Saturday Posts . . .

First – Congratulations and Happy Birthday to my daughter, who just completed a collegiate level Calculus math class with an A-. FYI – Calculus was one math subject I never studied, because I couldn’t see any logic to the system. I’m very proud of her for her accomplishment.

My wonderful wife . . .

is a librarian. She spends all day, every work day, helping the university she works for to provide the best training she can, from her area of specialty. And she is VERY good at her job.

One of the factors of her job is a well-known situation called “publish or perish” – where if you are working for a non-private university and are faculty, you are required to publish to help the university improve it’s standing among all the universities. She has worked within that environment for the last 15 years, and has steadily improved her standing to reach the highest faculty standing she could hold without ever having to re-apply for it. Several times she has achieved an annual review rating of her performance as “Excellent” – which brought her the highest pay raise available to any faculty member that was available in that year.

This morning she told me that she’d had an idea for a presentation on the local campus for assisting new and experienced faculty to improve their applications for tenure or promotion, based on a new approach to gathering statistics to support the application. Not only was the presentation well received, but a former co-worker suggested she submit the concept to a national conference. The challenge, from her point of view, is that presentations to that conference have an INTERNATIONAL audience. She was, mildly, freaking out – because she’d just found out that her proposal to that conference had been accepted.

So, I walked up to her, put my arms around her, and while hugging her I reminded her of one of the teachings I learned from L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings. “The right person to assign the job of fixing a problem is the first one to realize that there is a problem.” She identified the problem, worked out the solution, and had already successfully presented it on the local level. She owns this. And if it happens to lead to international recognition, so be it. She earned it.

Tough Phone Call . . .

I’ve been considering this for over a year. I weighed the idea of respecting whatever needs my family may have against what may be best for them. All of them. I felt that I was on a marry-go-round with no viable resolution. I had to make a decision.

So, this morning, I called my dad. Apparently I woke him up, which I apologized for. Then, I spelled out the situation – as I saw it.

I know full well that my dad has a Last Will and Testament. I even know what some of the considerations of that document are – and have no objection to them. But, I also know that in most cases, if an executor is not specifically named by the Last Will and Testament, the job will default to the oldest living descendant, which in my dad’s case will be me.

Here’s the problem. I’m the literal BLACK SHEEP of my birth family. I’m never called for family holiday gatherings; I’m never asked for life advice; I would never be asked for life advice even if I was the oldest family member left alive.

So, today I made a phone call that may well have been the most difficult call of my life. I told my dad that I knew he had a Will, but didn’t know who the designated Executor of his estate was. Then, before he could tell me who it was, I said that I hoped it isn’t me. Why? Because I honestly believe that if he appoints me to be his Executor, there are no members of our family who would respect that decision and let me do the job without conflict. Not even if I followed every part of his Will to the absolute letter.

I asked my dad to appoint someone else, and told him that he needed to call his lawyer and make the appointment official. I will fully support anyone he appoints, as long as it isn’t ME.

There was a long, very painful pause (at least from my perspective). Then dad said, in a very small voice, that he believed that I was right. He told me he was considering a dual-executor arrangement, and who one of the people was. I repeated that I would fully support anyone he appointed, but that he needed to call the lawyer and actually declare his wishes. I am hopeful that he’s still among us another 25 years, but at this stage of life it is best to be prepared. Especially with his health history, and our family situation.

Updates . . .

First and foremost, I want to express my feelings about the death of Sir Sean Connery. My father was a huge fan of his performances in the James Bond films that Connery made, and I grew up watching them. Nobody ever embodied a suave, cool, sophisticated secret agent the way he did.

That said, I realize that his portrail of attitudes towards women was somewhat neanderthal, but it was consistent with the time in which those movies were made. Sir Sean Connery was a consummate professional actor. I think it is fair to say that, using the IMDB.COm database, I’ve seen every movie he ever had a leading role in, and with the exception of Zardoz, I liked them all. One of my favorites wasn’t something he lead in, but rather took a supporting role in: HIGHLANDER.

I find it rather fitting that a man who spent his entire adult life wearing costumes for movie parts departed this world on Halloween. The symmetry is mesmerizing.

