* * * My Words, My World, My Way * * *

Please Write: ALewisPDX@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Family Circus

I'm not talking about the little cutsie round-shaped cartoon that appeared in the Sunday Comic Section of newspapers nationwide for many years....I'm talking about my very own loved ones (and less love today than yesterday). You'll recall my list of things that have gone on in my family from earlier this year. And here all of these years I thought we were perfect all these years...hehehe. I do have to admit, we have been a loving family, a big family, a family who spent many holidays together, stayed close-knit, caring, admiring, family dinners, lots of birthday parties, the whole gig. We were truly a nice, caring, close family. And when I say family, I mean the extended version including aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Today, however, it's beginning to look a bit more like a freak show than anything else....you know, with the third eye, the extra appendage, the two heads.

There's been a problem with my great aunt's will. She is 87 years old and really doesn't have much anyway. My mother, cousins, myself, and a variety of others have cared for her for her whole life. Great Aunt Ruth has been an integral part of all of our lives and we've all spent time caring for her. She was my grandmother's sister who never married and lived with my grandparents for the entirety of their lives....from 1940. She was willed the house by my grandmother when grandma went into a nursing home. Great Aunt Ruth's will designated two family members as executors and divided what few remaining assets between my grandmother's three remaining children. All as it should be in a perfect, fair world.

Fast forward to last week when my mother discovered that there is a "new will." What? Excuse me? Why? Apparently it was drawn up numerous years ago when my cousin Tom took Great Aunt Ruth to his own personal lawyer "because Great Aunt Ruth wanted to make a few changes to her will." So now, the will appoints only Cousin Tom as the solitary executor and divides assets between only two people.....1/2 to Cousin Tom and 1/2 to my mother (the only remaining sibling). Cousin Tom won't allow anyone to actually see the will.....this is all hearsay from his reading it to my mother over the telephone. My mother is very upset -- and I rarely, if ever, see her upset. She's claiming that it's not fair. It's not what my grandmother would have wanted from her home and assets. And Cousin Tom is not the only one who has helped take care of Great Aunt Ruth...it's been a family affair all along. Plus, he's the very last one who would possibly need any additional assets added to his bank account. He's a Republican, conservative, a former military man who prided himself on his time in Vietnam flying helicopters -- and he's just a little too big for his conservative britches.

My mom is really distraught. And rightfully so. So, my cousins went to Aunt Ruth and talked her through the whole thing....and that Grandma would not want the will to look the way it currently does. "You're right," she says. So, they go back to the lawyer to have it redrawn more equitably and fairly. But Cousin Tom jumps into the middle of the fray and tells Great Aunt Ruth to "not sign a thing." So, my mom and cousins get into a big old cat fight with Great Aunt Ruth and tell her that she's out of the picture from now on. They've taken care of her all of their lives and have had it. Great Aunt Ruth will not be included in the family gatherings any more...nor Cousin Tom. Whee.........

In a family that has prided itself on unity, being together, staying together, can't we just go back to the simplicity of the Family Circus days?

13 comments:

Breenlantern said...

How very sad...to tarnish relationships over material possessions and who gets what of who's.

The only things I want from the people in my life cannot be bequeathed to me once they are gone. I hope to never to be part of any will other than my husband's, and only if he so chooses.

Hopefully, these people who claim to love each other will come to their senses before irraparable damage is done, if it's not too late.

Brent said...

Perhaps it might help calm people if "what Grandmother would have wanted" was taken out of the equation. As I see it, if your grandmother truly wanted to determine things, then she would have placed her estate in trust with your great aunt and determined the final heirs as she saw fit. But she didn't; she GAVE everything to your great aunt. When kind and generous people give a gift, they do so with no strings attached. I'm sure your grandmother was a kind and generous person, and thus wouldn't want to control how your great aunt distributed the worldly goods that now belong to her. My partner's family went thru a similar ordeal, and this line of thinking final brought an end to (most of) the bickering.

Personally, I think the cousin sounds like an asshat. But it seems a shame to estrange your great aunt after all those years. Hope everything works out.

Larry Ohio said...

Woo Hoo!! My family's on Round II after a five year cease fire. We even had to have sheriff's deputies attend the funeral because the risk of homicide was so high. Whoever said greed was good was full of sh!t.

I'm sorry about what your family is going through, but it is not unusual. Just keep your head down and try not to kill anyone.

Birdie said...

I have seen a number of families divided over wills. I have learned to have no expectations whatsoever, and I am planning my future accordingly. If something comes my way, I am grateful. But no one should tell me what to do with my possessions, so I cannot tell anyone else what they should do. Greed is ugly.

daveincleveland said...

so very sorry to hear about all this strife in the family...you guys sure have had your share last year or so.....will keep you in thoughts and prayers that this can be worked out...does not appear to really be your aunts fault but more good ole cousin tom....perhaps you could get a new neutral lawyer to fix things...hope all goes well buddy

Ur-spo said...

Family wills really bring out the ugly in the family.
I think I come from a very positive family has never fought amongst itself - yet my partner is certain that when the parent scope or will be ugly fights. I sure hope it is not so.

Wayne said...

In my 32 year doing hair, you can't imagine the number of customers who's family turns into vultures upon a relatives death. People who got along swimingly before, turn on each other. Very sad. A lot of families aren't as close as they'd like to think.

Lemuel said...

That is so sad, but it is common, I fear. I recall my aunt fighting with my father over his desire to give my grandmother's rusted old garden shovel in the 1970's to me for use in my garden. My aunt argued that it could be "sold at auction for *good* money". It fetched twenty-five cents.

tornwordo said...

Money is the root of all evil, and this is one reason why. Cousin tom's a little shit stirring fucker.

Ahem.

bridgeout said...

Yes... the _love_ of money is the root of all evil... and division. Wouldn't it be nice to rewind to a more unified and person oriented time? {sigh}...

Anthony said...

oh rue the day of the family will. trust me. it all comes to naught.

Anonymous said...

Wow...Perhaps Aunt Ruth really
isn't in her right mind...She may
be having things put in there by
cousin Tom...She is 87...It's easy
to brainwash people who are older
and more vulnerable...And since
nobody but Cousin Tom and the
lawyer know what is really in that
new will you can demand to see
that it is what she really wishes
to have done...

Just don't make Aunt Ruth suffer
for what your cousin has done...


TACKLE YOU HUGS!!!!!!!!!!!

Laurie

Stacey said...

So sad and so common. My two surviving aunts on my dad's side are currently not speaking to one another due to division of assets from their 3 sister who passed away a few months ago. It was a stupid, stupid fight, neither of them truly needs the money, and they let it create this huge rift. They are 67 and 71. What a waste.