By Michael Hutton
My parents went on holiday last week.
Admittedly, a fairly unremarkable and mundane event, yet one that impacted me unexpectedly.
‘Robert/Michael, to be opened in the event of our untimely demise or incapacity’ are the words handwritten on the front of a plain white envelope perched purposefully on the study desk at home.
Robert being my older brother.
In all the years my parents have been holidaying together, without their children, this white envelope has taken their place.
Out of growing curiosity after years of trips abroad, and feeling like I could finally handle whatever was contained inside, I decided to open it last week. I had no idea what to expect. I wish I hadn’t now.
Inside was a solitary sheet of crisp white A4 paper, with only eight numbered points. Probably 1,000 points too few for someone’s untimely demise or incapacity, but coming from my Father – a man with many years life experience – there will be a reason for such brevity.
You see, my Dad, an Accountant by trade, has always been an unbelievable planner. It’s actually really impressive how meticulous he is with everything – particularly the family money. This, by default, also makes him a great worrier.
Albeit scarce, these instructions were meticulously thought out. Each impacted the next, and all were part of a overall plan. The rest, I imagine, would be left to my brother and I if anything were to actually happen to them – untimely, or otherwise.
I was so unprepared for such a succinct manner of surmising my parent’s existence. Their assets. Finances. Properties. Jewellery. Everything.
But then again, that is the nature of death – so immediate and finite.
There was no, “Goodbye”. No, “You’ll be fine”. No, “We’ll always love you”. Nothing. Just eight instructions that would take my parent’s existence and transition it into mine and my brother’s.
I realised that one day the scenario will be played out for real. I would have lost either one, or both of my parents, and my brother and I would have to fend for ourselves, without the loving supporting of Mum and Dad. It’s a heartbreaking feeling just thinking about it.
Then it made me realise I should clear my internet browser history more often.