However, I also feel an obligation to wish a happy birthday to our two pet cats, who (as of Halloween) have been sharing our home for 13 years. We love them, and (based on the amount of time they want to spend on our laps) they seem to love us.

Your final moments . . .

I know, I have written before about the importance of writing a living will or an advanced directive.

However, my wife and I recently visited a lawyer to take the official step of setting such ideas in stone.  And I much need to say that I feel the minor expense was very worth the time and hassel.

No baby, even those conceived by rape, has a choice in whether or not they are born.  No person of any age has any choice as to whether or not they are victims of murder. But every person alive has a choice about what conditions they will agree to  about the end of their life.

This is why I am a staunch advocate of Living Wills and Advance Directives.  These are the legally binding ways in which you have the power to tell health care professionalls – esessially those who may try to overrulle your preferred choices, exactly what you want them to do when you have lost the power to make those decisions for yourself.  You get the power to appoint ONLY ONE person, who already knows your preferences, as your  health care decision maker if you are unable to voice your own preferences.  You also get to make legally binding demands that certain types of care are not to be used, especially if they are beyond the financial reach of your immediate family to pay for.  In short, you get to decide, in a legally binding way, how far you are willing to allow a hospital to go in trying to save your life before they are required by law to pull the plug.  This is all about how much fincancial burden I’m willing to force upon my wife before offering her relief and protecting her from bankruptcy over the cost of my care.

I have taken the step of authenticating both a Living Will and an Advanced Directive, for the specific purpose of trying to make certain that my wife will NOT, under any circumstances, be bankrupted by the medical care required if I might meet a less than desired end-of-life situation.  I was very specific about several situations that might realistically happen in which I wanted NO life-saving measures to be used.  I also gave my wife, and as an alternate a very close friend, the power to make end-of-life choices regardging my health care.  They both know and respect my feelings on this matter.

Also, as a co-home-owner and husband, I agreed with my wife that we needed to go to a lawyer and transact a Last Will and Testament.  This is not because I feel that I may die at any near time, but rather because I believe it is better to be prepared in advance than to be caught off guard. It’s a relic of when I was in the Boy Scouts – more than 40 years ago.

Valentines Day . . .

Happy Valentines Day everyone.  This is the day when, each year, I pause to reflect on the amazing fact that my wife still wants to keep me around.  Why today?  Because we began dating on Valentines Day in 1999.  So, any babies born as we started our relationship are now old enough to buy liquor in any bar in the US, as far as I know.

Well, to my wife – Happy Valentines Day.  Thanks for keeping me around and putting up with all the trouble that has caused you.

Stress Relief . . .

Having given my mother several “second chances” over the years, I felt the need to call my father and extend to him the same courtesy.  Today I called him, and told him that I remembered many birthdays when he’d called me and said “Oh, by the way, your mom wishes you a happy birthday, too.” Not to mention several times he’d attempted to relay written messages from my mother, as he did on the day after Christmas last year.

So, this afternoon, I called him.  I prefaced my entire conversation with the admission that since I gave mom several chances to change, I felt that I owed him at least one.  Then I asked him if he remembered how many times I’d asked him to stop playing relay for her.  He said he couldn’t remember me ever making that request – until I reminded him of all the birthday messages he’d relayed that I specifically asked to never hear again.  Then I reminded him of all the times he’d gotten written messages from her and tried to relay them to me – including my most recent birthday when he showed up at my house and surprised me with the card I did not want.  I told him that while I was sorry that things went the way they did, it was pure self-preservation that caused me to reject his visit on Dec. 26th.

Then I said that, if he could agree to NEVER attempt to relay another message from her, I’m willing to give him the second chance that I gave her.  I didn’t want to be disconnected from him, but he had to agree to my simple limit on what we talk about.  No more messages from mom.  EVER.

He said he didn’t think it would be a problem, in a tone that sounded like he’d already talked to her and told her that he wouldn”t  be able to help any more.  So, I confirmed that, on that condition, we’re still good, and I’ll continue taking his calls and visits.

I really hope this works.