Monday, May 30, 2016


We come into this world a baby, like a plain block of marble, to be molded under the caring hands of a sculptor.  There is a big difference, the sculpture looks at what is in front of him or her and can "see" what is inside, chip away the excess and bring their baby to life.  As humans, we wing it, taking each step as it comes.  There is no way to fully prepare for parenthood, except to just do it.  While initially, parents, or guardians, dictate what the child’s life starts as; ultimately, the child, growing into an adult, needs to make the choices that will shape their lives.  Andy Andrews states, as parents “…the goal is not to raise great kids; it's to raise kids who become great adults.”

As we carefully teach our children, they must learn the importance of making their own choices, understanding that their choices have an impact on their lives, and the choices determine the outcome for their lives. All of our lives develop based upon the choices that we make.  Like Darren Hardy's Compound Effect, good choice made over time lead to a life we look forward to living.  Bad choices made over time lead to a life of confusion, excuses and blame. Good choice have the ability to impact the people around us positively, as the positive energy created radiates outward, providing insight, inspiration and well being of others as they enjoy the benefits of good decisions. Bad choices have the ability to impact the people around negatively, as the negative energy sucks the time and efforts of others as they attempt to make up the shortfall of loved ones poor decisions.

If one decides not to make their own choices, they can fall into the trap where they not only follow other’s choices (not always in the followers best interest), but believe, without complete knowledge, what they are being told.  Unfortunately, if one develops an entitlement mindset, they live their lives believing the lies they are fed (often presented by the government).  These include that someone else will take care of them, someone else will provide for them in their time of need and someone else will make sure things work out; only to find out, when it is too late, and that the promises never came true.  We have all seen both sides - the ones that lead the lives they prepared for and the ones that feel someone else owes them something. 

While being the steward of our own lives might not lead to untold riches, at the end of our days we will know that the choice we made was ours and that we took responsibility for our actions.  While not every choice is successful, learning from mistakes and making / adjusting choices can lead to the success that eluded us the first time.  Sadly, we get one shot at this life, we all, then, should strive to make the good choices, based on sound values, that will lead us into the life we choose.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Farewell to Temie

Final Picture May 5, 2016

 “Wayne, come over and see what I am seeing,” said Gillian, the hospice nurse.

Things were stable for the moment, so I had the opportunity to cook Debbie and I a steak, sauté some potatoes and onions, and wilt some spinach.  I had just put the dishes in the sink.  We knew that it would be a long night and had thought…no, we had hoped that my aunt, Temie, would make it through another night.

I walked over and noticed the change, or in the terms the nurses used, a transition in the way Temie was breathing.  Previously, each breathe was reflected in the gentle rise and fall of her chest.  Now, it appeared as if each breath emanated from her throat.  “I got the dishes,” said Debbie on her way from the living room, starting to head down the hall to the kitchen.  “Let it go, it can wait.  It is time.” I respond.  To which the nurse responded, “Yes.”

Debbie sat on one side of the bed holding Temie’s left hand, while I was mirroring her position holding her right hand.  It was strange to see someone, who only a few weeks earlier was filled with boundless energy and always in motion, to be lying still on her back.  As the moment drew closer, I said to Temie that I believe that her sister, my mother, will be waiting to greet her, along with those that have gone before.  Debbie and I said our goodbyes and, after a few seconds, as Temie drew her last breath, told her we loved her.  “Rest in peace, until we meet again,” were the final words I said as the tears ran down my face.  I heard a sniffle as the nurse turned away mentioning something about paperwork.  Afterwards, Debbie confirmed that she heard the sniffle too.

This was the fifth time I have been in this position.  I have heard, “It must be tough on you,” “Isn’t it creepy,” etc.  It was neither of those.  When you love someone or are very close, being there for them at those final moments is precious and kind of beautiful.  When my grandmother died, my mom told us she was alone and that she always felt bad and asked that someone always stay with her when she knew she was dying.  I was there when the moment came.  No one should be alone when the moment arrives.  The hospice nurses told us, that unfortunately, that happens more than we would think.

And, as for hospice?  Temie made the right decision.  The group of nurses that we saw over the last few weeks showed a high level of compassion (i.e., the nurse sniffling), care, consideration and comfort (to us).  They are the unsung heroes that dedicate their life to providing an atmosphere of comfort and dignity during those final days.  They watch and monitor the situation around the clock and have the knowledge and experience to know the various signs and phases we go through as we near the end of our lives.

