You may have noticed that my byline in the Daily Journal hasn’t appeared quite as often during the past few weeks. Don’t worry I’m still gainfully employed by the Journal. But I’ve been a bit distracted, trying to get a few things in order.

It goes without saying that last year was one many of us would rather forget, although there were some good moments. My son graduated from high school and now he’s at ICC, for example. And really, my year wasn’t going too terribly actually, but then my son got COVID-19 in mid-November, and we were both quarantined for two weeks. I fortunately never got it. It did make for a lonesome Thanksgiving.

Then a few days later, as many of you heard, we had a fire destroy our home in early December. The fire also managed to destroy my car as well. So, in a space of nine hours, we literally lost everything but the clothes on our backs. I didn’t even have any shoes on the night of the fire.

But this isn’t meant to be a sob story, although I do nearly sob thinking of the overwhelming kindness and generosity this great community has shown in helping us get back on our feet with donations of money, clothing and items to help fill our home we found to rent in a great neighborhood “Thank you” is quite insufficient, but we truly appreciate everyone who reached out to us.

A couple of things I did learn in this process of recovery: Having good insurance is very important. This isn’t a commercial endorsement, but State Farm and Rob Rice have been wonderful. I got a check for the house within a week, and now I’m waiting for the mortgage company to take its share so I can put it toward rebuilding or buying another home. Or continue renting; we’ll see. I also have a check for the car waiting for me, once I get my duplicate title back from the state (the original is in ashes). And I’m working on the contents of the home now to submit. It’s a bit laborious.

By the way, State Farm also was there for me in Tennessee 17 years ago when a F2 tornado wiped out our home there. Yeah, I have all the luck don’t I? I guess all that’s left is an earthq ... no, I better not finish that sentence.

Anyway, review your homeowner’s policy (and your business owner’s policy, too). Update it as you add high-value items. About a third of people don’t realize they should do that. If you suffer through a catastrophic loss, you’ll be glad you did.

Which brings me to another tip – take photos of what you have. When you have to go through the grueling and depressing process of cataloging everything you lost, it helps to have reminders.

I was just one of hundreds of thousands of people who had some sort of loss last year. In fact, insured losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2020 totaled $83 billion, Swiss Re said. Losses from natural disasters accounted for over 90% of the total, a 40% increase from 2019. Imagine being without insurance.

And that brings me to the newest challenge of the year. Tuesday, I get to have bypass surgery. I’ll be out of action for a few weeks, so my name will be out of the paper a little longer. For some of you that’s no big loss, but I’ll miss connecting with the readers I appreciate. However, I look forward to coming back better faster stronger. Yes, I’m alluding to the 6 Million Dollar Man.

Also known as my upcoming hospital bill. Yes, you have to have a sense of humor to go though what I’ve been through.

See y’all soon.

Twitter: @dennisseid

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