It's had to happen sooner or later, right? That first mecca up to Mom's after she died. Seems I'll never stop underestimating the ninja qualities of this entire experience. I did not, however, make this trip without reinforcements; my friend Denys and her fiance bravely volunteered to drive me up this weekend. I can never thank them enough for that.
That's my first tip: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS ALONE! If people volunteer to go with you, take them up on it. If you can squeak out a request that someone accompany you, do it. This is particularly so for only children.
The grief ninjas struck the moment I cracked the door open. My entire body remembered what it's done reflexively for the lsat 27 years: door opens, "HI, MOMMY!" I instinctively expected her to come out of the kitchen or down the hall and waited the usual moment for her to appear. I waited a microsecond. All is well, the house smells like her. She must be in the bathroom. Silence. Emptiness. The miliseconds of happy expectation into stunned comprehension. Denys caught me and I sobbed. I didn't expect to get walloped by it so immediately. I'd foolishly girded myself for something . . . as if I could prepare. HA!
Well, at least I got that over with first thing!
I steeled myself and we started looking through the file cabinets. We were on a mission to find Mom's life insurance policy, policy number, information so that I could run (fund) things while waiting for Letters of Adminisration to be issued. OK, I'll tell the truth . . . I've not done a thing about the will and was hoping finding the life insurance would buy me a little more avoidance time before having to deal with that and probate court. Yes, I realize I have a law degree, but when it comes to this stuff, I'm a functional 3 year old whose Mommy died.
Thank God my Mom can always be counted on for funny and thank God we always teased each other about our idiosyncracies. Heck, thank God I can always be counted on for funny!
Mom's filing "system" . . . wasn't. The woman who began her career as a secretary for New York Telephone Company had many mislabeled files. Most of the really important stuff was in a folder labeled "MISC" . . . about 25 folders labeled "MISC". ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!!
TIP TWO: Make sure your "important papers" are all together, in one place, accurately marked. If you put them in one folder or envelope, make an accurate table of contents on the outside.
I guess she figured I'd figure it out . . . just as soon as I stopped shaking my head and laughing.
Denys and I were in the kitchen and Dave in the adjoining den when I said, "You know, she always told me she left me a letter, with instructions about what to do, where everything is . . . " I looked up at Mom (the ceiling has become Heaven) and said, "COME ON, WORK WITH ME HERE!!" The next moment Dave padded into the kitchen looking like he'd seen a ghost, holding some yellow sheets of paper: "Is this that letter?" He'd just picked it up the moment I'd "yelled at" my Mom. It was the letter.
I guess her miscellaneous system worked.