While it shouldn’t surprise me that the end of what has been routine for the past five months leaves me suddenly feeling aimless, the frozen truth is that my habits are as Pavlovian as any other creature. We now begin the dénouement following the accomplishment of an agenda which frankly accelerated more quickly than anticipated. Indeed things progressed so very swiftly that we hadn’t either the time or inclination to ruminate upon what we would do when it was all over. Nonetheless, here we are, at the end of the road, at least at the end of that one in particular. It was more of a highway than a bi-way and we now have the privilege to adjust our temperament to a more leisurely stroll without having to plan each day in pressing succession.
A year ago my father died; I retired from the practice of law; I sold my law practice; I administered my father’s estate; I administered the estate of a former client; we sold our house; we moved into an apartment; we met new neighbours; and then we went away for the winter. Upon our return to Canada in Spring we commenced the immediate settlement of my elderly mother’s outstanding affairs including her removal to a retirement residence, the sale of her house, the disposition of her surplus personal effects and generally tidying up her papers, investments and medical issues (including even the purging of the contents of her purse). That is a grossly succinct account of what has been an unqualified trial on all sides. Today is perhaps the closest I have been to management of my personal affairs in the past year and a half. The only vestige of my erstwhile preoccupations with my mother is the upcoming conference with her financial advisor, an appointment which is more in the nature of a performance than a confabulation. The upshot of what we have done in the past five months is to delegate the management of my mother’s affairs to others in perpetuity, corporations harnessed for their personal and proprietary management skills thereby relieving me and my sister of both the duty and care of doing so. Naturally my sister and I presently have no intention of abandoning our mother but considering my anticipated five-month hibernation and the personal constraints upon my sister, it makes eminent sense to have arranged uninterrupted care and advice for my mother. We no longer need worry about what mother is eating (if indeed she is eating at all), whether she is taking her medicine, whether she has fallen off a step-ladder or down the basement stairs or whether she is depressed by being alone day after day. We have also built into the scheme the potential for seamless upgrading to assisted living if mother requires it.
The fallout for me is that I am now effectively out of a job. Granted I still keep tabs on mother’s day-to-day financial affairs but most of that is preauthorized and therefore a matter of record only. Importantly it is something I can manage either here, there or everywhere thanks to the internet and on-line banking. For my part I am at last enabled to merge my retirement and my personal ambitions. In the short run at least it is an astonishingly difficult transition. I am so accustomed to having a hand on the tiller that it feels like abandoning ship not to do so.
While it certainly doesn’t amount to a grievous oversight to have lately neglected the contemplation of my own affairs, I confess I am pleased to reignite the interest in doing so. Sporadically I have dwelt upon the complexities of my private fortunes and misfortunes, a contemplation which has been a protracted analysis and which like any acceptable liquor has required dark and quiet fermentation. I haven’t the sense that there are any loose ends and I appreciate the opportunity to savour the results.