Monday, February 20, 2023


We’ve all read ad nauseum about the documents we elders need to have executed before ‘the time’ comes: a Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Health Care Directive, etc. Then there’s the list of bank accounts and passwords, names and contact information for any professional helpers you rely (i.e., attorney, accountant, etc.). We should have our insurance policy numbers on a list, as well as any bills that are auto-paid, subscriptions that renew without confirmation—and the list goes on and on.

But only a couple of days ago did I realize there’s a list I’ve never seen mentioned, which is every bit as important. FRIENDS! I want my friends (the ones in the first several circles of an intimacy diagram) to hear about my death from a family member or first-tier friend, not from a published obituary or an offhand comment three months after the fact. I need to have a list of friends (those in the first two-three tiers) with their names and contact information at the top of the pile of directives.

Because our offspring didn't settle close to where their parents ended up living, they don’t know most of my friends, the ones I’ve made in the  thirty-seven years since returning to Seattle. And because family visits in Seattle are generally just a few days, I have little opportunity to arrange introductions. I’ve always accepted that probably my offspring and many of my friends will meet only if there is an end-of-life celebration for me. But many people in my realm don’t read newspaper regularly and most don’t ‘google’ friends names on the chance they’ve passed, so how will they know if someone doesn’t contact them?  

Of course I have an old-fashioned address box, which I use for Christmas letters, but not all of those people need to be notified early on about my passing. Some of them I keep in touch with because they were associates of Jay’s or long-ago neighbors whom I haven’t had any live contact with for a decade or more. I would hardly expect bereaved family members to get through that list. If friendship is limited to a once-a-year ‘catchup,’ the person isn’t going to sink into sorrow because of missing early notification. But likewise there are local friends with whom I don’t exchange cards and whose names are not in my address book. Their contact information is only in my cell phone. But even with access to my phone, how will my offspring determine which one is a friend and which a Subaru salesman or window-washer for the condominium?  

OK, now I’m going to stop writing and start my list. I'm hoping that--if appropriate--you will do the same.  

Monday, February 13, 2023

Aware and unaware: We coexist

Squirrel nest and jet plane
First  Church LLC
and Kaiser Permanente
Seattle Central
Looking up while waiting for a ride recently, I was struck by the old and the new, the animal-made and the human-made items of our world, the duplicity of the unaware and the aware in our modern lives.

The squirrels, whose nest that is at the top of the trees, don't care about Valentine's Day, three-day weekends, or the rising prices of eggs. The trees don't think about  people experiencing homelessness or the Seattle City Council candidates. The jet pilot must care enormously about unidentified flying-objects being shot down by our military, and healthcare workers and pastors of churches have to be profoundly aware of shortages of staff and dwindling congregations.

Since the beginnings of plant life, bare branches would have swayed in a midwinter breeze.

Since the beginnings of animal life, a squirrel’s nest would be visible in a leafless tree.

Only in the last ten millennia have large buildings such as these visibly stood as markers of human hope, care, wisdom, and grace.

Only since the last century would a jet plane become a dimension in a skyscape.

But overarching our forever world is the breezy beauty of a sunny February day.