Steve and I had our wills drawn up when Patrick was about six months old. Specifically, we spent almost seven hours discussing our deaths (mutual or consecutive) on December 31, 2002 which was not only New Year's Eve but also our fourth wedding anniversary. Can you think of a better way to celebrate a union and ring in the new year than by insuring that every possible death-related contingency is foreseen (Steve dies. I inherit. I remarry. New union is blessed. Patrick's patrimony is now at risk of being squandered to the advantage of my new issue! Is there a way to prevent this? Why, you bet your sweet ass there is...) Yeah, I was also able to think of quite a few things I would rather be doing on New Year's Eve.
Like drinking champagne.
Ostensibly, despite my yelping about how inconvenient the timing was for us, this was the only afternoon in a five year period that it would be possible to gather the necessary people (our attorney, the estate planner, the other inheritance tax guy, our accountant, Steve, me and a buxom paralegal) in the same room during the full moon. I believe that they all just wanted to ratchet up those billable hours before the year ended. I can forgive them for this. What I cannot forgive them for is thinking that when I reluctantly agreed but added that there had better be champagne they thought I was joking. Do YOU think I was joking?
It was a dry, a very dry, meeting.
The first thing we covered is what would happen to Patrick in the event that Steve and I shuffled together off this mortal coil.
"He goes to my brother," we announced in unison.
"Which brother?" asked the attorney, licking his lips and looking at the clock.
"Oh, hers," Steve clarified.
Then we set up a zillion trust scenarios for Patrick, in none of which does the poor kid actually get any money until he is about 40.
"You think you are getting a convertible to wrap around a tree just because I am dead?" I asked the baby who was on a blanket under the conference room table. "Not fucking likely, Finky, and you better believe Uncle Mark is going to make you get a job in college."
The estate planner appealed to Steve. "Isn't this a little extreme? Couldn't he get some of the principle at 21? Young men, you know, big dreams..."
"No." Steve returned.
It became clear that the reason all of these people had to be present was to insure that someone was instigating a quarrel between Steve and me at all times. One or the other of us would answer a question and then the whole room would pivot and ask if that was REALLY what we BOTH wanted.
Since almost everything centered around Steve's death (my own passing being regarded as sad, of course, but financially inconsequential and my insistence on bequeathing my Wodehouse collection was a frank irritation to everyone including the paralegal) I didn't have a whole lot to say for most of it.
Until we got to the Living Will stuff. The Health Care Directive they wanted me to sign stating that I do not want heroic measures in the event that I am horribly horribly ill or unimaginably injured.
"But I do," I said as my pen hung in the air over the signature space.
"You do what?"
"I DO want heroic measures. I want George Clooney pouring sweat and screaming Live, damn you, LIVE! I want machines that beep and drugs that do whatever they do best. I want tenting and multiple surgeries and 24 hour care. What," I paused and started tapping the page with the pen, "what the hell is this?"
It was standard. It was in my best interest. It was recognized by the state. It was in the best interest of the family. It was the right thing to do. It was getting late...
"Do you really want Patrick and I to be bankrupt as every cent is poured into keeping the shell that is you alive in a vegetative state?" Steve asked.
Yes. Yes, I do. And I will prefer to be called a "shrine" rather than a "shell," and "sleeping soundly" to "vegetable" thank you very much.
"Look, look honey, I'm signing mine."
However, I was able to wave that Do Not Resuscitate order in Steve's face this morning and tell him he had exactly five seconds to get out of bed and stop dramatizing his stupid head cold or I would be putting him out of his misery.
He had been very clear, I reminded him, swatting him in the head with his phonebook of a will. He never wanted to become a burden to me. DNR, baby, DNR.