Did you know that 66% of Americans, according to Consumer Reports, do not have a will? Some of the more well-known who left this world without verified wishes were Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Howard Hughes, Martin Luther King, Jr., Buddy Holly, Pablo Picasso, and Tiny Tim.
It also states that in 1925, Frederica Evelyn Stilwell Cook, an English lady, is credited with having the lengthiest will. It is an incredible 1,066 pages long that encompassed 4 volumes worth of legalities. Bimla Rishi who lived in Delhi, India had one of the shortest wills saying concisely, “all to son.”
According to the book, More Best, Worst and Most Unusual, there is documented evidence of wills left behind that are indicative of complex eccentric minds'”just a final “screwball-ishness” reminder of them. For example, in 1876, Madame de la Bresse, a French woman, asked that her life savings of 125,000 francs be used to purchase clothing for all of the naked snowmen in Paris. Believe it or not, the courts upheld her desire.
An 18th century French historian, Varillas, disinherited his nephew making note that he had never learned to be a proper speller.
To carry it a little further, a European reformer, Francesca Nortyega willed her estate to her niece. However, the only stipulation was that the niece had to make certain the family goldfish were kept clothed in pants.
We’ve examined the weird and unconventional types of wills. Let’s look at the other end of the spectrum that encompasses the beautiful power of love at its finest. It only proves the beauty of words'”simple, comforting words of love in the form of handwritten letters– are far more valuable than estates and money. They will resonate in the minds of their loved ones for the rest of their lives.
My father was one of those thoughtful types who wanted us to know of his everlasting love. It has made a profound impression on me. After my father died, there was a personal letter written to my mother that was enclosed with his will. They are loving words that will carry us a long, long way and resonate in our minds for the rest of our lives. His letter eloquently said, “You and the children have been my whole life and I want to say this one last time, “If I could live my whole life again, I would not change a thing. How fortunate I have been. Please remind the children often that I love them more than they will ever know. I leave you my love, all of it, forever — “
It only took a few moments for him to write it out, but it will last a life time in my mind. What a simple, eloquent way to leave his love with us. It’s far better than thinking of a snowman’s attire or even worse, not leaving a remnant behind at all.
If any of you are, perhaps, in the 66% category of not having written your will, hopefully you will be spurred on to leave behind beautiful words that will touch the heart and soul of your loved ones. Keep in mind that “love always lives.”
The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.–Harriet Beecher Stowe