Stories and Wills

Whether you’re a writer or not, everyone knows the world is full of stories. Everywhere you turn there’s a story. Every conversation you have is a story. Each thing that happens as you walk through your day is a story.

Some take those stories, embellish them, and write a book. Some add a few words and create amazing short stories or poems or songs.

And some stories are found in old high school wills.

Way back in 1978 when I graduated from high school, we were asked to write a will for our senior newspaper. They were to be symbolic of our leaving school and moving into ‘adult’ life.

Mom and Lisa 1978

Senior mother-daughter tea

Recently, I came across that collection. High school was difficult for me in a lot of ways and I didn’t know the majority of the kids. I had my small group of wonderful friends, but outside that group, I spent most of my time off in story world. But I thought it would be fun to read this collection after so many years. I couldn’t remember what I had written. Would it be wise and profound? Would it be something where I would see the seeds of a writer?

As you can imagine, a lot of these were the typical sort, where a guy wills to freshmen his secret spot for smoking pot, or the best route to skip class. But what amazed me was that several were stories. In a sentence or two, I could see the story, hear the writer’s voice, and feel the emotion behind their words.

One girl, who had obviously struggled in her bookkeeping class, willed to her teacher all 3,013 unbalanced worksheets. The story? I know of this woman and she is a finance person for a city.

From a girl to a guy: two musty tolo tickets and a wilted boutonniere. For those who don’t know, a tolo was a dance where the girl asked a guy, something not normally acceptable for ‘ladies’ to do back then. So what’s the story? Was the dance so wonderful she kept the souvenirs? Did he stand her up and not show? Is there anger or bitterness in those words, or humor, or sweet memories?

One guy willed to another guy in the same class better luck next year ‘cuz he will probably be back.

A guy to a girl: enough diamonds to last a lifetime. Sweet, but did those diamonds last a lifetime? Are they still together? Has he realized that she is shallow and has spent all their money on diamonds? Is she furious because he’s bankrupted them over the years, buying diamonds they can’t afford? Do they sit with gray hair, holding hands and seeing that single small diamond on her finger?

One guy willed his coach a lifetime membership in the National Sadist Club. That made me laugh. And probably any kid who has suffered through a physical education class will laugh, too.

One guy willed a girl my bad reputation ‘cause I’m not worth it. Ah! I see a bad boy and a bookworm! I’m convinced they eventually got together and lived happily ever after.

And then there were these. Read and hear the stories.

A smile to anyone who thinks life isn’t worth living.

The borrowed time I’m living on.

To my brother, the sense to come down to earth.

The best of luck coping with the world.

The ability to lose weight and drop a boyfriend.

For a bunch of eighteen-year-olds, some of these are almost profound.

And what about the will I wrote, you ask?

Three cases of yogurt, to one of my best friends.

Yep. No seeds of a future writer there. Nothing profound. And I have absolutely no idea what that was about. I’m going to call her and ask though, because after all these years we’re still best friends, and I’m sure she’ll remember the story.

19th birthday 1979

19th birthday. Loved that dress; hated the hair.

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