Al and I are both eldest children and we eventually became the prime caregivers for our widowed parents. After Al’s father died, we moved his mother to Dallas to be close to us – first in an independent apartment, and later. after a stroke, to health care. After Mama died, we moved Papa to Dallas, again to an independent apartment, and later, to health care.
Those experiences were one of the prime movers for us to come to Franke Tobey Jones – a continuing care community. We are currently living in a duplex – completely independently – but with additional care available if necessary. We are both realists and understand that nobody lives forever.
This last week we had both of our boys with us so they could become more familiar with our living situation and the plans we have made for our deaths. We wanted to reassure them that they would not have to upend their lives when one or the other of us had a health crisis or died.
When we moved to Washington we had our wills drawn up, along with durable powers of attorney, and health care directives – complete with Do Not Resuscitate order. While they were here, we got the legal documents out and had them read through them, so they were sure they understood what our final wishes are. We also encouraged them to “put their dibs” on any furniture, decorations, knick-knack, or art work they particularly wanted.
One day we went to Joint Base Lewis-McChord (the McChord portion), and met with the Casualty Assistance Officer. That’s the person who will help survivors (surviving spouse and/or children) wrap up our affairs including getting death certificates, notifying government entities, and getting any pay-in-arrears. If, by that time, we have decided to be in a National Cemetery, they will help us – including an honor guard for Al, complete with a 21-gun salute. If I’m the first to go, Al just has to swear that he will be in the same cemetery in order to for them to accept me (since I’m not a veteran).
On the way home, we stopped at the Neptune Society, a nationwide crematory, to find out what they offered. We were very impressed with their pre-planning, including the fact that we can make payments with the credit card. We can each have our body cremated very inexpensively (we know because our parents were cremated 20 years ago, and everyone knows prices of everything have gone up.) With monthly payments, we will have both of our plans paid off in 5 years or so. If one or the other of us dies before the plan is paid off, the survivor can just finish the payments in a lump sum.
The staff member who is in charge of resident placement at Franke Tobey Jones came and talked to all of us about what happens when we can no longer live independently. She went over the criteria for moving us around campus – assisted living, health care and/or memory care. She also gave us a tour of the other buildings (I was familiar with them already, but the boys had not seen the new Health Care Building).
All in all, I think we have done as much as possible to ensure that neither of us needs to worry about a family argument at the funeral. We have seen how those can split families, and we didn’t want that for the kids.