Letters to the Editor - April 23

April 23, 2011

‘Memorandum’ is final communication to loved ones

To the editor:

The term “in memoriam” suggests an act performed or a gift given in memory of, or as a memorial to, someone held in high esteem. For example, a person might establish a named endowment fund at the Community Foundation as a means of perpetually honoring the memory of a loved one.

The term suggests an estate planning idea you might want to consider — something in addition to funeral suggestions, instructions regarding the distribution and use of personal effects, and other such matters. By “memorandum,” we mean a very personal and lasting collection of thoughts.

I hope that the Community Foundation’s “Write a Will Month” has inspired you to action. With your will and other estate-planning documents finalized, take a few moments to prepare a memorandum or letter to your loved ones expressing your thoughts of love and concern. You might want to write a different letter to each family member. Another possibility is to sit in front of a video camera and tape your personal comments.

However you do it, this final communication from you will probably be cherished more than any bequest you leave behind. It will likely be handed down from generation to generation as a priceless family heirloom. Unlike other estate-planning “documents,” this personal memorandum goes beyond any legal or probate requirements. You can write it and rewrite it as often as you wish. It can be completely confidential.

Here are some things you might want to include:

  •  Expressions of love and endearment
  •  A summary of your philosophy of life, including your values and beliefs
  •  Thoughts concerning your hopes and expectations for your loved ones
  •  An explanation of your motives in making bequests to organizations such as the Community Foundation

Explaining your motives can be a powerful way to communicate your values and to help your children and grandchildren understand why you supported certain causes during your life. It can be a means to inspire them to follow your example.

A final communication to your loved ones, thoughtfully and lovingly prepared, will serve as a lasting reminder of your life and love. It also will help them through the grieving process. And it will help them explain to children yet to be born who you were and what you valued.

Please make the time in the next few days to prepare a memorandum to your loved ones. It might be the most important document you ever write.   

David Beachly
Past Chairman, board of trustees  
Community Foundation of Washington County MD, Inc.

If you connect the dots, what do you see?

To the editor:

Imagine a sheet of paper on which are scores of randomly placed dots. Could you, without lifting your pencil from the paper, connect all the dots in such a way that the finished picture looks like a famous person?

No? What if you could disregard all the inconveniently placed dots and were allowed to use just the dots that fit your picture? Would it be easier then?

What we have just described is the current state of evolutionary theory. The dots are scientific facts. Although the data admit to more than one conclusion, scientists are paid to connect dots in such a way that the finished picture looks like Charles Darwin.

If you see something other than Darwin’s image in the dots, you are out of luck. The extent of your education, how smart you are or the level of your past work does not matter. If you do not at least pretend to see Darwin’s mug in the dots, your career as a scientist is over.

You don’t worship St. Charles the Divine? No research funding for you. No, no tenure for you, either. Publish your research? Forget about it.

I wonder, though. What image would scientists find in the dots if they were free to follow the evidence wherever it leads?

G. F. Miller

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