Seriously??? Really??? You would rather be an Ostrich???
It’s Important to have Legal and Medical Documents Prepared

This article is most probably going to be very long, and it might have lots more information than needed. But as my time is starting to come closer to the end, I want to make many of you realize how important it is to make decisions now, while you can. So I am including some personal thoughts and experiences, the thought processes I used, and how it turned out.

Don’t be an ostrich and put your head in the sand and make believe things don’t happen.

ostrich in the sand

If you have been reading the stories on my website for the past three years, or even for the past few months, you know that until recently when my health got worse that I seldom write serious stories. For the past few months, I have written about my health because so many of you want to know how I’m doing, in addition to what I’m doing. I’ve added stories with inspirational poems that have helped me over the years, and also some stories that helped shape who I’ve become. Some funny, some more serious, but always the truth as I know it to be.

Well, this is going to be a more serious story… It’s a really important one that most people don’t want to think about or discuss, but you really should give it serious consideration. It’s a subject most people feel uncomfortable discussing, or perhaps don’t want think about … if I don’t talk about it or think about it then it won’t happen. Well, life and death are a fact… no matter what you think, or don’t want to think about… it happens to everyone. So, since it’s a fact of life, wouldn’t you rather be proactive not reactive? It’s more comfortable to be an ostrich and put your head in the sand and not face it, but why not embrace it… plan for it so you are prepared?

This way, you can make a decision about your life or death. When the situation presents itself, (at some point it will happen, we don’t always get warning because sometimes it’s immediate), then it will be clear what medical procedures or life saving measures you want done or don’t want done, or what to do with your money, possessions, etc. It’s best to make these decisions when there is no crisis, when you have time to think about it without pressure, so you can really give it some thought, and even discuss it with others if they are involved.

It’s sort of like when a hurricane is approaching. We get warning, often days ahead. Sometimes the path is known and sometimes it’s not. It can also change direction or intensity. Where I live in south Florida was in the direct path of Hurricane Katrina, and a several miles off shore she changed direction and we were spared from a direct hit.  We watched and were relieved when she changed direction, but others had to start scrambling and prepare for her coming to their area. We did however get the effects from Hurricanes Frances, Jeanne, Ivan, and Wilma. Some were more serious effects than the others.

We get a choice whether or not to prepare. I would rather be prepared and not need the provisions, than need them and not have them or being able to go get them. I’m the type that goes and fills up my car with gas, gets food that is not perishable, fills containers with drinking water, fills the bathtub with water, puts bottles of water in the freezer to freeze to keep food cold in case we lose electricity, etc. All the necessary precautions. Other people say, no, I’m not going to do anything to prepare, or it might not affect us. Well, then we get a direct hit from Hurricane Wilma. We have no electricity for several days, in my case 10 days. Most gas stations, grocery stores, and other stores at that time did not at the time have generators. When things sort of got back to normal or we were able to venture outside, there were really long lines at gas stations when they did get a generator to operate, or had power. People who didn’t get gas in advance had to wait in extremely long lines to get gas at the few gas stations that were working. People who did not go to the bank in advance had to wait until the banks opened and then stand in long lines because they did not get cash in advance. ATMs need electricity to operate. As for food, many groceries had to throw out all their perishable food. So they had to slowly restock.

If you have lived through hurricanes, tornadoes, severe storms, you know how you are affected. Especially if there are power outages, it can be stressful, traumatic, and disrupt your life for sometimes weeks or months, not only days. Severe storms do happen. Sometimes we get advance warning so we can prepare if we choose to, sometimes we don’t. When I lived in Texas, we often got tornado warnings, we had no time or sometimes very little time to prepare. A tornado is very scary, I lived through having several of them very close to me. It is not a fun thing to experience. If you haven’t been through a hurricane, tornado, or other similar event, talk to others that have had that experience and ask them what it’s like. It’s definitely not fun, and it can affect your life for days, weeks, or even years!

