(Write a story that starts with someone writing their will — one they know people won’t like.)
My birthday was a couple days ago! It was not a good thing! Well what I mean is even though I received more than a dozen cards in the mail, flowers from two different sons and families, a gift from across the world and all the normal stuff, it was still the pits! With a capital P.
There is something about the actual number that flips a switch in your brain. These levels that people imagine signify something. Just turned thirty, flip the switch, or forty and sixty is a real bummer, flip the switch. You can still feel young and desirable at fourth-five but after that it becomes harder to convince yourself so by sixty you have examined your skin and hair and maybe you’ve added a few extra pounds so desirable is no longer in your thought process.
This brings us to my recent birthday. I think all the fuss and attention was because they, my darling family and friends, knew that the switch in my brain was about to be flipped...again.
Last Thursday, I turned eighty.
And so, what is the significance of eighty?
Well it is the beginning of “knowing”!
Knowing what you might ask!
It is the beginning of knowing that your days are numbered. You can no longer assume you will see another spring, another Christmas or another birthday. It is the beginning of wallowing in nostalgia. Deciding it is time to rid yourself of clutter so things are all neat and tidy when “they” have to come in and gather your clothing for the charity shop or the thrift store. It is time for you to give serious thought to what “you” want to happen to favorite things, or your money, or your estate in general.
It is time to write the dreaded will.
Another thing you should understand about me is I’m a realist, I believe in an eye for an eye, or maybe better put, my offspring are not equal in their understanding of what makes a “good” son. To put it another way, I managed to raise two takers and one giver. These are my terms but basically my giver son thinks of others many many times before he thinks of himself, he is generous with his time and talents and it is just built into his wiring. My other two sons are more like most people, if you ask they will probably assist you but out of sight, out of mind, they are not very attentive.
And so here I sit, my intentions are clear. I will write up my will based on who did what and when.
Who seemed to love me the most?
Who cried with me and laughed with me.
This is no easy task, I keep remembering different scenarios involving my “boys”. I keep readjusting my list. I keep changing percentages of total estate value to each of them. A few times I got actually angry when a bitter memory floated to the top of my mind.
I tried to ensure that the son that appeared to love and care for me the most got the biggest share.
Ok….now what of the two that I consider takers? How should the balance of my
estate be divided? I’m getting a massive headache!
And I begin to rationalize! They can’t help how they are wired, they have been like this since they were kids. One was always generous and forgiving and his brothers took advantage of his sweet nature. But they are all my sons, all raised the same, how can they be so different?
Should I be trying to make excuses by thinking they were naturally born that way? I think not! We all have choices, free will, they each chose to live the lives they led and now it is my turn to show them, or teach them that being a giver will result in a big bonus in the end.
I wrestle with this situation for hours. Then it occurs to me that I am in good health, relatively speaking, so I can take my time with this will writing thing. And then I remember a good friend telling me about her own soul searching as she aged and she was so happy she went to estate planning seminars to help her sort out the best plan for keeping as much as possible from the government.
The government? Really? The government? And so I called for an appointment with my attorney. I told him I was ready to draw up my last will and testament and I would like his help making sure my sons were protected from the government!
The morning of my meeting with my attorney, I rewrote my list of a few personal items I wished each son to have, for sentimental reasons that resonated with me, how they might feel is anyone’s guess but no one wants real squabbling over things at the end. Then I boldly wrote out the division of the major estate.
My massive headache was returning as I thought about how surprised and then hurt two of my sons will feel after I’m gone. My third son will feel confused about his good fortune and want to share it more equitably with his brothers. Anger and confusion but they need to learn how behavior can impact things.
As I sit across the conference table from my attorney, he studies the pages that contain my directives. The actual will, the power of attorney if I become incapacitated prior to actual death and my wishes for my corporeal body after death.
He coughs quietly and raises his eyebrows. He seems to be trying to comment about something in my wishes that he disagrees with or ??
I blurt out…
”What?, you don’t agree with cremation? Or you don’t agree with no memorial service or public viewing or announcement?” “What?” “Just say it!”
And so he begins.
“I have no issues, none, with cremation or internment or anything you wish!” replies the attorney.
Then he adds, “Regarding the memorial services and announcements, you know these things are for your loved ones to say a final goodbye to you, to help them ease the loss, it is not for you BUT, here in my notes I’ve written... Patty, no party! That will take care of that, if you wish to disappear and leave many with very unsettled feelings.
Continuing he adds, “And now about your will!” “Only you know what your fears might be, if you know someone to be a drug addict or a violent criminal or ?? Someone who will waste or squander your hard earned estate, then your actions may be justified!” “If your sons were just typical human beings with short comings and different personalities then maybe you should seriously consider my next statement.”
After a respectable pause allowing me time to understand this point is important, he continues.
“BUT, my job is to remind you that the choices you make now, can create turmoil among your sons, anger and resentment, divisions that can last, perhaps, for a lifetime. If that is what you wish, I will draw up your will as written.”
The attorney cont, “OR, we can amend your terms to equal thirds and allow your boys to remain friends, no resentments or anger or jealousy!”
“You decide now if you wish them to be divided and carry life’s burdens “alone“, or remain friends and hopefully share love and concern for one another as they continue in life.”
What do you think Patty did?