Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My First Will and Testament

"When you look at yourself from a universal standpoint, something inside always reminds or informs you that there are bigger and better things to worry about."
 ~ Albert Einstein 

Warning: Narcissistic and Nostalgic Content

The other day my sister Terry handed me an old 5" x 7" manila envelope. I knew immediately what I'd find inside: some old report cards from elementary school and a copy of my will, written in a fit of pique when I was nine. I'd last seen that envelope in the early 1970s, about ten years before our mother died; it had been in her strongbox along with birth certificates, legal papers and memorabilia.

A little history: Terry and I are the fifth and sixth of our parents' six daughters. We're close now, but we fought like rabid little badgers when we were kids. I wrote the will because, as I melodramatically announced on a note tucked inside an envelope that I had carefully made from looseleaf paper and tape, "I am running away from home. Don't expect me. I just can't stand Terry any longer."

Message to parents of little people: perspective is not an attribute that comes naturally to children.

The will itself, written in undulating waves with an Esterbrook fountain pen, is fairly impressive. I give myself points for thoroughness in assigning my meager possessions — toys, clothes, "jewels" and pets — to various relatives, friends and even my teacher. I particularly like the part where I wrote that my aunt and uncle could "switch for something else" if they didn't want the turtles I bequeathed to them. The word "Original" is written at the top of the page in no. 2 pencil. Where had I picked up that trick? This was years before the Xerox machine was invented. Oh yes, I had it all figured out...except where I would go, what I would do and how I would survive after running away from home.

Predictably, my life as a runaway did not last long. It was November and, as daylight turned to dusk and the chill of autumn settled in, I skulked back home. No one greeted me tearfully or even scolded me. It was just another day. Histrionics were always frowned upon in our house, but would an acknowledgment have killed them? I wondered for a long time if my parents even knew I'd run away, but of course they did. They had saved my will.

This is a photo taken around that time of Terry and me with our sister Barbara. You can see Terry struggling to restrain herself from strangling the little brat hamming it up in front of her. No wonder she couldn't stand me.

"Adventure must start with running away from home."

~ William Bolitho 

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