So now, while you have the opportunity, give your life and death serious consideration. I’ve received many emails, notes, and comments from my friends and people reading about me and my life that and you tell me that I’ve inspired you to perhaps live differently. To be more aware of the needs of others, to donate to organizations that are in need, to be aware of how precious life is, to realize what’s important and how to be there for others. Well, how about being there for yourself. You are important too. So are your friends and family.

I know that from personal experience I can tell you it’s best to have things planned out in advance. About six and a half years ago my father died at the age of 79. He was in the hospital for four and a half weeks during his last hospitalization, he had serious health issues on and off for several years. At first during his last stay in the hospital, there was hope he would get better, but then as time went on we were on an extremely emotional roller coaster. Some days he would be better, then the next day not so good. This went on for almost 5 weeks. Then one day he was starting to lose awareness. Within a few hours he was in a coma and we knew he would not come out of it. So, while we were dealing with adjusting to that, my mom and I and another family member had to leave the hospital and go find a funeral home since we knew it would only be a day or two before he died. We didn’t have time to go to different funeral homes to see if we could get a lower cost or better services, we had to make decisions immediately about a service, then arrange for his body to be transported from Florida to New Jersey. We had to pick a casket, and come up with the money at the last minute for the funeral and transportation costs, and arranging flights for all of us to New Jersey. All this while we were dealing with the grief of losing my dad. It was a really difficult thing to do in so many ways, not only emotionally.

Since my mom was and still is alive, we didn’t have to deal with things like what to do with the apartment, possessions, bank accounts, vehicle, etc. But, it could have been a different scenario. We might have been in a position to do all of the funeral arrangements and then deal with everything else too. Until the last 2 days of his life, my dad was aware and made the decisions about what medical procedures he wanted done. So we weren’t put in the position of making the decisions about that process, and after watching what was done to him for over 4 weeks, I doubt I would have gone through all that he did. I had nightmares for weeks after he died because of it. I can’t tell you how many times I watched him get dialysis or plasma exchange while he was in bed. He chose to do it, even though it was hard on his body, in case it gave him more time. All these procedures, too many to write about, since a procedure would cause a different complication, maybe gave him a week or two more life. But at what price, what was his quality of life? It was his choice. It would not have been my choice. It’s important to have your wishes known and in writing.

In the 1990’s I had a will made. I didn’t have a health care surrogate, living will, etc. Towards the end of 2009, I knew that I was having another operation in January 2010. At that time, I didn’t realize I would have 4 operations close together that year. So, I gave a lot of thought to what I wanted done with my things, the stuff I collected over the years. I knew I wanted all of my money to go to charities so that was not a big issue, however, I thought about leaving some money to my nieces and nephews. I then decided instead of waiting until I died, I gave it to them when I was alive. I thought it would mean more to them. Most of them called me to say thank you, they told me what they would do with the money.

Over the years, since I’ve had a lot of health issues, I knew that I didn’t want any heroic life saving measures. I’ve had numerous operations and I never approved getting a blood transfusion, luckily I never needed one. After giving matters a lot of thought, I decided instead of a will that I wanted to establish a trust, and get all the other necessary documents like a health care surrogate, living will, durable power of attorney, pour over will, medical directive, etc. done. I also knew that I didn’t want any of my blood relatives to be the ones handling anything regarding my estate or money. The people close to me know why. My attorney told me that a trust could be more binding and that it could not be protested like a will could. This was important to me since I knew my family doesn’t like that I am donating all my money to needy organizations. I don’t have any spouse or children, and I worked hard for my money, so I feel I can do what I want with it. That’s why I chose people I trusted that I knew would fulfill my wishes. See, by being proactive, we can make decisions, and have legal documents created to fill our wishes, not leave it in the hands of others that might not have in mind the same thoughts and wishes as we do.

