By Sharon M. KennedyMom often told me that with all the dental work in her mouth she was worth more dead than alive. I used to laugh when she said that, but now I understand. I’m nearing an age when I’m deciding what to do with my assets, and I’ve made a decision about my gold tooth. I’m taking it with me. It really isn’t a tooth. It’s just a cap a dentist in Colorado Springs put on one of my cracked molars. The gold is probably good stuff, though, because it’s from 1970. I’m sure it didn’t come from Russia, North Korea, China or any other country hostile to the U.S.
So when I’m gone, my gold will go with me. Whoever said you can’t take it with you must have forgotten about gold teeth. Unless, of course, some unscrupulous undertaker takes them out first. I’m sure most people operating funeral homes are honest beyond reproach, but every now and then someone slips up like the fellow who put my uncle in the wrong box. I’m pretty sure he left Uncle Steve’s gold teeth alone, but when Mom and I saw her brother laid out in an oak casket instead of the lovely cherry one we had paid for, we were shocked.
Being the thoughtful person I am, I didn’t broadcast the mistake to the mourners. I don’t know about your relatives, but mine would have ruined the undertaker’s reputation in a heartbeat. Dad’s sisters would have spread the word faster than the AP or any cable channel news commentator. I discretely took the owner by the arm and steered him to his office where I quizzed him about the switch. He hemmed and hawed and finally admitted his mistake. He assured me the cost was the same although he didn’t go so far as actually showing me the price list.
What got me thinking about my assets was the weather. When it’s cold and rainy, I sit in my chair and look at what’s left of my chattel. I held to a few things like a mother hen protecting her chicks. Nothing I have is worth anything except the memories that go with them, but for folks who have collections worth a fortune, I wonder how they’ll cope knowing they can’t take their loot with them.
You know what I mean. Relatives pop up like spring dandelions when they get word someone is ill. They’ll stop by for tea and a long chat, but what they’re really doing is surveying the place and wondering if the Duncan Phyfe table will fit in their dining room. They sneak a peek in the bedrooms and eye up the bed with the curved footboard and figure they can get at least $450 for it at the local antique shop. They rummage through drawers and jewelry boxes searching for Granny’s diamond brooches. They look in old coffee cans for the wad of bills Gramps was always crowing about.
Owning expensive stuff must be an awful burden for billionaires and politicians. There’s the yearly insurance premiums, all those alarm systems to install, sensor lights everywhere, shrieks of dismay when a cigarette burn is found on a priceless Chesterfield sofa, and countless other worries. The super-rich are more to be pitied than the poor. It makes no difference to us if the stock market is bull or bust. We don’t fret over dents in our 20-year-old car or an assortment of stains on our 30-year-old carpet. And we certainly don’t have wads of cash stashed in rusty coffee cans, tucked underneath our mattress, or hidden in a cracked teapot.
I’ve given this a lot of serious thought and I’ve come to the conclusion that the super-rich, like politicians, are a sorry lot because they’re never satisfied. They always want more and the more they get, the more they want. It’s an endless, unhappy chase after goods or money destined to end up in someone else’s house or bank account. Once the funeral service is over, greedy relatives head for the home of the deceased like herds of lemmings heading for the nearest cliff. Imagine the disappointment of survivors when they realize the cousin nobody liked wasn’t at the church because he was busy pilfering anything of worth at auntie’s house. I suppose such a scenario isn’t appropriate when speaking of the super-rich, only those with modest means, costume jewelry, and a small stash of $1.00 bills.
So cheer up if all you have of value is one gold tooth. Make arrangements to take it with you. You’ll outsmart all those rich people who will never have enough time or energy to spend their billions before they croak, and you’ll be a whole lot happier.