An advantage of being the baby of the family is getting to learn your lessons from watching everyone screw up.
The flipside is, you’re the go-to guy when it hits the fan. In the last year of her life, my mother (who had me when she was almost 40) repeatedly told me that God had sent me to her so late in life because he knew she’d need me when she got old and sick.
Not that I mind, but he could have called me about it.
By nature of the fact that I a) was the one who lived closest and b) actually survived my parents, which two of my four siblings did not, I got to play grown up when my mother named me her executor. Don’t worry, I won’t rehash all that again. If you’re interested, feel free to refer to the June 10, 2009, issue of U.S. 1.
Instead, I will give you the last set of lessons I learned from being an executor, which essentially is a list of jobs I would like to do less than I would like to tongue-clean my house.
Attorney. My first college degree was an associate’s in criminal justice from Mercer County Community College. Being half the size of every criminal on Earth, however, I ditched plans to be a cop and entertained thoughts of going to law school.
Had my criminal law teacher not scowled at me in a discouraging way, I might have given it a shot. By now I would have paid somebody to just shoot me. Despite that I get paid to find grammatical problems, I am not really a details guy. Minutiae irks me. And attorneys are entirely about the minutiae.
Though there are approximately 6.84 trillion details to an estate transaction, details are impish. They like to break from the herd, spread out among every piece of paper in creation, and hide among galaxies of unimportant information. And they know that if you miss just one, its buddies will soak you in Vaseline and drag you into the prison yard.
One positive is that I have developed a profound respect for attorneys and their per-hour rates. Stay strong, brothers! I’ll be glad to cut you a check next time.
Finance pro. I figured out years ago that I couldn’t count to 21 without taking off my pants, so I always knew I didn’t have it in me to have a financial career.
Taking for granted that I actually could do math, though, I still couldn’t handle its inflexibility. See, as a writer, if I put a period in the middle of this sentence, it’s a mistake that everyone will get over. But depending on where I put a period in this — 7500 — your check will either make you really happy or really mad. I can’t live with that kind of pressure. As it is I’m already waiting for some number groupie to tell me that it’s not called a period when you’re dealing with numbers.
Real estate agent. I call my real estate agent at least four times a week, at all hours. I don’t even call my wife four times a week, and I love her.
Real estate people never seem to be off the clock, and that offends me greatly. I can make more money, I can’t make more time. So I don’t see the up-side of having your job follow you around on a wireless network. And knowing the kind of whiny crap I call my agent about at various hours (because she said I could) leads me to believe I’d last about two days before I started ending all my calls with words like “yourself.”
Events planner. I’m good at getting things together, though much of my efficiency comes from the fact that my mother’s side of the family is all Italian women. Quarter horses do not move as fast they do through a phone chain. But I’m fairly capable of pulling stuff together.
I just freakin’ hate it. No two people ever have the same schedule, and no one seems willing to get together unless there either is a dead body involved or free food. Ideally, there’s both, and you just tell your aunt the time and place and let the Italian phone chain take over.
Remove the Italian women and the buffet table, though, and coordinating people is about as fun as a beard of killer bees.
Insurance agent. Need I say more?
Mover. Seriously, need I say more?
General handyman. My dad passed on his carpenter/handyman genes to two of my brothers. Whatever was left blew up in fragments in my hands, so I’m hit-or-miss when it comes to handywork.
Preparing the house for a new set of residents has been ghastly. And my parents’ house was in fantastic shape. But decades have a way of weathering paint and scuffing baseboards and developing new electrical codes that outdate what you have in the house. I’ve spent seven months helping my brother (and my wife) patch, paint, buff, cut, re-fit, tighten, and trim things I never knew we even had.
I’m a writer. I like my lifting to be confined to my coffee mug.