Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tom was many things ...

... but a procrastinator he was not.

The one thing he put off first for months and then for years was making a will. Oh, we eventually did.   But not because we got married.   Not because we had a baby.   Not because we had a second baby.   We finally got on the “gotta have a will” bandwagon when we were moving to Kwaj.   And when I say “because we were moving to Kwaj” I mean, because our shipment was on the barge, the house was empty and our plane tickets were in our hands.

So I called the lawyer, and got the papers all drawn up, and stored them neatly in our carry-on.   But we still hadn’t actually had them signed.   Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit, we got on a plane, all four of us, intestate, that August in 1998.   If the plane had gone down, the court would have done whatever it is the court does, and taken whatever it takes of our holdings -- this being pre-Kwaj probably a cool three figures.

Fortunately, this was only a shuttle to JFK, where we’d say our goodbye’s to Tom’s clan.  We made it safe and sound.   And continued procrastinating.

So our last day on Long Island we finally got in the car and just drove around until we found a notary sign in a window.  It was an independently-owned copier place, and they were open (but quiet) that Saturday, so we had to wait there until she had her next customers.   We wrangled these two total strangers, Kathryn E. Wansor and Geraldine Scharf, to witness our signatures. (I only mention their names in case they ever Google themselves. What a hoot that would be!)

And there we were, ready to hop on the plane or onto a roller coaster or a Formula One racecar with a clear conscience. Estate stuff: done.

Fast forward to February 2010. Indeed, Tom was not much of a procrastinator, and every other detail of our fiscal life has been tracked and documented and worked out and taken care of. After Tom died, everything was done and fell into place like dominoes. I was the joint owner where I needed to be the joint owner. I was the beneficiary when I needed to be the beneficiary. Proxies, powers-of-attorney – everything was in order. I’ve barely had to sign a piece of paper to straighten out necessary paperwork, and certainly I haven’t had to go into a probate courtroom.   Tom made sure everything was taken care of for me. Because Tom was Tom.

So of course it took me fifteen months to get my new will in order.  There I was this morning in the attorney’s office, and it hit me like a steel-toed-boot in the stomach. I’m signing my Last Will and Testament, and I’m not leaving everything to Tom.

That’s when I remembered the scramble to get that will stuff done in 1998. And that opened a floodgate of memories: the memories that only Tom and I shared. Not the quirky-kid stories, or the you-won’t-believe-what-an-ass-my-spouse-is-so-I-have-to-tell-you-this stories. I mean the nanomemories that it wouldn’t even occur to me to share because, well, they’re private.  And a lot of them are boring as all get out.

But now I’m the only person on the face of the earth that holds those memories, and that made signing my new will this morning just about the saddest moment of my life.


  1. Oh my, Linda. Grieving is such a convoluted process, and this is a prime example. It will hit you at odd moments when you least expect it. The best way to cope is to do what you are doing...share your feelings and hopefully feel the love that people send you in response. Thoughts and prayers today...

  2. Thank you so much Carolyn. Sharing helps, if only because it gives me an excuse to relive a memory without necessarily feeling like I'm living in the past. I like sharing stories about Tom, but I really enjoy those moments that aren't "worth" a blog post. Some of those are my favorites!

  3. Linda you are such a strong person. Often times you will have outburst of tears and want the water flow to stop. This is normal. You are doing a great job with your boys. Keep up the good work. Tom is looking down upon you!

    Louise O'Connell

  4. Thanks, Louise. You know what they say: "Takes one to know one!"