Some years ago, I became the proud owner of a beehive for the bottom of…
The Final Questions That Go Through Your Mind. Have You Looked After Your Loved Ones?
In my previous two articles, Talking about the hard questions can break their power over you and The only certainty in life seems to be death taxes and hard questions, from this series, Death, Taxes and Hard Questions, I shared how an unexpected accident with a beehive put me into anaphylactic shock and then the hospital emergency room. What I am sharing in this article is how what I learnt about myself was as embarrassing as it was disturbing.
In 1964 Mick Jagger of Rolling Stones fame sang, “Time is on our side”. The song was the B side of their iconic single Satisfaction, released on 45 rpm vinyl. I’m sorry Mr Jagger, you were wrong. Time is not on our side and the sooner we all accept this, the safer our lives can become.
Recapping on my story; it had been 13 minutes since multiple bee stings to my head and neck triggered an anaphylactic shock and my airways had begun to swell closed. I had begun slipping into unconsciousness from increasing suffocation. Sensing the urgency of my situation, my mind automatically fell into preservation mode. The faces of my loved ones filled my mind’s eye in an attempt to comfort me but now my mind screamed a solitary question at me:
“How would my loved ones’ cope if this was my end? Have I left them better off?”
I remember my mind negotiated with itself as I watched. So, “This is what goes through the mind of a dying man”, I thought to myself. So, how would my family cope if I wasn’t there? I quickly thought through my family backup plan checklist, grasping to find peace in case these were my last thoughts. As a financial adviser, you’d think I’d be automatically confident with the answer, but I wasn’t. Time wasn’t on my side either.
“Well, this is what I know to be true”, I thought to myself. I began to tick off the checkboxes in my mind:
My Power of Attorney.
Tick. If I survive this trip to the emergency ward at least I have my Power of Attorney in place. This meant my personal assistant could run my business and make the necessary decisions for me while I recovered. You know; continue to pay wages, continue to pay bills and continue to run the processes that run my business.
Power of Enduring Guardianship.
Tick. If I survive this trip to the emergency ward but suffer a brain injury or am disabled, my Enduring Power of Guardianship named could make decisions about my long-term health, rehab and even future living needs if things were really bad. I even had a crisis insurance policy in place to provide short-term funding if this hospital thing became expensive and long-term.
I heard the drone of ambulance sirens somewhere in the background but my eyes had swollen closed.
What about my business?
Tick. My clients were safe as I have a contractual agreement in place with colleagues so if something happens and I am unable to look after my business, my colleagues could buy out the ownership shares and continue on. “Hey that’s good planning”,’ I thought. I even think I smiled at this point.
I heard the clatter of trolley wheels announcing the arrival of the paramedics and some unknown voice that exclaimed, “Oh shit … That looks bad.”
Tick. So, what if I didn’t survive this trip to the hospital? What if my number was up just sooner than I’d hoped? Well, I told myself I have my Will in place too. Just 24 months ago I’d updated my estate plan documents and they were all safely stored with the lawyers. I’d named my Executor who knew where my Will was stored and what to do if needed. I’d named everyone I wanted to receive everything I’d owned. I even cross-referenced my life insurance policy number. ‘Hey I’ve got this sorted’, I thought.
At this point, my focus returned to gasping air through a plastic tube that scratched my throat. I felt stabbing pains in my forearms. My chest burned with cramp. This strange plastic tube really hurt my throat but the squeeze of air was not enough.
When the answer you get is not the one that you want.
So before I answered this final question to myself, it seemed like I really had been a good protector and provider for my loved ones. That felt peaceful. I was exhausted anyway, I was super tired and I was ready; it was safe to let go if I needed to.
But then the tormentor came. Something was wrong. I had missed something.
My lungs began to scream for air. From somewhere I heard the distant muffled words “Stay calm” but my internal conversation resisted. There was something wrong, I wasn’t ready to let it all go. What had I missed? If this was the last moment would those I loved know that?
Words are cheap and thoughts alone are cheaper still. We are only what we do. At that moment I saw the hole in my well-crafted plan; the missing piece. The mistake I’d made and the power behind the tormentors scream.
About 24 months ago I got all my emergency estate plans sorted, so they would never be a distraction or an excuse for my living a smaller life. But now the living of life was a present and questionable variable I had no control over. But in the last 20 months, I’d finally found the love of my life. He was not yet mentioned as part of my estate plan. The one I loved most I had neglected. Whether through time, circumstances or simply my avoiding an ever-growing list of ‘icky things’ to put off doing until prompted. He would receive nothing. His final memories of me would be a question, “Why did I forget him?”
I was about to lose the only chance I had to make his life and his future better, secure and to keep my promise to protect and provide. At the time I needed peace most, I had failed. Staying alive and breathing became the priority. I had to make this right.
Days later I discharged from the ER. Shaken but not from my experience of the fragility of life, but forever thinking that ‘time is on our side’. Mr Jagger, you were wrong; time is not always on our side.
My question to you is, “Are all your business and personal financial affairs in order?” If you can’t tick off the above checklist then seek financial advice now, you never know what tomorrow might bring.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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