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Monday, December 8, 2014

The Future Threat

“When did the future switch from being a promise to being a threat?” ― Chuck Palahniuk

Who wants my kids? I'm giving them away... Cheap! Free, even...

How many times have I said that over the years? No offers came forward, so I don't know if I would ever have followed through on the threat, but Lord knows I fantasized a time or two about giving them away!

The other day, I called my Mommy. (Yes, really. Shut up. She's my Mommy.) I talk to her several times a week, to keep her up dated on what's going on around here. She moved to Florida a couple years ago, when I was still freshly divorced and struggling to piece together a new life for myself and the Wild Things. She worries, so I call.

My mom, Gloria, with her sisters.
Mom's the second from the left. 

We got to talking about my sister, who passed very unexpectedly this summer. It's been a devastating few months for all of us, but it's been hardest on her kids. They lost their father last year, and now Theresa. Even though they're all grown, with kids of their own, nothing prepares you for facing life as an orphan. Mom mentioned that they've been struggling to settle her estate- not because of any disagreements, they've worked together beautifully, thank God, but because my sister didn't leave a will.

My beautiful sister, Theresa, and our Mom. 

I said, Who has a will at 53? She was just building a new life. Divorced just over a decade, and out of college only 5 years, she's been teaching littles in a school that has a mostly-disadvantaged population. All her time, energy, and love has been poured into those children, and she's been making a difference, making real changes in the lives of kids and their families. She never considered a future in which her own children would have to dispose of her worldly goods and settle her personal accounts. Not at her age. Not when she had everything going for her, and the pieces of her life were just beginning to fall into place.

"Do you have a will?" Mom asked. "You should, you know. You know, to protect your kids. Who would take care of them?"

The truth is, I don't have an answer to that question. I'm sure my ex would step up if something happened to me. He'd uproot my kids, move them half-way across the country, and turn their lives upside down, bringing them into his new life, his new home, and his new family, something they have no desire to be a part of right now. Not having a will leaves my kids' futures in the wind.

If living through a tornado taught me anything, it's that life can change in an instant.
Image courtesy of Pixabay

I love my family, but I'm reluctant to pick from them and say You. You are the one I would trust to raise my children, to make the decisions that would need to be made, and look after their best interests.

How do you make a choice like that? And yet, how do you not?

My sister didn't plan to leave her kids with the burden of dealing with her affairs. I own a home, my only real asset, and Babygirl is turning 18 next week. Would she be able to take on the responsibility of running a house and raising her 14 year old brother? Thing1 is a freshman in high school. They're close, but at 18, I can't imagine Babygirl being left to shoulder that burden.

These two, on their own??
I love my kids, but they're not ready for that kind of responsibility. 

The ex and I put off writing our wills years ago, because we didn't want to choose someone to look after our kids if something happened to us. The dilemma hasn't changed, but our situation has, and it's time I created a piece of paper I don't think I'll ever need, as insurance against a future none of us wants.

Mahatma Ghandi once said, The future depends on what you do today.” 

How about you? Do you have a future plan in case the unthinkable happens? Have you designated someone to take over your parental responsibilities? How did you choose?

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