Randy was my oldest friend in Arizona. He died yesterday. I got a call from his son, David. “Dad’s gone”. We knew he had been fighting a myriad of illnesses over the past two years, but he had been doing so well the last month, we thought he had won the fight. Then he had a stroke in the middle of the night, which was caused by a brain tumor and he was gone in a week. We all miss him greatly.
Randy and I met in January 1960. Our parents had chosen to join a newly formed church that was temporarily meeting at the local Masonic Hall until their fellowship hall could be built. Randy was 14 and I was 15. We had the same Sunday School teacher and went to the same high school. He was in the band and I was in the chorus class. He could never play his instrument without having the music right in front of him and I never learned how to read music, so I sang and played by ear.
After high school, Randy joined the Indy race car circuit and I went off to college, but we kept in touch. He finally returned to Arizona and by then, I was married and had gone into the Life and Health Insurance business. He became one of my first clients. Later, he went into the Property and Casualty Insurance business, and I became one of his first clients. He was expected to also sell life insurance and didn’t feel comfortable in that role, so I went with him on his first sales call. We made a presentation together from his sales manual and he sold his first life insurance policy.
We both bought ASU football season tickets in the 70’s and he had kept his all these years. He married and fathered two terrific kids, the first, a son, was born on my 40th birthday. It was hard for him to be tied to an office job. He found a job where he could travel and pursued that until he retired a few years ago. He spent most of his spare time with his kids and grand kids. He just couldn’t seem to get enough time with them. He loved them very much and they too loved him and are missing him.
Randy was also a good son. When his father and mother died, he and his brother and sister stepped up and made sure that everything that needed to be done was not only taken care of, but, was done per their written requests. The family had talked together before they passed, and they knew in advance exactly what their parents’ wishes were. Their parents had carefully prepared an “Advance Directive”. The children knew about it and followed their instructions to the letter. An Advance Directive usually includes a written and notarized “Living Will” and a “Medical Power of Attorney”. The living will is a notarized document that states what they want done while confined in the hospital, nursing home, or their own home, should they be unable to communicate their requests to their doctors or caregivers.
Prior to their deaths, they each also had a “Durable Power of Attorney” so that someone could take care of any business and financial matters for them. Upon their deaths, I’m sure they had a “Trust” and an “Executor”, so their wishes following their death would be carried out. They also had prepaid all their costs for the funeral, burial, and memorial services.
So, what is Randy’s legacy? I’m glad you asked? Randy was impressed with what his parents had done, prior to their deaths. He had seen other families and friends going through very difficult times when they had tough decisions to make in the hospital, then final arrangements, and then took care of numerous out of pocket costs while they were grieving. We’ve all heard horror stories about families fighting amongst themselves following a death. The family dynamics can be destroyed forever as they argue and fight over property and possessions. It doesn’t have to be that way!
Randy followed his parents lead. He was very proud to inform me a couple of years ago, that he had taken care of all the details that might have caused problems for his family, upon his death. It’s my understanding that he pre-arranged everything.
Randy was my inspiration. My wife had been after me for years to complete our arrangements, also. We had part of it finished, but because of Randy, we got it all done. We’ve spent most of our adult lives helping people get their life and health insurances in order so that there would be no surprises when they were needed. Yet, we hadn’t taken those final steps to make all the possible decisions that our own family would have to make, for us, in advance. We followed his lead. We got it prepared in a binder with all the necessary signatures and witnesses.
Randy prepaid the funeral expenses and prepaid the cost of his final resting place. He even pre-paid for the meal following his memorial service and strongly recommended that Mexican food be catered at his sister’s house for all his friends and family. He covered all the bases.
As it turned out, the most important directives he completed were the ones about how to handle his final days if he was unable to do so. These would have been the most difficult decisions for his family. Would he be kept on life support? What were his desires if he was terminal with no hope of surviving? The directive lists all the possibilities. Randy answered all the questions in advance. There were no questions about what he wanted or didn’t want. The family could spend their last hours with him unencumbered and could grieve for him because he made his wishes known and they were followed as he desired.
I just received the April 2018 edition of the Mayo Clinic Health Letter. Under their “News and our views” column they say that “Most people don’t have an advance directive. People 65 and older had higher completion rates than younger adults, but the rate was still less than 50%. The highest rates-just 60%-were found in people nearing the end of life in hospice or palliative care.”
Why? In my case, I think it made me face my own mortality. I think most people just don’t want to do that. It’s almost like, “If we don’t think about it, it won’t happen”. It will happen, whether we do it or not. This is Randy’s legacy, to his family and to us. Will we “bite the bullet”, so to speak, for our families and get it done? It’s totally up to us!