How do you know when your children are truly grown?
When you ask if they would be willing be listed as contacts on your advance directives.
Advance directives are documents in which you direct the medical world as to end of life decisions. Many states, Ohio among them, adopted versions of them following the 1990 Cruzan decision by the US Supreme Court. In Cruzan, the Court ruled that an individual may be removed from life support if the person had left clear and convincing evidence that he would not want to be kept alive in a vegetative state. Ohio's directives, the Living Will and the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, apply when a person is either permanently vegetative or in a terminal condition (i.e., dying).
As I used to tell my clients, the Living Will speaks for you as to your end of life decisions and the Durable POA gives others (your agents) the right to speak for you if you are unable to.
I last signed as set of directives in 2006. Sam was still a teenager and Ben was only partway through college back then. I named Warren and my youngest brother on my directives. I could not name Sam as a minor and I did not want to burden Ben at that time in his life.
Nine years later, my boys are grown.
My sons and I have not talked about my end of life wishes, including my opposition to life support. We haven't talked about my dying. Truth is, we have not broached any of those difficult conversations.
It has only come up now because I am executing a new set of directives. I would like my sons to be listed on them, along with Warren. If end of the life decisions have to be made and I cannot speak for myself, I want these three to be able to speak for me.
I will not add either of them without permission. More than once as an attorney, I saw clients name someone as agent without discussing the matter with that person. When a medical emergency arose, the unaware agent was stunned (as opposed to being "pleasantly surprised") to be thrust into the role of having to make critical medical decisions.
So yesterday I sent Ben and Sam an email asking for their permission to name them. I will follow up with a phone call this long weekend if I don't hear back. Because of other events, I need to execute the new set this Tuesday.
Some parents have great difficulty seeing their adult children as adults. (In fairness to those parents, some adult children are so naive and unworldly that I understand the difficulty.) I am so far away in place and time from Ben and Sam that long stretches of life go by without our seeing one another face to face. When we do finally meet up, as we did in Portland last January, I am immediately aware visually just how grown up my children are. Although I call them my boys, there is no questions that they are adult men. (It also helps that I work in a juvenile court. As such, I always have a fresh and clear impression of what a teenager looks, sounds, and acts like. Young though my sons are compared to me, they are not teenagers.)
My boys are grown. I have two adult sons in their stead. And now I hope they will take on an adult role in my life.