Going to have the morbid talk with my parents. Tips? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 10:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've already brought it up, I just want to make sure when we talk, we cover all the bases.

My parents will be coming to visit in a few weeks, and on a sudden impulse, yesterday I mentioned to my mom that we should talk and make sure I understood all her wishes and so on. (My parents are not ill or anything, I am just being preemptive). After I talked to her I also emailed my dad (they are married and together and everything but I thought it would be better to email him so he could think about it).

Here are the bases I want to cover when we're visiting - some I've already got answers on, but is there anything else you can think of?

I plan to approach the ILs on the subject soon, too. Fortunately I know they'll be open to the discussion and won't be weird about it.

- Have a will? What lawyer is it filed with? Have a copy at home or in a deposit box? Where?
- How do you want your body prepared? Embalmed? Not? Cremated? Green burial?
- Preferences on a container, if any?
- Do you have a plot? If not, where do you want to be laid to rest/ashes spread?
- Special funeral instructions?
- Do you want to donate viable organs?
- When, if ever, would you want the plug pulled?
- Feelings on heroic measures?
- Do you have LTC (long term care) insurance?
- If you are end-of-life ill, where do you want to go? Do you want to come stay with us?

That's all I could think of, anything else? I guess there's pets, but we'll be responsible for their pets, either take them in ourselves or find a good home.

I guess maybe some people should ask who the executor of the estate will be? It would definitely be me for my parents. I think MIL already told DH that he has been named executor, though that might cause some hard feelings with his sister (not sure). She's older, but MIL chose DH not because he's the male child but because she felt DH's values are closer to hers so he'll be more likely to follow her wishes. (i.e. SIL would probably be unable to make a decision to take MIL off life support, but DH could). So I guess this makes me think that when we have the talk with the ILs we should be certain that SIL is included - to exclude her would just be poor taste (not that I purposely would - it's just we have to make special plans to be sure she's included), plus there will be no surprises after the fact.

It was actually good that I talked with mom anyway, since it seems my mom is unsure about some details (she wants to be cremated but unsure about spreading ashes or being in an urn over my dad's plot). I told her I wanted a green burial and she'd never heard of it; I sent her a link and for all I know she might actually choose that instead. So anyway, it was good to get the conversation going since my folks don't even have all the answers yet. I'll have to push my dad because he does not think about stuff like this - I mean, not because it's morbid but he's just not a planner, period. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have preferences, so he should think about it.

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#2 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 11:10 AM
 
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My dad has put my dh in charge of all that stuff. I actually don't even know the details. I'm happy for that It's not a fun talk for sure.
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#3 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 11:26 AM
 
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How about locations of financial accounts? It would be useful to have a list so that you know that there is a chequing account at Bank A and Bank B, the mortgage is with Bank C, safety deposit at bank B, savings account at online Bank D, car loan with E, and investments X, Y, Z.

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#4 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 11:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How about locations of financial accounts? It would be useful to have a list so that you know that there is a chequing account at Bank A and Bank B, the mortgage is with Bank C, safety deposit at bank B, savings account at online Bank D, car loan with E, and investments X, Y, Z.
An interesting thought, but isn't that in the will? Our will includes the location of our accounts, but I guess I can just ask my folks if that info is in there.

I don't mind talking morbid stuff but honestly I'd rather avoid talking money if I can.

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#5 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 12:21 PM
 
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Find out were they keep documents, lawyer, and request that they discuss were the best place to store documents. There are some state laws involved but a safety security box in a bank could lock important paper work up for much longer time than desirable.
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#6 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 12:23 PM
 
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An interesting thought, but isn't that in the will? Our will includes the location of our accounts, but I guess I can just ask my folks if that info is in there.

I don't mind talking morbid stuff but honestly I'd rather avoid talking money if I can.
No they are not. Also insurance company information. My grandpa had a policy he didn't tell anyone about. Luckily the company was honest and paid up when they found out about his death - four years later.
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#7 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 12:29 PM
 
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I'd want to know where they keep documents like title to house and car, insurance policies, bank accounts, investments, and so on.

