You might think that retiring means you just stop working and start sitting around doing nothing. Actually, I have been not-exactly-retired for 21 months and have been sitting happily around doing pretty damn little. But now that I need to really-really retire, I find myself too frequently inadequate to the complications of the task. My brain, which once was an object of personal pride and could cope with the Rule Against Perpetuities while idling, now is bowled over by puzzles like, "Which line do I sign?" and "Where did I leave my pen?"
I'm faced with two potential explanations. One, maybe my brain is poaching in the Florida heat and has lost its fizz, like a glass of beer left in the sun while I search for another bag of nuts. Or two, maybe my former mental effervescence was an illusion in the first place.
Here's what happened. I had to update all kinds of estate-planning documents to cover the unlikely possibility that I can't spend everything I own before I am cast adrift on the proverbial ice flow. Oh, wait, wrong climate. Tar pits seem more appropriate right now. Anyway, you get the idea - the kids would like some of the proceeds if I'm not using them. (They hasten to deny this, but if they're not lying now, they will be eventually.)
It wasn't the technical complexities of the Living Will and Last Will and Testament that unhinged me. It was the typing and assembly of what turned out to be a staggering pile of paper that did me in. Activities that I once tossed off as "ministerial" suddenly grew fangs and claws. Paper jammed. Ink ran low. Staples punctured flesh. Two dozen finished documents deviated from standard English in ways that I would not like to be remembered for into perpetuity. That word again, perpetuity. Like me, it takes on weight as it ages.
Truth be known, I deviated from standard English while shredding useless Powers of Atorney [sic], lapsing frequently into Anglo-Saxon and middle French, heavy on gerunds. I am multi-lingual, to a point.
Why did this never happen to me when I was practicing law with the Big Guns in Hartford? I have one word for you - Nancy. For 20-plus years Nancy apparently dealt with all these issues in background, well below my puny threshold of attention. So when I directed (no less) that Motions to Dismiss and Certificates of Service appear on my desk, they did. Properly typed, proofread, copied, collated, stapled and some other things that I probably still am missing. With envelopes. Was I impressed? Nah. Piece of cake, right? Um, no.
I have fretted more in the past week than I did in 20 years in Nancy's uncomplaining care. Well - mostly uncomplaining. Turns out she was the brains of the outfit, and I didn't even know it. Thanks, Nancy. I hope my replacement knows how lucky he of she or they are. But more likely they won't get it until they need to type their own retirement papers.