A life well planned!

Submitted by Amy Stamey, Community Educator, Pensacola Branch

I am a proud American, a proud American by choice.  I, like my fellow immigrants, journeyed to this land, bringing the history, culture and identity from another country; embracing the Land of the Free and calling it home.

On September 14th 2012 I swore in as an American Citizen in Pensacola, joined by 98 people from all corners of the earth. We were all excited, sharing stories of the long journey made to naturalization.  It is a journey, taking most over 10 years, miles of paperwork and financial outlay.  As I stood outside the courthouse on that warm sunny day I knew it was worth it. In some ways immigrants are lucky, we see more clearly the opportunities that this great nation affords all its people.  No other country gives ‘the right to pursue happiness’ a right to be grabbed by both hands, no matter what life may throw at you.

I nearly missed my chance.  I had all my paperwork in place, I had planned everything for the big day or so I thought.  I woke early, excited and happy; happy until I realized my green card was not where I had assumed it was.  One of the required documents on the day is the green card; it is to be returned to an USCIS officer upon naturalization.  Chaos reigned.  I turned the house upside down searching for the missing card, the relaxed happy morning with my husband and kids turned to turmoil.   Panicked, I didn’t stop to admire the banners my 6 & 7 year olds had made for the day. I cried and swore and cried some more.

We went to the courthouse as planned, my family silent and tense around me.  Once there I had to wait to talk with the USCIS officer; after completing an affidavit stating my card was lost, that it would be returned if found, I was informed I would be allowed to take the Oath of Allegiance that day…to my family’s relief!  That evening after a long day of celebration I found myself thinking of how different the morning would have been if I had prepared better for the day, had all my documents in order in advance rather than waiting until the last minute.  What a shame the time prior to the ceremony was spent in anguish when it could have been so different.

As Americans we have freedom of choice, please don’t let this right go to waste.  As a Community Educator for Covenant Hospice, I often speak on Advance Directive planning.  As you can see from my story, there is much to be said for adequate preparation. Please don’t neglect to plan for your future, complete your Advance Directives today and make sure your choices are adhered to, even at a time when you might not have a voice. If you are part of a group looking for a speaker on Advance Directives, please contact the Community Education department at your nearest Covenant Hospice branch.

By the way, if you were wondering… I found my green card the next day, on top of the refrigerator where I had put it for safety!


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