Because I wanted to be the one making the decisions for myself, I knew it was important to get all of the necessary legal documents prepared. So, after I decided what I wanted done and how I wanted to do it, I talked with several close friends and told them what I was doing, and asked if they would be a trustee, personal representative, or health care surrogate. I explained that they were not obligated to say yes, that I understand this is a big responsibility. Everyone I asked said yes, and that they were honored to do this for me. I was the one that felt honored. I found a great attorney and we met and I explained what I wanted and we discussed the legal documents that would be required, and he also offered alternate suggestions regarding things I wanted done and how to best accomplish my wishes. He then prepared all the necessary documents, and I went back to his office a few days later and signed them. I also went to my doctor and had a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form completed. I made copies of all of the documents and gave a complete copy to each of my friends that are going to be handling things for me after I’m gone. I also had the documents scanned and emailed it to them. Over the past three years, I have made changes and revisions to my legal documents, I also gave all of the people involved copies of the revisions. I included my accountant in the mix since I knew he would be advising my friends and doing my tax return after I’m gone.

Well, life went on. I had 4 operations in 2010, I almost did not make it through the 3rd operation. Oh, by the way, each of the times I had my operation, I made sure that I gave the hospital my DNR, living will, and health care surrogate forms. I also made sure that they put a DNR wristband on me. This is very important. I had an experience with someone very close to me that had surgery, had a DNR on file, and did not have a DNR wristband. When this person coded out, instead of checking a chart, they revived him. Boy was he mad when he woke up. Yes, he woke up, but his stage 4 cancer was so bad that the last few months of his life were a nightmare. Uncontrollable pain, becoming skin and bones, and everything else that went with it. His quality of life was really poor, nothing he would have wanted. My point is be sure that whatever your wishes are that it is known, documented, and made visible wherever possible. Don’t let others be responsible or have to guess what you want. I get upset with several legal restrictions. For example, when our pets get into serious health issues and we know that their quality of life is very poor and we don’t want them to suffer, we can have them euthanized. However, we have to watch people we love suffer and die slowly and painfully. It doesn’t make sense to me.

Well, as I said life went on. I retired in June 2011 and traveled around the country in my camper van. I was enjoying life to the fullest, it was a great adventure and I’m so grateful I got to travel, have lots of incredible experiences, and have time with friends. In September 2012, I found a fairly good size tumor in my abdomen. I knew that I didn’t want any more operations because I knew how full of scar tissue and adhesions my abdomen is due to so many surgeries. During the same time, I found out that my doctor joined a new network and in order to still be his patient it would require a really high annual fee, and then still pay for visits. I decided this was not appropriate, and as much as I didn’t want to find another doctor, that I had to. I got back to Florida in December 2012 and I asked some friends about what doctor they use that they like. One of my friends told me about a woman doctor she had and really liked. That sounded good to me.

I called this potential doctors office and the doctor my friend used was on vacation, but another female doctor was available, so I made an appointment with her. What a great blessing and gift that was for me. I know this was God’s plan. Dr. Borrows is an absolute angel. She has the kindest heart and spirit. I’m so glad I was lead to her. See, here is an example of me not knowing how things were going to turn out and they worked for the best. I dreaded changing doctors because of my complex medical situation and having to explain it to a new doctor, etc. And, it worked out for the best. This doctors office is the most friendly and efficient I have ever had. That is saying a lot since I have been to lots of doctors in three states. About a week before my office visit, I brought all my medical records to the doctors office so she could review them and be aware of my medical condition and status. It would save time and explanation during our visit. It is being considerate of her time too. My stack of records was about 3″ high. I also had a summary I wrote of my medical procedures and outcomes for the past 43 years so this new doctor would know all about my medical history. Some people reading this fortunately do not have a complicated medical history, but several of us have had one.

I met with the doctor the end of December 2012 and she was really nice. She greeted me with a smile and welcomed me as a patient. She told me that she did read the documents I gave her and that having the summary pages was very helpful. I told her about finding the tumor and that I did not want any more operations. I gave her a copy of my current DNR, living will, health care surrogate, medical directive, and then she told me that in all her years of medical practice that I’m the only one that ever gave her this paperwork. Before I left her office, we signed a new DNR showing her as my current doctor. She said that most people don’t do have their medical and legal documents prepared ahead of time and then when it’s needed they don’t know what they want, they don’t always have time to think about it, etc. After she examined me, and we talked about her findings, she agreed with my decision to not have any tests done, and that I was inoperable. Which I already knew since my previous doctor and I discussed my prognosis the year before, and that was before I found the tumor. Dr. Borrows told me that if I was her mom or a family member she would tell me the same thing. Go enjoy life while you can. For me, it came to a decision to have a good quality of life for perhaps a shorter time, than to have a longer time to live with a lesser or poor quality of life. The chances of me surviving surgery, and if I did, not having serious complications was very low. The odds were definitely not in my favor. So I chose to live my life to the fullest. To me, quality of life is the most important. It’s not how long I live, it’s what I do when I’m here.

