I don’t want this to be a death blog. I don’t think it is, but what I I write is definitely skewed towards big life events. Oh well. Don’t read if you don’t like it.

My brother-in-law died last week and from the moment we knew, everything was different.

It is so weird to say the previous sentence. It is true.

BIL was ill. He had been ill for 3 years and was doing pretty well. Then in the last month he declined significantly and quickly. He got a little better, but then we found that the chemo wasn’t working and knew he would probably not survive the summer. Then he got significantly worse and died.

Just like that.

We are a close family, but I am an in-law and not a child. I didn’t grow up with BIL and we only got closer during the past three years. Still, I felt — and still feel — the loss. In a way he was the big brother I never had. I do see the effect his death is having on my husband. Now he is the oldest boy. His mother is looking at him to lead the family. Through these new expectations, he had to deal with his own grief.

The funeral arrangements were virtually drama-free. Nothing like the problems we had with Grama’s arrangements happened. for that I am profoundly grateful. The girls rallied around our SIL and helped with everything. I am glad SIL had BIL’s sisters to lean on. When asked, I gave my opinion, but mostly cooked and sat with SIL at the visitation and funeral so she wouldn’t be more alone.

I don’t know how it will affect the family dynamics, but I feel it keenly. I spent the half an hour of my walk thinking about my BIL. I have never done that before. I also thought about life, the ending of life and life in general from different angles.

Do I appreciate life enough?

Do I spend my days enjoying my life?

Am I doing enough with my life?

All questions to ponder in the wake of a death.

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I had a good job.

I had seniority because I had been there for a long time.

I could take as much vacation as I wanted.

My budget was increasing and I was supported in attending conferences and being active in my profession.

I had to leave for a lot of reasons. A friend sent me a blog post that, while describing a different field, describes my situation perfectly.

And there are spaces to find out what is next. Double Union is one of them.

Wisdom

Wisdom

My last day at work was August 14. On September 2, I start a new job. Again, I am being quiet about it. I did change my work status on FB, but haven’t done anything with LinkedIn yet. There is time.

It is weird to be unemployed, though I am really not unemployed. I have a job, I just haven’t started yet.

The image to the left is from a site called B Barefoot.com. I am not linking to it as it looks like a Amway-Mary Kay-Tupperware. You can Google it and go there. That’s what I did.

I like the words. They are very true for my situation.

I thought I would stay after my leave, but while I had changed people that counted saw me in the same way. It was time to go and let someone else have a chance.

It is better for my mental health and better for the new regime to have a clearer playing field.

Ferry Bldg

Ferry Bldg: my own personal almost-360 Project

After 3.5 months off of work, I went back to the office on July 7.You are probably shocked. I kept my leave kind of quiet. I didn’t announce it on Facebook or expound upon the virtues of not having to go into the office on my blog. It didn’t seem right for me.

After two weeks, I have decided, which should be no surprise to anyone, that there was good and bad. A lot of people, including one of the name partners came by my office to say how glad they were to see me and that they had missed me. The people who should have debriefed me and caught me up on what is going on didn’t. I am smart enough to ask the right questions and figure it out for myself, but I would have felt more welcome if they had taken the time.

I have lumped all this information together and decided that I have changed, but the place has not. I know I shouldn’t be surprised and I am really not. REALLY. I was hopeful, though, that the two people who are really problematic would have missed me and realized the value I bring to the organization. Apparently not.

I did a lot of good stuff while I was off, but I didn’t do as much as I wanted. I never do, though. Now I just have to be organized about the time I do have and get as much done as I can without stressing myself out.

Today I received a parking ticket. I deserved it.

I am of the firm belief that sometimes it is impossible to find a free space and I need to pay for parking.Some neighborhoods, like Union Street, I know I need to go straight to a garage and pay. Forget trying to find free parking, it isn’t going to happen. North Beach as well.

If I cannot pay for parking from time to time, I should not drive to that neighborhood.

Periodically, I park in a lot where paying for parking is required, but I do not pay. I take a risk. Mostly I have been winning, but today I lost.

