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Preparing, Reflecting, & Planning

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Erica McPhee:
I posted this to the blog but wanted to include it in the forum as well:

Fall in Florida is … the same – 90 degrees every day! But it is still my favorite time of year. As many of you are aware, the start to this year’s Autumn has been quite adventurous. My family made an abrupt and arduous evacuation to escape Hurricane Irma. It was terrifying, exhausting, and overwhelming at times. But all was well for us with minor damage and a safe end to an 11-day ordeal. We are forever grateful for our good fortune but so saddened for all of the people who have suffered due to the recent storms, fires, and earthquakes.

When you are faced with the possible loss of all of your possessions, and have to decide in a matter of hours what you can take with you, you are forced to quickly decide what are your most treasured items. Luckily, the majority of my family’s photographs and video tapes are on SD cards, digital thumb drives, and DVDs which fit in one small hatbox and photo file box. My extensive library of calligraphic books would take up too much room and could mostly be replaced. Sadly, all of the gorgeous envelopes and work people have sent me over the years could not. I lingered over those for longer than I should have but had to settle with placing them as high up as I could and pray the house didn’t flood and still stood upon our return.

I decided my small collection of custom made pen holders was worthy of the space in the van (which had to be shared with two of my kids, my mom, their stuff, and two cats. While my husband’s small car was filled with him, my dad, another one of our kids, and a dog.

When Irma passed and we settled back into our home, I knew I had to create a plan for future evacuations, but more importantly, I have to plan for the inevitable day I leave this Earth. Many people have wills but many, many more do not. I never thought I had anything of enough value to make a will. But when I realized my custom pen collection stood above my jewelry in terms of sentimental value to me, the thought crossed my mind — what would happen to all of my calligraphy supplies, books, etc. when I go. No one in my family would have any clue what to do with it. Despite our growing numbers, the calligraphy world is still a relatively small group and only to its members would my oblique pens, nibs, and collection of calligraphy from around the world have immeasurable value.

So while it is difficult to think about, I encourage all of you if you have anything of value: calligraphy, art, custom pens, rare or extensive nib collections, books, whatever you think should find a home with someone who would truly value it — if not a will, at least write out a plan detailing what you would like done with them, or their estimated values if you want your family to sell them, or if there is an organization you would like them donated to, etc. Sign it, date it, and then let someone know it exists.


--- Quote from: Erica McPhee on September 22, 2017, 11:34:12 PM ---I posted this to the blog but wanted to include it in the forum as well:

--- End quote ---
I'm certainly glad you did. Yours is an important post.

First, so very happy to learn that you and your family made it through the hurricane relatively unscathed. My heart goes out to all the less fortunate.

For most people, I would guess, when one is young, one has little to lose (I'm speaking of tangible things at the moment), as one has not had the time or means to accumulate "stuff." Thus, little thought is given to losing things or the end of life. One has almost limitless time to do or acquire anything, it seems.
As we age, most of us accumulate more things, some of which have special meaning to just us or a few people, some of which cannot be replaced by any amount of money, a photograph for example. Some things of little intrinsic value have great value simply because of the stories behind them, say the chess set that your father taught you to play chess on and with whom you had many close times together. When you die, the chess set just becomes another chess set, unless you have shared the story with someone who cares, say your child, whereupon it becomes special to them as well, and treasured. The object becomes the vehicle or starting point, a reminder, of an experience, which, if shared, enriches someone else's life.
If one lives long enough, one does start to think what am I going to do with all this stuff, or what will happen to all of this when I'm gone. The thought also occurs to those who are at risk of losing everything suddenly (hurricane, accident, sudden illness, for example), or even witnessing a close call (a tree comes down and destroys the house next door, or a friend, like you, Erica, faces the possibility of losing almost everything).
This is an important wake up call to everyone, of any age. It's not to suggest you plan the destination of every little thing you own or every detail of your "exit" plan, or worry constantly about what will happen. I second Erica's suggestion of letting someone else know what to do with things you feel are special, and also why they are special to you, and to whom they might be special too. And share along the way, too, while you can. Spread the joy. Today, tell someone you love that you love them, even if you know they know it. Give someone something you treasure once in a while, just because you know they would love it and it would bring them joy. No need to wait until it's too late.

Erica McPhee:
So eloquently and warmly said Mike. Thank you for sharing.  :-*

Bianca M:
Thanks for this, Erica.  I'm so glad you and your family made it back home safely with minimal damage to your home, but of course these things get us thinking...

I actually wrote out a note about two months ago designating where a few special things should go- my most valuable or sentimental jewelry, my pen collection, my insane postage stamp collection, etc.  I jokingly told a good friend that when I die, she gets my stamp collection (well, ultimately, I meant it), and then I got to thinking seriously about what would happen to such things should something happen to me unexpectedly.  I know that my relatively young age does not guarantee me time, and since I don't have kids or intend to have them, it's not a situation where I can simply "hand things down to the kids."  So I penned my little note, and am comfortable knowing that my most special belongings would go to someone who treasures them.

Mike, that was very touching.  Sheesh, I'm feeling a little verklempt over here!

Erica McPhee:
Thanks for sharing! Such wise thinking on your part Bianca. And especially with something historic like a stamp collection - some of these things have a place in our collective history.

I am working on creating small descriptions of each pen, who created it, the date received, where it came from, etc. While we may not think of it historically today, there will be a day that a pen painted by Heather Held or crafted by Brian Smith or... will have meaning beyond its sentimental and current value.


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