COLUMN | By Tam
First Will & Testament
Dear Surviving Family and Friends — April 2020
When you-know-who came home sick from work, we feared the worst. We tried not to, but at night, we were subject to the bad dream known as Covid-19. If my husband was infected, then I was exposed. During those dark hours, I dared to think … what if I die, what then? Because I’m a planner, I thought I should make a detailed list. A will of sorts. Just in case.
1) If I go, bury me in the Earth. Within a thin casket, so the worms can regenerate me. Thank you, Walt Whitman and Albert Einstein, for this hope. Make my plot pretty and available to visitors. Place a bench or rock nearby for comfort and reflection.
Do not burn me. If I’m cremated, I will find a way to haunt you. I will set off the smoke alarm in your house every night for the rest of your life!
2) Please write a comprehensive obituary and credit me as an aspiring author. I was going to be somebody.
If there are punctuation errors in the obituary, including missing Oxford commas, I’ll be disappointed. Also, remember I have two home states. Don’t forget my maiden name or place of birth. Proofread and print it there too, please.
3) At my Celebration of Life (after quarantine), everyone must wear a party hat. And let the kids throw confetti. It’s a party, for God’s sake! My well-read mother-in-law should give the eulogy. And then pass the mic around.
If I see anyone without a party hat on, I will haunt them. Act festive!
4) Take care of our relatives.
If I find out they are failing, I will try to help.
5) On Christmas, wear something I bought or made you. Don’t forget. Hang all the Christmas ornaments from all the years. Even if the tree topples over, it will add to the memories.
If you use a Christmas dish towel before, or after, December — or any dish towel outside of its holiday season—I will haunt you. Have some restraint!
6) If I go, please raise the kids with hard work values, manners, gratitude, thoughtfulness, board games, creativity, music, travel, paperback and hardcover books, nutrition, exercise, a well-rounded education, and screen-time limits.
If I see them becoming screen zombies, especially via video games, I will interrupt the WI-FI. And hide their devices. All the remote controllers and mice will go missing.
7) Send the kids to college on a tuition discount. Don’t be lazy: Apply for financial aid, fill out the scholarship forms, find a way. Even if they are simply attending for enrichment.
If they don’t go to college, I will haunt them. Beware, kids!
8) Help find a suitable partner for my spouse. Don’t let him hookup with some bimbo. Make sure she can cook, clean, and care for the kids. Verify that she’s smart, nice, fun, outdoorsy, hygienic, and flexible with his shifty fireman schedule.
Ask yourself if I’d like her, if we’d be friends. That is the test. If she has a fishing boat and/or big boobs, bonus! She’d better earn her keep. Or I’ll haunt that bitch!
9) As for a record of my insights and experiences, there is a bin full of journals … somewhere. When you find them, please save them for my little girl. Give them to her on her sixteenth birthday. Not a day beforehand. For relatability, she should spread them out over the years and read the entries in order.
No peeking at my diaries, creeper! Her eyes only. If I see you peeking, I will punish you.
10) As for my valuables, I have … jewelry, some of which has been handed down by my mom and grandma. It’s for our daughter, of course. She can distribute it to cousins and future grandkids as she sees fit.
If you try to sell the special stuff, I will get you back financially!
11) All of my pretty clothes and dance costumes go to her too, even if they don’t fit yet. And my high-heeled shoes. For dress-up.
If you donate these, she will miss them. Don’t let us down.
12) My trusty cookbook is bursting with tried-and-true recipes. It goes to our son.
Don’t let it get lost in the shuffle. Stay organized! He can also have my little green army men doing yoga poses. He’ll think they’re cool. And my concert t-shirts.
13) There’s a box in the basement labeled “Memories.” These are dated. They go to my longtime best friend. Give her my mixed cassette tapes, too.
If my high school recollections get tossed, I’ll be sadder.
14) All of my Coast Guard awards and keepsakes stay with my boatswain’s-mate husband.
If he doesn’t make it, our son can assume property of that time period, although he won’t know exactly what it meant—to his enlisted parents.
15) As you go through my mementos, make piles for people. Carefully package and send them our framed pictures. On their birthdays, if possible. Take the time. Keep a calendar. Pay the postage.
If these things collect dust, I’ll be upset. Think of all the cards I’ve sent to loved ones over the years. Please don’t let me fade from their lives.
16) If you want to express your condolences, share them with the living, not on my private Facebook page. That’s weird. I will not be checking social media from the afterlife. Just think fondly of me when old posts resurface and recirculate.
But if you make memes of me and distort my history, I will hack you, troll!
17) Treasure the photo albums and baby books. I put a lot of work into assembling those! If the house is about to burn down in a wildfire, grab them.
If you don’t, I’ll be watching. Get our wedding time capsule out, too. It’s worth more than the electronics.
18) Regarding my life’s work, I’ll be sending the latest draft of a novel to my editor. Please make sure she is properly compensated for her time and effort polishing and publishing it.
If she doesn’t give me credit or you royalties, I will haunt her.
19) As for our house, bank accounts, assets, stocks, safe, and such, I hope someone savvy will manage them well.
Sell the car or keep it for the kids; I don’t care. Sorry about the mess in there.
20) For those who love me, despite my high and arbitrary standards, there’s something worse than losing me to the Pandemic. It’s a Tam-demic!
So, if this virus comes for me, take note.
After making this list, I realized it’s not dying I’m afraid of. It’s disappearing. Not having a body might mean a loss of control over the things I care about, including my connections to all of you. Please keep me alive in these ways.
(Fire-wife, Mom, Reliable Relative, Forever Friend, Substitute Teacher, Former Yeoman Petty Officer, Aspiring Author, Hamsa Dancer, Themed Dish-Towel Enthusiast, Scrap-Booker, Scrabble Champion, Christmas-Ornament Collector, Lover of Lists)
P.s. After days of living in quarantine and finally feeling better, hubby’s test came back negative for Corona.