We never could have anticipated that my dad, Harv, would die so suddenly in March. Since then, I think we all have become closer. But we have had to go through a lot of grief to get here, which I will write about another time. I still don’t think I’m quite up to writing about that emotional journey, so I will have to save that for another time.
But one of the things we did NOT have to go through was worry about paperwork and legal issues like wills, disposition of bank accounts and how property would change hands. When we began this journey as the Sandwich Family, we very quickly found an expert on elder financial planning to guide us through the legalities and technicalities of our situation. The legal structure and paperwork we had already established as a family was one of the greatest blessings we could have hoped for when Dad was struck ill so swiftly.
If you have not begun to plan for your family’s legal disposition and security, there is no time to start like now. Find a financial planner who is qualified to deal with the complexities of a multigenerational family. Check references to make sure you have found someone who is capable of guiding you, and establish a trusting relationship with him or her or the firm as soon as possible. Give your family the peace of mind that comes from sorting out your affairs, and do it today.
Leave a comment: Do you have a financial planner? What have your experiences working with him or her been like?
Post written by Kay.
I had a minor soul-jolting moment with my 11-year-old son, R, last night. We were snuggled together on the couch, watching a documentary on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He turned his big brown eyes up to me and asked, “Mommy, why would anyone do that to someone else?” Then he followed that up with, “I mean, I know why someone would do that, but why?!”
What I saw in the depths of his eyes at that moment was his realization that the world does not run according to any rules, nor our desires or interests, not even our own personal moral codes.
R has been struggling with his grief over losing my father, H, only a month ago. He had always been very close to “Pop-Pop,” and his death has been a great blow. We can see that he is grappling with handling his grief not as a child would – raw and fast – but as more of the adult he is becoming. He doesn’t want to cry in front of us, no matter how many times we tell him it’s okay to do so, and he doesn’t want to admit how much he is hurting.
We are proud of R and the young man he is becoming. Still, it is hard to look at him and know that his world is so much less black and white now, that he is seeing so many more shades of gray instead. So much like a man and so much less like a child.
Leave a comment: have you dealt with grieving (and growing) children?
Post written by Kay.
Living with someone is hard. Marriage is the prime example of this, of course, but every close-living relationship has its challenges. Living next door to my parents was hard. Losing my dad less than a month ago and, now, living next door to only my mom is hard too.
But mostly, it is hard in really good way, at least for me (and I suspect we all feel this way). It is making me into a better person. I find myself being so much more forgiving, more entertained by life’s antics (rather than so frustrated by them), so much more willing to just take a breath and enjoy being in the company of my wonderful family.
I know we all feel like we have to give 90% of the time, which is just another way our living situation reminds me of marriage. And, like marriage, it is work that is absolutely worth it, work that pays off in dividends that can never be tallied.
My mom is a wonderful person and she has always been a great mom. Her challenge now is to continue to be a great mom and mother-in-law and grandmother 100% of the time, because we are right next door. At the same time, she is grieving the loss of her husband of 50 years. Our living arrangement means that Mom doesn’t have to give up her lifestyle, doesn’t have to pack up and move anywhere, and doesn’t have to drive two hours when she wants to cuddle with our kids. But it also means that she doesn’t have any time away from us (she can escape whenever she wants to go visit one of my siblings, but that is probably not quite the same as taking a grand vacation in Europe).
We have all gained and lost by making this choice to live as a Sandwich Family. Choices are like that, generally.
Talk to us – leave a comment to tell us what you have gained or lost in the generations of your family life.
My dad passed away last week after a brief illness. With Mom’s permission, I am posting the eulogy I wrote for him. I miss you and love you, Dad!
H was a quiet and private man. Actually, he probably would not want us to make a fuss over him today, except that he would have wanted this outpouring of support not for his own sake, but for MaryRob.
Over the past few days, his family has been remembering H with fondness for his intelligence and caring and forthright personality. He was an avid reader (his favorite book was “Pride and Prejudice,” and he tried to get everyone around him to read it, too!), nature enthusiast, and student of famous quotations, such as “beauty is only skin-deep, but ugly goes straight to the bone.” He set an example by admitting to his own weaknesses, and pointedly taught his children to embrace their weaknesses, too, believing it to be one of the most important aspects of human nature. H always insisted his children be their best and most unique selves, and he supported their choices fiercely. Most important of all, he loved his family, and always made choices to put them ahead of everything else in life.
H delighted in surprising those around him with his sense of humor. He loved watching Bugs Bunny cartoons with his grandchildren, and often got to laughing just as hard as they did. He kept a file of hard copy “funnies” he had clipped over the years and would often duck out in the middle of a conversation, only to reappear with a “Garfield” or “Family Circle” or “Far Side” cartoon that perfectly punctuated the humor of a situation. In fact, upon discovering he was out of clean white t-shirts on the day of a particular wedding, he instead wore a Far Side t-shirt under his dress shirt!
H and MaryRob built two houses together and raised four wonderful kids. He was a sweet man who loved to surprise MaryRob with gifts that required a lot of thought – a locket for their 30th anniversary, and on later anniversaries, a “grandchildren” charm bracelet to add the names of their five grandkids as they came along and then two more charm bracelets, as well. One bracelet reflected memories of the kids and the other remembered their lives together. One of the charms on that bracelet was a wheelbarrow charm, selected to represent the day early in their marriage when H accidentally dumped a load of cement on MaryRob, burying her up to her knees in concrete!
MaryRob says H would have asked for nothing more out of life than the great love he gave and received from his immediate and extended family.
Posted by Kay.
In order to make our Sandwich Family arrangement work, we have all had to take on new roles. I have been incredibly impressed with my husband, C, who has probably changed roles more than anyone else in our family. Just one of those new roles is Renovator of the House.
C recently finished a complete overhaul of our master suite, including the master bath. He gutted the room completely, moved a wall, and started over from scratch. The only item that remains from the previous bath is the skeleton of the center vanity unit. Everything is brand-new, much of it fabricated entirely by C by himself. Every bolt, screw, tile – and everything else you see here – was placed by hand. The results are exquisite.
My friends have commented that it looks like a spa. They are right, and it feels like a spa, too.
I am one lucky wife.
Leave a comment: What roles do YOU have in your family?
Post written by Kay.