Counting Down

Richard Quinn  |  Oct 8, 2022

I AM NOW AGE 78—the same age at which my father died 34 years ago. I’m starting to think about dying, though I have no immediate plans to do so.

Of course, my father effectively smoked himself to death, unleashing a combination of heart disease and emphysema. I’ve been a no-smoking zone my entire life. No, I’m not depressed and I’m not being maudlin. But if Queen Elizabeth can’t go on forever, what hope is there for us commoners?

My feelings aren’t helped by Facebook. I’m a member of several Facebook groups where I receive regular reports of the demise of friends and former colleagues, many of whom are younger than me. I’m afraid to check the obituaries these days. We humans like to use the phrase “if anything happens.” But we all know the translation.

This site has been a big part of my retirement—I’ve written some 180 articles and blog posts—so I figure maybe I’ll get an obituary. I’ve even been thinking about an epitaph: “Here lies a humble man with nary a dollar to his name.”

Statistically, I have almost nine years left. I’ll take that and even more—provided I remain reasonably healthy and know where I am. Some data say men age 70 and older have a 5.7% chance of living to 100. I’m not thrilled with those odds. But according to AARP’s magazine, you can better them a bit by living in a city, communicating with friends and relatives, and being spiritual. Seems like minimal effort. I hope texting counts.

Nine more years would allow me to meet one of my goals: to see at least one grandchild graduate college and get some benefit from the 529 plans my wife and I have funded. It would also ensure that all my grandchildren would be old enough to remember me—if they so choose. Pretty selfish, eh?

At this stage, running out of money is virtually impossible, thanks to my pension. My goal of leaving a legacy to our four children is also important—though my top priority is making sure my wife is financially secure, no matter what.

A couple of years ago at a restaurant with family, while we were all on vacation, the subject of not being immortal came up. How that happened between the clam chowder and the lobster rolls, I can’t recall. But I piped up, “I want to be cremated.” I hope the family took me seriously. I’m a bit claustrophobic and the thought of spending eternity in a… well, you know, that scares me. Besides, cremation is cheaper.

What I think about these days—not obsessively—is whether I’ve thought of everything. My wife and I both have wills, a family trust, various directives and so on. We’ve spelled out how our vacation home will be handled among the children. We want to avoid the fighting among siblings that I’ve seen destroy families.

Read the balance of this article on HumbleDollar

One comment

  1. Yes, you’ve pretty much got all the bases this side of life covered.
    Your wisdom, financial acumen, dependability and faithfulness to spouse, family and employer are quite commendable. Those attributes would serve anyone very well in this life.
    But, the only thing that matters beyond the grave is what have you done with Jesus Christ.
    This website is a great resource for spiritual things.
    Please take time to consider.
    Thanks for all your insights. They have been very helpful for me freshly into my retirement.


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