Well it’s great to be back in the Live in the Philippines fold. Thanks for inviting me back, Bob. For those I know, hello there, good to see you again.
For those who don’t know, you can read my previous Live in the Philippines articles here.
So now that I am back and have written one whole (short) paragraph, I’m going to turn my article over to a guest author …
I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous. (my emphasis)
Alan Seeger. 1888–1916
Recognize my assistant author? Some of you might also be familiar with a famous nephew of his, Pete. Or maybe he’s too far back in the annuals of time for you too.
One thing for sure. Alan kept his rendezvous back in 1916, Pete will keep his someday, and so will I and so will you!
Why did I get started on this somewhat maudlin and depressing theme?
None Of Us Gets Out Of Life Alive
Well, certainly I’m not all that interested in thinking about death. I don’t dwell on it, don’t look forward to it, don’t want to spend any more time planning for it than I absolutely have to.
But death won’t be denied. It just keeps jumping up.
Very recently, when Bob and I were emailing back and forth about me coming back into the “fold” here at LIP, I got notified that a very good friend of ours had just passed away after spending weeks (several months, really) in a stroke-induced coma. She wasn’t all that old, either … way younger than me. RIP, Ellen.
Then, while we were emailing back and forth about how her family was getting on, funeral arrangements and such, my dear wife, sitting next to me blurted out, “Oh My God, James Gandolfini just died”.
You know, Tony Soprano? A veteran of many other successful stage shows, TV series and movies (in fact his latest movie has just been released). Rich, successful, talented, brand new baby girl, beautiful young wife, and only 51 years old himself … same age as my young wife, and wayyyy younger than me. And able to afford the best of everything, especially medical care.
Didn’t do him any good. The time for his rendezvous came and James did not fail it. You no longer have to fear the FEDs, Tony. RIP.
While my wife and I were making plans to fly down to Davao City to attend our dear fiend Ellen’s funeral, my wife’s cell phone buzzed with an incoming text. A prominent and dear uncle in her (our) family passed away suddenly, so suddenly we were off to a different funeral.
And the sage (of course) continues.
So What’s Your Point, Dave?
Well it’s pretty simple, really. The only way to can control anything that happens after you’re gone is to make provisions now, while you’re still alive. Overly simplistic? Perhaps, but in more than 10 years of dealing with the issues of moving to the Philippines, dealing with family in the Philippines, living in the Philippines and, yes, dying in the Philippines, I have seen one consistent, sad and yet avoidable problem.
People die, every day, and make no provision for what will happen when they die.
Not long ago I wrote an article on my own blog about this:
and I got an encouraging number of comments, thoughts and opinions, but sadly, most were only about benefit issues, such as Social Security pensions and the like.
Important to be sure, and I plan to talk more on benefits, especially for our readership who are US military retired and US civil service retired.
But what about the most pressing and difficult to deal with things that happen right around that magic “Rendezvous”?
Let’s Talk Now, Not What Checks Start Flowing 6 Months From Now
Here are a few things everyone, young or old reading these words needs to think about.:
- You get hit by a bus, or do a “Gandolfini” in the shower one day. How will your loved ones carry the costs of your medical expenses? You know, only a little over 2 years ago, my dear father-in-law went (suddenly) to the hospital and a week later he passed away. The hospital bill was close to P200,000. Not his funeral and other after death expenses, just, essentially, the cost of dying. You (we) all have to die, but you likely can not even die for free. Someone will pay, the question you need to think about now is, who will you saddle with that responsibility?
- Suppose you suffer a stroke or some similar vegetative condition. How long should you be kept alive? Want to linger for weeks and months, running up millions and millions in bills? Who will make the decision and who has the legal capacity to make the decision when it is needed? Hint, your 20 yo girlfriend who doesn’t even know your real name, and who has no income except what you’ve been giving her probably lacks knowledge of your wishes and most likely lacks legal capacity to make that decision in the Philippines? The time to decide how long you’ll linger is now, because you can’t make the decision after “it” happens.
- Once you stop breathing you then become nothing but so many kilos of rapidly rotting meat. “It” can’t lay there in the hospital. Someone has to take charge of it. Should they bury it in the Philippines? With what money? Would you rather be cremated? (that costs thousands, too). Want “it” flown back “home” to be buried? (Hint: the US Embassy won’t do that for you, and the airlines certainly won’t transport a box of dead meat for free).
I Could Easily Go On
But you probably don’t want me too.
Fair enough. But let me ask you one last question … just when Should we talk about these issues?
You tell me, I’m listening.