Friday, April 8, 2011

Last will and testament and a final joke

In amongst the things that my mother has been left, relatively abruptly, to handle on her own, probate and handling the will seems to be the most troublesome. As with all things in life, she has approached it with an admirable sense of practical togetherness. One of the problems she faced is that Dad hadn't updated his will in a while and it refers to assets that we no longer have so we need to adjust the will. As an executor, and one who lives in a different country, I needed to waive my rights over this or some such. Mum called me to tell me there was a form in the post for me to sign to do this.

Mum: It's in the post but there is just one thing I need to tell you. Your Dad wrote you into the will as Mrs S (my husband's surname)
Me: But that isn't my legal name. On all documents I am Ms P.
Mum: I know, but it will be too much hassle so can you just sign it as Mrs S?
Me: (raised voice) But I am not Mrs S. I have never been Mrs S. That's the name of my mother in law. I am Ms P.
Mum: (sighing) I know, but your Dad wrote you into his will as Mrs S so that's what you need to sign the form as
Me: But I'm not Mrs S. Dad knew that. It was a ridiculous thing for him to have done, he knew I am not Mrs S and hated anyone calling me that.
Mum: Yes, of course he did and he knew how much it annoyed you so you should probably think of it as his last joke.

And in that light it made complete sense, very much my Dad's sense of humour to jovially wind me up about it. Even in death Dad managed to make me laugh.

Be prepared

I was at lunch with a colleague a few weeks ago when, over post lunch coffee, he announced that he'd just bought some survival rope (or some such, there was a name but I can't remember it) for his survival kit. Thinking he was joking, and he is a colleague of whom I am very fond and work with a lot, I was a bit bemused. This came a couple of days after the Japan earthquake, after which most of HK had totally overreacted to the idea that radiation might reach HK, so I really thought he was joking.

He then proceeded to tell me the contents of his family's survival kit. He strongly believed that he should have sufficient food, clothing and water for a week.

I didn't quite know what to say. Having been stuck in a natural disaster myself, my main thought was a) helping other people b) getting out and c) making sure the duty free booze and the chairs we had bought got out with us. I don't joke lightly about this. We were on the coast of Sri Lanka when the boxing day tsunami hit and I saw and did some horrible things and have never felt fear like it before or since. The focus of the chairs and champagne got us through with relative good humour and sanity in the face or the tragedy around us. However, I can't think of that many situations we would ever be in within HK when we would need a survival kit. I take on board the food and water argument, but sleeping bags and ropes? Are we assuming all our apartments will be flattened and I'll need to scale a mountain?

Maybe I am a cynical Brit. Maybe I am somewhat fatalistic about things and take each day as it comes. Perhaps I should think about this more seriously and he has a point.

This post invites comment so please do.