The final chapter | AspenTimes.com

The final chapter

Paul E. Anna

It would seem that Hunter Thompson’s final eruption went off without a hitch. Oh, sure, there were some naysayers who felt the presence of senators, Hollywood celebrities, and Japanese drummers made the event a little, well, out of character for a counterculture icon. Regardless of what we thought, however, the cannon and the fireworks and the statue were all deemed by Hunter before his passing to be what he wanted. It has been pointed out that Thompson, live on videotape, described his wishes to a T prior to his death.And in the final analysis, the wishes of the deceased and his family are all that really matter.The Anna family recently had a death, and one of the blessings (the Anna family always looks at the bright side) is that we had a general idea of how the patriarch wanted to exit this earth. He chose a simple service, no cannons, and a cremation with ashes to be scattered in a few special locations. Knowing this in advance was a great help to our family and eased our minds about what is surely the last thing we will ever do for him.Not to belabor a point, but, like my father and like Hunter, there are few things that we can do now to help our families in making a tough time a little easier. The first thing is to have a will. Even if you are a young person, if you have assets it is important to have a document designating where you want them to go in the event your kayak lets you down in the Arkansas. If you have a family, there is no excuse for not setting aside the proper legal document to protect your dependents in the event of your demise. Wills are easy. Google ’em and download a standard form if you don’t want to see a lawyer.Second, draw up a living will. Living wills were all the rage recently following the macabre media circus that surrounded Terri Schiavo. Also known as Advanced Health Care Directives, these describe what actions you would or would not want taken on your behalf in the event of a catastrophic accident or illness. It keeps your family from having to make momentous decisions on your mortality without your input.Finally, write down what you want done with your remains following your exit from this mortal sphere. Cremation? A pine box? An upholstered casket? An ejection from a cannon? The choice is yours, but spell it out so it is clear to Johnny Depp or anybody else who may wish to pay for it. And don’t forget about organ donation instructions.Plan now so others won’t have to later.