Showing posts from December, 2013

Friday—Life Is Complicated Day #15: The Finish Line

My daily journal as trustee of my dad's estate

The Finish Line
It was my last day in the house, and I was determined to finish the job that my sister and I had started two weeks ago.

I spent some time in the garage cleaning off shelves and organizing his tool bench.  I owe it to my dad that I can tell the difference between a Phillips screwdriver and a flathead.  Garage aficionados will appreciate the mini-fridge stocked full of pop and my dad's favorite brew.  The garage was where I sought his approval.  He taught us that girls can do anything that boys can do, including the proper use of tools and a willingness to get your hands dirty.

At the end of the day, I had a couple of visitors.  Two of my dad's dirt bike buddies stopped by to discuss the motorcycles.  One of them was a local legend on the dirt bike circuit and owned a shop in Vegas.  Like all of my dad's other friends, he was a class act, and my dad would have wanted his bikes to go to him.

After he left, the…

Thursday—Life Is Complicated Day #14: Countdown

My daily journal as trustee of my dad's estate

8 Hours
Another day at the house, and for the first time since my dad died, I got a full night's sleep.  What a difference!  The untethered anxiety that had been waking me up at 3 a.m. every morning had been sorted and compartmentalized.

•  My mom's ingratitude
•  The self-absorbed stepdaughter
•  The burden of legal responsibilities
•  A timeline that was still undetermined
•  The selling of big-ticket items
•  The overwhelming sense that I was guessing my way through every day
•  Forgetting dance steps
•  My distant reality in California

Critical Path
I had been following a critical path of decisions and actions since Day One.  Certain things had to be done before other equally-as-important things could follow.  The trick was to figure out what those things actually were.  It wasn't so much fear as it was a tidal wave of caution that was keeping me up at night.

My first obligation was to my dad and what he wanted.  I tri…

Wednesday—Life Is Complicated Day #13: Home Sweet Home

My daily journal as trustee of my dad's estate

Home Sweet Home
It's an odd feeling to wake up and not recognize where you are.

I opened my eyes and tried to focus.  This wasn't my bedroom...Was I in Boulder City?  Nope.  The garden window that looks out onto the purple lantanas at my grandmother's condo was missing.  The Mission-style footboard and the yellow wool blanket at the end of my bed looked vaguely familiar.

I was in a house that was redefining itself.  My dad's cozy blue bathrobe was dangling from the inversion table that was set up in the guest room.  A pair of brand new slippers identical to the ones he always wore were next to the bed.  He had a habit of purchasing two of everything, and we found the slippers in the spare bedroom with the tags still on them.

The stuffed baby camel from my grandmother's condo sat at the end of my bed.  How it managed to make it from the condo in BC to her assisted living facility, then into a box on a shelf in my d…

Tuesday—Life Is Complicated Day #12: My Dad's Obit

My daily journal as trustee of my dad's estate

Today, I wrote my dad's obit for the Review-Journal in Las Vegas.  It will appear on Saturday, December 21, 2013.  The original version included the quote from Arthur C. Clarke, one of his favorite Sci-Fi authors.  The RJ was having fits about the quote, so I left it out.  But, my dad loved to read, so I'm running the original here in my blog.

Click HERE to see the obit in the RJ

February 19, 1935 - November 26, 2013
“In my life I have found two things of priceless worth—learning and loving. Nothing else—not fame, not power, not achievement for its own sake—can possibly have the same lasting value. For when your life is over, if you can say, ‘I have learned,’ and ‘I have loved,’ you will also be able to say, ‘I have been happy.’” ~ Arthur C. Clarke, Rama II
Reynold Uther Jones of Las Vegas passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 78. He is survived by his daughters, Heidi Jones Harris of Gainesville, Flor…

Monday—Life Is Complicated Day #11: Phone Calls

My daily journal as trustee of my dad's estate

Paper Rules
Today was Phone Day #1.  I'd been dreading it for a week mainly because I did not know exactly where to start.  Some had to be called now and some later, but it was vitally important that I make these calls in the right order.  Like a game of Pickup Sticks, one wrong move could bring the whole thing down in a quagmire of tangled communications.  But, it had to be done, and today was the day to start.