I am sad my aunt is gone, but happy for the life she led.  She was a liberated woman before it became fashionable.  She lived life on her terms.  For a small, petite woman, she lived life large, calling the shots all the way to her final decisions on how to end life.  In the end, there was no pain and she went peacefully. While Temie is no longer physically with us, she will live with us in our hearts and minds.  As Tasha Yar said in one of Temie’s favorite TV shows, Star Trek the Next Generation, "Death is that state where one lives only in the memory of others, which is why it is not an end. No goodbyes--just good memories." 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Is Your Power of Attorney Valid?

Legalzoom defines the Power of Attorney as “A power of attorney is a document you can use to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf. The person you designate is called an ‘attorney-in-fact.’ The appointment can be effective immediately or can become effective only if you are unable to make decisions on your own.”

Makes sense, right?  If I become incapacitated for any reason, my bills still need to be paid, the world continues to move forward, and life continues around me.  I should be able to appoint, or better said, legally select someone to handle my financial affairs.  What if the time comes to execute the Power of Attorney and even though you have a 100% legal document, that you have prepared in conjunction with a lawyer and yet was deemed not acceptable?  Wait a minute, I did use the words legal and lawyer, so all would assume that this is a legit process.

Guess again, as banks may not accept the valid, state approved, legal document you are bringing to them.

Case in point – my aunt in Florida recently went into hospice care, which meant that the legal document appointing me her power of attorney went into effect.  I called up her bank to find out the proper process on how to handle this process.  I was clearly told to bring in the document, they will make a copy and then I will have to sign some papers.  I asked if my aunt would be needed and was told no, I could do this on my own.  When I went to the bank, they told me that they would make a copy of my legal document and have their lawyers review it and get back to me.  They got back to me saying that the document was no good as it was over 10 years old and my aunt would have to come into the bank.  I immediately called our local Florida lawyer who told me that the laws changed in 2011, but all pre-existing POA were still legally, 100% valid, as stated below in the Florida law (

709.2106 Validity of power of attorney.—
(1) A power of attorney executed on or after October 1, 2011, is valid if its execution complies with s. 709.2105.
(2) A power of attorney executed before October 1, 2011, is valid if its execution complied with the law of this state at the time of execution.

Actions that could be taken:

  • Lawyer sends a letter to the bank contesting their decision – That means that there is some confrontation and the resolution could extend beyond the ill or incapacitated person’s life.
  • Go to the bank and sign their documents – That means bringing the ill person to the bank, in my case, leaving the safety of hospice care.  At no point did the bank offer to come to us (5-minute drive).  Quickest resolution, based on the effect on my fragile aunt and person-we-needed-to-see’s lack of compassion, was not an experience I wish to replicate (my aunt’s final “field trip”).
  • Rewrite the Power of Attorney document – That means draft a current legal document that complies with the newer laws.  For a healthy individual, this is a good option; however, when terminally ill and time is of the essence, this may not be the best option; also you are not ensured that the bank will accept.
  • Talk to the bank when healthy – That means making sure the bank accepts all relevant documents, and where necessary, see if they can set up their “long form” POA now.  Lesson learned, but neither discussed nor advertised at the banks.

Interestingly enough, the New York Times had a related article entitled “Finding Out Your Power of Attorney is Powerless” (//  The article hinges on the banks’ arguments for their position on the concern of “the financial exploitation of older adults.”  OK, I get that.  In my case, I am more concerned about the well being of my aunt, the ability to pay her bills and, truth be told, would rather have her continuing to live than her money.

I write this to tell of my experience, to pass on what I have learned, and to provide a forum to discuss this issue.  When faced with end of life situations, we all hope to rely upon the mechanism put in place to protect our loved ones and us. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Where has my Independence Gone?

