So this week we had an outing: to a lawyer’s office to sign our wills.
We drew up wills in Georgia years ago, before Ralph’s diagnosis, and a few years ago we updated the wills, to account for the reality that if I were to die Ralph could not handle the responsibility of being an executor or trustee. He agreed and we made the necessary tweaks. But Louisiana laws are slightly different so I was told to have the wills reviewed and updated yet again.
I find messing with wills—getting my head around the face that my death will actually happen and has to be prepared for in legalistic and monetary terms that may have emotional import and fallout I won’t be able to undo—unnerving. The first time I signed one, without Ralph with me for some reason, I became so unnerved that afterwards I wondered around the parking lot in tears for about an hour unable to locate my car (ah, the days before clickers).
In those days I worried how I would manage if Rick died first. How I would manage finances and make business decisions. Also, how I would do emotionally, the loneliness and helplessness I might feel. I don’t need to worry about any of those issues anymore because I face them everyday now.
Instead, especially since turning 70 in a Covid world this year, my concern is how Ralph will fare if I die first by some ironic fluke of fate. So while I’ve procrastinated about a lot over the last few months—finding a dentist, hanging pictures, starting an exercise routine, getting involved in organizations to support issues that matter to me, etc—I did find a new lawyer here who has worked with me to finalize our Louisiana documents.
I didn’t confer ahead of time with Ralph this time around. A day or so before our appointment I told him we had an appointment with the lawyer and explained the small changes I was having her make. His only concern was how he’d get cash if I weren’t around; he keeps a $20 bill in his wallet along with one credit card, although he goes nowhere without me and has not purchased a thing since we moved to Nola. I told him one of the kids would take him an ATM machine, which he has never learned how to use, he was satisfied.
The morning of the appointment Ralph asked numerous times which doctor we were going to and I had to remind him each time that we were going to a lawyer concerning our wills and the reasons why. Doing so was important because our new lawyer wanted it to be clear in front of witnesses that Ralph understood what was going on.
And once we were in the lawyer’s office Ralph was fine and at his most charming chatting about our move and asking the lawyer questions about growing up in New Orleans. He signed the required codicil with a clear understanding what it said.
But then the lawyer brought up the Power of Attorney that I already had in Georgia but we needed to extend in Louisiana.
Ralph looked at the papers in front of him.
His Covid mask covering his facial expression, he announced rather loudly, I don’t want Alice having Power of Attorney for me. I don’t trust her with my money.
The lawyer looked up startled. Well, more than startled. I saw what looked to me like panic in her eyes.
He’s kidding, I said to the lawyer putting as much jovial smile into my voice as possible behind my own mask..
You can’t kid like that, I said turning to Ralph, trying to keep my tone light.
He’s such a joker, I said to the lawyer. Ralph making a joke meant Ralph was mentally competent right?
Ralph chuckled, pleased with himself for scaring the poor woman.
The lawyer laughed with relief.
Ralph signed his name.
Well, that went well, Ralph said as we descended in the elevator afterwards.
Twenty minutes later he settled into his chair at home and looked at me.
Remind me again, where did we go today?