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.

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.