I almost called this one “Why are friends better than family? Because you can choose them!”. What brings up such wonderful thoughts? Rummaging through old photographs in this case. As I thumbed through hundreds (maybe a thousand if I took the time to count), I ran across this picture of my Aunt Norma (my Father’s sister)
What is it about a death in the family that makes relatives act like sharks in a small pool of water that’s had a 55 gallon drum of chum dumped in it? Seriously, why do we defile a person’s lifetime by fighting over what they’ve left behind? Fortunately, my family won’t have that problem when I pass because no one will want to fight over my bills.
I digress, back to the thoughts wandering around in my brainpan. When my Father passed away, he left my Mother about $300,000 in life insurance. Mind you, this was in 1983. According to the latest figures I could put my hands on rapidly, this would equate to $589,712.43 in 2011. Quite a chunk of change, I’d say. My Aunt claimed that my Dad had promised her a certain amount of money (I don’t remember the number, but it was miniscule in relation to the total my Mother had just received). Unfortunately neither my Aunt or Dad had put anything in writing and my Dad had not said anything about the (alleged) verbal contract. Needless to say, Mom never paid and relations with my Dad’s side of the family (my Aunt, my Cousin, and my Grandmother) weren’t just strained, they were practically non-existent. My Aunt was so bitter about the whole thing that, years later, she waited until months after my Grandmother passed to even notify us. Granted, we should have been in contact more often but that’s a two-way street. Not too long after my Grandmother passed, so did my Aunt. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to speak to her before her passing and to tell her I loved her.
After she passed, my Cousin and I got to speak to each other a few times (which we hadn’t done for years). Unfortunately, the second or third time we talked was our last. His seventh fight with four different kinds of cancer took him before we had a chance to really get to know each other again.
Once again, when my Grandfather (Mom’s dad) passed there was much squabbling over who got what and who was owed how much. It felt like Deja Vu all over again.
I just don’t understand why the money and material possessions of a deceased relative have such power to split families and create divides where there needn’t be any. It’s not like someone is taking something away from you, you never had it in the first place. I hope that, when I pass, everyone just waves at the guys carting my body off for medical research and tries to remember the good about me and that they are brought closer together and not torn apart from one another.
End of bad thoughts, on with the good.
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.”
A mere twenty words, yet it speaks absolutely and completely of what we truly leave behind on this, the third rock from our sun, upon our souls departure. This quote speaks more to me now than ever before in my life as I realize what I have left in my past. Some of it has not been positive (I probably understate when I say some). It is my hope that the positive, past, present and future will overshadow the negative. I will have no words engraved in stone monuments (donating my body to science, I won’t have much use for the beat up old thing), so I pray and strive each day to make just one person’s day a little brighter. The world would be a much more hospitable place if even half of the souls on board would make that same commitment.
- What you leave behind (scrapbooklady.typepad.com)
On this day in 1983 I got THE phone call informing me that my father had passed from this world. He was only 47 years old and I was 28. He had been suffering from the same cancer that I currently have (but is in remission). Just the morning before I had called to see how he was doing and if I should put off going on a business trip for the company he owned and that I worked for. Needless to say that was one of the worst moments of my life. Fortunately for he and I both, we had had time to say the things that often aren’t said before one passes.
On this day (and many others) I reflect on who my Dad was and what he tried (sometimes succeeding immediately and sometimes much later) to teach me. Above all, he (like many parents) wanted me to have an easier life than he had. His parents had been through the depression, he had seen some tough times and struggled to get where he was (the owner of a company with three offices, close to 50 employees and gross income over a million dollars a year). He wanted me to graduate from college, start a good career and live a “successful” life. He didn’t want me to have to struggle to make ends meet like he had to do at times.
I don’t think what my life has ended up being is what he had in mind, but I know he understands that I worked hard (like he taught me to), though I never graduated from college and that I am happy with my life. It hasn’t been easy, mainly because I didn’t learn most of the lessons he tried to teach me until I had made the mistakes and finally realized what he was trying to teach me. I did finally learn those lessons.
I tried, as he did, to teach the same to my children with the same results Neither of my boys has learned the easy way, but they have learned and I’m very proud of them for accomplishing what they have in their lives.
Dad, if you’re watching me type this (or reading it or listening to my thoughts, however it works) please know that you accomplished your goal and that I love you and miss you and wish you could be here so that you could play with your great grand children and know your grandchildren as adults.