Tag Archives: death

Wills and Trusts…

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When I was a little girl, my mother talked to me often as if I were an adult. I didn’t always understand what she was talking about – adult subjects and language being so sophisticated and all – but I enjoyed having her focus on me so I just didn’t do anything to make her think I wasn’t interested. In the years that followed, I continued to be her confidante, sometimes a confusing and double-edged sword which I tried to diplomatically cover as best I could to spare everyone pain.

My older sister and my mother didn’t often spend time “chewing the fat” because my sister had her own agenda and rarely had the patience to sit and listen to story after story for hours. It didn’t really occur to me that by virtue of being a good listener and taking time to listen to my mother, I was unwittingly becoming a kind of chronicler for the family archives. After my mother passed away in 2018, I honestly believed I would be able to write her biography. I have not been able to put myself in the right frame of mind to begin doing so.

My parents were typical, hard-working, middle class people who came from very little but amassed a modest fortune and property that they intended on leaving their four children. For some reason (perhaps a fear that making a will would make them die that much sooner) my parents never made a formal will. Their properties in another country were “donated” to us years ago so that is not an issue, but they have one house that has not been willed to anyone. One of my siblings died last year and now three of us are left. Because of my attachment to my parents and their certainty in my integrity, I am the one that was authorized to help with their banking. It was also a matter of practicality: I was the one geographically close to them, I have never been estranged from them – taking a 6 month absence while I underwent therapy doesn’t count – and I have always been very, very responsible. They knew what they were doing and I have done my job honestly, efficiently and well.

The death of my eldest sibling did not affect me as it should have. I had no idea that she was ill but her lifestyle choices had never been optimal and her death did not surprise me. She and I were not on speaking terms when she died and although I feel some guilt about that, I have not been able to conjure more than passing grief that she left us just months after our mother died. Our father, though frail, continues to enjoy pretty good health and at 90 can still get around and manage his daily routines. This will not last forever.

My passion in life has been to entertain. I originally wanted to do it from a stage, as a comic, or a singer, or a storyteller. I have also always wanted to write and in fact, write every single day either in my blogs, on paper or in my head. My recent attendance at a Writers Digest Conference opened my eyes to the fact that I have never taken the time to figure out what it is I want to do with my writing. This is something that I need to address so I can get going. I am currently working on two novels but all the workshops and conferences emphasized the importance of being clear on what it is your intended purpose is in order to get going. It seems there are many different ways of attaining success but one thing is very clear, personal participation in the process from writing to publishing to marketing is dependent on the single creator: me! It is at once an overwhelming sensation and also a very comforting one since it means I am in control of the situation, if you will.

But back to my parents and wills…mental health issues abound in my family. I believe myself to be pretty healthy (is that a sign of mental health or a delusion?). My younger sister is paranoid. There is no way to rose color that. We don’t see each other very often. When we do see each other, I am often on the defensive, not knowing what word or subject will trigger her paranoia. Fortunately, I am getting older and less willing to be spoken to in any old way. I asked her today to meet me so I could show her a document I need to present on her behalf to the Municipal authorities in that other country for tax purposes. My idea was that I could present it for her because I live in said foreign country. Her immediate (and not surprising) response was that she would not be bringing her identification, that she wanted to talk about what she was signing and that she would rather fly and sign the documentation herself. I have no stake in the thing, that is fine. In the past, I might have been hurt or felt like she was accusing me of something. Now I just remember who she is, who I am and that mental health issues are often not as evident from the outside. It is sad and worrisome but I can handle it.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

bing.come public domain image

My first post of 2018!

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It’s kind of ironic! My last post was on the 30th of December, posting about the birthday
celebration we had for my father. I was excited about the end of 2017, a terrific year for me.
I ended that post by saying that I had my three priorities in a row for 2018 (lose weight,
concentrate my energies on my writing, and tackle my weed-filled small area and turn it
into a beautiful garden.

All plans are made to be changed, and mine were no different. On January 1st, my mother
passed away. Although it was not unexpected since she had been in the last stages of her
very long illness, it was a shock that she died on the first of 2018. It was almost as if she said
to herself “Let my daughter enjoy the end of 2017 since it has been a good year for her, and let
her realize that she has only so much control over some things.” It was so like my Mom.