“That's me in the corner
That's me in the spotlight
Losing my religion…” ~ R.E.M.
What if the song became an anthem for elderly and we swapped out religion for independence?  Especially when we begin to lose some of our abilities due to illness, the lines from the song,

“I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try
But that was just a dream
That was just a dream”

…takes on new meaning, when the “I” begins to lose eyesight and hearing…

One day we feel young and vital, making our own decisions, taking on the challenges of the world and living every day to its fullest in the manner we dictate (all about choices).  Then, one day, all of that changes.  We find ourselves stripped of making our own decisions, our challenges become making it through the day, where others tell us what to do.  Sometimes this process is a slow transition, while sometimes, it happens in a matter of moments.  No one asks to become dependent.  No one asks to lose his or her abilities / functions.  No one cognitively expects age to overtake us.  Using my family as an example, four years ago, I equated people with walkers to be elderly and infirmed.  Today, three immediate members of my family have walkers and a fourth just received one.     
As a child (since my Dad and Mother-in-Law are still here), it is weird to see parents age, and ultimately become less independent.  For cryin’ out loud, these were the people that raised us, provided examples from which to draw out our own conclusion and tended to us when we were small.  I now stand idly by, watching, as some people seem to not want to accept losing pieces of their independence, some begin to come to terms that they are less independent and some recognize this change and accept it. 

Rebellion has taken on an interesting life cycle.  As a teen / young adult, we rebel against the rules that our parents dictate to us, as we stretch for our independence.  We start to drink alcoholic beverages, some start to smoke, others dabble in drugs (I am not going to be naïve here), behavior unbecoming to the previous generation appears and the desire to be an individual begins.  The ensuing decades most people follow a “standard” life - they become busy with marriage, raising a family, having a career, owning a business, volunteering our time and, ultimately, developing a life.  All of a sudden, the twilight of our years comes upon us, where the actual time spent on earth varies greatly.  I watch the twilight rebels begin to emerge, as they start to drink Ensure, some quit smoking due to oxygen, others dabble in maintenance drugs (morning and evening rationing), behavior unbecoming to the next generation appears and the desire to be remembered as an individual begins.  The ability to drive, cook our own meals, pay our bills and schedule our time slips away from us like trying to hold water with an open hand.

The important thing to remember is to live each day to its fullest.  As they say, treat today as if it is your last.  Do the things that you want to while you are able, for one day, our revised R.E.M. song might apply to you.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Where Has Integrity Gone?

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant,” said Horton the Elephant.

Except for Horton, how would you react if someone looked you in the eyes and said that line?  Would you be able to take them at face value?  How often do we expect someone to follow up on his or her words, or year after year tell us one thing and then do the opposite?  Is this someone you know personally, at work, a volunteer or even an elected official?

This is not an article declaring or deriding our political process, though as we go through the Presidential primary season, some of our candidates might easily seem to fall into my weekly thoughts.  Let us be honest, for all the public outcry over the Senate and the House of Representatives passing the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), which legally allows certain political persons to be excluded from the law, and most of voters passed the bill without reading the voluminous documents.  That election cycle, I did not agree with the process and refused to vote for the standing Congressmen, whether Democrat or Republican.  As unfavorable as the polls were, most elected officials were voted back in.  For a government, that Abraham Lincoln stated was “…of the people, by the people, for the people…” why do we continually re-elect those that do not do our bidding?  These are our representatives who tell us what they think they want us to hear, get elected, then do what they want.

That is an easy target.  How about the people we come across where we work or volunteer.  How often do we sit in a meeting and someone says they will handle what is being discussed.  Then at the next meeting, the item was not addressed, and the conversation feels, in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, “like déjà vu all over again?”  In other environments, there are times where we look towards leadership for guidance.  Guidance, believe it or not, is most effective when based on action not words, which means that we are more apt to follow in the footsteps of the leader, as opposed to words expressed or written.  Why?  Because as humans, we follow the dictate that believing is seeing. 

Why do people not step up and what is the lesson that I am driving at?

As if in answer to my question, I received the following from Darren Hardy:

Looks like one of the reasons people do not follow through is a fear of leadership, fear of making the decision, fear of followers and fear of failure.  This is again most noticeable in an elected position, where the role becomes more important (prestigious) than taking any action. Promises are made, never kept. Rhetoric is spoken, action never taken.  The Pink Floyd song, Dogs, states it correctly when they sing, “You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to…” If they fear failure, why do they think we will not notice that they do? In the subsequent election cycle, they point their fingers, make excuses and continue the lies, yet we ignore their track record, as if history does not matter, and believe them anew when they say their positions and will be accountable for their promises, only to be disappointed again.

As a person in leadership – be bold.  Napoleon Hill, in his book The Law of Success in Sixteen Lessons, wrote a lesson teaching Self-Confidence.  Leadership is having self-confidence, being bold, be willing to make mistakes, take responsibility and be honest.  Lead with integrity.  Now, those are the traits / people I prefer to follow…