I went to USF and drove around looking for parking for awhile. I didn’t see any garages to pay for parking so I parked in a very empty permit parking only lot.

Yep, got a ticket. I deserved it. I deserved it many times and today it is time to pay the piper. Sometimes you just have to take a risk. When you take a risk, you don’t always win.

I will pay, though I did think about not paying since the penalties don’t seem very terrible. I don’t want it to weigh on my mind, though, so I will pay. Part of the cost of living in the City.

Political Wifery.

Yes.

All last week I spent with a smile plastered on my face and wearing high heels. I prefer to keep my travels quiet, because I never know who might be reading my blog and think it is a perfect opportunity to break into my house. Or stalk me at the convention or vacation location.

Preparation

Preparation for the Grand Parlor takes time. I had to buy dresses and had a few other things on my list. Last week, I got my nails done, which I rarely do, a pedicure and bought some mascara. Another dress came from ModCloth.com, but I had to send it back. I wanted some short Bolero type jackets to wear over the dresses as convention conference rooms can be cold, but didn’t find any, so just sucked it up.

I was disappointed in the manicure because after a day it was already starting to flake. If I had the supplies for taking off the polish I would, but I am trying not to pick at it. With the manicure, my nails grew a lot.

Sunday

We drove down. I hadn’t done any packing on Saturday, though I had organized the packing in my mind. I was ready to go at least an hour before DH. He hadn’t done any packing either. We didn’t drive all the way down Highway 5, but drove down 280 and then cut over to 5 on Highway 152. It was a much prettier drive and cut off some of the craziness of driving on 5.

We arrived about 4pm and our room wasn’t ready even though checkin was at 4. We were not the only ones with this problem and it is a bad sign when people are cranky before the convention even starts.

We had a dinner to attend 2 hours after we arrived and not having a room meant we couldn’t unload our luggage and change for dinner. I was wearing black jersey pants and a relatively nice t-shirt, but as Grand 3rd Lady, I wanted to look a little nicer. Oh well. I put on some lipstick and had to be content with that.

We went to a place called the Vintage Press. It was about half an hour away. The food and service were both excellent.

Monday

Meet Me at the Museum

Meet Me at the Museum

DH and I went to breakfast, then I sat around until it was time to get ready for the Ladies Lunch. I was late, because I thought it started at noon when it really started at 11:30. I wore the Meet Me at the Museum dress, which I bought at Modcloth.com. They don’t have this model anymore, but they have dresses in a similar style. I was iffy about how I would feel wearing this dress, but ended up really liking it. This and a couple of other dresses I bought were, what I would consider, nice day dresses. A lot of the ladies,however, thought I was really super dressed up. I am trying to set a higher standard for dressing, but not overtly.

Being late, I sat with a whole table full of ladies I had never met, except for one. That was nice. The lady next to be was an excellent conversationalist and made me feel comfortable.

After the Ladies Luncheon, I went to the Grand Parlor Memorial Service, which remembers Brothers who died since the last Grand Parlor. They have a nice way of categorizing the gentlemen. They talk about members who supported the organization at the Parlor level, then they talk about the members who worked on a statewide level. These are usually grand officers. This year a former Past Grand President died. When this happens they pick someone to read or present a eulogy. It was very moving.

That night I spent most of the evening in the Hospitality Room*. BIL was running for Grand Outside Sentinel and having a Hospitality Suite gave the members the opportunity to talk with him. Wives and mothers had made baskets. SIL and I made pillows again and the offerings were pretty nice looking. Some Parlors bring, IMO, odd items, but the wives and mothers of South members try to keep the offerings to baskets. They are high quality items, not stuff from our garages and people are happy to win.

BIL set the prices pretty high, which was good, because it was easier to count out 7 tickets than 30 and still make $20. People still had, basically, the same odds of winning. People were a little stunned at the prices, but it worked for us. We sold $200 the first night.