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#8 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 12:31 PM
 
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Good for you. I've actually already had the discussion with my parents. It's not fun but better when they are well. My friend's dad had a strike 3 weeks ago and she is dealing with all this now and a brother who won't visit but wants money.....
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#9 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 12:39 PM
 
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A safe deposit box is not a safe place for a will unless your name is on the box and you have a key. The bank will not release a box without an executed will, and without a key you're SOL. My grandmother took me into her bank to put my name on her box and gave me a key so i wouldn't have to fight w the bank.

Something else to ask about is the type of funeral theyd like. Religious or not, somber or lively, etc.

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#10 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 01:22 PM
 
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My mom has very helpfully taken the initiative to have this conversation with my sister and I. But this is reminding me that I should raise it with my dad & stepmom too.
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#11 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 02:26 PM
 
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FlyLady has a "control journal" for this type of thing - calling it the "Alien Abduction" notebook.

Basically, everything someone would need if you were abducted by aliens or run over by a bus.

Keeping it in a binder is a good idea.

Others things I'd include in the internet age: email addresses/passwords, Facebook user ID/password, that type of thing. Any online banking, utilities, etc., website info, user id/password.

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#12 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 02:54 PM
 
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I bought a book awhile back on organization. The last chapter was about organizing "end of life" stuff. I told my mom about "this great book". It was a conversation starter and found out my parents had already handled that stuff.
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#13 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 03:03 PM
 
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Ugh, my in-laws have no will. They also want to be transported from Texas back to New Jersey to be buried. Insane.



Yes, the worst place for a will is the safety deposit box. Give notarized copies to a friend who does not live with you.

I already have medical guardianship over three girlfriends because they don't trust their husbands to pull the plug on them should a vegetative state happen to them. After a reasonable period of time has passed... you should quit wasting resources and let the body go.
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#14 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 03:37 PM
 
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First of all, it seems kind of odd that you would be bringing this up with your ILs, too. Shouldn't that be dp's job?

I think you have a good list of topics. The only thing I would suggest is that you ask, not just if they have a will, but if they have specified who gets what in it, in terms of family stuff.

For example, my mom has family silver, nice rugs, old furniture from her folks, good jewelry. I told her that I really didn't care who gets what, but that I wanted it to be her decision, not something my siblings and I have to figure out at a difficult time. We went through all the significant stuff, made a list of everything, and then she put someone's name next to each item. Each of her three kids was mailed a copy of this document so there would be no surprises and no wrangling over it.
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#15 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 03:41 PM
 
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First of all, it seems kind of odd that you would be bringing this up with your ILs, too. Shouldn't that be dp's job?
You'd think, right?

I do let hubby talk to his own parents. Though I might remind him of a couple of important things.
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#16 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 04:10 PM
 
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It might make it easier and less uncomfortable if you start by talking about your own wills. With whom have you filed? What's the plan for custody and trusts? Once you've laid your information out there, your parents might be more comfortable discussing their own plans.

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#17 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 06:14 PM
 
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Do they have Powers of Attorney? For finances and health care? Incapacity or disability are circumstances in which they will want something in place without having to wonder about it. (A Living Will, if legal in your area, may address some of the concerns.)

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#18 of 32 Old 08-06-2010, 11:24 PM
 
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Even if they have a will, ask if it's been reviewed recently. My mom found out AFTER dad died, that my father's will--made 30+ years ago by an Air Force lawyer--wasn't signed properly or notarized properly, or something, and she ended up having to jump through hoops to settle his estate. And dad's death was expected, but they just never thought to have the will reviewed.

