joy, had taken a temporary job so we could buy a sump pump after our basement flooded. We needed baby sitters while I hung out at two funeral homes. I estimated 30 bucks. Plus the dry cleaner was holding her wardrobe hostage. Joy had dropped off a load of dresses. This job required her to look spiffy.

We had paid a deposit for my son and me to attend the "Lads and Dads" retreat. I needed another $60 by Friday when we would jump in the car and head for Bambi Lake. I was looking forward to that, but all in all, I figured we were about $180 in the hole.

We starting rationing cereal.

Their suffering and mine

A friend watched our kids while I went to help the family decide those dreadful details—what color casket he will look good in, which poem to print in the memorial program, and ...

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