If I were to give an accounting of what I have lately done for my 89 year old mother it would most certainly include having taken her for a Sunday drive today. We both remarked as we sipped our respective iced drinks at Neat Café in Burnstown (Renfrew County) that there wasn’t a cloud in the deep blue sky! The temperature hovered around 25ºC and we therefore sat under a large umbrella on the deck overlooking the first sprouts of the English garden.
Our shiftless gaze wandered to a cursory study of the gaggle of cyclists at a nearby table, wondering to ourselves what they did for a living and where they came from. They were an undistinguished group of men and women, middle-aged, clad in the extraordinarily busy synthetics peculiar to racing cyclists and not especially attractive as one might expect of athletes so far removed from an urban centre. They were however all incontrovertibly thin.
After draining our cups (which were really pickle jars – the latest absurdity of these trendy places) and patting our lips dry my mother and I contrived to depart. Our return route took us along back roads which would normally be unfamiliar to persons not from the area as am I (a forty-year veteran). My mother tritely observed that people living in cities forget there is so much open space. We traveled quietly, effectively insulated from road noise, listening to classical piano music which complemented the scenic greenery of the fields and trees. From Burnstown on the Madawaska River to White Lake; then onto Pakenham, Blakeney (formerly called Rosebank, a particular favourite of mine), Almonte (once appropriately named Shipman Mills), Carleton Place (originally named Morphy’s Falls) and home to my mother’s place.
On a less social level my contribution to my mother’s well-being has been the institution of what had become for me in the latter years of my law practice stock estate and succession planning.
The introduction to these esoteric legal manoeuvres began in 2008. While the contortions were never fully assimilated by my late father, he nonetheless yielded (no doubt as a measure of respect for my professional acumen) and my mother followed suit. She has since lost any recollection of the niceties of the family trust but that is of no consequence as there is no change of beneficial ownership (a detail whose significance is now utterly meaningless to her). I nonetheless congratulate myself for having done what I did, including the referral of her money management to a professional fee-based financial advisor. As I am wont to tell both my mother and my sister, “You don’t need me! The mechanics of management are now in place whatever may happen to any one of us!” The thrust of this proclamation is that the ultimate goal of each of our personal successions will be realized come Hell or high water. Admittedly not all of the devices are self-serving; there has been in part a capitulation to the perpetual existence of a corporate trustee but the uncertainty of the future is thereby removed.
Naturally these private reflections of mine percolated unknown to my dear mother. Our project was ostensibly none other than a Sunday drive.