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What I Did on my Summer Vacation

September 4th, 2008 at 05:08 pm

As mentioned previously, one of the things I really wanted to do while I was visiting my mom was fill in her "Letter of Instructions." Mom has the "proscratination paired with perfectionism problem" that I sometimes struggle with, and had been promising for several years to fill out a "Letter of Instructions" for me but just had not "gotten around to it."

Over the course of my 15-day visit, we had several sessions where we sat down in her office and worked on the LofI in 2 or 3 hour stretches. She talked and occasionally retrieved information while I wrote.

A couple times we came to sections of the LofI where Mom would say something like "You know ... I'd really like to sit down and write you a much more detailed letter about this." I just replied "That would be great, and I would love to have it. But in the meantime, let's just fill this out, and it will do for the time being. It will be better than nothing." To tell you the truth, I doubt very much that I will ever receive those detailed letters.

One critical piece of information was missing, but I received in from her by Email this morning, so the LofI is done!

I am very relieved. I feel much, much better prepared to handle her estate effectively when that time comes.

My trip was also helpful for me in that I was able to come to peace with the fact that my Mom is not going to do anything to reduce the amount of STUFF that she has (way too much stuff by almost anyone's standards). My sisters and I have all tried to encourage her to sell, donate, or get rid of things, but it has not worked. We've also tried very hard to encourage her to stop buying so much stuff, because frankly she can't afford it as far as any of us are concerned (except for Mom herself). But it hasn't worked, and I don't think her habits are ever going to change, so no use beating our heads against a wall. At least we know we tried. Someday I am going to have to deal with the mountain that is my mother's stuff, and there is nothing I can do about it but deal with it when that time comes. C'est la vie. (Or, for the benefit of Paulette Goddard and her studies, "shoga nai" as the Japanese would say, which literally translates to "It can't be helped.")

Finally, I was able to help my brother's finances out a bit. He has been buying trail mix to snack on at work (at $2.55 per bag), and has been buying Vitamin Water to drink when he works in the yard (at $1 per bottle). I took him to Costco where he bought a 4-lb bag of trail mix for $10 that I broke down in to 20 little baggies (or 50-cents per bag), and a case of 24 bottles of Costco's Vita-Rain water for $12 (again, 50-cents per bottle). That saved him $53 bucks.

I also looked over his employer-sponsored retirement plan and made some suggestions to Mom on possible changes ... He was very aggressively invested, and Mom had no idea (never looked at the statements ... just filed them away). Mom told me she has already called and changed his investments to a more conservative mix.

Lest you think all I did was fret over financial matters, we also had lots of fun: played w/ my niece & nephew the 2 days they were there, took daily walks, went shopping at the farmer's market for great fresh produce, played board games, watched movies on TV, went out to eat a couple times (including a very nice dinner at PF Chang's which was a birthday gift to Mom from me) and visited a museum.

5 Responses to “What I Did on my Summer Vacation”

  1. veronak Says:

    What's a LoFi? by the way you are a great daughter, sister and aunt Smile

  2. lartiga Says:

    Did you use a template for the LofI?

  3. baselle Says:

    Sounds like the prayer of serenity worked!

  4. scfr Says:

    Thank you, Amber. "LofI" was my abbreviation for "Letter of Instructions."

    Analise - Yes, I used Jonathan Pond's very comprehensive form. It can be downloaded for free at We added a few things to it, such as how to retrieve messages from the voice mail. In this day and age, many folks would also want to add computer passwords to the letter.

    baselle - I see you read my pre-trip blog! Yes, it worked.

  5. veronak Says:

    thanks

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