Friday, June 03, 2011

Where there's a Will...

Peggy was in today. She’s well into her eighth decade and in pretty good shape. She survived a cancer diagnosis – going through surgery then chemo and radiotherapy and follow-on operative procedures all over ten years past, and has never looked back. The surgeons have told her she’s cured and she hasn’t needed follow up in more than three years.

Today she’s in to talk about a minor injury, sustained a week or so ago, and healing nicely, so no need to worry. And yet... worried she is.

How do I know? She tells me so—though she did look far more apprehensive that the minor injury warranted so I had already guessed as much.

And why? Not through the injury, and not from her past health scares. No today she is worried because last week she and Jack visited their solicitor and made their Wills. As she put it “We’d never made a Will before, and now I have I’ve got to face up to the fact that I’m going to die.” It’s as though the simple act of making a testamentary disposition has opened wide the door to the Grim Reaper, The Fourth Horseman, The Pale Rider (no not Clint—the real one*). In short she has had to formally acknowledge her mortality.

What impresses me most is that after everything she went through ten years past it hadn’t even entered her consciousness that cancer was something she might not survive. Her faith in the undeniably excellent care and support she was given then, and for the years after, had allowed her not to have to do so. She’s a little surprised that she feels this way now, but I can reassure her it’s something I’ve seen many times before and so, far from cracking up, she’s displaying a normal if utterly irrational response to the feelings generated by this simple act of forethought.

I’ve tried to calm her fears by telling her that to the best of my knowledge there is no hotline from Hades to the offices of the legions of probate solicitors worldwide, and especially none here in Borsetshire. At least I hope not.

*That said, these days Clint is looking his venerable age, and might pass in a dim light for the Bony Fingered Wielder of the Scythe.