I went back to the doctor in January and March 2012, we discussed that my tumor was getting larger and that it would be causing more complications and pain. We discussed the fact that we have no idea on the timeframe for how much longer I would have to live. It’s up to God, both my doctor and I have a strong faith in God and we talk often how things are Gods plan and Gods timing, not ours. I also knew that I wanted to go on another camping trip. I was hoping to be gone the end of March until sometime in December. I wanted to come back to south Florida in the winter rather than being in really cold weather. So, I had more preparations I needed to make.

In January and again in March my doctor thought I should go into Hospice. I told her I wasn’t ready yet. I still had things I wanted to do, and places I wanted to go explore. But, realistically, I knew what was coming and even though we didn’t know when, it was going to be several months away. Probably before the end of 2013. I did meet with two hospice providers to get information so I would have it when the time came. They were surprised when they asked who the services would be for and I told them it was for me. Even to this day, people looking at my outsides don’t see anything other than I look healthy and alive. If they could see my insides, or be inside of my body, they would be aware of an entirely different situation. Looks can sometimes be deceiving…

The next step was to meet with my attorney again and make some changes to my legal documents. I have continued to do this several times this year as the need arises or new or different ideas surface. As you may have been reading my story, you may be aware of the new direction that God has for my life and now death. So, I worked with my attorney and close friends and I now have a provision in place with a committee to continue my donation mission after I’m gone. My attorney and accountant feel honored to be included in this committee and they will be guiding my friends along they way when the time comes. Can you see the value of having a say in your life and what happens after you die. You can be sure you provide for your loved ones, charities, etc. Having things in place helps those you leave behind, and if you don’t have anything specified, then it places a large burden on others, or perhaps the government agencies handle your affairs??? There are tax impacts after we are gone, why not make decisions now that could have an impact and help others. Or relieve them of decisions to be made having to guess what you would have wanted.

Now, the only thing I thought was left was to make my funeral arrangements. No this is not morbid to think about. It’s being proactive once again. At some point, we are all going to die. We don’t usually get to know, it could be sudden such as a heart attack, car accident, a fall, choking, etc. We all know people that have died suddenly or unexpectedly, even some when they are very young. It hurts those of us left no matter when it happens. I found that if I didn’t have any unresolved issues with those who have passed it’s easier to deal with the loss. I don’t have to wish I said or did something, or told them I loved them or valued our friendship, or made peace with someone I was at odds with. That’s also part of the reason I am so open now with people when they ask how I am doing. I want them to know the truth. That way if they want to call, visit, send a card, etc. they can and not say later on that if I only knew she was that bad I would have …

How we live and interact with others now, do things to make memories now that might be important later on, how it impacts others when we are gone. I try to remember that as I live life each day. It’s about the legacy and memories we leave. It’s how we will be remembered.

So, in February and March 2013, I visited a couple of funeral homes got information and prices, and also told them what my wishes were for after I’m gone. I also talked with someone who used to work for a funeral home and she gave me the names of other funeral homes to speak with and what types of questions to ask. I also found out that funeral homes are required to discuss their services and give prices over the phone so I didn’t have to go visit more in person. This worked really well for me and I kept a list of who I called, the costs, services they provided, etc. I contacted 7 companies. Here is another way to be responsible. By doing prearranged funeral services and shopping around, it saved lots of money, and I got exactly what I wanted. I had time to do the research, figure out what best met my needs, and be sure my wishes are carried out. I even have it specified in my trust so no one can change it and do what they want with my body or remains. This is important to me.