People also started talking to us about where DH’s Grand Parlor will be, so I made sure to notes about what we liked, didn’t like and need to remember for our Grand Parlor. I started a wiki to keep everything organized and in one place. I don’t know that DH is on board with using the wiki, but it works for me and, so far, I am doing most of the work.

Tuesday

Tuesday was a marathon. It was probably the busiest day of the convention. I wore high heels for 9 hours, though I did wear two different pair. I did get into the pool and get some exercise, which was good. It was hard to fit everything in, especially exercise this week. I don’t feel good about that, but we do what we can do.

After swimming I took a shower and put on my All Aboard Dress and went up the Hospitality Suite to get the cold cuts out for lunch. I wasn’t going to have time to change after lunch and before the Ladies Reception, so I just wore the dress and heels there. I wanted to get a little bite to eat as I knew not to expect anything to be available for me to eat at the Ladies Reception.

All Aboard Game Dress

All Aboard Game Dress

Before the boys were really ready to go back into their meetings, I ditched them and went to the Ladies Reception. It was just down the hall, so not a long commute. The Grand First Lady for 2013-2014 is a super nice lady. She is relatively young, or acts young, and is a first grade teacher. She apologized right away for not having thought of making anything I could eat. I really was okay with it and told her so. If there were no gluten free treats, they wouldn’t end up on my hips.

Next, I went down to the meeting room for the Native Daughters visitation. The NSGW Grand President thanks the NDGW Grand President for working with him over the course of the year and the NDGW Grand President does the same. they also exchange gifts. The incoming Grand Presidents do the same. The gifts are hard, because how do you know what to get someone in this capacity. Some Grand Officers know each other better than others and that makes it easier. I am thinking more pillows will be in order.

The other wives and I left when the boys had to go back into session. I went back to the room.

We had about half an hour after the end of DH’s session. He took a nap and I sat around writing for awhile until it was time to change.

I wore another black dress I got on sale with a red Pashmina. DH wore his dinner jacket. First we went to the invitation only GP’s cocktail party. Some of the snacks from the Ladies Reception had been consolidated and repurposed for this event. We got a chance to talk to some of our friends, which was nice.

After while they herded us down to the general cocktail party where we waited for dinner to be set up. The room is normally a bingo hall and was HUGE. We stood around for a long time before they called us to take photos with the Grand President and his wife. Eventually the Grand Officers were corralled in preparation for the procession. Once it starts, we lined up according to rank and marched out like in a wedding, one couple at a time. The first time we did this, I was completely mortified. You march in alone with your spouse, and everyone looks at you and takes your picture.

Dinner is always an adventure. I got some nice vegetables, but I asked us for some chicken to go with it. I am not a vegetarian and I needed some protein.

We danced and the Grand Parlor wives had a bit of fun in a Rockettes (not such high kicking, though) type of way. DH and I danced as well and there was more commenting about that.

We went back to the Hospitality Suite and sold more tickets. DH was behind the bar for a good while, which kept him on a short leash.

Wednesday

After the marathon that was Tuesday, I slept in until almost 9am. I am more of a lark and have been getting up shortly after 6am in recent weeks. Not today. I was exhausted.

We went to the BBQ and for once, I could eat the offerings. They had tamales and they were delicious. I only ate 1.5 in an effort to try and stay within my calorie limit for the day.

After the BBQ, the boys stayed to play Pidro and I went back and made a sheet to keep track of the raffle winners. That took forever as I decided to name all of the baskets so there would be no confusion. The maid came and cleaned the room while I was working and then the Ice Man* came and I had to order and pay for ice.

In the evening, the Hospitality Room opened after the caucus was over. I was eating dinner when it opened, so I finished up quickly and went up, then sent the boys off to other Hospitality Rooms to get dinner. I wanted a base in their stomachs for the drinking they were sure to do.

DH sold tickets when I wasn’t there and we probably sold another $200 dollars worth of tickets that night.