Good luck
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#19 of 32 Old 08-07-2010, 04:22 AM
 
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Good for you! I'll be watching this thread. I tried to talk to my parents about such things before and my dad gave vague answers to everything and my mom blew up if we ever mention aging or death. (They're 71 and 66.) She's got no wishes or plans, because she doesn't ever plan to die or get old enough to not able to take care of herself.

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#20 of 32 Old 08-07-2010, 04:48 AM
 
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Oh, a subject i had to bring up with my grandmother - if she were to no lnger be able to live on her own, has she explored options? With the extended lifespan afforded us by modern tech/medicine, oftentimes it's not death that sneaks up but infirmity, either of the mind or body. And since she is in otherwise good health but no longer able to take care of her 4 bedroom house without hired help, its a reasonable concern.

After having that conversation, on our next visit she informedme that she had been to the open house at the local place we had discussed and met w a financial planner to work out the details, just in case.

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#21 of 32 Old 08-07-2010, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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First of all, it seems kind of odd that you would be bringing this up with your ILs, too. Shouldn't that be dp's job?

I think you have a good list of topics. The only thing I would suggest is that you ask, not just if they have a will, but if they have specified who gets what in it, in terms of family stuff.

For example, my mom has family silver, nice rugs, old furniture from her folks, good jewelry. I told her that I really didn't care who gets what, but that I wanted it to be her decision, not something my siblings and I have to figure out at a difficult time. We went through all the significant stuff, made a list of everything, and then she put someone's name next to each item. Each of her three kids was mailed a copy of this document so there would be no surprises and no wrangling over it.
I think I meant that "we" would be bringing it up to the ILs but it's true that it was my idea. And I will probably be the one to actually bring up the subject. I don't think it's weird, it's just a relationship thing. Of course I consider DH's relationship with his mom his responsibility. All I'm trying to say is, that in this particular group of relationships, it will be natural for me to bring it up and nobody will feel weird that I did and not DH. And he'll be totally onboard of course.

I'm sure my situation is also unusual because I don't anticipate any problems discussing this topic. Both my mother and MIL are pretty matter-of-fact, and in fact MIL has already offered DH and me a plot in the family cemetary, and we went over and looked at it and everything. That was before we were even parents so we haven't actually decided anything yet, but my point is that we've discussed things. Also, I remember MIL telling DH about the whole issue that she's afraid SIL won't pull the plug on her, so the topic's been broached before. So it's not a big deal that I actually say the words rather than DH.

Your question on the will is a good one but I admit - and maybe this is odd since I'm willing to basically say "so, do we pull the plug on you or what? and where do we put you when you die?" (lol) but I am squirming bigtime about talking about division of assets.

Frankly, neither DH nor I care. We assume we're getting nothing from anyone. All we hope for (and we really do hope this) is that each of our parents will be able to cover their own estates in the end. So hopefully we don't have to take out a loan to bury anyone or pay debt. As far as actual items, like the grandfather clock and the rocking chair, we honestly don't care. Maybe that makes us sound pretty bad but it's all just stuff to us.

So I don't think I have to ask this. If MIL is vague about personal items ("divided equally among the two children") that's fine, SIL can have the first pick of everything, in fact she can have it all if she wants (I speak for DH too). SIL is sentimental so she will want the stuff more, but she's also not greedy so if something comes up I'm absolutely positive she and DH can work it out. I am effectively the only child so I don't foresee issues in my family.

But your suggestion is excellent for anyone who has siblings and who might have their eye on a particular heirloom or keepsake or other item.

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#22 of 32 Old 08-07-2010, 09:54 AM
 
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Good for you for having this discussion. I am clear on my parents wishes, but when I brought it up to my fil, he just acted so strange about it and obviously didn't want to think/talk about it. So I have no idea and to me, that is more uncomfortable then knowing. I don't really think that's fair to us. I know it's not a fun conversation, but please don't leave it up to me if you have specific wishes.

