Category Archives: luck

John Lennon Got it Right

John Lennon sang “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”

I know another John. Last week, one of his lunch meetings was cancelled. Because he keeps his bicycle and helmet in the office, John is always ready for an exercise break. A leisurely ride and he’d be back in time for his 2 o’clock meeting. What he didn’t plan on was meeting Robert that day.

Not far away from John’s office, Robert had a doctor’s appointment. His wife was insisting on driving him. Irritated at how she and their children were ganging up on him about giving up the car keys, Robert, 85 years old, wouldn’t listen to them.

“Stop badgering me. I’m just going two miles,” he said, slamming the front door as he left. Climbing into his car, he backed out of the driveway.

Ten minutes later, along the tree-lined road that cast confusing shadows, John was killed when Robert’s car hit him. John’s cell phone was ringing. His daughter was reminding him that they had a date to go Christmas shopping that evening.

John’s family will spend the holidays grieving John’s death. There is no life insurance. John had not paid the premium on time. His wife, as busy with her company as he was with his, didn’t check if he’d paid it. Both their wills needed to be updated; neither could find the time to consult their attorney.

Robert’s family is in shock. Angry, frightened and remorseful, they’re consulting with their attorney about the legal actions they will face as a result of not being insistent enough with Robert.

We can’t see our own life unfolding. But our families will live with the consequences.

Are your insurance premiums paid?

Are you being too soft on someone who shouldn’t be driving anymore?

Or, as John Lennon sang, are you busy making other plans?

 

 

 

 

Married to an Optimist

If you’re married to an optimistic man who is also a procrastinator, beware. He’ll postpone taking action about things he doesn’t like to think about, often until it’s too late. I think of my friend Carol and her husband Ted.

The storm wasn’t supposed to hit until evening. “I’ll only be gone a few hours,” her husband had said. “ I have to meet this client before the weekend. We’ll review the papers when I come back.”

The storm hit early. The bridge held; her husband’s heart didn’t. When she got to the hospital, he was hooked up to life support. His eyes were closed; he couldn’t talk. His sons consulted with the doctor. They ignored her.  Even after ten years, the boys still resented their father’s remarriage after their mother died.

Feeling invisible and helpless, his wife sobbed. If her husband survived, he would need heart surgery and extensive rehabilitation. His outdated estate plan, with provisions tailored for his first marriage, appointed his sons as holding durable powers of attorney.  She would have no say in the matter. She knew the sons would not include her in their decisions. If her husband died, his previous will, still in effect, would benefit the adult sons from his first marriage.

A few weeks before his heart attack, they had consulted an estate attorney to bring the plan up to date and reflect their ten years of marriage. She had been so relieved when her husband finally acknowledged how frightened she was not to have financial protection in case something happened to him.

He was the optimist in the family, always expecting the best, looking for the silver lining around every dark cloud. She loved that about him; it balanced her own tendency to brood and worry about things she couldn’t control.

You have a choice – Create an estate plan, make sure you’ve signed the durable powers of attorney and know that you’ve done what you need to do about things you can’t control.

The other choice? Hope for the best.

 

 

 

 

The Gift of the Ordinary

The poetry of life often lives in the daily rituals, the ordinary activities we often do mindlessly without appreciating how lucky we are to be doing them. Not me, not ever again.

One of my favorite ordinary things is making coffee in the morning. Grinding and inhaling the aroma of the beans, filling the coffee maker with water, emptying the ground beans into the filter, and pushing the brew button. How much more ordinary can you get?

Ever since my husband died suddenly in an accident years ago, I’ve been aware that ordinary events can turn extraordinary in a second. The Boston bombings, 9/11, a plane or car crash, a fatal heart attack, a drive by shooting or the diagnosis of a terminal illness. These sudden events, woven into the tapestry of daily life, are reminders that the ordinary is a gift.

One of my favorite poets celebrates the ordinary. Jane Kenyon, who died of leukemia at the  age of forty-seven, understood the importance of celebrating the dailiness of life.

Otherwise

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.