In any event, we took care of everything related to this life event and after two weeks, I am
finally at home and ready to begin my year anew. It is wonderful to share with you all that
in the last two weeks, I have been careful about what things I put in my mouth and I happily
report that I have lost almost 9 lbs. since the beginning of December of my Weight Watchers
journey. I am thrilled with that number and have already seen the benefits of the weight loss,
not only on how clothes fit me or how I look in the mirror, but also in terms of my self-esteem
and the physical endurance I seem to possess right now.

My mother was my world growing up. I stayed close to her, despite our different perspectives
on many things, for my entire life. Although her illness was hard to watch, I did not ever feel I
would be prepared for her passing. Back in August, I broke down when talking to my daughter
and I shared that I didn’t know how I would face a life without her. But I believe in God, and
God gently nudged me in the direction of acceptance. Seeing my mother’s peaceful countenance
confirmed that she had gone quietly and hopefully without any pain.

I am now the second oldest of the many cousins I have. I might as well be the oldest since my
older sister has more or less abandoned the family. I feel it is a tremendous responsibility but
also a great honor to be the “matriarch” of our tribe…

Happy 2018 to us all.

image: bing.com free to use and share

collecting…

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antique jewelry

I recently visited a friend who has lost her cherished aunt.
My friend was pensive, not her usual garrulous self. When I
ventured to ask what she was thinking about, she volunteered
that her mind kept racing back to the antique jewelry collection
her aunt’s relatives were making an inventory of. My questions
came quickly: were they pretty? were they expensive? did you get
anything? but my friend was so lost in reverie she never heard
what I asked.

Much later, when I returned to my own home, I thought about all
the gems (precious and not) that sit unused and forgotten in many
of my drawers. Every one of the pieces I own has a history but not
many people know the history because no one has ever asked me about
them. I do not feel I am going to die soon but I will die someday.
Seeing my friend wondering the origin of the pieces her aunt has
left behind has spurred me into action. I know that I must begin
to “curate” my collection so that I can take that burden away from
the shoulders of my loved ones. No one wants the job of taking an
inventory from an estate…so let it be me. Even with everything
written out and properly stored, the passing of someone we love is
is never easy and the least I can do is save my children from having
to decide what to keep, what to throw away and what to give away.

on death and dying…

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I went to the funeral mass of a very endearing 85 year old last week.

A person (almost 85) who has been in my life for 25 years is terminally ill.

All this transitioning makes me think about my own life and my own mortality.

I am not ready to die yet and I wonder if it is helpful to know ahead of time
that it is almost one’s time or whether a sudden death is preferable…

There are so many questions, only each individual can answer them for him/herself
but do we ever really think or talk about it?

The cycle of life

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I write these words today filled with sadness because I have just learned that two of my friends have lost their fathers in the last day.  One was very elderly (in his 90’s) and the other was very heavy and ill.  As I recall my childhood and all of the ‘dysfunction’ that came with it, I am grateful that both my parents are still alive  (86) and that despite my ‘battle with the bulge’ I have actually enjoyed a close relationship with them both.  My father has never made any mention of weight loss or gain, always making me feel accepted by him at any size and Mom has been a victim of Alzheimer’s for 20 years so she is unaware of my current figure (or lack thereof!)!

It always seemed ironic to me that Mom bullied me on my weight as a child when she herself was always overweight and overeating in the classical mindless manner.  She wore her clothing extremely tight, not because she was trying to be a sex symbol but because she was the eternal optimist who thought she would be losing weight and refused to spend money on purchasing the right size.  I, on the other hand, prefer fitted (but not tight) styles at all sizes but do spend money upgrading (in my case ‘up-sizing’) my wardrobe and seem to have a range of clothing from XS (which I once fit into) to XL (which I am now squeezing into).  My mom did lose weight a number of times (on Weight Watchers!) but in her 60’s she really gave up the battle and decided to enjoy life and food without guilt or calorie counting!  At that time, I was in wonderful shape and we did many things together which included traveling and later on spending time with my children.  I miss my mother and see her every chance I get, grateful that they have the resources and she is cared for at home.  She always wanted that and I am happy she is there.

For today, I will remember that being overweight brings a host of other baggage, not only in an emotional way but in very real ways:   being winded after climbing stairs; not being able to get in and out of cars as easily or gracefully; not fitting properly in clothing; having to gauge whether or not I can walk  between two occupied chairs in a restaurant without having to ask people to get up and move to let me by…etc.  You get the picture.  I look forward to another successful day of reasonable eating.