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2,223 Miles of Control

By: Attorney Katherine S. Breckenridge, Esq.

Published August 1, 2017

Estate Planning: Advance Medical Directive : Power of Attorney

Purchase a plane ticket, grab my car keys . . . what action do I take? An earthquake registering at a magnitude of 5.2 in the San Diego area was not the news that I anticipated receiving as a new day dawned. Immediately, I felt the anxiety set in as my thoughts quickly vacillated between “this only happens in the movies,” “Facebook must be wrong,” to “my child is 2,223 miles away” – to be exact, and I need to make sure he is ok.

I waited hours for a reply from my nineteen-year-old son, and during that time I found comfort in that there were no reports of damage or injuries, and that my father sent a message that he had hiked in the area of the earthquake and it is mostly desert.

Overreaction – perhaps. Part of parenthood – definitely. When did my child become independent enough to travel across the nation by himself? I recently saw a post on social media that stated, “No one tells you that the hardest part of motherhood is when your kids grow up.” True. That being said, as much as the ebbing away of control and protection can be daunting, I am thankful for my child’s victories of independence, especially when they are seasoned with the 3:00 AM cross-country phone call asking, “Mom, how long do I boil corn for?” I kid you not!

That concept of control certainly appears to be threaded through lifespans, seemingly conquerable at times, unattainable when life is spinning, and often found somewhere in between. In the middle of the night, ironically unbeknownst to me – at the same time the earthquake was occurring in San Diego, I caught a glimpse of the surreal beauty of the lighted clock on Culpeper’s Courthouse against the darkened sky. And, I reflected on the concept of control – taking some comfort in the steadfastness of the law represented in the Courthouse beacon, but even greater comfort that control is in yet the greatest of Hands as there are “watchmen on the wall.” “Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.” Ezekiel 3:17 (NKJ)

The issue of control is one with which so many of my clients grapple. Most of my clients are older adults and they can claim the wisdom that comes with having navigated through their own childhood and the shepherding of their minor and then young adult children. The struggles confronting them are a new frontier, often invisible to the rest of our community. The faces are different, the defining life alteration similar – life is changing, irreversible, and cannot be recaptured. It is slipping away often as if one is tumbling without an anchor. There is a wife whose memory is fading. A husband who needs round-the-clock care. A mother who survives her children. A great aunt who is out of funds and is facing entry to an assisted living facility.

These are many of the faces of “every day,” and more often than not, they are accompanied with a Faith that attests to the “watchmen.” Which brings a knowing comfort when there are few if any answers to the “why” of the life changes. There are many caring souls who ease the lack of control that remains. There are also legal documents that if one has planned ahead, help an individual retain elements of control in one’s earthly assets and being, when but for that planning a voice would have been silent at best.

In a concept that is larger than life – if called, be the “watchman” on the wall for yourself, for others . . . even when 2,223 miles away. And, for an earthly concept – maintain a voice, make it strong – make it eloquent, put estate planning documents in place.