|My dad holding his first grandchild|
Yesterday, I was roasting a turkey, making stuffing, and setting a Thanksgiving table. Today, I am on a plane headed for my dad's house in Las Vegas to settle his affairs. My sister, the only other next of kin, is flying in to meet me at the airport, and we will have tonight to collect our thoughts, make plans for the week, and relax. It will be the only day for the next week that we will have that opportunity.
Every day will be a challenge, and I will post pix of our progress. Each day, the pieces of his life will be methodically uncovered, analyzed, categorized, and processed. Each day, we will plow through a mountain of physical and emotional work in a Herculean effort to organize what he left behind.
My dad did the right thing. For a man who made mistakes and never looked back to apologize or make amends, he managed to make it all right in the end. I have to say, the old man really came through. And, what gifts he gave us...First, he secured a "pre-need" contract with a local funeral home. That's what mortuaries call pre-planning for funeral expenses, cremation, and/or burial. My dad paid for a bereavement package ahead of time, and even though I had expressed my gratitude to him, I had no idea what an invaluable gesture that would become.
He also set up a trust. I worked closely with him on that, but only after he made all of the arrangements with a trust attorney. Without this legal authority, my sister and I would be vulnerable to the unsolicited advice of well-meaning friends and to the histrionics of step-relatives who think that they are entitled to have a say in his affairs. With the authority of the trust, we have the legal backbone to carry out his last wishes exactly as he directed.
And, that is precisely what we are going to do over the next seven days. Every day will be fluid, but focused. We are following a critical path of actions and decisions that will lead to the conclusion of every single aspect of his life. We are stepping into our dad's world for a week to bring closure to his daily existence. He started our lives, and we are finishing his.
It's a huge job, but he chose to leave it in our hands. He did the heavy lifting in order to take some of the burden off of us.