I started researching the Terri Schiavo case to come up with a witty opening line for this post. One stop at Wiki’s summary – less than a paragraph in, at that – I realized, man, this is not funny. Not. Funny.
Yesterday my mission was to get the ball rolling on finishing my Advanced Health Care Directive. That’s the “What if” document. As in, “What if that car spins out of control on the highway and BOOM – 2 years later everyone in my immediate family is held hostage to a meat loaf my failure to fill out a simple form?”
Okay, before I argue my own use of the term, “simple form,” I need to take issue with my use of the phrase “immediate family.” Turns out, in the state of California, Domestic Partnership is a legal status available to either same-sex couples OR opposite-sex couples in which at least one individual is a minimum of 62 years old. Who knew? “Common Law” is an old wives’ tale; there’s no such thing. In other words, the love of my life, whom I’ve been sharing a home with for 5 years, isn’t going to have any voice in my affairs unless we plan ahead. The other folks on my next of kin list all live 2500 miles away.
When I find myself trying to take care of this stuff, I imagine it’s all really going to come to pass: that there will come a day when I’m surviving Andy and wanting to make sure his assets are fairly distributed, that there will also come a day when he’s outliving me, sitting in a hospital waiting room with my family – people he’s only met a handful of times because we all live so far apart. I swore off Lifetime TV nearly 10 years ago but maybe the mental affliction is chronic.
It’s all very personal. And difficult.
But I do believe that putting some ideas in writing now is the best thing to do. If you have a similar inclination, the links here may help. And if this is something you’ve already taken care of, your suggestions are welcome. Thanks.
- The Family Caregiver Alliance is a good place to start.
- “Five Wishes” Even if your health care provider requires a different legal document, this form can really help you begin thinking about what’s important to you.
- “Hospital Visitation Authorization” I’m not sure if hospitals honor this form as a legal document, but I’m going to keep asking around to find out. It’s so easy to complete, I figure it can’t hurt to have on hand just in case.
- Could it be as easy as ordering some forms off the internet? I’ve got a message into my medical clinic to find out what advice they’ve got to offer.
- This isn’t all about me & mine, it can also be about saving lives. There are provisions in living wills regarding organ donation.
I’m not Christmas shopping this year. The people in my life have so much (things, things, things galore, overflowing boxes of stuff!). Getting my Living Will completed is going to be the best present I could ever give them.