I had suggested that we draw the raffle winners early so we could distribute the prizes and close up the room before 1am and that went well. I was pleased that the Grand President, Dwight, won a pillow. My BIL won, but I told him I would make him one separately, so we drew another ticket and a South member, Dave, won. The incoming NDGW Grand President, Suzi, also won a pillow as did

Thursday

The first thing I thought when I woke up is “how is it possible to be more tired when I wake up than when I went to bed”. The only thing I could think of was that it was an accumulation of lack of sleep. Despite how I felt the show had to go on, so up I got and we went down to breakfast. I ate a lot of protein and caffeine and that kickstarted me. DH had to go vote, so as soon as we were finished I left him to vote.

He came back and got ready really quickly, then went off to his session. I got ready (polka dot wrap dress) and went down in time for the Cleft Palate March.

The NSGW Charitable Foundation supports the UCSF and St. John’s Health Center Cranio-facial Anomalies Teams. The Charitable Foundation was organized in 1952 and it is nearing $5 million in donations. All year the Parlors raise money for the Charitable Foundation and at Grand Parlor, they line up, present their donation to the Chairman of the Foundation and the chairman reads off the name and amount. During the line, there is a lot of noise, with people going in and out, talking in competition with the chairman. It is loud. This year over $130,000 was donated by the organization. One Parlor, with only 50 members, donated more than $9,000, which was impressive.

After the March is completed doctors from the various hospitals do a presentation. They explain about all the various parts of cranio-facial anomalies and show pictures of the terrible deformities with which these families have to suffer.They did a good job of explaining that Cleft Palate is one of several genetic anomalies and syndromes that the surgical teams treat. Seeing the pictures of the children is heartbreaking and really makes me want to donate. The before and after pictures are amazing. Those presentations make me glad I worked so hard at selling raffle tickets in the Hospitality Room. We donated $575 from the proceeds of the raffle tickets to the Charitable Foundation.

The boys filled the room after their session ended changing clothes. I stayed in a comfy chair with an ottoman out of their way and went down again at 1pm to see their installation.

The newly installed Grand President had a reception with lunch food after the installation, which was great, because I was starving. The location was good. There was shade, but it was outside. We went up and changed out of our nice clothes before we went down. We ended up sitting with the Grand President. After this we were in relax mode. Hooray.

Later we walked around the hotel and went swimming. We went out to dinner with one of the Grand Trustees and his wife.

Friday

We drove home.

I didn’t make it to any quilt shops in the area, sadly, but I did stop at Prairie Queen on the way home.

Native Sons Vocabulary Key:

  • Grand Parlor: equivalent of an annual convention in other organizations
  • Grand Parlor: the session during which a Grand President leads
  • Hospitality Suite: used for campaigning for office, gathering place for Parlor members, place for non-Parlor members to meet and chat with the candidate, place for Parlor members to caucus about voting for candidates. Raffles are often offered as a way to draw in the crowd.
  • Ice Man: one of the members who takes orders for and delivers large bags of ice to the Hospitality rooms
  • Parlor: equivalent of chapters in other organizations
  • South San Francisco Parlor #157: DH & BIL’s Parlor. It is traditionally located in the southern part of the City, not in South City, which is a bit confusing.
Super G & her Girls 2005

Super G & her Girls 2005

Welcome to Hell.

I spent the last week dealing with the business of dying.

My grandmother died after a short, unexplainable illness and I was called away from a work conference to help deal with the aftermath.

If I sound a little bitter, I am. I really wanted to attend the conference as I missed it last year and I was really looking forward to spending some quality time with the friends with whom I stay. Still, we cannot predict what life will dish out and my family needed me.

My mom called me right as the keynote was starting. Not realizing what was happening, I texted her back saying that I would call when the keynote was over. She didn’t text back to tell me how serious things were, so I had no idea Grama was at the end. I had a bad feeling throughgout the keynote, though. She and my sister called our friends and he came looking for me at the conference. Finally, he and I connected and talked about what was going on. Should I go? Should I stay? I finally decided to go, so we caravaned back to his house where I packed up my stuff, called work, called DH, cried a little and eventually left.