Here is an example and it’s real. I don’t want a memorial service, I want a party to celebrate my life. I already had a party in March 2013 for that purpose and I told my friends and my mom they can have another one after I’m gone. I also want to be cremated and have my ashes scattered from the sky from a hot air balloon, airplane, helicopter, or something else. I don’t want to be scattered directly over water, I’m not a water person. My mother wanted to come with me when I made my arrangements. I know that my health situation is hard on her and she pretty much chooses to not discuss it which is her thing, not mine. I’m pretty open about it and I find it’s helping others as well. I think it’s making people more aware and not so scared of the subject. Anyway, my mother asked if she could put my ashes in the crypt/mausoleum with my dad. I said no, she asked about what about some of my ashes, I said no. She doesn’t like the fact that I am being cremated and having my ashes scattered. I don’t want to be put in the ground, I doubt anyone would come to visit me if I was. I don’t need a headstone to let someone know I was here. I will always be a part of the heart of those who knew me and those who loved me. So, once again, by being proactive and having arrangements in place, my wishes are going to be carried out.What my mom would have done by burying me and having a memorial service is totally opposite of what I want.

By the way, because I talked with funeral home staff and explained my situation that I was going to be traveling around the country and that I might be away from my residence when the time came, I found out that there are chains of funeral homes that have places all around the country, some even outside the USA, and that services can be transferred. Perhaps someone thinks they might move during their lifetime, it can be covered by a transfer of services. I used a Dignity Memorial service provider. Because I was able to shop around and tell what my needs are, I found a great funeral home to work with and not only did it save me a lot of money, but the funeral home also gave me travel protection insurance in the cost of my arrangements so that if I die more than 75 miles from my Florida residence, it will pay all costs to have my body brought back to their funeral home where they can fulfill my wishes. Be aware, some funeral service providers want to sell you services that you don’t need. One popular cremation company had the highest cost and they include a box with your urn, etc. for us to keep track of over the years for when it’s needed. If I were in a different circumstance, I would not want to keep track of that box and then have to arrange to get it to where it’s needed years down the road, or leave it to someone else to find it when it’s needed. Be aware, do your research.

My mom is 82. When I was doing my prepaid arrangements I asked her if she wants to do hers too. Her response was no, I don’t want to talk about it. She’s not a proactive person. (When I did my trust, will, and other documents she thought I was dying. I told her I want to have things in place for when it happens. At that time we thought it would be years and years away.) I reminded her about how we had to rush to make funeral arrangements when dad was dying. She said she doesn’t want to talk about it. I said that I most probably would not be alive when her time came, her son is out of state and her daughter works. I said it would be easier for everyone to have it done and that way you can have it done the way you want. She still would not talk about it. I let the subject go. We went and made my arrangements. I went on my trip the end of March and had to come back the beginning of May due to my health worsening. If  you have been reading my stories you know more about that.

So, a month or so goes by and one of my moms friends chokes on some food or had something similar happen, and she went in the hospital, then went into intensive care, and she died a few days later. Mom’s friend did not have a DNR or living will or prepaid funeral arrangements. Mom got to see first hand how it affected her friend’s family. What they went through trying to make medical decisions and arranging for the funeral. Shortly after that, my mom was willing to get the necessary legal documents done and also made her prepaid funeral arrangements. I took her to my attorney and got the documents prepared, and we went to the same funeral home I am using. I would never have guessed she wanted the same color casket as my dads. Also, by doing prepaid arrangements, we discussed several options, and we saved over $3,500. And she got the arrangements she wanted. You can also make monthly payments if you are concerned about cost.

Another important thing I’ve done is to periodically discuss my wishes with those who will be carrying them out to make sure they understand what I want, to be able to ask me questions if they need more information or clarification. We’ve found that by discussing it that there are other things that I didn’t think about that would make it easier for them, or that I forgot, and I was able to have my legal documents revised. Also, as time goes on, perhaps situations change for those you left in charge and they need to be removed due to circumstances in their life. In my case, I realized that I didn’t feel comfortable leaving all of the responsibility to one trustee, especially since she moved out of the area and she has a job. I thought it might be very time consuming for one person to handle everything. I had others for succession, but I asked another friend and she agreed to be a co-trustee. I had my legal documents changed. It was a relief for the one person since she now has someone else to help her, and I also created in my trust an advisory committee to distribute my money. This gives all of my trustees and representatives a comfort factor that they didn’t necessarily have before the change was made, no one person now has the entire responsibility, so it’s easier on everyone involved.

