Empty nesters: Prepare to live alone, distribute belongings
Besides having an executor, here's the other thing to prepare for pre-death
I thought my grandfather was so morbid. Starting into his 70s, he would randomly remind me he was going to die. It used to piss me off. All human beings are going to die at some point. I didn’t need the reminder. For all I knew, I could’ve been wiped out before him. (He did not take it well when a family friend passed away from diabetes, and she was 30 years younger than him. He demanded that no one else die before him. I told him, “That’s not how that works.”)
In his 80s, he reminded me more—to the point where I started distancing myself from visiting him. No one wants to talk about death while trying to enjoy you alive. Without fail, he’d offer to give me his home. (It was already paid for.) I’d opt out each time, too young to fully understand that he was basically handing me a suitcase of cash but not wanting it because the suitcase was not my favorite color.
He’d point to random furniture and ask, “Do you want that? How about that?” Sometimes he’d just walk over to a corner of the room, pick up a pile of something and tell me, “That’s yours now.”
In his 90s, he really upped the ante. He’d gotten too tired to garden—a hobby that made him a complete stranger at grocery store produce aisles. (From collard greens to tomatoes to apples to zucchini, he grew just about everything he cooked.) He found a new thing to do that was less physically exhausting. He was on a mission to start taking everything out of his home. I’d come over and there’d be this random empty spot in a room.
I’d ask, “Where did the [insert items here] go?”
His response, “I trashed it. I’m going to die. This junk needs to be removed before I do.”
I rolled my eyes, shook my head and wondered when he was going to knock it off. Then he did pass away at the age of 95. I rented a truck to take a few belongings. Then after the legal situation was resolved, another truck was rented to bring a few more items to my home. (I bought a condo by this time, which is ridiculous considering I could’ve lived and owned this home for free.) On our return trip, we looked around at all of my grandfather’s (and some of my late grandmother’s) stuff.
“This is overwhelming,” my mother remarked. “He’s got so much stuff.”
I glanced over at her and said, “And this is what is left from what he didn’t move on his own. He knew how hard it was going to be to clear out a home to sell it.”
In retrospect, I respect that he tried to save us some time—as morbid and frustrated as my younger mind felt about this. But then he did something I’ll never understand. He never wrote a will.