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#23 of 32 Old 08-07-2010, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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It might make it easier and less uncomfortable if you start by talking about your own wills. With whom have you filed? What's the plan for custody and trusts? Once you've laid your information out there, your parents might be more comfortable discussing their own plans.
Yeah, I already started putting that info together, I plan to exchange info with both families. My mom knows I want a green burial, and I'll give her more information as to what that entails. I'll ask DH to clarify his wishes as well. We have wills filed and guardians named and I will give both families a document naming our lawyer and the location of our papers (which are in the house).

The guardians know who they are (my mother and SIL) but the secondary guardian (SIL) doesn't know she's secondary. I've thought about it and I think she doesn't need to know. There are some complicating factors and I don't want to stir up bad feelings for a situation that will very, very, very, very hopefully never come up. Should my mom predecease SIL (which, as a complicating factor, is hardly a given - SIL's health is very poor) I'll have the document rewritten.

I think I will also go with my mother to have a copy of her house key made while she's here. She lives across the country but it would make sense for us to have it anyway. We already have MIL's key. I'll also ask if anyone in the family who lives near her has the key (because they have pets, so someone might need to urgently get in to care for them).

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#24 of 32 Old 08-07-2010, 09:59 AM
 
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OP, you mention DH's sister. Are you an only child? You need to get everything your parents/ILs want in writing if it is going to cause problems among siblings.

My parents recently told me their plans. I am executor. My sister does not agree with my father's plans for his remains. She totally blew up and has said that she will fight it when the time comes.

I think that you've gotten awesome advice on everything else. Just make sure that the final arrangements are all in the will and it's all done correctly so that anyone with a beef cannot contradict your parents' or ILs' wishes.
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#25 of 32 Old 08-07-2010, 10:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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OP, you mention DH's sister. Are you an only child? You need to get everything your parents/ILs want in writing if it is going to cause problems among siblings.

My parents recently told me their plans. I am executor. My sister does not agree with my father's plans for his remains. She totally blew up and has said that she will fight it when the time comes.

I think that you've gotten awesome advice on everything else. Just make sure that the final arrangements are all in the will and it's all done correctly so that anyone with a beef cannot contradict your parents' or ILs' wishes.
This is good general advice, but I'm personally not worried. At least because DH and I don't expect a dime or a thing.

To put this in perspective, DH and I are seriously considering moving to a 350 sq ft bungalow and building a yurt next to it. So, with that in mind, seriously, we don't care about the silver, it would be a burden to us anyway.

As for money, we won't say no to it, but we don't expect anything. DH has actually considered that SIL might get more than he will and that's ok with him. MIL is frugal and DH and I are too. So we're the "responsible ones." SIL is a spender and MIL has already bailed her out a few times. There are no hard feelings from us about that, and we realize that MIL might, for example, outright give SIL the house (a very nice one at that) since we're all set. (Though now I'm laughing thinking that we're seriously considering trading in our nice little home for a 350 sq ft bungalow and a yurt... but it will get us all paid off and out of debt that much quicker! Though I think MIL might start worrying about us, hahaha).

ETA: Sorry, I totally misunderstood. You're not talking about assets. Yes, I do think we need to speak with MIL *with* SIL for that very reason, because I'm not sure SIL knows that DH is whatever it is that makes the pull-the-plug decisions (darn you aphasia). And she should know why, too. I don't see the family splitting apart over this but it will definitely be upsetting if such a scenario occurs (well, obviously it will be upsetting, but I mean SIL and DH may have some difficulties).

I don't foresee any other disagreements with anyone about other wishes - nobody will object to my mom being cremated, nobody will object if MIL wants to be buried here instead of there, etc.

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#26 of 32 Old 08-07-2010, 10:37 AM
 
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If their important documents are in a safe deposit box is there a way for you to get access to that safe deposit box quickly.

We realized one day while I was with my mom getting into her box that if something were to happen they would want us in that box right away rather than waiting for legal stuff to work itself out. Plus the medical power of attorney was in that box. And if I needed that it would be very difficult to get to.

