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Essay: Living Will (And Well)


It’s no fun thinking about the end of your lifespan.  Well, usually, it’s not. Essayist George Berdes points out that thinking about the end of your life can be a little more entertaining than you might think:

Your doctor wants a copy of it in your file.  If you’re smart, you’ll send one to each of your kids.  It’s best they know your wishes now…while you can still talk.  Otherwise there could be a lot of love – and emotion – clogging the situation.

It’s called a living will.  An appropriate subtitle would be “living well.”  It tells everyone what to do with you and for you when you may not be able to do it for yourself.

It’s a good idea, highly recommended.  Your kids will thank you later and you can thank yourself now – especially if you’ve had the great fun in life of living well.

Most of these living wills are pro-forma.  Do this, don’t do that, etcetera.  It’s the ultimate in thinking ahead…and still being your own boss.  If you don’t already have one, you should.

Just recently, however, a friend favored me with an item called “New Living Will Form.”  Yep, it’s a bit of a departure from that usual verbiage.  I’m not exactly recommending it but if you need a smile, this will give it to you.

It starts with the usual –

I ____(enter name)______________being of sound mind and body do not wish to be kept alive indefinitely by artificial means.  Under no circumstances should my fate be put in the hands of pinhead partisan politicians who couldn’t pass ninth-grade biology if their lives depended on it or lawyers/doctors/hospitals interested in simply running up bills.

Now this is where it departs just a bit from the usual forms.  In goes on as follows:

If a reasonable amount of time passes and I fail to ask for at least one of the following:

_______a Martini   _____ a Margarita _________a Scotch & Water

______a Bloody Mary__Vodka andTonic______Steak_______Lobster

_________Crab Legs_____the remote control____a bowl of ice cream

________the Sports page_________Chocolate or sex

It should then be presumed that I won’t ever get any better.  When such a determination is reached, I hereby instruct my appointed person and attending physicians to pull the plug, reel in the tubes and call it a day.  At this point, it is time to call the New Orleans Jazz Funeral Band to come do their thing at my funeral and ask all of my friends to raise their glasses to toast the good times we have had.


Well, there you have it.  Of course, all those check-off items would reflect your own preferences and tastes. So let your imagination run free.

Hey, remember, the original goes into your safety deposit box, one to the doctor and to each of the kids.

Whatever you do, live well and stay happy.

Lake Effect essayist George Berdes divides his time between Milwaukee and the north woods – many of his essays first appeared on public radio station WXPR in Rhinelander, and at his blog, East of Eagle River.