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Would I love winning the Lottery?

Muriel2017

photo by my Chandra

Do I want to win the Lottery? Do I want to be rich? Absolutely not! I know better. I don’t buy lottery tickets, but I thought about it today when I got a free cup of coffee at my favorite cafe. I got a real kick out of that. It was fun.

In my late 20s, I did some bookkeeping for

MONEYBAG

The days before she had money were her happiest

an extremely wealthy woman in her Beverly Hills penthouse. One Saturday she asked what my plans were for the next day. I told her we were planning a picnic at a local park with friends. (We couldn’t afford a lunch out.)

She told me how much she envied me, that the days before she had so much money were the happiest in her life. She felt she had no real friends anymore, that people invited her to events not because they liked or wanted to be with her, but because of her money. I’ve never forgotten that….

JPGettyIII

Young John Paul Getty III was kidnapped

Then, when my own children were still young, the 16-year old grandson of the J. Paul Getty family, John Paul Getty III, was kidnapped. The family, reputed to be the richest in the world at the time, was sent one of his ears, cut off by the kidnappers to prove they actually had him. I cringed at the thought and said a prayer for the teenager, but also thanked my lucky stars we weren’t rich.

Raf and sue kids 2

No one would want to kidnap my precious ones

No one would want to kidnap one of my precious ones.

John Paul Getty III did survive, but lived a tortured life until his early death at 54. His money didn’t bring him happiness or satisfaction. In reading about very wealthy children, how many do you know about who were truly happy?

DRAWING4

I guess I have no class.

As for me, I guess I have no class. I’m uncomfortable with people fawning over me. I’m not used to it and it makes me squirm. If you suggested I buy a $3,000 dress, I couldn’t. I’d think of what charities I could give some of that money to and how much it could help those who truly need.

My children have had to work for what they want. There were times I would have liked to help, but couldn’t. I know they’ve struggled sometimes, but they are probably better off for it. We can appreciate what we have more when we accomplish it ourselves. I hope they agree….

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No gifts please….

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As a child, I never had a birthday party. Not that my parents didn’t allow it but because I

clown

I once made a clown costume

wasn’t comfortable about having one. To me, it felt like ASKING for presents and that embarrassed me. Instead, I became known at school for throwing annual Halloween parties — costumes required. It was great fun.

  1. At that time none of us knew you could buy ready-made outfits. Maybe
    tutu

    Lois wore her tutu

    they didn’t even have them, who knows. We all made our own using crepe paper, sewing the seams by hand. You did have to be careful how you moved, they tore easily. It was also a good idea to wear clothes underneath — just in case. Lois was the only one who took ballet lessons, she always wore her tutu and would dance for us. If I recall, her dancing improved some each year.

Muriel Age 60

My 60th invitation, a crazy hat party

At 60, I decided it was time to celebrate the day I was born. I invited friends to help me enjoy the event at a restaurant lunch where one looks out at the water. What to do about gifts? Daughter Susan made my invitations which stated I had enough ‘stuff’, therefore ‘no gifts please’.

The years flew and 70 came along. My children insisted another celebration was in order. Again, we stressed ‘no gifts’.

Occasionally we gain a little wisdom with the years, and when 80 came along last year, I agreed with my offspring another party was appropriate. To reach the venerable age of 80 is certainly worth celebrating. However, this time I asked friends and family to make a donation to my favorite charity instead of a gift. They did. It was extremely pleasing to know more was donated in my honor than I could possibly have afforded to give on my own.

This year my family gathered at Michael and Susan’s home in Nevada. It was the best birthday party yet — made even more so by Joe, a dear Los Angeles friend who began our day by having bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheese, along with a big Happy Birthday balloon, delivered right to our door high up in the mountains.

We celebrated all week and while we were together visited Virginia City where we posed for the photo below. Note the funny faces we all purposely made for the camera. We had a ball and laughed a lot. I am the ‘Madame’ sitting in front, holding a large money bag.

Virginia City Family Photo Framed, 6-5-17

The clan gathers for my 81st. I still enjoy wearing a costume

Celebrating a birthday? Have everything you need? Don’t want friends or family to spend money on gifts you don’t want? How about it? Suggest a gift to your favorite charity instead. Non-profits are struggling. Why not make the one you like best benefit by your special day?

 

 

 

 

 

Thy Will Be Done — and the sooner the better

Serious stuff (photo by Timothy Stark)

Serious stuff
(photo by Timothy Stark)

My friend Steve, who had a neighbour going through the hell of a recent death where there was no will, suggested I write this post following my essay on doctor-assisted suicide (February, 2015). I got caught up with other ideas, however Steve was right. Wills are vital although families can still go through hell when a will does exist. If well thought out however, and done with the help of a lawyer, a will can be a blessing.

Plan ahead and achieve what you want

Plan ahead and achieve what you want

Money is easy to divide, but siblings may quarrel over possessions of real or sentimental value and never speak to each other again anyway. Why is that? And why so often? For one, they say we choose our friends but not our families. It may also be because when a parent dies, we are in mourning. We mourn if our relationship was fabulous, or because it wasn’t. We all carry baggage. Perhaps we were not the favorite child, or some other complicated familial issue exists.

I did more for him than you did!

I did more for him than you did!

Severing ties with siblings we may never have felt close to is easier after a parent’s death, especially when YOU wanted that dish or cup or ring. True, wills can’t fix everything, but they are necessary. I have one and update it every five years — family situations and laws change. I strongly believe all wills require the help of a lawyer and your own input. Lawyers know the questions to ask.

She always liked you better than me

She always liked you better than me

Millions of older folk will keel over and leave an unprecedented amount of shekels behind. Who gets yours matters and should be up to you. In spite of our wealth, it is estimated seven out of 10 seniors haven’t bothered to draw up a will. If you are one of the millions who will die intestate (without a will) you will have no control of the distribution of your estate. No matter how long you live or how young you may be, unless you’re related to Dracula, you do need a will. My advice? Do it now.

In a will, you can appoint an executor to handle your affairs, or a guardian to care for very young children (with the chosen guardian/s knowledge and agreement, of course). With professional assistance you can combine estate planning with philanthropy, as well as benefit from tax advantages by organizing charitable programs beforehand. Community non-profits enrich our lives in more ways than we realize. Its easy to take such services for granted, but governments keep cutting back and alternative sources of funding are drastically needed. (Consider using ‘Leave a Legacy’ if it exists where you are.)

Try to specify who you want to have which possessions, even those of no great value. This can avoid battles later. Better still, try to give your children things they like while you are still here — this is something I’ve been trying to accomplish. I no longer entertain much and don’t use or need some of the things I used to. Every time I send my visiting offspring home with something, I feel lighter.full house

And one thing more, be kind. Clear out as much of the stuff you’ve accumulated during your lifetime as you can. It will make things easier for those you love at what will be a difficult time. Friends who have had to deal with huge amounts of possessions after losing a parent often tell me how painful it is for them.

Enjoy your life’s adventures to the fullest, have as many pleasures as possible, and do your best not to leave a mess behind.