I left from Monterey at about noon on Monday. I had to keep stopping because the emotions were overwhelming me. I promised DH I would try to drive if I was crying. I stopped at my aunt’s house in San Luis Obispo and had some soup and talked with her. She is not close to the family, so she is a little removed from the raw emotions. I was still in a  turmoil about going down and she said that she would call and tell them I wasn’t coming, if I wanted.

I was in a turmoil because I wasn’t sure that it was really the end. The last I heard, Grama was at home recovering from her fall. I didn’t know they had rushed her to the hospital on Sunday night. Some members of my family can be very dramatic and over the top.  I ended up continuing on.

When I got to Fillmore, I had to stop to use the restroom and get some coffee. My mom called as I was leaving Starbuck’s and told me to head to the house instead of the hospital; that Grama had died. I stopped and rented a hotel room, then I went to the house and everyone was there. Mom and Lil Sissy were on the phone calling people with the news.

The next day, I went to the house and started writing letters to her credit cards to cancel them. I cleared out old bills and marked them for shredding. I called the attorney. I called her investment adviser. I called my DH and consoled people.

My mom looked terrible. She had that taut look around her cheeks and eyes. I had never seen her like that. All I wanted to do was make it all better when I saw her.

Emotions were very high. It is so draining when people are just thinking about themselves and not thinking about the situation.

Tuesday was the day the drama started. We went to the mortuary to arrange to get her ready to be buried. This is an expensive prospect. It was $1700 to walk in the door and talk to the funeral director to make the plans. We had to decide on open or closed casket, what casket to buy ($750-$10,000), whether she would be made up (hair and make up $200), what she would wear (dressing $700 excluding clothes), embalming ($1700), refrigeration ($97/day if you don’t get your loved one embalmed), etc etc. There was a lot of other stuff, like holy cards, remembrance book. Each piece added to the bottom-line. Dying is not a cheap proposition. It also was hard to make decisions while considering cost. I felt like a cheapskate. I felt like I was shortchanging her by making decisions and thinking about how much each decision cost. Mom and Lil Sissy were ont he same page in terms of the decisions, so, at least, I wasn’t making them alone. There is a lot of up-selling that goes on in the Business of Dying.

Lil Sissy ended up making cards – they weren’t holy cards, but they had a nice photo of Grama on the front with the details of her life and death on them. We bought a bright and cheerful guest book at Hallmark -one we knew she would like that didn’t cost $150. Nobody commented on not having holy cards, or a more grim or religious remembrance book.

All this time emotions were running really high and that was really exhausting for me.

Next stop was the cemetery. This was supposed to be an easy stop because she told us everything was taken care of. It was a nightmare.

Grama inherited a plot from her dad and was planning to be buried with her step-mother. Her second husband was buried with his first wife. Grama’s dad is buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, as he remarried and that is where his last wife was buried. The cemetery “counselors” told us that she couldn’t be buried with her step-mother because they weren’t blood relatives.

Huh?

They told us to look at the contract, which we did and nowhere did it say that Grama had to be a blood relative to be buried in the plot. The other thing was that the contract said “family” not blood relatives, though the counselors insisted that ‘blood relative’ was in the contract. They were adamant. They said they would be happy to refund our money or apply it to another plot. Remember what I said about up-selling? If this were true, they really had us between a rock and a hard place.

No way.

I had had enough of these people. Clearly, death is an everyday occurrence to them and they have forgotten the pain and suffering a loved one’s death causes. They were immune to our pain. Their words of condolence were just meaningless sounds coming out of their mouth.

I know from working in a law firm that the legal definition of ‘family’, which, I’d like to remind you, was what it said on the contract, is not the same as the legal definition of ‘blood relative’. They wouldn’t budge. Their manager wouldn’t talk to us so we left.

I think someone in the cemetery office heard something that sounded good and started saying it. I am sure they got some extra sales out of that blood relative line. I thought it must be something like the game of telephone.

As soon as we got in the car, I called a badass litigator I know and left a message. We also called Grama’s lawyer who we were able to speak with and who was so angry about the situation that she got on the job of getting Grama in that plot right away.