In the past few months my life has changed. I’m not talking about my worsening health condition, I’m talking about how God has made the story about my donations going public, not only in the USA, but also Canada and other countries. It’s beyond my imagination or what I thought would happen. That’s why I established a committee to oversee the donations. This way it’s not a responsibility for only a few I designated. Now there is a group that really cares and they look at is an an honor to carry out my wishes. I am the one that feels honored that they care so much about me and are accepting this responsibility. We have had several discussions during the past few months on guidelines, the types of organizations I support, which are also specified in my trust. I have the utmost confidence in the people on the committee. I also have peace of mind knowing that my wishes will be carried out by people I know and trust.

Many of the fire chiefs and firefighters that are my friends know from experience how life can be taken or changed in an instant. They see it all the time. I was in a restaurant a while ago and as someone was finishing his meal he collapsed on the floor. Luckily someone nearby started CPR and shortly the paramedics arrived and worked on the man and brought him to life. I don’t know the outcome, but the point is… things happen in a heartbeat.  Are you prepared? Recently, I’ve heard of people in their 20’s dying suddenly from heart problems. No one expects that to happen. No matter what your age, health condition, please, give your life and eventual death some thought. It’s really important, not only to you, but to those you might leave behind. Give them some peace of mind so they don’t have to guess what your wishes might be in any given circumstance. Remove the burden from them. Also, learn what they want done, and how they want things handled.

I have been very open when talking with friends and others about my health condition, about the seriousness of medical condition, dying, feelings, and everything else, related or not. At first, and maybe still with some of them, they were uncomfortable with the topic. Or they didn’t want to face the fact that I am dying. But, I kept bringing up the subjects, talking about it. I think by talking about death it’s taking the fear away, it’s opening channels for conversation and questions. Even through tears, we found something to laugh about. Like the fact that after my ashes are scattered, I will be floating in the sky watching over them. Some even gave me assignments like watching over their children, or if the goats got out of the yard through the fence to another property to send them back home. I’m not sure I will be able to do that, and I can’t promise not to laugh at what you are doing, or even to guide you along the way. I can almost promise that my spirit and love and gratitude will always be a part of your heart.

My friend Pam said she will write the final posts and that she will keep this website up so it can be read after I’m gone. So, if you miss me, you can come back here and read the stories again. Post comments for others to read. Maybe laugh at some of them like when I went to the Bush Baked Bean Factory and got weighed in the number of beans, rather than my weight in pounds. Or the joys when I got to ride in the Goodyear Blimp, a helicopter, and also a hot air balloon during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. I had so many incredible adventures and experiences. After I’m gone, don’t be sad for my passing, be happy for the life I lived and that you are a part of it in some way.

Please, Please,Please, talk about this with your family, friends, coworkers, and others. Please help spread the word about how important it is to have things in place for the unexpected. Those of you with children, what happens to them if something happens to you? Parents, do you want to make your children’s lives easier and not have to make these tough decisions for you, which may not be what you want? What happens to your children if they are grown and they are single, or they are single parents with shared custody of the children? If you are married, does your spouse know what you wishes are? We have all seen the news over the years, life happens. Unexpected events occur. Are you prepared? Be brave, do it. It might bring you peace and comfort knowing that you have this in place. Eventually, the time will come… be prepared. Be proactive… not reactive. You might not get a chance later on.

Have a family meeting and explain the importance of discussing these difficult topics.  Don’t be frightened, it may be scary and uncomfortable at first, but then as your realize how important it is, and how it will be helpful when needed, it becomes easier. It’s like anything else that felt uncomfortable at first like driving, riding a bike, exercising, etc., the more we did it, the easier and less frightening it became. Let everyone talk about their wishes and needs, also their fears, apprehensions, and whatever other feelings surface. Be open-minded. Discuss the issues, don’t be fearful. Talk to your friends, relatives, and others. Please share this story with other people. Help me to spread the message on how important it is to have all of these documents prepared, and for family and friends to know where the documents are kept, should they be needed.

