My uncle passed away late last month. He was my father’s older brother by about three years. When my dad died this past winter, Ed was going to set things up so that I would have all the necessary legal power to act as his heir and access his accounts to pay off his debts and so on. Unfortunately, he fell ill himself and didn’t get a chance to get things done before he was no longer mentally fit to do so.
I’m down in Dallas with my mom now, with a folder full of papers and the phone numbers of two of his surviving friends. So far, we’ve been able to make arrangements with the funeral home for Ed’s cremation and with his landlord to get his stuff out of his apartment.
There are some complications, of course. Ed had just moved in to this place, which makes things a bit easier in some respects- many boxes are still packed and can simply be opened and resealed once their content has been verified to match the label. On the downside, personal papers and important documents aren’t stored anywhere obvious, such as in a desk or a filing cabinet.
And we’ve found a lot of personal papers.
Ed was very active in the Dallas gay community. He wasn’t HIV positive himself, but he was a caretaker for a lot of people who were. Many of them were not on speaking terms with their own families, and Ed was their designated contact for power of attorney and funeral arrangements. As a result, there are folders upon folders of birth and death certificates, boxes of what I’ve started to call “Identity Theft One-Stop Shopping Kits”, all of which need to be shredded or incinerated.
It’s been a melancholy time, really, but punctuated with some grins. Finding the oil painting of the Seven Dwarfs smoking a hookah of something that left them with bloodshot eyes. Sorting through DVDs with one of Ed’s friends and making recommendations on which ones would be suitable for her grandchildren. Seeing the glee on the faces of the folks at the local library when we brought them four banker’s boxes full of the remaining discs.
We’ll be down here for a couple more days, getting the ball rolling in the courts for wrapping up his estate, but we feel good about the progress we’ve made so far.