Mortal? Moi?

All Men Are Mortal (film) poster
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So this is the week I have to write a will. I face serious surgery soon, a hip replacement on February 6, and don’t have one and have assets and so this is the responsible thing to do.

Insert long string of curses here.

Can I please have a martini? Can I go shoe-shopping? Where’s my new J. Crew catalogue?

Whaddya mean I have to envision myself dead?

Would I rather, my lawyer/friend asks me smoothly, on speakerphone — as if asking if I prefer a latte or cappuccino — be cremated or buried? How about life support if I turn into a vegetable in the OR?

I mutter sullen, infantile monosyllables. The truth? I have no fucking idea.

Do I really have to make these decisions now?

I haven’t (yes, very irresponsible of me) had a will since 1982. Yes, things have changed since then! I’m fortunate enough to have some savings, own a home and some material objects of value.

I also have no kids, the default winners-take-all. It gets trickier then.

Who gets the stuff? Who gets my money — and how much and when? Do I want to make individual bequests? Of what? To whom?

A will, literally, is the posthumous expression of…my will.

So my husband, of course, will get most of it. (You knew that, honey, right?)

But I want to leave some to my favorite public radio stations, and to a dear friend whose life choices didn’t earn her a ton. After that…?

I really wish I had had amassed the dough to endow some sort of fellowship or scholarship, because that’s what I value most: learning, wisdom, travel, sharing insights across cultures.

It’s going to make for some interesting thinking.

The wealthiest people have their names on college gyms, hospital wings, stadiums and museum galleries as their legacies. However comforting, thousands of strangers will see their names.

For the rest of us, whatever we are able to leave behind materially presents a set of more private, perhaps more challenging decisions.

Have you made out a will?

How did that feel?

20 thoughts on “Mortal? Moi?

  1. Never made a will, but my closest non-family familial relationship is that with my godparents – which is a direct result of my parents being required to keep an active will at all times and realising that willing me to any of my relatives would be a horrendous mistake. As a result, when my biological extended family disowned us (reasons various) my godparents picked us right up where they (unregrettably) left off.

    But though I’m lucky that will was made because it somehow made me an extra family, the only will I’ve ever made was when I was seven years old. I gave orders for my teddy bear to be buried with me, all my saved allowance went to my brothers to be shared equally, and my collection of dinosaurs toys to be distributed amongst my friends. J. and I probably should come up with something, but the thought hasn’t ever crossed either of our minds.

    Pass the J. Crew catalog please…

  2. Even though you do not have the funds to create an endowment fund…there are plenty of of endowment funds that you can contribute too!

    The worst for me was choosing who would make decisions on behalf of my children. Someone who shares similar values, someone who I could trust would try their best. Once that was done, money fell into place.

    1. Thank you…this is why I am grateful for smart readers! An obvious solution that would not have occurred to me.

      My challenge now is who to choose as an executor beyond my husband; as the lawyer said “in case he’s not around.” Euphemism city.

  3. Knotty business this. We struggled because of previous marriages with children, and the need to avoid control being gained by ex’s. That’s passed now but we haven’t rewritten yet, this is perhaps a reminder to me.

    As, by coincidence my wife goes in to have her first hip replaced on the 2 February. So long as it doesn’t get cancelled again.

    Hope you get this settled quickly. Makes you think about mortality too much. Never a good thing, and for us we decided we should help them now and end it all. πŸ™‚

    Jim

  4. No, but I did have a tour of a cemetery just yesterday. I was researching carving for a headstone that I am doing for a friend of my son’s who recently lost her father. Oh Caitlin, you’re going to have many choices for your ultimate destination – remains of your corpse that is. That little plot of land isn’t cheap either. Since my wife and I have children, this is something we need to get in place. Yeah, it is the responsible thing to do since we’re just not going to disappear after dying. I’ve never visited a grave of someone I knew or was related to – low on my priority list.

    1. I just cannot see anyone sweeping my gravestone and placing flowers. etc. I don’t have that sort of life and no one in my family who would care enough. Sad but true. I know where Jose wants his ashes scattered…Maybe mine can go to heaven…Saks’ shoe department!!! πŸ™‚

  5. re: your surgery, you’ll be fine! My husband was in constant pain for well over 5 years. And while the pain he was in for the first 2 weeks wasn’t pleasant, he was amazed that the pain of the recuperation was nothing compared to the pain he had before surgery. Tell your husband to get a LOT of rest before you come home, and not plan on working for at least 4 days. It’s just horribly exhausting for the spouse/nursemaid. Darn doctors need to give us spouses some RX too! Sorry-I know I’m off topic. No, I don’t have a will. Guess I need to make one to provide for my 4-legged children, since husband can take care of himself now that he’s pain-free! Seriously, I can truly relate to your situation, and wish you all the best.

    1. Thanks…My husband is taking the first two weeks off and then we will have help/food coming from friends at church. I have also told friends in our apartment building, so I feel fairly sure we’ll get backup.

      I am scared of post-op but also worn out from two years of non-stop, low-grade pain.

  6. My husband and I made wills at the same time (both on our second marriages). We have 8 kids between us and will soon have 8 grandkids too.
    We also made living wills recently, to cater for the possibility of either/both of us being incapacitated or unable to make our own decisions. We had to choose a possible executor also, beyond me for him and him for me in case we both carked it at the same time.
    Neither of us found it traumatic – just sensible. We are fortunate that our 8 kids all have sense, and there will be nobody doing any contesting – it helps that we don’t have much to leave them! πŸ™‚

    1. You’re lucky (or good parents) to have 8 kids who all get along. My dad has four — one of whom I have never met, one of whom refuses to even be in the same room with me. His will better be water-tight.

  7. We had to write a will after our son was born. It was, as you say, a daunting experience. We don’t have many assets to speak of, so that was not the difficult part. But trying to decide who will raise your son in you absence – heart breaking, perplexing, and very nearly impossible. But I am grateful it is done and satisfied with our choices.

    1. Makes me realize my stuff is just stuff…
      But I will not let New York State — which already makes my life a living tax-hell — get my estate either. That alone is enough to make me make a will.

  8. Reading your post, I realized that writing a will is always the responsible thing to do. It matters not what circumstances you find yourself in, like you mention, it is the “posthumous expression” of how and what you want done. My parents drafted their will and did not have time to revise it before my father passed away. Unfortunately, a technicality has made my mother suffer more than a fair share of headaches. Other times, we may not have any material things of value, but we can express what we want done in terms of life support, nursing homes, and even our pets. This post has given me much to think about! πŸ™‚

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