Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner December 30, 2021
Today’s column might be considered a bit dour, and we sure don’t need any more dourness, but at the end of this activity, there is such a sense of accomplishment it might be worth the exercise.
I’m going to tackle the topic of getting one’s affairs ready at year-end, not only for this benighted year we’ve lived through, 2021, but for the longer term, the final phase.
We Canadians are famous for postponing, steeling ourselves against and denying our own mortality. It works for a while. But on the other hand, those folks who are considerate family members and have a clear-eyed realization that they won’t go on forever, do the hard planning and prepare the papers with which a loved one will have to deal after one’s death.
Preparing as much as is humanly possible for one's end. Then forget about it.
Many nice family lawyers in this town are ready to talk your language and give you advice at a reasonable rate about the paperwork needed. Sensitive funeral directors supply many copies of the death certificate, for such needs as credit card cancellations, pension plans, memberships, internet and phone accounts and so it goes.
I even have the business card of www.barbphillips.ca a “thanadoula,” like a birth helper, but for end-of-life.
So, resolution No. 2, right after resolution No. 1 (which is to get vaccinated and slow down and stay healthy), is to make an appointment with a lawyer as a start.
A straightforward will expresses your wishes as to what goes where. I learned the Latin term “per stirpes” (each equally) when considering my three sons. We are all at peace and I want to ensure it stays that way. My lawyer father used to grieve over family disputes that so easily could have been avoided had Granny left a clear and simple will, shown to all beforehand.
Then there is the fun of making a list of personal treasures, articles and jewelry to go to each family member and friend. I know just the person to welcome my exercise bike. and the Zanzibar chest from Tanzania days. And remember your favorite causes.
Hospice is a great resource in Peterborough, before, during and after bereavement. I remember seeing a shelf of great books for kids. One, “Water Bugs and Dragonflies” was read at a service I attended.
Your reading list for 2022 can include such titles as such as "Being Mortal," "When Breath Becomes Air" and "Medicine Walk," from the Hospice Book Club. All forge new pathways for thinking. Age-Friendly Peterborough has an excellent discussion-starter kit.
The pandemic has opened us to new ways of thinking, and has asked for new courage.
A helpful organization, always educational, is Dying With Dignity. They have advance directives to guide one in making wishes known about end-of-life care, for your doctor and family. We have in Canada legislation permitting medically-assisted death. PRHC has a staff person to consult about this possibility. Then add your preference about a service, or none.
I have a blue box marked “End of Life: RG.” One son declines to look at it, too painful, but others calmly have looked through it. I keep tossing in a reading, song or poem so they have lots to choose from. Years ago, “pre-need," to use an industry term, we bought a plot in Little Lake Cemetery. Good view of the fountain.
A brave friend received a terminal diagnosis, and had just two responses. “Well, I’ve had a great life,” and “How long?” Then that remarkable person called her three daughters and told them, “I haven’t got long. Is there anything you want of me?”
Two replied through tears, “No mom, everything’s fine.” But the third said, “Mom, I’ve always wanted you to come see me figure skate in the adult carnival.”
As my dad used to say, as he coached us teenagers on leaving a room, “Nothing becomes you like your exit.’”
"Gleanings" is Rosemary Ganley's new book. You can purchase directly from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or from >Amazon<