‘Living will’ crush your spirit

The nurse asked me if I had a living will. “Yes, I do.”

“Did you bring it with you?”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Why not?”

“Well, I’m only here to have my teeth cleaned. I didn’t really think I’d need it.”

I could see if I was having a filling, or a wisdom tooth pulled, but a cleaning? Was it really that life threatening?

There was much consternation behind the counter. Could they proceed at all without the living will? Do I really look that old? Is it that annoying teenager who always gives me the Senior Discount down at the Shop and Spend on Tuesdays a character witness? I want to tell her she’s just given me a 15-percent discount for being prematurely gray. But I just take it and shut up.

I can’t even remember what the provisions of my living will are. Did I tell Sue to pull the plug the day I couldn’t remember what’s in my living will, or did I tell her to keep me alive until I was smaller than the tubes coming out of me?

I can’t even remember where it is. Where do you put something like that? On the refrigerator door? In my home office? I can’t find the phone bill in my home office. Or the phone. I don’t need a living will, I need a live-in filing clerk.

I do remember meeting with my lawyer and drawing up the papers. He said, “You should have a living will so that if you’re incapacitated your wishes will be carried out.”

“My main wish is that I shouldn’t be incapacitated.”

“You should have thought about that before you decided to eat right and exercise. If you had listened to me you would have been dead by now, not having to worry about all this. Half my business is estate planning. The other half is divorces.”

“You mean people still have estates after they divorce? That’s a comfort. It must be nice, getting all that money for filling out a few forms of lawyer mumbo jumbo.”

“I plan the estates for the half that didn’t get divorced. And it’s not just a little form; there’s a lot involved,” said Mumbo Jumbo, Esq. “For example, do you have a Health Care Proxy?”

“Of course not. I’m married. Besides, at my age ... “

“Proxy. Not Doxy, you pathetic old goat. Turn up the hearing aid, would you? Do you have a will?”

“I don’t think I need one. Everything’s held jointly.”

“Yeah, but what if you both die in a plane crash? Where’s your money go then?”

“You’re just trying to cheer me up, aren’t you?”

“Say you both die in a flaming car crash? Who gets your estate then? I get this stuff all the time. If some of my clients only knew what happened to their estates after they died, they would be turning over in their graves.”

“Have you ever thought of becoming a motivational speaker?”

“So let’s talk about your living will. For example, you’re completely conscious but you can’t move. Would you want them to take extraordinary means to keep you alive?”

“No, I’d want them to take extraordinary means to make me move.”

“Sorry, that’s not on the form. Let’s say someone has to cook all your food, constantly clean up behind you, run all the errands and do all the chores while you sit in bed all day and watch television because you can’t do the simplest things by yourself? Would you want them to take extraordinary means to keep you alive?

“Except for the golf, that’s pretty much how I live now.”

“Yeah, that’s what Sue told me. She wants to pull the plug, but I told her it’s your decision.”

“When it’s this much fun, no wonder so many people put off writing a will until the last minute.”

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at jim_mullen@myway.com

Copyright 2006, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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