Are You There Mom? It’s Me, Lynn.

My favorite teenage book inspired the title of this week’s podcast, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.

Since my mom’s passing on April 1 of this year, I find myself asking this question almost every day. My mom was my best friend, and the void she left is deep. Her name was Carol Toomey. She was born on August 1, 1935.  She bravely battled Ovarian cancer for 3 ½ years. She was my hero and my best friend.

I yearn to know if she’s there listening to me or watching me. We had a bond so strong that I always felt that even death couldn’t break it. Maybe I was wrong. But in the spirit of my mother’s optimism, I’m choosing to believe that she is, in fact, watching over me, and perhaps we’ll be together again someday.

Until then, she wanted me to live, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do for the last four months, but dammit, death is hard.

This podcast is dedicated to her memory. She loved listening to my podcast even though she retired 30 years ago from teaching 3rd grade…she didn’t need any retirement advice. She would admit to not understanding all the financial concepts I discussed, but as my biggest fan, she would listen to me prattle on anyway.

I miss my cheerleader. My biggest supporter. The one person I would talk to almost every day for 57 years. That’s a lot of talking, yet we still have unfinished conversations. There are so many more things I’d like to say to her and so much more advice I need about living. Fifty-seven years was not enough.

I don’t think I’ll ever get over the yearning to hear her voice and laugh again. She had an amazing laugh and a beautiful smile. She was a happy lady. She had many blessings, and she counted them every day. She saw the glass half full…always. She would say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and sometimes they go shopping too!” We did a lot of shopping over the years. I remember sitting on the floor of many dressing rooms as a child, watching her try on clothes, and then we’d go to the children’s department, and it was my turn.

I am the youngest child with three older brothers, so I was kind of a living doll to my fashionista mom. She dressed me to the hilt when I was younger and then gave me an obsession with clothes, jewelry, shoes, and purses.

My mother taught me many things as moms are supposed to do. She taught me optimism and hope. She taught me how to be brave and strong. She taught me unconditional love. She taught me the importance of family and friends. She taught me about getting an education and a good job. She taught me that a man is not a plan. She taught me how to be self-sufficient and independent. Kind and generous. She taught me to lotion my elbows and scrub my heels, fixes my eyebrows, and cut threads dangling from my clothes. She taught me to laugh and appreciate sunsets. She taught me to keep lists, be organized, and care for my stuff. Perhaps one of the most important lessons she taught me is about happiness. One of her favorite expressions was life is 20% what happens to you and 80% how you react to it. The other important lesson she taught me is always to take good care of yourself mentally and physically, but make sure to eat the cake and a little ice cream too.

It’s because of my mom that I came up with the term, Be the Her in Hero. We can save ourselves, ladies. We can be happiher, healthiher and wealthiher. We can be both a student and stewards of our lives and our retirement. This is our right and our responsibility. Thanks, Mom, for all the lessons. I think you’re listening to me recording this podcast right now and smiling down on me.

I’m in the throes of planning my mom’s celebration of life happening this coming Sunday. In her optimistic spirit, she did not want us to mourn her death but rather celebrate her life, and that’s exactly what we will do. I can’t promise I won’t cry, but I can promise to honor and share her life and legacy with all her friends and family.

She left me some specific instructions and “lists” (of course). She was very organized with her personal information, making taking care of all those post-passing details much easier as her executor.  I would encourage you to document all these details for your loved ones. Be as specific and thorough with your wishes as possible.

Inspired by my mom’s organization with all these details, I recently finished what I’m calling the Her Personal Info and Emergency Binder. In the event you become incapacitated or upon your passing, this booklet or binder will have all the details your family and/or friends will need to keep calm and carry on in your absence. I’m about to launch a binder for couples/families as well.

As we all know, life is unpredictable. Being organized with all of your personal information and directives is really important. Using this info and emergency planner is a gift you can give yourself and your family and friends. The planner is a sort of control central for you as well. It allows you to have ONE place to keep the details of your life organized and accessible. And it will feel so good to know it’s all documented clearly.

Plus, you’ll be able to easily identify what’s missing and fill in the gaps before it’s too late. The last thing you want is for anyone to struggle to help you if you’re unable to help yourself and deal with the details of life, or to deal with your stuff after you’re gone. Life is also complicated so this planner is where you can keep track of everything financial and personal that matters. Making the complex simpler is one goal of planning.

My planner is divided into three sections:

  • Key Family Information: This includes any information needed if your family faced a medical or another emergency that separated you or your spouse from your family for a period of time.
  • Household Info
  • Personal Docs
  • Medical Info
  • Pet Care Info

Financial Information: This section organizes all your financial details and accounts. Whether you need to have bills paid, accounts accessed or insurance claims, your emergency person would know who to contact.

  • Insurance Info
  • Investment Info
  • Rental Property Info
  • Housing Info
  • Vacation Property Info
  • Business Ownership Info
  • Rewards Program Info

Need to Know Information: This is your end-of-life info. If you, or you and your spouse, passed away or were incapacitated, this would inform your family what to do and who to contact. You can also include personal messages here as well with your end-of-life wishes.

  • Where to Find Original Documents, Keys, & More
  • Employer Info
  • Online Account Info
  • Burial / Memorial Service Preferences
  • Personal Notes
  • Contact Notes

Using this planner is a tremendous benefit and relieves your loved ones of the immense burden of trying to find information about you and guess your wishes. It will take quite a bit of work on your part, but it is well worth the effort. It will give you peace of mind, comfort, and convenience. Life is about simplifying, and this planner is designed to make things simpler for you and your loved ones when the need arises. While a will and a trust are important documents to have (with updated beneficiaries on all accounts), a will doesn’t include all the daily living details and wishes you may have (like the tea set you want your daughter to have or where you have your car loan).

You can purchase the Her Personal Info & Emergency binder at www.HerEmergencyPlanner.com. It’s only $14.50. You can download and print an electronic file and then fill in all the information with a pen, or you can down-complete the planner electronically with fillable fields and save it on your computer or in an electronic storage vault, or print it once you’ve completed filling in all the info. Keep it in a special place or with your will.

*Please note: this planner does not replace the need for a legal will and/or trust. If you need an affordable will and trust, I got you. Go to: www.GetHerWillDone.com

I hope all of you listening can take some Carol Toomey inspiration, and the next time you feel stressed, overwhelmed, or sad, remember another one of my mom’s expressions, “This too shall pass.”

Here’s to being the Her in Hero. As always, if you need help planning any aspect of your retirement, reach out. I can help you Get Her Done. My mom believed in me…I think you can too.











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