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Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Saga That Is My Family Part III: When Things Changed

I wrote about my immediate family in Part I of this Saga. I do not have enough thanks inside of me to express how much they meant to me growing up. I can't imagine what my life would be or where I would have ended up if I hadn't had them. I love them dearly.

Here's the saga. Our relationship(s) changed drastically 2 years ago. As you may have noticed a lot of things in my life seem to revolve around losing my dad. This of course is no different. I was 22 years old when my father died and my brother was 21. We were not children, we were adults. When the coroner needed to release the body I was the one he had to talk to. I am my father's first born and I was the one responsible for the arrangements. We didn't know if my father's life insurance was still active. He had such a hard time financially before he died we didn't know if it had lapsed but I knew regardless he would have a proper funeral and burial.

I picked the funeral home. My brother and I chose the casket. My family (gradparents and one aunt) came with my me, G, and my brother but we made the final decisions. The bill was almost $8000 (cheap by some standards) and when they asked how we would pay I was the one who signed, giving my assurance that the bill would be paid.

This was on a Saturday and by Tuesday (the day of the funeral) the insurance had been found and so had my fathers will. It was old and it should have been thrown out. I was written in November 1980, before my brother was even born. The problem was that it named my grandfather executor and my older aunt second if he could not do it. The insurance was also in my grandfather's name. My grandfather has a huge control problem. He sees my brother and I as children who can't make decisions for ourselves. I tried to explain to him tax consequences and how much easier it would be to sign the insurance over to my brother and I but he claimed it nonetheless.

He paid the funeral home and for the stone on my father's grave. Then he tried to divide the money a little at a time between my brother and I. I refused that. This may sound awful but I told them I wanted all of the money that was mine. My father would have been furious if he had known they would try to control things and keep things from his children they way they were. I was called greedy for this. While this was going on we were also trying to figure out what to do with my father's things. I knew the house would go back to the bank. I see nothing wrong with that considering he was in debt and none of us wanted the house anyway, but for some reason my family saw it as shameful.

Also, when trying to decide what to do with his things I wanted to get everything out of the house and into storage, just to keep it safe. My family was more worried about giving things to my brother and making sure that he got his share. Let me just say that is not my brother. He is not that kind of person and my family never did it in front of him. It was when we were alone that they would make snide remarks about me getting something and asking if he deserved the value of half of it. I told them it was none of their business. I gave my brother anything and everything he wanted. I wanted him to have anything of his fathers he wanted and I would have and still would not deny him anything. They treated me like I would try to take something from him when in reality they were taking things from me. The only thing I have of my fathers that is worth something both monetarily and sentimentally is his gun collection. He loved it and I will cherish it forever. My brother doesn't like guns and he didn't want them. My family made me out to be selfish for wanting to keep them and not sell them to his friends. They said I should pay my brother half of their worth since I was keeping them. I told them when he said that to me I would do it. He has never said a word and I'm positive he's never thought it either.

Not only was my family taking my father's things but they were getting ready to take the life insurance too. My father had nothing in life but a few possessions. His estate was insolvent and would have taken very little work to resolve. Instead my family got a lawyer and used the life insurance money to do it. My aunt became the executor instead of passing it to me because they needed control.

There were so many things that happened in this time I don't have words to tell you. It came to head in November when I asked about a possession of my fathers and I was told it was given away. I lost it. I emailed my aunt and told her that NOTHING, and I meant NOTHING was to be given away and NO decisions regarding my father's things were to be made without my approval. I told her that she had way over stepped her bounds along with the rest of my family and that I was taking control. I said that I was the one that should be taking care of things, he was my father. I didn't mince a lot of words. The next day I had an email from the younger of the aunts and it was the last straw. She said that I was a disgrace to my father's memory. She had the nerve to say that he was a son and brother before he was a father and I didn't love him any more. I think she truly believed that because both her parents are living. She doesn't understand the intense loss but I still could not believe she had the nerve to say these things to me.

There is so much more I could tell you about but I really don't think there is enough room here. I went to Thanksgiving that year but I barely spoke. I also bought my first home that same weekend and the first (and only time) my family has been there was to come over very quickly Christmas morning. My brother has been there more times but none of the rest of them have. On the other hand, my brother was going to buy a new car and they drove to Indianapolis to help him pick it out and then pick it up and then everyone had to ride in it. Can you see why my family and I do not see eye to eye?

Here's an example of how my family is now. My birthday is very important to me. That may sound stuck up or just silly but it is. I love my birthday NOT for gifts but because it's my day, my one day of the year. I don't mind getting older (yeah, I know I'm still young) but I know I will be that little old 80 year old telling people it's my birthday and I'm 80! :-) Well, on the first birthday after dad's death, which of course was hard, no one in my family called me to wish me a happy b-day. I don't mind this from my brother - he's silly and just forgets to call. I maybe wouldn't even have noticed that much had it not been for my wonderful in-laws. My MIL and both of my SIL's called to say happy b-day, we love you. It just showed me where my place was in my family unit.

I still love my family but our relationship(s) will never be the same. It took over a year after my father's death for his estate to be closed and for me to receive the rest of the life insurance that was mine. In that time over $12,000 was spent on lawyers and really who knows what else. I don't mince words with my family and I will not sugar coat things. I called them thieves. I told them that when you take something of someone's and they haven't given you permission to do so you are a thief. That's what they did to me. They wasted my father's life insurance because they needed to be in control, they needed to be in power and they needed to decide how things were done. I have learned a lot from them. I will never treat anyone the way I was treated at the lowest point in my life. I love my family but we will never be the same.

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