When a $49 Steak is Good for the Heart

When a $49 Steak is Good for the Heart

I never thought the day would come. The day that my father would receive his WWII Veteran’s Pension, and the day that he would take my husband out for steak to celebrate. Not just any steak, but Morton’s.

My dad had never heard of the aid and attendance benefit for wartime veterans that he applied for once he moved to Illinois. He wanted to believe he was entitled to it, but didn’t think he would get it. But if he did, he promised my husband a thick, juicy steak. We joked about it for more than a year. For 15 months we would encourage my dad, “It’s going to happen, “Have hope…” “We just have to wait…” Even though I had my doubts.

Then the day came. Last Tuesday. It really came. For my dad. For my husband. For me.


You see, since November of 2011, I’ve submitted stacks of forms and documents from WWII and earlier, repeats of the same forms, (insanely frustrating) numerous signatures, and medical reports to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Each packet of paperwork sat on my desk sometimes for days, until I had the courage (and the uninterrupted time) to read it over and take action. Anxiously, I’d fill out the tedious forms, hoping it would be the last set. And then I’d feel crushed when my dad was sent another. Weeks turned into months, and the months mounted.

Discouraged, I sought help from government representatives, including Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk. Finally, with help from a staffer at former Congressman Joe Walsh’s office, I got a call from a Veterans Affairs employee. The adrenaline surged so fast I could barely talk. Fifteen months of doubt, concern, and fatigue faded away with the good news that the quest had ended. My father would receive his pension. The steak dinner dream would come true.


Health police would rightly charge that his Morton’s dinner of French onion soup, 12 ounce filet mignon, and twice baked au gratin potatoes is a “heart attack on a plate.” And the complimentary apple pie a la mode, well, way over the top for a senior with two stents and congestive heart failure.

But the truth is: fulfilling his promise to my husband and celebrating good news with a memorable dinner made my father’s 87-year-old-ticker the happiest it has been in years. And, that’s when a $49 steak is good for the heart.

If something in this story touched your heart, you might like future posts of Doing The Senior Shuffle. If so, just type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

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    Carole Pye

    I’m a freelance writer married to thrill-seeking husband, Jim, and mom to fantastic teenage sons: Austin, (18) Trevor, (16) and volunteer foster son, Chris (18). I am also a proud caregiver for my parents, Bob, a WWII Army Air Corps veteran, 87, and Jean, his wife, 85. In between the shuttling and the shuffling of senior boys and senior parents, you can find me sitting still, enjoying a cup of steaming hot tea while pondering the next thing to do.

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