What I Learned From What Happened To Tracey

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thank you to NSW Government for sponsoring this post

There aren’t many things we can do for our kids which involve a cup of tea, but before I’m done with this post I’m going to suggest one.

Most of us spend our lives trying to do whatever we can for our children. We want them to do well, to have opportunities and to be able to provide for them. But what if something happens and we can’t be here? This was the scenario I was confronted with only six months ago.

When Tracey ended up in hospital and everything was looking about as bleak as it’s possible to look without them asking if we’d like to see a priest, a few things became crystal clear to me:

  1. Laughter is medicine. I was amazed how much of a thing gallows humour is. From the outside looking in I wonder if it didn’t look callous or insensitive, but from the inside looking out it was the glue which held all the bits together so I could function.
  2. Our kids are pigs. I knew that already, of course, but I didn’t realise to what extent Tracey was covering their feral asses while I was at work. Which leads me nicely into my third point –
  3. Tracey was doing even more housework than I thought. No matter how clean I had the house before the kids arrived home from school, they transformed it into The Grouch’s paradise within ten minutes. There’d be clothes on the floor they hadn’t touched for months, and Lego, Barbie and stuffed toys strewn throughout the house despite me not seeing anyone playing with any of it.
  4. It is possible to get sick of takeaway. I know! I wouldn’t have believed it either. And I’m not just talking McDonalds or KFC. Even Ginga was starting to lose its appeal. Plus it all happened much quicker than you’d think too. By about week three. Lately I’ve found myself seriously craving sausages & mash or spaghetti.
  5. We were not prepared for death. I don’t mean mentally either. I can’t imagine I’ll ever be ready to say a final goodbye to Tracey. Specifically, I’m talking financially. Til death do us part perhaps gives the wrong idea. When the time comes you’ll actually be dealing with your departed for a good while after they’re gone.

Which is why it’s important to get your ducks lined up before (hopefully well before) you need them.

Things like Wills.

We have Wills so I’ve always assumed we were sorted.

Only they’re fifteen years old! And the thing is, a fair bit has happened in the last fifteen years. We’ve both changed jobs several times meaning even our superannuation is different now, and it’s spread amongst several companies. We’ve both taken out life insurance. We’ve purchased property. I have a home brew kit I want to see go to a good home.

And, oh yeah, we’ve had five more kids!

I’d like to think we’ve made provision for them by adding a paragraph which included a phrase like ‘and any future offspring’ but I think it might be nice to mention them by names since we’ve gone to all the trouble of choosing some good ones for them.

Plus, there’s the issue of who would raise them if both Tracey and I passed away. We were pretty blasé about that sort of thinking fifteen years ago, but the older you get the less immortal you feel. Not to mention when we asked around our family for volunteers we only had two kids, and they might balk at five.

One of the biggest ‘that could be a problem‘ moments was when I worked out I didn’t have the authority to sell our block of land because we didn’t have an Enduring Power of Attorney in place. Thankfully it never came to that, but if it did I was going to have to jump through a lot of hoops to achieve it. And in the midst of the whole drama, despite keeping up a brave face, I have never felt less like jumping my whole life.

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Tracey having an aneurism was a real eye opener for a number of reasons. I have a new appreciation of our medical professionals and our hospital system in general. Similarly, I have witnessed firsthand the good in people and I’ll be forever changed for having been on the receiving end of so much empathy.

I also know now how little time you have for the important unimportant stuff when it’s all hitting the fan.

Ticking a few boxes and making a clear headed, rational decision now is the kindest thing you can do for your family later on. Amongst the stress and uncertainty of what was happening with Tracey, things which seemed innocuous and barely worth mentioning suddenly became very emotional topics. Was Tracey an organ donor? Did she want to be buried or cremated? What the hell is the password for internet banking? Where do we keep the spare pillowcases?

So when I was approached to support a government initiative  which  encourages people to plan ahead; and have their wishes documented by having in place an up-to-date Will, Enduring Power of Attorney and appoint an Enduring Guardian I immediately said yes. Put the kettle on and sit down with your partner.

Serious illness or death  isn’t an easy topic to bring up over a cup of tea, but if you don’t your family, like your teabag, might end up in a bit of hot water.

Here’s a link to get you started – PLANNING AHEAD TOOLS. Please check it out.

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thank you to NSW Government for sponsoring this post

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“Raising a family on little more than laughs.”

11 Comments

  • My will does not include anything from the past 15 years!! Including 2 children! A good friend of mine died last year and we all got talking about this stuff and the importance of it. Then time went by and the topic faded away into oblivion again! So thank you for reminding me! It’s amazing how little we think of such things until someone’s tragedy reminds us. And I’m super glad you didn’t need yours just yet!! Goooooo Tracey!!!!

  • Abso-freakin’-lutely.

    Uncle passed away 7years ago. No will and going through separation. No kids but everything went to his estranged wife. We were lucky to know about the funeral.

    I’m glad you have the time now to sort your stuff out. The brewing kit will have a lovely garden view in our home. 😉

  • Thank you for drawing attention to this. My husband Brad had surgery for bowel cancer the same week Tracey had hers. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the fairytale ending we were hoping for, and Brad died on 30th January. Even though he made a will while he was in hospital, there are lots of other paperwork details that didn’t get done, because we were spending his last few weeks just being together. Now I’m struggling with all these little details while comforting three little girls who just want their daddy back. This is the last thing he or I wanted. Please, if you love your partner, take the time to get it sorted. It will be a difficult conversation, but not as difficult as what I’m doing now.

    • I’m so sorry for your family’s loss, Dani. I had a taste of the sorts of conversations you must have had. No one wants to put their kids through this. I hope you’re managing.

      • Thank you Bruce. Brad and I read your posts about Tracey’s recovery together, and if someone got the fairytale, we were glad it was you two.

    • Dani, I am so sorry for the death of your husband, and your children’s Dad. I hope you are surrounded by loving support xxx

  • Hey there, I’m just wondering, why would you need a power of attorney if Tracey had died? I thought they were only if the person was still alive…? Basically, I’m confused! I clicked the link but it didn’t clear it up for me…

  • You did good. I have five kids too and completely relate. Except I was the one dealing with the pigs and the housework full time. I don’t think most people can even imagine what it’s like. It’s over now. They’re all grown up. It will happen one day to you too. It’s magical.

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