So you’ve danced your final dance, kicked the bucket, gone to a better place. The smallest vestiges of your earthly powers have evaporated; you are, for all intents and purposes, over. Except for your very own ghostly calling card, your last will and testament. It is for most, a love letter to life, a soothing note of comfort to those that are left behind. But even the best intentioned wills can turn sinister. They provide perfect conditions for family feuds, stirring up, as they do, a maelstrom of favouritism, greed and jealousy.
And even those Petri dishes of resentment started off in kindness. What about the final wishes that were intended to drip with vitriol? There are those that use their last, binding legal contract as a chance to spew out malice from the safety of a freshly dug grave. Upon his death in 1856 Heinrich Heine’s wife was told her late husband wanted to give her his entire estate. On one condition. He asked that she remarry: “because then, there will be at least one man to regret my death.”
Eighty years later, a Mr T.M. Zink left $50,000 in trust for seventy five years, hoping that its value would increase enough to fund the “Zink Womanless Library.” Had Mr Zink had his way, 2011 would have seen the six year anniversary of an institute whose boundaries women could not pass, whose books were solely written by men and even whose decor was free from the touch of female hands. It takes a certain type of man to cast his own misogynistic tendencies seventy-five years into the future.
Today, the concept of a bitter will seems antiquated. For the most part, we’ve reverted to standard requests with an occasional exotic burial request thrown in for good measure. Just three years ago, the family of Angel Pantoja Medina fulfilled his final wish. On the day of his wake, he was to be found embalmed and propped up against a wall, donning sunglasses and his trademark Yankee baseball cap.
It might all sound rather odd, but then again, you are only going to get one last reverberating shriek into the abyss. So make it count.
Image: Mike Kreszak