A few weeks ago I got a note from the American Red Cross offering a workbook to help me “write my will and plan my future.” It’s free and the ARC says it’s waiting for me. Imagine!
Doesn’t a will signal the end of my future?
I have a will, albeit an old one. It probably needs updating, although I can’t for the life of me (play on words intended) think of what I would change.
I have an estate plan, an advance directive and a person appointed the nasty task of saying, “Yes, pull the plug and let her go” should I become brain dead or hopelessly ill with no chance of recovery.
I have written down who gets my favorite possessions. My favorites, however, are not especially in demand by younger family members. My children and grandchildren are not arm wrestling each other for ownership of my silver flatware. I have a five-piece place setting for two dozen people plus more – pickle forks, sugar spoons, butter knives, and so on. It seems Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers aren’t fond of silver flatware or silver bowls or silver tea services or silver anythings. Requires too much polishing, I guess.
Nobody wants my piano because they already own one or they don’t know how to play or don’t have a desire to learn to play the piano. A grandson wants my mattress because it’s a Tempur-Pedic -- extremely bouncy and poofy and comfy. He likes to relax on it when he visits. If I die in that bed, I hope it’s a clean, sanitary death – no blood or spilled body fluids, etc. Ick.
I have a marble-topped table whose wooden legs were crafted and carved by my great-grandfather, a cabinetmaker. Nobody seems remotely interested.
I have an old treadle-powered Singer sewing machine that, according to much-repeated family history, was used to sew civil war uniforms.
Family lore be damned. I found the serial number on the machine; looked it up online. My sewing machine was manufactured in 1900. What a stretch. Everybody adds an anecdote or an embellishment and pretty soon, bingo, a humble run-of-the-mill machine is said to have cranked out Civil War uniforms for a war that ended 35 years before it was made.
This reminds me of one of my favorite plays, Lettice and Lovage, by Peter Shaffer. The play is about a docent who gives tours in a dreary old English manor called Fustian House. The House’s few visitors are universally bored to tears by her rehearsed speech. Lettice Douffet, the guide, decides to add a little juice to the facts. She makes up some dramatic scenes that supposedly took place on the stairway, for starters. Visitors perk up. More visitors come. She adds more – a tragic wedding that supposedly took place on the property; the time Queen Elizabeth I stayed there. More visitors. Lettice, who has a flair for the dramatic, adds more and more until she finally faces the music during a visit from a representative of the Preservation Trust, her employer.
The play was written especially for Dame Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey’s witty matriarch, Lady Grantham). The playwright crafted a different ending for American audiences. I saw it in New York City more than 25 years ago (with Maggie Smith in the lead role) and I’ll never forget it. Smith won a Tony for Best Actress in a Play in 1990 for her performance as Lettice Douffet.
But I digress. I don’t own a historic house; a historic sewing machine; a historic or valuable anything. I don’t have a lot of stuff that my younger relatives are coveting.
It’s just as well. I use my flatware several times a year. I use my piano and marble-topped table every day. The sewing machine is doubling as a side table, for now.
I’m hoping my family has a long, long wait before cashing in on any of my treasures.
BTW: Lovage is an herb that tastes like celery. It’s used to enhance the flavors of bland dishes.
BTWBTW: The Singer sewing machine that (wink wink) sewed Civil War uniforms is for sale.