Saturday, October 4, 2008

Michelle Ward's Green Pepper Press Street Team: Crusade 24: Final Wishes- They Are Difficult To Think About But Worse NOT To Think About!

Final Wishes. What a deep and troubling thing it can be to think about what, indeed, your final wishes are. I learned an early lesson about this. It's a lesson that I still think about often. My Mom had a habit of telling me the things that she wanted me to have when she passed. I would have the ladies writing desk that I had used since childhood, but had left in the farmhouse that I adored for the time being. I would have my families 19th century photographs, the chair that I had always been fond of, and, of course, her clothes and personal items. We 'knew' that her demise would not happen for a very long time. My Mom, you see, was one of my best friends, as well as my Mother. She was also a person who struggled with alcoholism, but never admitted, that she had a problem with it. Several days before my 21st birthday she called to say "happy birthday" , thinking that it was already my birthday. It didn't take my ' honed vibe twitchers' to figure out that she was, as common parlance at the time would say, "ten sheets to the wind". It was an unhappy phone call as I told her that I loved her but would enjoy speaking to her much more if she would call when she was sober. That was the last time I ever spoke to her. She died two days AFTER my birthday. Her liver just had had enough. I don't think she could have felt it coming. As her only child I was plunged into an abyss of grief,pain & anger. Her husband, my step-father was too. At that time he too was an alcoholic - and I am sure that his pain was deeper than the deep blue sea that shone sun dappled & white capped outside the doors of the farm house. Much to my stunned surprise, my mother's funeral was the last time I ever spoke to my step-father. It was also the last time I saw any of those promised, cherished, family items that Mother had so seriously promised to me. It turns out that she had never written down any of of last wishes and there had been no will at all. My step father got everything, and, due to his own abuse of alcohol, I was unable to talk to himabout it & I finally gave up the fight to do so. About a year later I walked into one of the local antique shops and, much to utter shock, there were the 19th century family photos that should have been mine. I stumbled out of the shop in tears. I certainly did not have the money to buy them at the time and how could I coherently explain my dilemma to the shop keeper? I felt cheated & deeply hurt. I kept thinking why oh why didn't my mother make a written list of the things she wanted me to have? That was many, many years ago. I never did get anything of my mother's & I never did speak to my step-father again. I know from records that he passed away in 1998 - in that beautiful farm house - or at least in the town where the farmhouse was. If my mother had written her wishes out I might have a a "leg to stand on". I could not hire an attorney at that point in my life either - what 21 year old has that kind of money for thos kind of things??? I am also not the loudest of voices nor the most strident person in the world. I hate conflict & do what I can to avoid them - to this day !

When my husband and I married, with these memories still so clear in my mind, one of the first things we did was to have wills prepared. These, of course, must be updated from time to time & I keep a journal in which I do write down small lists of things that I especially want special people to have. When I am gone it won't really matter who reads the journals after all! I have recounted my story here not to be morbid or sad but to try to remind you, in the spirit of Michelle Ward's wonderful 'Crusade', that it makes life for your loved ones, in what can only be described as a time of tremendous grief & pain, easier when they have a clear idea of what your last wishes are. It is, rather like your last gift to them really, to make this transition time easier. Take the time now to talk about what you want; how you want things done; where you want & what to go and to whom. Be specific. Rather than an odious task it is, more to the point,a celebration of you to know that your loved will have the remembrances of you that you picked for them. Just start to think of it a little if it is hard for you to consider. Just take one small step for now - and then, when you look at your loved ones you will know that taking another step will be the right thing to do - for you as well as for them. Blessings to you all & wishes that we all live our lives to fullest with love & light. Thank Michelle, for reminding us of this very important ritual.


michelle ward said...

Marie - thank you for sharing this story with your readers and with the street team. You write a compelling story that illustrates the spirit of the crusade. I am sorry you went through this, especially at age 21. What an incredible loss to have endured. Bravo to you for having wills prepared, that is something I need to get done. Hugs to you girl.

Deb said...

What a deep and heartfelt lesson you took from your Mother, even if she never knew.

Becci said...

Thank you so much for sharing! I didn't think that I was going to participate in this crusade but amd now being convinced that I need to. I have no will ...yet!

Thanks again!

Ursula Clamer said...

What a heartbreaking story but it is a lesson for us all to learn from. Thankyou for sharing it.

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