There’s one thing about Nick you must know, it’s that he loved being organised. This included doing the best he could, to try and organise things for me, once he was gone. One of his many positions at Toyota was as a Corporate Planner and I guess the skills he developed there stayed with him (oh, and his excel skills he always bragged about!).
Most people can’t fathom the thought of knowing they’re going to die and not falling to pieces, but Nick, like with most things, just got about to organising instead.
Prior to his illness, we had a very traditional relationship, he paid the bills and handled the finances and i’d cook and clean, very 50’s housewife, I know! This also included, me spending 2 hours every Sunday ironing his shirts for the week, which his friends gave him stick for, saying it would be more time effective to send them to the cleaners, that he was being tight, but we were just happy playing our roles. I never complained, because it didn’t bother me.
Then came his diagnosis and Nick knew things had to change. He’d tell me I needed to sit with him and pay the bills, he had a spreadsheet he made, listing all the monies going in and out, so he was always ahead of what we needed etc. (if I had a dollar for everyone he tried to convert to use his spreadsheet, i’d be a rich lady! Did he try and push it on you?) He wanted me to study it, he’d say, ‘I won’t be here to do this for you next year, you better learn it!’
At the beginning, i’d zone out, tell him i’d learn it when he got really sick and I had to do it. But, he wasn’t buying my excuses. He scheduled lessons for me, how to pay bills, where to file them, what to do come tax time. It was exhausting, but necessary, and something I’m grateful for now.
I know this must sounds so silly to some of you reading, how could I have got to 30 and not known the basics of our household. It’s not something i’m proud of, but it just happened and it was easy and blissful not to be caught up in how much the power bill was!
But, I must stress, this is not the me now, i’m on top of everything. Being a strong, independent woman, means having responsibility and knowing how much money I have to spend each week on important things, like nail polishes!
Nick also left me a list, with 3 different examples of what I could do with our finances after he passed. It was him on a piece of paper. Knowing I was a little clueless at the time, he gave me a basic run down of what each option was, and how it could work for my daughter and I, both in the short and long term.
He found out exactly what superannuation he had, he made sure I was his beneficiary on forms, little things most people take for granted, he spent time double checking. He had everything covered!
Another example of his being organised, actually involves my Dad. My grandfather (or Nonno, as we called him), who Nick and I, were especially close with, passed away just after Nick’s diagnosis. Nick and my grandfather, basically had the same character traits. They say you marry a version of your father well, we always joked I married someone closer to my grandfather instead. As for Nonno’s funeral, on a side note, do not deliver the eulogy after your husband, (who the whole church knows has cancer), does his, you will come off second best!
My Dad had bought my grandfather his plot for the burial and Nick asked him to buy him one too, next to my Nonno, and he did. Even in the face of his illness, he still wanted to pick where his final resting place would be. Organised or what ? I must say, this was one part, I was thankful to not have had to worry about, at the time of his passing. That was always his intention, to make it as easy for me, as he could. Thanks Nick, I appreciated it!!
He was also constantly writing lists for me, anything that popped into his mind. He started carrying around a notebook and pen and he’d jot down things as they came to mind. I’ve put his last notebook away for my daughter to discover one day. Sometimes the lists were mundane things we needed to do during the day, but after flicking through it the other day, this page jumped out at me and the little note on the bottom with its smiling face said all it all, ‘Have fun always’.
It’s a reminder of what Nick would constantly say to me, we were lucky enough to share many conversations about his passing and what he wanted for my daughter and I once he was gone:
1. Take off your wedding rings once I die, (when you’re ready, of course!) He would tell me not to hold onto them for him, when it was time to take them off, he would understand.
2. Go back to work when you’re ready, don’t be rushed. If you don’t enjoy it, leave and find out what your passion is. He thought I had so many talents and could never understand why I never put them to use.
3. Don’t wear black for me. He hated the tradition of wearing black to mourn the dead and he never liked me in black. This was big deal for him, of course I did wear black to the funeral, but that was it and I did get in huge trouble with my grandma for wearing pink the day he died, they just didn’t get it. Oh well!
4. Don’t let other people tell you what to do once i’m gone. You’re in charge of you and our daughter and your decisions are yours alone. Nick had a fear that people would step all over me once he was gone and try and dictate my life. This is what encouraged me to become the new me. Strong, independent and in charge of my world.
5. Marry again, though you’ll never find anyone as good as me! Though I didn’t want to hear this at the time, he always said he wanted me to move forward in life and re-marry again. He wanted a father figure for our daughter and he didn’t want me alone the rest of my days, I was only 30!
I think it was easier to move on, knowing he gave me his permission to do so. I wasn’t looking for love when my new husband and I began talking again, 14 years after we first dated. And no, Nick, he isn’t a bit like you and that’s ok, he’s his own person and a wonderful addition to our world.
and finally, I leave with you, 6. Have Fun Always! This was something he always said, he wanted us to enjoy life and all it had to offer. He even made me promise to take our daughter to New York when she’s 16, because we had enjoyed it so much, i’m not complaining about that one. It’s a date!
All Nick wanted was for us to live and love and be happy and it’s something i’ve tried to do everyday since his passing.
To try and see the fun in everything you do, makes for a better & happier life, in my humble opinion!
Til next time, Michela x