1 mile west of the Chicago Premium Outlet Mall (800) 810 3100
My father, Richard Law, has died, but we celebrate his life!  Those of us who recently gathered at the hospital for many days and then the funeral home represent a ‘blended family’ of lineal descendants, adopted children, and step-family.  It has been amazing to experience the common expression of love and care from each one for each other. My father gave each of us the treasure of unconditional love.  When Dad smiled at you, you knew that he loved you just the way that you were, and he never thought about how to “fix” you.  There were many times during Dad’s chemotherapy-induced illness that I marveled at his great and caring attitude.  I would often say to myself, “Rick, try to be more like Dad!” My dad taught me how to live as a caring—and thus successful—person. He lived out many of the rules of success that have come to be my life standards.  Richard Law lived and died loving others and being loved right back.  That is a successful life! Seven Rules for Life:
  1. Dad Law made sure that I learned this one: the Golden Rule, here quoted from The Message Bible—  “Jesus said, ‘Here is a simple rule of behavior. Think about what you want from other people, then, grab the initiative and do that for them!  All of the Law and the Prophets hang on that.’”
  2. Dad Law taught me, “Don’t do anything that you would not like to see on the front page of the Chicago Tribune.”
  3. Dad Law showed me that “Integrity is doing what you promised to do, even when the circumstances have changed and you really don’t want to do it anymore.”
  4. Ignore whatever comes before the ‘but’ in a sentence.  It does not matter how many words precede the ‘but”;  what someone really believes and will act upon follows the ‘but’.
  5. Hire people who have demonstrated a success-pattern—e.g., when they got their first job at McDonald’s, did they rise to “Fry Chief”?  How people behaved in the past is an imperfect but helpful guide to how they will act in the future.  I cannot train people to have either initiative or integrity; they either have it or they don’t.  (My dear friend Jessica Bannister is a living example of this rule.  She is a model of initiative and integrity!)
  6. Give winners a mission-goal, then get out of their way.  Nonetheless, you cannot expect what you don’t inspect!  (I also learned this one from my capable brother-in-law, Inno Okoye.)
  7. You get the behavior that you reward.  When you experience negative behavior with your spouse, kids, and/or employees, check to see if you are actually the cause.  Many times, our leadership flaws create rewards that lead others to act badly to get our attention.
Good-bye Dad!  I pledge to live and love more like you!

Celebrating New Year’s Day after a kayak run on the Fox River, I was just about knocked to the floor when I overheard someone say, “I’ve seen some wonderful deaths.” When I recovered from hearing this statement and recognized the sparkling eyes of the nurse who said it, I asked if I could meet with her at another time to learn about “wonderful deaths.”


Years ago, when my wife I announced to her parents that we were expecting our first child, my father-in-law inquired innocently if it was okay to talk about someone being pregnant. He had been raised with rules that made that conversation out-of-bounds. My, how things have changed! These days we need only to turn on the TV to be subjected to conversations about PMS or flagging male libido. In this time when “anything goes,” I have been surprised to find that there are still some taboos. As an elder law attorney, I facilitate discussions about life, death, and disability—not an easy task because nobody really wants to talk about his or her own death. Oh sure, people can consider that they are probably going to die…someday. But in their heart of hearts most people can’t believe that they are actually going to die. How else do you explain the fact that 85% of the adult population are without a simple will, power of attorney, or health care directive?  The most obvious answer is that they must not truly believe that they’re going to die. Although it’s difficult, I recommend that you take the time during the upcoming holidays and family gatherings to have what we call the Final Arrangement Conversation with your family.  A Final Arrangement Conversation should have at least two distinct elements:
  1. A written expression of your attitudes and desires for life-prolonging treatment (or lack thereof) in the event that you are incapacitated, have been diagnosed as being terminally ill, or are suffering from a long-term memory-robbing illness; and
  2. A written expression of your attitudes, desires, expectations, payment source, etc. regarding your final wishes–how your family should handle your funeral, burial, cremation, religious tradition, probable cost, music, choices of service providers, etc.
When I begin this conversation with clients and their families,  I almost always run into resistance. Seniors (even terminally ill seniors) often say, “I don’t care. Funerals are for the living, so do whatever you want.” But families really want to know how their loved ones feel about these issues. When seniors choose to talk about it, they often find it very meaningful to share their expectations. Once we overcome this conversational taboo, the discussion almost always ends with a hug.