Veteran's Administration
I started with what was in front of me that I clearly understood.  My sister and I are beneficiaries on my dad's VA insurance.  I called the number on the form that he'd given me and got a very helpful guy with a thick Jersey accent.  They would send me the death claim form, I'd fill it out, and return it.  Okay, pretty straight forward.  One down, four more immediately important calls to go.  Next stop, the cards in his wallet.

Social Security
Another easy one.  Social Security is per…

Sunday—Life Is Complicated Day #10: My Day Off

My daily journal as trustee of my dad's estate

My Day Off
At the end of last week, it was obvious that there was more to do, and I needed to extend my stay for another week.  I was still waiting on the death certificates, which take 7 to 10 business days to arrive, and not much happens on the business end of a trust without death certificates.

I also needed to pick up my dad's ashes from the nice folks at Bunkers.  The initial shock of his unexpected death was starting to dissipate and a new, more purposed reality was settling in.  At least, it didn't feel like a half-dream anymore.  I'd been on auto-pilot for a week straight, and I was beginning to wonder when I would feel optimistic again.

So, I gave myself a day off back at the condo in Boulder City.

I slept in and drank coffee all morning.  I sorted through papers when I felt like it.  I strolled around in my little aromatic garden and let the rosemary and cedar branches brush against my jeans.  I started a new Ha…

Saturday—Life Is Complicated Day #9: What Worked

My daily journal as trustee of my dad's estate

And Then There Was One
I dropped my sister off at the airport today, and for the first time since my dad died, I felt alone.  The Army of Two who marched into unfamiliar terrain and faced down unidentified foes is down to an army of one.

Over the past week, the strength of who we are as individuals and our bond as sisters was tested over and over again.  Her clarity and humor provided a life raft for me on days when I felt as though I were walking on the bottom of the ocean.

She kept herself open to every detail and to every exchange of information as we processed through each day.  We worked together and independently at the same time, putting our trust in each other ahead of everything else.  Fueled by mutual respect, we skillfully navigated the very tricky landscape of who gets what.  Thankfully, that was a small piece of a much bigger picture.  We were a good team, and my dad would have been proud of us.

Why It Worked
1.  We Like …

Friday—Life Is Complicated Day #8: Gratitude

My daily journal as trustee of my dad's estate

Today, we gave away canned food and a vehicle.  Funny thing...the guys who got the canned food were a lot more appreciative than the two people who got the truck.

Regardless, it was a gesture to pay off a debt of conscience owed by my dad.  As trustee of his estate, it is my job to pay his debts of all kinds.

Now, the slate is clean.  Judging by the way that he put his affairs in order and made everything right at the end of his life, he would have approved.  This was the kind of debt that could not be rectified while he was alive.  Perhaps now, a broken heart can mend.

RIP Dad.

Thursday—Life Is Complicated Day #7: Keep, Give, Throw Away

My daily journal as trustee of my dad's estate


"I'd like to schedule a pickup for next Tuesday."

"Okay, what items do you have?"

"Right now, I have...

Ten 33-gallon garbage bags of clothes & shoes;
2 bags of bed linens & comforters;
4 large duffle bags of sports gear;
2 small duffle bags of knick-knacks;
5 used suitcases;
4 boxes of miscellaneous household items;
4 lamps;
A clock;
A box of old record albums;
A shower assist chair;
A mirror;
5 picture frames;
A flip-up Polaroid land camera;
A box of Russian military hats;
A scary Jesus poster;
And a box of Christmas decorations."