I want to share this 5 page advanced medical directive document with you. One of my doctors gave it to me a few years ago, he insisted that I complete it and keep it with my other documents. Please read it, share it with others, complete it, discuss your wishes with your family members or health care surrogates, and put it with your DNR, Living Will, and other important documents. Several of my friends told me they agree it’s important to have proper documents in place. I was told by one friend that it’s too emotional to put these decisions and legal matters into the hands of others, especially when it happens unexpectedly, and they don’t know our wishes.  The forms and documents may not ever be needed, but it’s better to have them in case of an unexpected emergency, then need them and not have them. 5 page advanced medical directive

If you have an experience you want to share on this important subject, or want to let me and others know what action you will take to be prepared, you can post a comment at the end of this article.

The other morning when I woke up, the thought was in my mind to write an article like this one telling people the importance of having your legal and medical documents prepared. I wasn’t sure exactly what to write. When I checked my email that same morning after I woke up, I had this poem sent by a friend. He had no idea about my thought to write the article, but I took it as a sign that I was supposed to. What I wrote above came to me as I was writing it. I asked God to help me write what I was supposed to. If it changes at least one life, if it makes at least one of you think about it, then it was more than worth it. I have several friends facing serious health issues and they don’t have anything in place. Some are single like me, no children. I hope you also read this story and get inspired to take action… now, while you can.

Here is the poem:


A well written piece that is true. It does “bug me” that some of the things that I did not get around to doing (that I wanted to do) – are just not going to get done.

You know, time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.

But, here it is – the ‘back nine’ of my life and it catches me by surprise. How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go? I remember vividly seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that ‘I was only on the first hole’ and the ‘back nine’ was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But, here it is . . . my friends are retired and getting grey. They move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me, but, I see the great change. Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant . . . but like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d become. Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore . . . it’s mandatory! Cause if I don’t on my own free will, I just fall asleep where I sit!

And so, now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did! But, at least I know, that though I’m on the ‘ back nine’, and I’m not sure how long it will last, this I know for sure, that when it’s over on this earth . . . it’s over. A new adventure will begin!

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done . . . things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime.

So, if you’re not on the ‘ back nine’ yet . . . let me remind you that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long! Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether you’re on the ‘ back nine’ or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life . . . so, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember, and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!

“Life” is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.


Remember, “It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.



~Your kids are becoming you . . . but your grandchildren are perfect.

~Going out is good . . . Coming home is better!

~You forget names . . . But it’s OK because other people forgot they even knew you!

~You realize you’re never going to be really good at anything . . . especially golf .”

~The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do care that you don’t care to do them anymore!

~You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It’s called “pre-sleep”.

~You miss the days when everything worked with just an “ON” and “OFF” switch..

 ~You tend to use more 4 letter words . . . “what?” . . . “when? “. . . ” ???

 ~Now that you can afford expensive jewelry, it’s not safe to wear it anywhere.

~You notice everything they sell in stores is “sleeveless”!

~What used to be freckles are now liver spots.

~Everybody whispers.

