Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The best funeral

It seems that I have been to many funerals. I have sadly been to funerals where the officiator clearly did not know the person or his family. Did not say the name correctly. Said nothing personal. I have been to celebrations of life. LDS funerals tend to be positive times of shared memories and testimonies of the Plan of Happiness and Salvation that assures us that death is not the end. When my great-uncle Esque died last December,  I attended probably the most personal and joyous memorial of all.

The officiator was warm, gracious, skilled, personal. We very surprised to learn later that he was not their long time friend and pastor, but that Kathryn had only met him after Esque died.

My Great Uncle Esque passed away on Dec 17th - a week before Christmas and 11 days before his 85th birthday. His wife Kathryn was not dismayed about the timing. They had celebrated together earlier.

Esque was the baby brother of Aurora Frost who married Gillette George McGinness, my grandparents. He often told my children and I of the love and kindness my grandparents showed him and brother Tom.

We were asked to wear bright colors as we rejoiced in his life rather than mourned. Some of his favorite music played before the services began. We were invited to share memories if we so desired. Person after person spoke of his kindness, work with California State Police, what a gentleman he was, and the great love he shared with Kathryn. Notable – his mother-in-law who is weeks younger than he is. Naturally she had some concerns when her daughter became involved with him, but he won them over with his love for Kathie and qualities of character. His neighbor almost could not speak as she wept – how many people even know their neighbors – let alone weep at their funeral? - She spoke of him as a dear friend and surrogate grandfather for her little girls. He was an expert marksman. I remember when he was in bomb disposal. A man of courage and dedication, generosity, and always good humor. As one of my sons said, when you visited with Esque, you always left with a smile.

The officiator eventually had to say, “This is the last one.” Then we enjoyed a slide show that began with a newspaper clipping of when their mother saved Esque and Tom (and Esque's Micky Mouse) from a fire and included him handsome in his uniform, and many other pictures from his life.

The service concluded with the Lord's prayer.

Esque was buried with other of my relatives half a mile from my house at St Mary's Cemetery during the worst part of a rainy, windy storm. Mourners huddled and shivered as Esque was honored by the military, the grave was blessed, and the casket lowered.

Later we met at The Cheesecake Factory where the hostess exclaimed, " I love Esque!"

Kathryn has been strong and brave. She chose to celebrate life and love.

not just for the aged

Last night I attended an End of Life Planning Seminar with The Swenson Law Firm 

Sam Swenson esq taught us about the various kinds of end-of-life planning with their pros and cons.

What I learned -
who needs end of life planning?  Pretty much EVERYONE who has rights/responsibilities.  Unless you are ok with the government making decisions regarding your possessions and dependents, legal battles, long probate
Everyone also needs (oh crud! I forgot the name) but the thing that authorizes someone to act for you if you cannot.  And possibly a separate document in which you say what life prolonging measures you do or do not want when things are dire.  It is a wrenching thing for the family to have to decide life or death.

Shocker - if I finally wrote a will and left my house and pennies to Miriam, the government agencies who have supplemented her health care would show up with a hefty bill and possibly take her off services and she would have to sell the house to pay them and  struggle to re-apply.
A Living Trust seems like the best way to go. 
Do It Yourself End of Life Planning may have unintended consequences because while they are pretty good in some ways, they don't know your situation,  the law for your state etc.
Here's what everyone should do
1. Write down their objectives - what do they want to happen when they die
or when they are incapacitated. (number 2 will help you figure it out maybe)
2. Inventory Assets and Debts
3. Select a professional to help.  Someone who know the laws and ins and outs.  Who can ask you questions and answer questions.
4. Have Legal Documents Prepared
5. Change Titles ! - it is no good to create a trust if you do not change the ownership legally
For you local people.  the Swenson meeting was NO pressure.  Just information. (and nice snacks.and not boring)  He will do an up to an hour FREE personal consultation during which he will not allow you to pay him or sign an agreement.  NO pressure.  They will send you  something if you want to hire him.  (not the thing they are sending me hopefully soon. That is just a worksheet to help you know what you have and what you want.  The agreement would be after the consultation)
I am pretty late to this party.  But I think everyone should consider it if you haven't already.