Life and Death

Does anybody have the ridiculous notion he or she will live forever? Yeah, me! Not really, but when Jordan Rich asked me on this podcast why I had waited to age eighty-five to have drawn an estate plan, that is what I answered, along with saying I was having too much fun to think about death. He asked why so many people never get around to drawing a will, let alone an estate plan? I replied that folks don’t want to think about death, although that was not true in my case. My thinking was crystallized into action when an older couple for whom I had drafted a will some years previously consulted me about a codicil to their will. By that time it was plain that their holdings required an estate plan drawn by an expert in that specialty. I sought one out for them. We met with her. She impressed me mightily. Her name is Kristin Shirahama, whose persona impressed many, resulting in her election as President of the Womens’ Bar Association while still in her thirties, and a partnership in a large Boston law firm a few years after we met. Cool, calm, and collected is Kristin as a professional, warm as a person! I retained Kristin to draw a plan for Lois and me, a necessity in many ways, not least because I am a decade older than my wife of fifty-eight years.

In an unusual collaboration Kristin and I joined forces on a plan leaving major gifts to several charities when we’re gone. She handled the expert advising and drafting required, and I met the leaders of the various charities considered. It required two years to get it right, but the the result was the plan of my and Lois’ dreams. That included the warm friendship Lois and I sought with Kristin for the long term, unanticipated benefits from the charities chosen, such as the august New England Historical Genealogical Society collecting my authorial papers and publishing them on the worldwide net, arrangements for a foundation grant to the newly formed Jewish Heritage Center, a valued participatory association with the Yiddish Book Center, and other honors of the same ilk. The experience directed my thinking to the needs of elder people, and the ideas expressed in my memoir that older folks need not take to the sidelines, but can remain immersed every day in life. For example, anybody can write about their own life for the benefit of family, friends, and associates, even if not for commercial dissemination, by the simple act of dredging their memory for the forgotten incidents of a long life. Everyone has a story to tell! Everyone in reasonable health can contribute meaningfully to their own and others’ lives until their dying day.

Listen to this podcast and hear that not only in my words, but in how I speak those words.

People, Always People!