So right then and there she added me to the list of names who had access to the box and returned that same day with my brothers to add them. She also let us all know where the key was.

I'm my parents medical power of attorney and older my brother is executor of the estate.

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#27 of 32 Old 08-07-2010, 11:19 AM
 
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That recent article in the New Yorker about end-of-life planning was kind of long and rambling, but if you comb through it carefully, you can find some useful questions to ask (there's one kind of like "what is the minimum level of functioning you would need to be content," etc.). It's at http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2...urrentPage=all

My grandfather is in assisted living, and before he was admitted, he was required to have an advance directive and a DURABLE healthcare power of attorney with one agent and one alternative agent.

You mentioned your SIL is in poor health. That means it may possibly be a good idea for your in-laws to set up a Special Needs Trust for her. Also, if in the course of your conversation with your parents, it turns out that they plan to leave you anything, they should consider doing so via a Special Needs Trust for you, as well. My mother has one set up for me in her will. It's a question they should ask their lawyers.

If this conversation leads to needing notary services for anything, AAA gives members free notary services (at least in my state).
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#28 of 32 Old 08-07-2010, 02:13 PM
 
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I agree about talking about the family heirloom 'stuff' -- the non-titled estate items. There have been a couple huge fights within my extended family over things like who got the quilts that Great-Grandma made, or etc.

My husband's Grandma has a simple solution - she has written on the back/bottom/underside of most everything in her house, where it should go to. So there are some lovely framed needlepoints with my name on them .... She's really comfortable with her mortality, at 90+ years of age (unlike his recently deceased grandmother, who didn't label a THING nor give any direction or description of the many items she'd squirreled away and we knew they were important to her (and possibly to her kids/grandkids if they knew what they WERE or represented).

Even if you're seriously decluttering and minimizing, this can become an issue. You never know what someone will glom onto and fight over.

Good luck on this conversation! We need to have it with both our parent-sets too. DH's father has his pretty well set up we believe, as he lost his wife in a car wreck over a decade ago and remarried and he and his new wife talked a lot about making sure that they had that stuff set so that there aren't misunderstandings between their kids about who owns what, etc., once they pass.

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#29 of 32 Old 08-07-2010, 02:30 PM
 
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I think its great that you guys are going to talk about all this. I don't have anything to add. MIL anf FIL have talked to Dh and I about thier wishes, thier plan and even the will. My parents are totally different though. My mom has just told me "When I get dementia put me in front of the TV at your house in a rocking chair watching HGTV. When I get up to ask to do something else just tell me I've only been there for 5 minutes and set me back down." That's her idea of long-term care, lol. but in all seriousness I know she has no retirement, no insurance and no long-term plans. I don't see that she will be able to get to that point anytime soon and I doubt before she is at a point where she needs it. DH and I just planned on moving her with us when the time comes, just not much else for options right now. Whatever social security she may get will just have to pay her medical bills. Unless one of my sisters get to a point where they can help then plans may change.

Mom to Joscelyne 14, Andrew 12, and Mackenzie 10 and wife to Nate.
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#30 of 32 Old 08-07-2010, 05:11 PM
 
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I understand that you see things as ... well ... things , but you might ask if there's anything important *to them* that you/SIL/other family members should know the history behind.

My aunt has a lot of stuff. Family heirlooms, things connected to a family member that hasn't really achieved "heirloom" status yet, pictures, etc. She has no children.

We took pictures of the important things in her house (where they are normally stored) and labeled the backs. Things like a box of letters my grandparents wrote to each other while my grandpa was overseas, that someone might think "Oh, more papers" and throw away. And a chest in the guest bedroom that my great-uncle made. That way we KNOW which things have history and what's just ... stuff. We won't have to sift through every.single.thing she owns and then decide whether it's trash or treasure (and in some cases we might not know!).

Me , DH , Emmy (5/08), and new baby Tilda (1/10)
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