Give Away
Heidi and I spent the day staging items to keep, give away, and throw away.  We were women on a mission.  On Day 2, we set up a yahoo mail account so that we could keep trust business separate from our individual correspondence.  We were looking for a list of items requested by my dad's deceased wife's daughter.  Not a step a…

Wednesday—Life is Complicated Day #6: Climbing Mountains

My daily journal as trustee of my dad's family trust

In Our Words

"We are climbing mountains every day.  Not the same mountain, it's a new mountain every day."  ~Heidi

"She can take that gun and shove it."  ~Heidi

"...And then pull the trigger!"  ~Troi


Four days of driving back and forth between Boulder City and my dad's house off of Charleston were enough to convince us to spend our last two nights at the house.  We were both flying out on Saturday, and we running out of time.  We still had to clean out every cupboard, every closet, and every drawer.  The fridge was still stocked full of food from two days before Thanksgiving.  Rusty's insulin supplies were still sitting on the kitchen counter.  We were stepping into my dad's life and taking over from where he left it.

We spent the morning at the condo in BC plowing through the stacks of papers, folders, and binders that we had taken out of the house.  I woke up every morning f…

Tuesday—Life Is Complicated Day #5: TCB

Navigating Las Vegas...taking care of the business of dying

Las Vegas Coroner's Office  
First stop, the Las Vegas coroner's office on Pinto Lane to pick up my dad's personal belongings.  $38 in cash, his wallet, 2 credit cards, a debit card, and his keys.

Bunkers Mortuary
Next stop, Bunkers Mortuary at the corner of Washington and Las Vegas Boulevard South.  This is old-timey Las Vegas.  We drove past the old Union Plaza depot, past Fremont Street, and past the neighborhood where I learned to ride my first 2-wheeler bike.  We were just down the street from the elementary school where I attended Kindergarten and First Grade.  We arrived at the mortuary once owned by "Miss Nancy" Merle Bunker, the star of The Cinderella Show in Las Vegas.

We met with our arrangement director, Nick, who gave me a casket flag for my dad because he served in the National Guard for a year, and then in the Air Force for four more.  Heidi and I signed more paperwork and paid $83 out-of-po…

Monday—Life Is Complicated Day #4: Rusty

My daily journal as trustee of my dad's estate

"When all the world is a hopeless jumble,
And the raindrops tumble all around,
Heaven opens up a magic lane.

When all the clouds darken up the skyway,
There's a rainbow highway to be found
Leading from your window pane
To a place behind the sun
Just a step beyond the rain."

Somewhere Over The Rainbow ~ Music by Harold Arien_Lyrics by EY Harburg

My dad's little dog, Rusty, crossed the Rainbow Bridge today.  He was a sick little dog, and he was suffering.  It was time to let him go.  My dad had been saying for the past couple of weeks that it was time to put him down.  But, it is a heartbreaking task to take a beloved pet in for euthanasia, and he'd been putting it off.

He had friends who stepped up and took care of this high maintenance dog when he no longer could.  They were there before we arrived, and they simply got the job done for a friend in need...and for a couple of complete strangers who were reeling fro…

Sunday—Life Is Complicated Day #3: Neverland

My daily journal as trustee of my dad's estate

In Our Words
"She tried to pull the weepy woman thing, and that didn't land with me."  ~Me

"We're not criers."  ~My sister

"If they want to do a memorial, let them.  It makes no difference to the dead person, and everybody wins."  ~My sister

House Day
It was house day on Sunday.  The locksmith showed up at 1 p.m., and we had 8 locks rekeyed.  It was reassuring to know that whoever else had a key to my dad's house could no longer get in.  Now, if we can figure out how to operate the damn alarm, we'll be okay.  New keys won't stop bad guys, but an active alarm system will.  

It was a hands-on day.  We worked hard and started in the areas that held the most interest for each of us.  Heidi dove into the backyard shed, and I tackled the downstairs rooms of the house.  We began the process of staging. It's pretty much the same as moving, except for the odd sensation of knowing that nothin…