Sunday, 20 July 2008

Leaving a Will

I’ve resisted making a Will because (obviously) I’m never going to die. But finally good sense (and a deep aversion to leaving the government much of what I’ve spent my entire life amassing, modest as it is) drove me to it.

All I wanted to do with my stuff was leave it to my two kids, but when I was sitting in the lawyer’s office and the efficient woman across the table said to me, ‘Any other legacies?’ I was forced to give it a bit of thought.

And all I could come up with was who would best look after my Wobbly Dog.

Suspecting my lawyer was going to make dinner-table mincemeat of me (because in a village this small, attorney-client privilege isn’t a given – and I say that entirely without prejudice, should my lawyer try to sue me) but stuck for anything else to say, I blurted out, ‘Is it okay to leave a dog to someone?’

She looked at me in all seriousness and said, ‘Yes, of course.’ (I know she was laughing inside, I just know it.)

‘Well, then, I want to leave my dog to my friend Johann,’ I said.

Her face a mask, she wrote it down (‘dog to Johann’), then she looked up with a bright smile and said, ‘Anything else?’

By this time my mind was blurring. Would Johann want my Wobbly Dog? What if he thought it was an imposition? (He wouldn’t, though – this pic was taken of them napping together on the verandah in summer, and the only reason Sara’s eyes are open is because I disturbed her when I came out to snap them – they are really dear friends.) But still – how could I soften this load?

‘And there’s a painting,’ I said.

The lawyer perked up – I could see her thinking in terms of original masters, perhaps an up-and-coming South African artist who would prove fantastically lucrative for those who’d had the nous to collect his/her works while he/she were living, or something handed down through the centuries by my family…

‘It was a gift for my 40th birthday,’ I burbled, ‘something a friend found in a junkshop, it’s a landscape, rather strange, but he really likes it, Johann, and I think he should have that as well…’

‘Fine, fine,’ said the cheerful lawyer, writing ‘and landscape painting’. I watched her carefully, and her outward expression didn’t flicker once.

I suppose everyone would like to be at their own funeral (to see who comes, and what people say about them), and many people would also like to be at the Reading of their Will, to see the reaction (the astonished pleasure! the taken-aback affrontedness!). But I won’t have to be, because now, Johann, you know: you get Sara and the painting. I know you will look after both.

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Juno said...

Johann must have big cojones, sleeping with his nose as close as it is to the wobbly dog's backside.

meggie said...

Laughing at Juno's remark. We have finally updated our wills after30 years.

tonypark said...

I didn't have one until the Army made me get one, just before I went to Afghanistan.

Such a sobering experience that I got very drunk.