~You have 3 sizes of clothes in your closet . . . 2 of which you will never wear.

~~~But Old is good in some things ~~~ Old Songs, Old Movies, and best of all, OLD FRIENDS

Stay well, “OLD FRIEND ! ” Send this on to other “Old Friends!” and let them laugh in AGREEMENT

It’s Not What You Gather, But What You Scatter That Tells What Kind Of Life You Have Lived.


Author Unknown

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6 Responses to Seriously??? Really??? You would rather be an Ostrich???
It’s Important to have Legal and Medical Documents Prepared

  1. Pam says:

    Beautiful post – and I will follow your advice – but for now I think you owe me a new box of tissues. Love you.

  2. You are so right Carol..with my Mom, it was so much better that she, my sisters and I made her arrangements ahead of time. It was much easier to deal with when you are grieving not to have to think about details on the fly. Now I have to follow your advice for that I am not a burden to my children when that time comes. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and insight to all of us ostriches! 🙂

  3. Sharma Hagerty says:

    Carol – I believe this post will motivate many to get their affairs in order and have a snowball effect like your charitable giving has had.  I think most people are aware they should have a will and a living will, even if they have not followed through on preparing those, but may not know the importance of a DNR, naming a health surrogate, durable power of attorney, etc.    I know I have not been as thorough as you have and need to correct that.   I also plan to call a family meeting (I am the matriarch after all! – and gee that does make me feel old to say that!) and discuss preparations (mine and theirs) with my children.   I know my son and his wife do have a will and have designated who they wish to raise my grandson if he were orphaned (that is so important). Other than that, I do not know their wishes.  And, since my other son is single and has no children, I would be the one making decisions for him if he were to become incapacitated.   I do know his wishes, but I do not have the documents to make sure they happen. By the way, I love your title and I do love you. I cherish your friendship and have benefited from your insights and wisdom. I will miss you, dear friend, when God does call you home, but you will forever be in my heart and I have comfort in the knowledge that I will see you again on the other side.

  4. Carol my friend you are so right. I recently went through all this with my dad. For years I never really knew him. I come from generations of abandonment, adoptions, foster homes and violations of trust. So when I was able to really get to know my dad I was so excited to have had the privilege to Know him. We were so busy living that the topic of death never came up. Together we were so new to each other that knowing at age 77 he wasnt going to live forever or neither was I. Dnr, arrangements, all that stuff was so far away down the road. Then one day he calls and tells me he had called hospice and I was his medical power of attorney. Wow I thought I was not prepared for this. Well its a topic that most dont want to discuss because they still look healthy or they dont want to be sad. He had nothing in order. It was so fast. No will, no living power of attorney for bank access, no arrangements for cremation, Nothing!!! When the funeral home came to pick him up they said he had cancelled his arrangements a few months before. My sister was angry because I was his medical power of attorney and that i was the one he had entrusted to follow through in taking care of his affairs. We are not invincible folks and if there is no will as in his case, no one with him on his signature card it becomes a nightmare in a hurry. He did have a 10,000 dollar life insurance policy which covered his arrangements. But what if he hadn’t. What happens with the rest of his obligations. I have learned the hard way. If you truly love somebody ask them. What do you want and yes we need to talk about it. This was a topic I am glad you covered my dear friend. I love you dearly carol and it saddens me to know what is happening with you. The reality is we start dieing when we are born. If we really knew God existed what would we do with that information. Surely we would do the right thing. All my love Carol.

  5. Brenda Loew says:

    “We are all moving toward death. When we face it honestly, all philosophies, all ambition, all surety dissolves in the sweep of death’s Great Luminous Wing. Hatred is finally purified and we can no longer attend its call. We are left with nothing to take with us but gentle humility and gratitude. Let us not wait. Let us open our hearts and invite Grace to enter us now. Let us count our blessings every day. Love every little thing without restraint. And fill our mouths with praise and awe for the divinity of one another, for the astonishing unbearable Light of our own hearts. What else matters?” ~ Jules Remedios Faye
    Carol, you radiate love and gentle humility….and much wisdom. You’ve touched so many people’s lives through your true Heart. Great gratitude and many blessings …love, brenda

  6. Wendy Woollett says:

    Dear Carol, Thank you for your posting about planning ahead, living wills, trusts, etc. I loved reading your writing because it is how you talk; I could hear your voice in every word. I want to thank you for all the time and wisdom you gave me when you helped me make my decision to retire. I have been so blessed to have the time to do what I really want to do and just completed a three day show, Alice’s Showcase, at the Crystal Theater, in which I paid homage to mother/daughter relationships and to grief and love and life and death. Now that it is over, it feels good to do nothing and just sit in the afterwords. It has been so good to have the time to write and produce and teach Writing to Heal, a journaling class here in Missoula. I love my students and love to see them blossom. Thanks again for helping me free myself from “the box.” LOVE YOU AND ALL YOU DO, CAROL.

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