I am a lawyer who did not give “The Conversation” a second thought until my mother died unexpectedly during open heart surgery in 2010. My mother’s last words to me were “Take care of your father if I don’t make it.” Mom was only 75 years of age. She never smoked or drank alcohol. She ate a healthy diet and exercised regularly. She did everything right. Breast cancer treatments, diabetes, and hypertension proved too much for her heart.
Full of grief, my father and I made funeral arrangements. We chose the top-of-line products and services, unconcerned about costs and wiping out a modest savings account. I now know that being in a grieving emotional state is not the time to make funeral arrangements. Funeral homes know this quite well to their advantage.
I kept my promise to mom and cared for my dad the next seven years. He went silent the day mom died, and did not speak for a year or so. He slowly deteriorated and dementia robbed his mind and spirit. I set aside my law practice to follow his doctor’s orders: “Your father has lived a good, long life. He won’t make it to Christmas. Give him the best quality of life that you can until his final days.” I did the best that I could. Dad left us the morning after Christmas 2017 at age 86. He was stubborn that way.
The difference between losing mom and dad was that I was ready for dad. We had “The Conversation” shortly after mom passed. While dad wouldn’t speak, he could answer my questions by nodding or shaking his head. I drafted his Last Will and Advance Directives. Dad purchased a Pre-Need Funeral Insurance Plan that covered his final wishes. Mom and Dad are together again.
I now have an Estate Planning practice, and have teamed up with other professionals to educate senior citizens and their families on End-of-Life issues. Because of our personal experiences being parental caregivers, we are able to assist families during this stage of life.
It is never too early to have “The Conversation.” And I believe the earlier the better. For we know neither the time nor place that we will be called home.