Once upon a time, there was a starry-eyed, naive little girl, who was part of a big, tight-knit family (spoiler alert, it’s me). Her grandparents were holocaust survivors, who had overcome the most devastating ordeal imaginable, and through some miracle, found their way to Canada, where they ultimately found each other. They wasted no time, and popped out 3 daughters in 3 years (the baby boom had no chill). My grandfather worked hard, first as a painter and a carpenter, and over the years worked his way up to building a house, then a few more houses, then some apartment buildings, and eventually it was luxury condominiums in Miami Beach’s notorious ‘millionaire row’ better known as Bal Harbour. Each of the 3 daughters grew up, got married, and had a few kids of their own. Each was raised to value family above all else (because my grandparents had lost their families to genocide, and nothing could be more important to their legacy). Fast forward to 1997, when they wrote their respective wills, and their continuing powers of attorney. They both assigned the duty of substitute decision making to all 3 daughters, and they both expressed their wishes for good quality of life, and even specified that their “dying shall not be artificially prolonged”, as they both wished to “die naturally and with dignity”.
Now let’s fast forward to today. My grandfather has passed and my grandmother currently resides in a nursing home here in Toronto with Advanced Dementia. Since she stopped eating during my Zeide’s Shiva 4 years ago, a feeding tube has been keeping her alive (artificially). She cannot swallow, and therefor aspirates repeatedly throughout the day. She is relegated to a wheelchair, and cannot talk, walk, or do anything whatsoever for herself. A mechanical hoist is needed to change her (and her diapers). Most days, her a-la-carte caregiver wheels her to various nursing home activities like bingo, where she sits, unfazed, drooling and choking on her own saliva, barely conscious, while her nanny plays bingo in the background. My Bubbie’s current reality is what nightmares are made of, and my mom couldn’t stomach it, so she sought professional help. She consulted an elder care lawyer, and the leading expert in ethics and palliative care at the hospital, to attempt to reason with her sisters and demonstrate that they were not honouring my grandmother’s written wishes as expressed in her will. The result? Her sisters took her to court, attempting to remove her as a power of attorney. My mom couldn’t imagine going through litigation with her own sisters, and knew that her father would be rolling in his grave, so she reluctantly (and honourably) resigned to avoid conflict in the family. Once they got (exactly) what they wanted, they took her to court again attempting to recover their legal costs. Meanwhile, my Bubbie sits helpless to this day, suffering in silence, much like the scared little girl who hid in horror between the farmhouse walls for two whole years while Nazi’s rounded up her friends and neighbours for slaughter.
So where do we go from here? Well there are two things I know for certain; 1. My mom will never forgive her sisters (nor will I). Their relationship is beyond repair, and my aunts have been lost to the sunken place (may Karma have mercy on their souls… or not). 2. There is a lesson in this story, and that is the grave importance (no pun intended), of making your will detailed as fuck, to leave absolutely no room for misguided interpretation. No one could ever have imagined these 3 inseparable sisters would crumble into sibling feud. However, one woman’s ‘care’ is another woman’s torture… and despite her specific instructions that, “where the application of life sustaining procedures would serve only to artificially prolong the dying process… that such procedures be withheld or withdrawn”, despite her clear desire for DIGNITY, they have persisted in their unhinged dispute that having a team of 2 strangers jack her up periodically throughout the day to remove her feces, breaking up the monotony of her otherwise state of mental solitary confinement, is somehow a great life worth living. I pray that both of my aunts will one day be blessed with many many wonderful years in same state of being, with a nanny wheeling them to the salon to colour their hair, draw on their crooked brows, and prop them up like rag dolls (reminiscent of the classic 90’s movie ‘Weekend At Bernies‘), while they die ever so slowly inside, their wishes ignored, their happiness determined by their selfish, spineless, willfully ignorant heirs.
So before it’s too late (or one of my eunuch cousins has me bumped off for writing this), I have decided to publish my own will, right here and right now:
My Last Will & Testament (seriously)
I, Julia of Alpha Beta Pie, first of my name, residing in Toronto, Ontario, with sound mind, write this last will and testament. Blah blah blah insert legal boilerplate shit here…
- I leave my entire estate to be split equally between my two sons, “Thing 1” and “Thing 2”. If at the time of my passing, either of my sons is below the age of 35, their respective inheritance shall be held in trust by my husband, “Pretty Boy” (should he outlive me). If at the time of my passing, our marriage has been effectively terminated (by means of divorce, separation, infidelity, political difference, or resulting from climate change), said inheritance shall be held in trust by my brother “Baby Bro”.
- If within 3 years of my death, Pretty Boy remarries or enters into a common-law arrangement with a hot younger woman (defined as 8 years younger than him, or more), he shall be removed as trustee, and my estate will henceforth be held in trust by Baby Bro.
- If either Thing 1 or Thing 2 tries to sue the other with respect to my estate, said child will automatically forfeit their respective inheritance.
- If by some catastrophe, we all die simultaneously (including myself, Pretty Boy, and both Things 1 & 2), my entire estate will go to Baby Bro, or his successors.
- No monies held in trust shall be spent on the following; fast food (including but not limited to McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, or comparably tiered restaurants); sugary snacks (including but not limited to candy, both hard or gummy, donuts, ice cream, or soda beverages); retro Air Jordans (and/or other collectible athletic shoes); video games, including console and/or cloud based, V-bucks, and/or in-game upgrades.
Continuing Powers of Attorney (aka. My Living Will)
- If I have been declared incurably mentally incapable for reasons including but not limited to Alzheimers disease, dementia, or injury, I do not wish to be kept alive in a vegetative state, whereby I am unable to communicate via speaking, writing, and/or physical movement, and I do not wish to be kept alive artificially, by any artificial measures, including but not limited to, the use of a feeding tube, ventilator, lobotomy, artificial intelligence, cyber enhancements, resurrection via dark magic, ghost in the shell, and/or other life support systems.
- I WANT GREAT QUALITY OF LIFE, including but not limited to the dignity to wipe my own ass.