Retirement has freed up a lot of time. I’ve decided to use some of it for growing up and doing mature things. It’s come to my attention that most responsible adults fill out wills in order to simplify life for their survivors. Our chosen attorney says we should create the will, assign durable power of attorney to a trusted family member/friend, and leave an advance directive. It’s the advance directive that excites the imagination.
The first thing we learned is that the attorney wants $250 an hour. American pay scales aren’t associated in any way with stress levels. Our daughter makes a fraction of that teaching math and science to middle-schoolers. Never mind.
We are a family of modest means—an uncomplicated estate. The will was simple. We assigned durable power of attorney to each other, then to the eldest child. The advance directive provoked the interesting discussions.
Our advance directives came in a helpful booklet. The opening pages suggest different scenarios to jumpstart conversation about miserable ways to die. Can you talk about it? Does money matter? Religion? Do you worry about being a burden to your family? Persistent vegetative state? Incurable illness? Then you are to discuss what measures should be taken to keep you alive even facing no hope of recovery. As of this writing I don’t think I want any family member patiently keeping a bedside vigil, wishing they were somewhere else. At my finest I am not a particularly responsive individual. If I am totally unresponsive, pull the plug.
Then there is a worksheet to record your decisions. They saved the best for last. About my death: Would I rather die at home or in a medical facility of some sort? Ideally I would vanish unnoticed into the forest. Then you figure out who you would like present at your death. The people I care most about should not feel obligated to attend. Instead I would like mandatory attendance by people who repeatedly take a full cart of groceries through the express lane, people who don’t say please and thank you, and people who post stuff that is vile and/or untrue.
At last you are asked to discuss what should be done with your remains. There are only two listed choices: burial or cremation. Neither of those is very celebratory. One thing that came to mind was a funeral pyre. I know that outdoor burning is prohibited in Keizer, but maybe we can make an exception. I am hoping we can build a nice tall wooden structure with plenty of fuel in the center of our new roundabout. Wrap me in plain linen and light me up. Allow people to slowly circle and add combustibles that commemorate my existence.
If that seems too much to ask then we can go with my real first choice. Wrap me in linen and set me on an Oregon beach atop a substantial pile of explosives. There is precedent for this rite of passage. We may be able to raise funds for charity by auctioning off the right to press the detonator.
My only other wish is to have Sean Spicer as funeral spokesperson. That will allow reports boasting the largest crowd ever to witness a funeral pyre in Keizer, or certainty that my remains will be blown to altitudes never reached by any stupid whale carcass.
(Don Vowell gets on his soapbox regularly in the Keizertimes.)