You don’t have time to shop around for the best deal when your loved one dies. You don’t have time to negotiate prices or go to Costco and buy a casket. Your loved one has to be somewhere, and wherever s/he is waiting for the final arrangements costs you money.

I spent the evening emailing back and forth with the attorney, scanning contract and providing a family tree for her. In between, I spent a lot of time trying to stem the tide of anger erupting from the emotional volcanoes around me. More exhaustion.

The next day I had an appointment to see the Bereavement Team at the church to arrange the funeral. Mom had scheduled it, but I felt like I should go and help her since she was in such a fragile state. I got ready and as I was about to leave someone from the Archdiocesan Patron Services department called me back. He got more information from me and said he would call and talk to the cemetery. He didn’t promise anything and had that bland, “I am clearly talking to a crazy person” tone of voice.

I stopped at Peet’s to get some tea. The cemetery called while I was in the car. The woman tried to explain the situation, which turned out to be that they were afraid Great Grama’s (the relative in the bottom part of the grave) next of kin would come and be angry that the cemetery had opened the grave and put someone else in there. Spare me. This is not what her staff said and what she was saying was very different than not being able to put someone in a grave that is not a blood relative. I told her she would be getting a call from my lawyer and hung up. Then I called the attorney. I was done with all these people and, while, in general, I don’t threaten to have a lawyer interveneeveryday, I did that this time. I just couldn’t deal with the situation anymore. Grama’s lawyer was glad to call them. The next call I got was from the cemetery saying that everything was fine, please come and sign the papers to bury her.

They said that I needed to be there by noon to get Grama buried the next day and I reminded them that if their incompetence had not caused all of these problems, everything would have been done the previous day. I said I would come as soon as I was done at the church and if that was by noon, great. If not, Grama would be buried on Thursday if I had to drive the bulldozer myself.

I don’t understand why it takes hours of my time, a multitude of angry communications, a family tree and lawyer’s phone call for them to do what they were contractually obligated to do in the first place? The staff is poorly trained and, perhaps, poorly supervised. It seems that they are poorly organized when they do the initial selling. It also seems like they must be more concerned about getting people’s money than actually putting them in the grave.

The Bereavement Team at the church was the only bright spot in this whole process. They were clear, well organized and there was no problem. They offered appropriate guidance, acknowledged that this was a difficult time and were very helpful. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Grunnet Marker

Grunnet Marker

We headed over to a cemetery, girding ourselves for another fight. It wasn’t. Everything was ready. Mom and I had to sign a couple of things and we were done. They took us over to the grave and we saw the original marker for the first time. We looked at some other markers to get an idea of how to change it because of Grama’s name replacing her dad’s. The guy who took out to the grave was relentlessly cheerful. Clearly he enjoyed his job.

By Wednesday midafternoon, we were done with all of the organizational details. Thank heaven. We went out to a mediocre lunch and then reconvened at Super G’s house. I continued to sort old bills and papers and write letters to people who needed to know Grama had died.

Thursday morning, I got up early and went to the Van Nuys Flyaway terminal to pick up the boys. They had flown down that morning for the funeral. By 8:30 or so we were back on the road to Grama’s house. When we got there, they ate some breakfast and then we headed over to the church. Mom had put together some photos to display at the mass and reception.

At about 10am, we all headed over to the church. We set up the table with the remembrance book and the photos, arranged some flowers. We stood around a bit waiting for things to get started. Eventually the priest and the Bereavement Team got the readers and the cousins, who were bringing up the gifts, oriented. I talked with the mortuary staff who arrived with Grama. A bit later we got the pallbearers organized and started greeting people.

People came and wanted to hug us or be hugged. I had been pretty stoic until this time, but I started to break down. At the end of the mass when we were processing out, I broke down when my step-dad broke down. I couldn’t be strong any longer. Thank heaven for mom’s cousin. She just held me and didn’t let go or encourage me to stop. If I couldn’t have my own mom, I would love to have her as a mom.

