I Got Your Inheritance Right Here

By Vincent Garnell


When my mother died, she left a substantial inheritance to be shared between myself and my three brothers.

The day we all gathered for the reading of the will was the single most awful day of my life and my brothers that were once very close to me had now become my enemies.

My older brother wanted me to agree with them that our big family house should be sold and my other siblings agreed.  I wanted to keep the old home which was full of wonderful memories of our childhood but they felt nothing for it and its history.  To them, it was just an old building, and they wanted the money to buy new cars and condos in Hawaii.

I was so angry that they did not care about our family history.  I was so disappointed that they were not interested in preserving what was once so important to us all and was now cast aside.  My older brother claimed that he was due most of the inheritance because he had greater needs than the rest of us. He had four children and his wife was a social climber and wanted a prestigious modern house to live in.

The will was read and my older brother beamed when my mother’s wishes were read stating that he be the final word on all matters of finance and property.  He decided that he would sell the house and keep most of the profits.

When my father died a year earlier, my brother promised my mother that he would never sell the old house and that it would always remain in the family no matter what.  She left him in control of the entire estate believing that he would be true blue just like dad was throughout his life.

Mother had suffered the rigors of dementia before she died and my brother did not come to see her at all because he claimed it was too disturbing to his wife. She could not tolerate the mood swings:  happy, sad, angry.  It was all so loathsome to her, and my brother backed her to the hilt.

My mother would always ask for him:  Where was he?”  Why did he not come to her when she needed him?  I tried to get him to come to see her without his wife, but she was intractable.  She would not be coming to visit mom and she would not allow him to do so either.

Mom eventually rationalized his absence.  One morning, she suddenly announced that she wanted to go visit his grave site.  Before she died, and in her delusional state, she started telling everyone that her son had been killed in a car accident as he was on his way to visit her.

“When I die I will be buried right next to my loving son and we will be in heaven together very soon.”  She would whisper these words over and over to herself.

We did not have the heart to tell her that he was forbidden to visit.  So we just went along with her sweet fantasy.  We never tried to have her change the will because that would have broken her heart to know he was still alive but would not come to see her in the living years.

Suddenly, there were four lawyers representing four different factions.  My other two brothers did not like the idea that the older one was taking the lion’s share of the estate for himself.  They had “needs”, and like him, they were out for themselves first.

Loud and angry diatribes were hurled back and forth between them as I stood on the sidelines watching in disgust.  My once loving brothers had now turned on each other over the root of all evil.  The sin of greed stood tall and all of the evil that comes with it was now swirling around us all like some terrible leakage of raw sewage.

Suddenly, I am devoid of family as surely as if they have all left for another country far away.   Even though I am alone, I am fine with it.  They had become greedy rivals and fought viciously for “my share” leaving only the echo of the loving family I once had.  It was gone forever.  I did not care because to see them fighting like lions and tearing each other to pieces was like being in an everlasting nightmare.

The loving memories I once had are now as dead as dead flowers.  As I stand by my mother’s grave, the autumn leaves fly by in a strong wind.  I watch them as they dance across the graves and disappear out of sight.  They are gone never to return again.

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One Response to I Got Your Inheritance Right Here

  1. Mike O'Keefe says:

    Vincent, I feel your pain!!! I went through a similar situation of the “before death” part of your story where I wanted to keep the family home. Also similar is my Dad had a stroke and trusted the wrong people. I had been the executor of his will for 20+ years prior to his stroke. Less than a month after his stroke a Trust was established which I was not told about but found out about approximately 14 months later. The Trust dictated the family home be sold. When I found out about the Trust I was angry. My stepmother called later that afternoon to say my Father and I should not see each other for a few weeks, a “cooling off period”, that lasted about five years. Then, after all that time, my stepmother called and told me she placed him in the Coronado nursing home because his dementia was too bad to care for him. I was then able to “see him” or should I say care for him. She visited him sporadically at first then stopped altogether. Shortly thereafter my stepmother moved him to Imperial Beach three days before moving to the East Coast to be near her children. We asked for but did not receive even a limited medical power of attorney. We were not given even so much as an ID card but assumed responsibility for his care and daily visitation. She refused to reimburse us for any necessities we would buy for him…even refusing to replace his electric razor! I cared for him for the last 14 months of his life until my stepmother decided to enforce his DNR terms and not allow him to receive IV fluids/antibiotics for an infection and dehydration which she had allowed on numerous other hospital visits, the last just within the last week. She returned only one time for a few days since her move and I was told she tried to take him off one of his primary medications but the doctor refused. He passed away August 3, 2013 and I am evaluating my options. It is difficult for me because my Dad’s house is only a few blocks from mine and I pass it quite often. I understand it was listed for sale a few days ago although there is no sign at the house. Like you, different family members are providing advice based on their wants, needs, understanding of the true circumstances as well as legal knowledge. My followup journey has just begun which will be difficult no matter the course I take due to my own medical problems. I do feel your pain and hope that you have found a good spot in the intervening years. I will leave it at that for now but perhaps provide an update next year as to what transpired from today till then.

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