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Insert your own Rob Van Winkle joke here

October 27, 2010

LOD’s post about dying made me tear up. Death isn’t something I think about a lot, or fear particularly. I’m too busy worrying about paying my rent and being All Alone For The Rest Of My Life. (Strangely, I realized I was All Alone last Sunday when the only football team I cared about was the Browns and only because my brother lives in Cleveland. I have my college teams, but no NFL allegiance, and it hit me that I had no reason to want any team to win but that if I had a partner I probably would care just by association. It’s weird the stuff that creeps up on you. Anyway.) So I was sad that LOD lost a friend and is now going through this thing about his own mortality.

What immediately hit me about my own situation was that if something happened to me (and I’m thinking “hit by a renegade cab driver” or “spontaneous combustion from subway rage” as the two most likely things that could take me down), my rescuers have no mechanism to let LOD know. He’s only listed in my phone under his first name, with nothing else to distinguish him from my hairstylist or a high school friend. I have four ICE people (“in case of emergency” tagged with “ICE” so anyone who found my phone could search by that to know who to call) but the first two have never even met LOD and wouldn’t know how to reach him. The third is my mom, who could reach LOD, but it’s still a convoluted chain.

I don’t love the idea of having LOD be my emergency contact. Because he’s not who I would want to know first if something happened to me, or who I would want to be there if I woke up (please) in a hospital somewhere. But he needs to know because of the boys, so I think he’s going to have to become an ICE in my phone.

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. lilysea permalink
    October 27, 2010 10:41 am

    This is one of the reasons my ex-husband and I actually stayed legally married until we had a pressing reason not to be. We were separated for five years and dating other people, and didn’t even have kids, but we still wanted to be each other’s next of kin. Until both of us had someone we wanted to take that place, we kept each other in that spot.
    We had an unusually amicable separation, though. I can certainly understand when folks wouldn’t want it this way-especially when no kids are involved.

    • askmoxie permalink*
      October 27, 2010 10:47 am

      Oooh, interesting. Long before the divorce was even close to final I’d filled out a health care proxy form and made a gazillion copies so that if something happened it would be my brother and not LOD making next-of-kin decisions for me. People’s experiences are so diverse, aren’t they?

      • LOD permalink*
        October 27, 2010 12:54 pm

        It has always irked me that I haven’t been an ICE contact in Moxie’s phone, since she is on mine. I think each of us needs to be informed right away if something happens to the other, just for logistics’ sake. If I’m needed to drop everything and get the kids, I don’t want to be on the third branch of a calling tree.

        And this is waaaay different from next-of-kin decisions, which I rightly have no part of.

        Also: It took me a minute to link Rob Van Winkle and Vanilla ICE. I tip my hat to his ICE contacts, because I’m frankly not sure I could handle it.

  2. Jessica permalink
    October 27, 2010 11:19 am

    Or you could just give LOD’s number to all of your ICE people.

    • askmoxie permalink*
      October 27, 2010 11:41 am

      Whoa. Occam’s Razor once again.

  3. Bad Mummy permalink
    October 27, 2010 11:38 am

    My mum is my ICE contract, but she lives 2 1/2 hours away. If our kidlet was with me and something happened to me, The Former Mr should be the person to be called. But I don’t trust him to make decisions for my health and well-being and he’s notoriously unreliable/unreachable when he needs to be.

    What I really need to do is switch it for a friend who I would trust to make the right calls and right decisions and who would care for The Mook no matter what.

    This is NOT covered in Divorce for Dummies.

  4. Alison permalink
    October 27, 2010 11:50 am

    Sometimes I comment here because your process makes me wonder why I’m staying married when the not-married version of parenting seems to have such upside. But today I am just being glad that my chosen one is in fact the very one I’d want at my bedside as I slowly came back from Serious Enough To Warrant A Housecleaner, Not Serious Enough to Require My Mother To Move In injury or illness.

    My husbands line of work requires him to have an If I Die letter in his file with our preferred plan (who will tell me, when, how) – perhaps a similar note in your file with your ICEs is a good idea? Maybe it’s a good idea for all of us. Hmm. I’m going to think about this. Maybe I’ll do it at the same time I write the If I Die letters that I keep meaning to have in my underwear drawer for my kids…

  5. October 27, 2010 3:14 pm

    My husband and I are still happily married. He’s my one and only ICE on my cell phone. That you have four makes me wonder whether I need some more.

  6. the milliner permalink
    October 27, 2010 4:38 pm

    We are writing ‘In case I Die’ letters and leaving copies with our notary who also has copies of our wills. Where we live, anyone who wants to do anything with our kid or our estate would be directed to our notary, so we know the people will get the letter. And honestly, everyone that is named in the will, will already know to go to our notary.

    Of course, that doesn’t cover anything short of dying. We’re in the process of setting up a multi layered system (for the kid, dog and cat separately, no less) which takes into account proximity and priority of people, short and long term needs etc.

    Sounds complex, but we want to make sure the bases are covered if we are ever in such a situation… which um, strangely we already have been when I was out of town with the kid and DH had a medical emergency requiring an unexpected overnight stay in the hospital – pets needed to be fed & dog needed to be walked and needed a place to stay – we don’t leave her uncaged in the house.

