Column: Mortality and lacking the will to sign a dotted line

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

Over the weekend I had a chance to bond with family while sweating over a grave.

My aunt in Kelowna had called last week to let me know she and my uncle visiting from Vancouver would be making a trip to Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Vernon on Saturday to tidy up the family plot. She asked if I wanted to join them. As life seems to offer little time to visit with extended family, I was grateful for the invitation to join them and help out.

There are several generations of my mother’s side of the family buried in the Vernon plot, the most recent addition being my grandfather, who passed away a decade ago. As my uncle got to pruning the leafy overgrowth around the headstones, I cleaned and detailed my grandfather’s grave marker, a dark green marble plaque cut from a larger piece that had been kept in the basement of his Vancouver home.

As we worked and chatted through the heat of the afternoon, I thought about my grandfather, moments I had with him as a kid, and about his house a short distance away from where I grew up, on a block lined with large old chestnut trees. In memory I walked through the house, searching for that piece of marble.

Revisiting his house in person is no longer possible as it has been erased by Vancouver’s hunger for growth and modernity.

Read more: Hergott: Moral obligations and your will

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Read more: The wait for opening of new Shuswap Memorial Cemetery soon to end

Eventually, my thoughts found their way back to a conversation I had with my mom the weekend prior when, out of the blue, she asked if I had a will. She wasn’t being morbid, just practical. My answer was no.

When it comes my mortality, I’ve been reluctant to sign on a dotted line. You might say I lack the will.

According to a 2018 poll, about half of Canadians are also without a will. Seems this is due to several factors, including people not wanting to think about their mortality and the costs associated with completing a will. Regardless, it’s something as a parent I know I need to get done. Hanging around a cemetery for an afternoon certainly served as a reminder.


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