The marker on the grave of George Bernard Shaw reads as follows: “I knew if I waited around long enough something like this would happen.” Those of us who watch our children come of age are likely to see the circle complete at the other end, as we find ourselves making decisions with regard to our parents as they get on in years, the kind of decisions which, as much as we dread them, invariably come upon us.
Usually people make these sorts of arrangements in advance. In October of last year, yours truly purchased his cemetery plot. Sometime next year, other arrangements will be made for the disposition of my affairs.
Dad wrote his Last Will and Testament a little over twenty years ago, while still of "sound mind and body." Due to internal conflicts within Mom's family related to the demise of her own parents, Dad was determined to leave no opportunity for such temptation. His final wishes were to be disclosed only to his executor, my brother, who would bear sole responsibility for the execution of his wishes. None of his siblings would have any say in the matter, not even as trustees. I didn't think it was a good decision then, and I don't now, as I am generally distrustful of too much power in the hands of any one person, and he was our father as well. But I also believe that Dad was convinced that he had no choice. The effects of discord within my mother's family, while diminished somewhat, are felt to this very day.
Today begins an occasional series of entries about adult children coping with the decline of their parents. While it will not go into gratuitous personal detail regarding the author's own family -- one of them is "in charge" of keeping an eye on my writings to make sure I stay in line -- it will deal with observations of customs, practices, and general trends, in the matter of death and dying, the whys and wherefores of the long road to saying goodbye. We will also touch upon what the Church has to say on the subject of death and dying, the customs and traditions surrounding this teaching, and of the works of mercy related thereto. These are matters that dwell on eternity, and are not to be taken lightly. The bad news is, even among those with good intentions, they usually are.
As always, stay tuned, and stay in touch.