When you’re gone, you’re gone — no offense


Have you ever experienced the disconcerting feeling of being irrelevant? Like the world has moved on without you? Or, when people talk about you as if you’ve left the room?

It makes you want to say, “I can hear you. I’m still here.”

My Sweet Al and I are certainly not ready to go, but for the last few months, we’ve been letting go. Friends and family said, “You need a trust.” So, we gave in and started the process. After all, it’s not for us, but for those we will leave behind.

We sat and listened attentively during a recent visit to our attorney’s office. He asked us a number of end-of-day questions which he followed up by saying, “When you’re gone, you’re gone, but no offense.”

“None taken,” I said as I thought about the reality we are approaching. I wondered if this is how it felt to be a first wife, letting go of my Sweet Al and telling the second wife, “Be good to him. He’s all I had. You might get him, but I don’t think you’ll appreciate him like I did.”

After all, few people outside of the home know what a couple goes through. Like old furniture, there is a story about every bump and scratch. There is even one about the table leg that looks like the dog chewed on it.

There is much that goes in to all that we worked so hard for in life. The sweat and tears, laughter and love. All of it, the carving out we call ours that bares our fingerprints.

I am sure our attorney hadn’t planned on story hour when we came in to work through some of his questions, but he sat patiently as my Sweet Al and I recounted things — serious things, hard things and a whole lot of funny things. Besides, humor is a great antidote when you need to neutralize an unpleasant feeling or situation.

We were at the point in our meeting when our attorney asked, “How many days would you want to be on the machine? Five days is adequate. It gives time to bring in the family and say goodbye. After that it costs a lot of money to keep a person alive.”

We had previously discussed this with our children. “More than five days and it will be eating into your inheritance.”

With that, our son-in-law said, “Could we make it two?”

The conversation with our attorney came around to who was going to take care of Al’s dog, Whiskey.

I told the attorney, “When Al is gone, so is Whiskey, no offense. When one goes, so does the other.”

At that, my Sweet Al gushed over his dog. I thought that maybe I should be more loving of her since Al loves her so much. But, then I realized I’m not that noble.

Al spoke up and relayed his mother’s wishes before she passed. “My mother was worried about her cat. She gave me names of two women who would take it.”

“So then, who got the cat?”

“The woman who I later found out stole my mother’s diamond rings and watch. By the way, it was really difficult to take my mother off of the life-support machine when she died.”

I’m sure the attorney didn’t want to hear another story about Al’s mother, but he had one queued up and ready to go.

“My mother passed more than 30 years ago. My memories of her are as if it happened yesterday.” He couldn’t find the word resuscitate, so he said, “I had her cranked up again and again. I wasn’t ready to pull the plug.”

I leaned over and said, “Exactly, that’s why we have to check that box on the document before we sign it.”

Knowing my Sweet Al, he is too sentimental and would try to keep me cranked up for years. Apparently, our children think differently. It seems they have already figured out how much it will cost after the fifth day.

The meeting with our attorney finally came to an end. We walked out of his office with confidence that we had thought of everything and that we had made every decision we wanted to make.

I’m sure our attorney scratched his head as we left, thinking he had just witnessed the last episode of “The Honeymooners.”

Final brushstroke: King Solomon in the second chapter of Ecclesiastes wrote, 19a: ”And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun.” Isn’t it interesting how the end-of-days process is called a trust?