There was a reception in the church hall. The church ladies decorated, made coffee and lemonade, baked and cleaned up. It was wonderful. That church has a wonderful community.

After the reception, we went to the cemetery and buried Grama. We had a family only internment. We didn’t want another big hoo-ha. The burial part of the service was short. My mom was angry that the priest kept his portable holy water in plastic piping. I thought it was tacky.

And then it was all over. I said good-bye to my boys and my friend took them back to the airport. Everyone else scattered for home. Several of us went back to Grama’s and sat around chatting about her life and other details.

Friday, I finished up paperwork. Mom and I went with two of her cousins to find Grandpa George’s grave at Hollywood Forever. They were setting up for their Dia de los Muertos celebration so the place was a zoo. We found him and were glad he is no longer lost. We also saw a memorial to Toto, Nelson Eddy’s grave, Jayne Mansfield’s grave, Johnny Ramone’s mausoleum and the crypt where Marion Davies rests. It is actually quite a beautiful cemetery and, though unplanned, we took a little time to walk around the graves and say some of the names as a small prayer to those resting there. There were a number of people there looking for celebrity graves. I thought that was a bit odd, but to each his own.

Saturday I packed up and checked out of the hotel and took one last trip over to Grama’s. Mom and I wrote thank you notes and then I drove home. I didn’t really feel like stopping anywhere, so I only stopped when I needed to. I didn’t visit with anyone or shop for fabric. Now I am home and working on getting my life back to normal.

______________________________________________________________________________________

Everyone is going to die. I am sorry if you think that is an indelicate statement, but it is true. If you want to go through what we did, don’t do anything. Close this post and go ride your bike or sew or mow the lawn. There are a lot more options if you plan ahead. If you want to avoid the nightmare and allow your family to grieve peacefully and completely, here is what you need to do:

  1. Think about what you want to happen after you die. Take notes on those thoughts. Perhaps create a file on your computer that you can add to as things occur to you.
  2. Talk with your loved ones about what you want done when you die.
  3. Go to the mortuary and start making plans and paying for those plans. There is a company that will bill you by the month and put the fees in an account so they are ready for your use when the time comes.
  4. Make all the mortuary related decisions-hair, make-up, embalming.
  5. If you will be buried in a cemetery, go to the cemetery where  you want to be buried and buy a plot. Get together with your family and go in together. The afterlife will be more fun, if you have people you care about around you. if you want to be buried at sea, get in touch your preferred company and make those arrangements.
  6. If you want to buy a casket at Costco, go figure out how that is done, where to store it, etc.
  7. Decide where you want the celebration, mass or service to be held.
  8. Do you want a viewing the night before?
  9. Organize the service as best you can. What poem or readings do you want? Who do you want to be pallbearers? Do you want people to remember you by making speeches? Are there people you do not want to attend? Spell it all out.
  10. Contact those people and see if they have a pay-in-advance plan.
  11. Contact an attorney and make a will or get a Nolo Press book and do it yourself.
  12. Make a book, collage or poster or note the photos you want displayed at your funeral or wake.
  13. Write everything down including: what you want to wear, whether you want an open casket, do you want to be cremated, what mortuary and cemetery you want used, or whether you want to be scattered at sea, made into a statue, or cryogenically frozen and where you want the wake, what color you want the vault to be, who you want to do the catering. AND where the money is to pay for all of this. There are a thousand details. Start now.
  14. Make copies of all of your arrangements and give them to the people who will be doing the planning.
  15. Save the arrangements to the cloud.
  16. Pay for the arrangements. Your accounts might be frozen after you die. Make sure your kids don’t have to come up with the money in advance.
June 27, 2013 by jlapac
June 27, 2013, a photo by jlapac on Flickr.

I had to take this photo twice as I couldn’t figure out what the fog was doing. Good morning!

June 26, 2013 by jlapac
June 26, 2013, a photo by jlapac on Flickr.

Sun is back; clouds leaving. Good morning!

June 25, 2013 by jlapac
June 25, 2013, a photo by jlapac on Flickr.

Rainy again. Good morning, all!