    We’re together, so naturally the other parent is the first ICE. We’ll make sure that all of the back-up people have each other’s contact info. And likely my Mom (who is 2 hrs away) will play the role of contacting the right people if we are both unable to.

    FWIW, I’ve also got an ICE file on my computer for DH or our will executor to access if they need to.

  7. October 27, 2010 4:57 pm

    Make him an ICE and let everyone on your ICE list know about everybody else on your ICE list. Lastly, put a list of emergency numbers in your car glove box, and a wallet-sized one in your purse.

    • askmoxie permalink*
      October 28, 2010 10:37 am

      Stop rubbing it in that I have no car! Stupid glove box that doesn’t exist…

  8. October 27, 2010 6:43 pm

    I went through this too where my ex was an ICE even when I couldn’t stand him. I hated seeing his name in my cell phone at all back then. It was only because someone had to let him know to come get his son. Mostly it was because neither of my parents, stepparents, or any other family would be able to care for our child more than overnight. Now we’re friends so it’s a given and I’m on his too.

    I wish I had a perfect solution, but I do think that ex’s should be listed as an ICE even though it would grate on most people’s nerves to have it that way. They really should know immediately if something happens to an ex, for the kids’ sake, if nothing else.

  9. October 27, 2010 6:48 pm

    I thought this post was going to be about long beards. Very disappointed.

    • askmoxie permalink*
      October 28, 2010 10:37 am

      Rob, not Rip. Am I the only one who used to watch gallons of VH1 “Behind the Music”?

  10. Celeste permalink
    October 27, 2010 9:49 pm

    I always thought ICE was a little imprecise. There are levels of notification in the event of an emergency and it always seemed to me like one wasn’t good enough. Say my husband and I were riding together to collect our child when we were in an accident and were both unconscious. It would do no good to call the ICE who would typically be each other. Of course our school and daycare always had emergency contacts required for that reason (ie they can’t reach you) and supposedly that person would be able to reach you and/or collect your child. I used friends for these as we have no family in state, and of course my mind runs toward what happens if none of them take the call. The daycare always said they’d default to CPS. ::I shudder::

    These doomsday scenarios always made me queasy. In theory it would all work out somehow, and as the kids themselves get older there is less need. Luckily most emergencies wouldn’t be dire–more of an inconvenience than a problem.

  11. October 27, 2010 10:34 pm

    So, this doesn’t speak to the larger issue, but for the more immediate one–why not tailor your phone contact to contain the basic info? Like label LOD “ICE–Ex-husband, kids’ parent.” My phone lets me put in comments so I could even write something like “do not use as a medical contact” or whatever the right lingo would be.

    I’m not divorced so I realize I’m not in your shoes, but I agree with LOD: he shouldn’t be so far down your contact tree.

    Meanwhile: I thought we were doing well because we have a will and I have a POA/living will all set up (still working on my husband who is made nervous by that sort of thing). Now I realize I don’t have ICE contacts in my phone, I have no “If I Die” letter written up to family and nothing for my kids either. I hope someone else says the same thing. They’ll go on my to-do list but does the administrative stuff of life ever end?

    • Dana permalink
      October 28, 2010 6:41 pm

      Many people have very good ideas…but here is something we are forgetting, especially with smartphones. Passwords! How many of us have a password setup on their smartphone? How is someone supposed to access your phone/ICE contact when there’s a password prohibiting them from getting into it?

      • October 29, 2010 9:07 pm

        Yes! That is what my husband said when I told him of this blog. I forget, ’cause mine doesn’t have one. I said what about a slip of paper in your wallet, and he shrugged and said he was sure they’d find me soon enough. Argh. We live in a small town, it’s true, but I know avoidance when I see it.

  12. Amy permalink
    October 28, 2010 9:36 am

    Good follow up discussion! Thank you both for being frank about your feelings on this. We aren’t getting divorced and we are complacent. So, we don’t even have wills drawn up. To make matters worse, we don’t have any local friends (we just moved across the country to Florida) and we don’t go to church. All of our family live in Alaska which is a full day of travel when you plan months in advance, let alone during an emergency. I guess I have some planning to get to!

  13. askmoxie permalink*
    October 28, 2010 10:38 am

    LOD is now ICEd. No number, just “ICE (Children’s parent, ex-husband)” next to his name.

  14. November 5, 2010 10:38 pm

    One day when Madeleine was 5 & Meredith was 3 I wrote my entire life story, to be given to them when Meredith turns 21, if I’m not there.

    It contains lots of Scarlett O’Hara moments. “And I swore I would never……”
    1. let anyone treat me like crap
    2. let an office friendship that was true fade away
    3. be skimpy taking pictures & video of Important Life Events
    4. spend time hating people who had effecd me over

    Etcetera. I also wrote out “Before You Have Sex” “Wedding Day” “Your First Day As A Parent” letters and stuck them in the lock box. I think it was when Lisa was dying in the Funky Winkerbean comic strip. I know, I get inspiration from such intellectual subjects.

    But it’s nice to know it’s there.

    • Dallas permalink
      November 30, 2010 1:59 pm

      Lorrie,

      My mom died when I was 14, and I am perpetually annoyed/angry/sad (depending on the day) that she left no such letters or life story, even after a very long chronic illness. So, I say this in all seriousness: good for you and your babies.

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