My “Uncle Bud” Earrings
My Uncle Bud was one of the sweetest men you could ever hope to meet. He had a huge heart and a generous spirit. He died of a stroke at the much too young age of 71.
In keeping with Jewish tradition, my family gathered for the unveiling of his headstone a year after he died. I learned many wonderful new things about my uncle at this event, including that his desk had been littered with half written love notes to his wife of some 50 years at the time of his death.
At the luncheon after the ceremony, my Aunt Lee announced that when they had done their estate plan many years before, Uncle Bud felt it was important to leave a little something to each of his nieces and nephews to symbolize how much they meant to him. The amount he settled on at the time was $100 per person, and they had never gotten around to changing it. She then handed each of us an envelope with $100 in it, and a handwritten note stating that this was a token of his love.
Of course that money was not a life-changing inheritance, but I was deeply moved by the sentiment behind it. I did not want to fritter it away on paying bills or a night out. Instead, I chose to use the money to buy something tangible that would always remind me of my uncle’s loving spirit. My uncle designed jewelry as a hobby, so I decided to buy myself a beautiful pair of artisan earrings. To this day—fifteen years later—I think of my Uncle Bud every time I see or wear those earrings, and it gives me a sweet sense of joy. They will forever be my “Uncle Bud” earrings.
It is not fun to think about dying, or about what to do with our things after we go. But this experience has shown me how important and loving it can be to keep those we hold dear in both our hearts and our plans. The gift my uncle gave to me was pocket change in the context of his estate, but it was priceless to me. A thoughtfully crafted estate plan can leave a lasting legacy of love and affection to whomever is touched by it. And it doesn’t have to break the bank to do so.
by Jodie Gilbert