Tuesday, July 14, 2015

BIRTHDAY | 1995, Berkhamsted

L to R: Randal, Olga, Mom, Brigid. 8 Castle Hill, January 2, 1995. All
photos by JT Marlin.
It was a happy time being all together in Berkhamsted in January-February 1995, but the reason we were together was sad.

Dad had a stroke - he had been suffering progressively from Parkinson's - and fell down on High Street in Berkhamsted in early December 1994.

He was hospitalized and in a coma. I got word when I was in Japan and flew back to New York, then got a plane to London.

L to R: Mom, Lis, Olga. January 2, 1995.
Dad died on December 12 and we had a service in Berkhamsted.

I flew back to New York City with Dad's coffin in the hold and he was buried next to his parents.

Then I came back to Berkhamsted. Olga came from Nairobi, Kenya to see Mom.

Mom with birthday cake at
Brigid's house. Feb. 11, 1995.
I think it was the last time that Mom and her six children were all together. Brigid, of course, was just up the road. Randal came from Ottawa. Sheila and Lis came from Garston (near Watford) and London.

The photos are taken either at Mom's house, 8 Castle Hill or at Brigid's house, 28 Castle Hill, Berkhamsted.
Sheila's late husband Shane (L) and Lis's husband Cliff.

We had a joint celebration on February 11 of Mom's birthday (Feb. 9) and Desmond's birthday (Feb. 14).

I forget the exact sequence, but there were issues about the estate and my Dad's accountant, Ray Hodges, said there would be a lot of taxes to pay if Mom died in the next few years.

We worked it out and Mom made gifts to us over two years. Under UK law the gifts would be subject to UK estate taxes and a portion would be clawed back by Inland Revenue if Mom died within seven years of the gift.

L to R: Desmond, Brigid, Sheila at Brigid's house, 28
Castle Hill, Feb. 11, 1995.
The taxes went down to 80 percent after one year following a gift, 60 percent after two years, 40 percent after three, 20 percent after four years, and nil after five years.

So Mom turned to me and said, pensively: "Tell me my job now. What is my job?"

I said: "Your job is to stay alive for seven more years. It's your job because we love you and want to see you with us. And it's your job because otherwise there will be not so much left of the gifts you are making from Dad's estate."

Mom said: "All right."

And she lived for another 12 years, to 2006, less than four months short of her 99th birthday.

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