I will try to make this as short as possible, but some back story is required. My mother was divorced in 1984. A few years later she met a wonderful person. Both were divorced, so they took things slowly as neither wanted to rush into another marriage. Time went on, they lived together, and as the years passed the need to get married seemed less and less. They owned houses and cars together and the thought of spending money on a big party to celebrate their love seemed silly. They were both in their forties when they met and would frankly rather spend their money on other things. They’ve been to Paris, and taken cruises, really enjoyed themselves. They have been together for 22 years now. For the purposes of this story I shall refer to them as my mom and her partner.
Right after my mom divorced she met a couple we will call her “friends”. They have rarely lived in the same city, but have remained friends for 25 years. They have kept in touch by phone and visited when they could.
My mother and her partner live on the west coast. They had previously spent about 15 years in the Midwest. The plan was always to move back to the Midwest. So about 5 years ago they purchased their dream house, a large Victorian, and started renovations. The goal was to work on the house while they were still working and making a nice salary on the west coast. Then, by the time they were ready to retire they would move back to their dream house. The renovations were all done with this in mind. The laundry was put upstairs so that they would not have to carry laundry baskets when they got older, the bathroom has a separate tub and shower for easy access, that kind of thing. The house has minimal furnishings in it, only the basics for when they visit, as they were going to bring all of their antiques and other furniture when they moved.
Now we are at the present. Two weeks ago, my mother was feeling “off”. She went to the doctor and had some tests. It was discovered that she has a brain tumor. Stage 4 cancer. There is nothing they can do. The surgeons have given her approximately 6 weeks to live. She is 62 and was just starting to think about retirement. Her partner and I have been in constant communication. I currently live 2,200 miles away so cell phones have been a blessing. I should state I am an only child.
Now, I have left all decisions up to her partner. My feeling is they have been together 22 years, they might as well be married. I am here for any support needed and if my opinion is asked I happily give it. Since they are not married, I am the only legal heir. They do however each have a will naming the other. I told her partner from the beginning, I don’t want anything. Everything belongs to the two of you. You worked for it, you earned it, it is yours. This is going to be very difficult not only emotionally, but financially. My mother actually earned quite a bit more money and the financial strain is going to be enormous. I said, sell anything you want and use the money, you’re going to need every dime. I’m 44 years old and have built my own life, I don’t need anything of yours, just make sure you’re going to be able to survive.
So of course their dream house will be one of the first things sold. It is way too large for one person and frankly it was my mother’s dream. You can’t walk through there without feeling her in every corner. Her partner has decided to stay in the house they own on the west coast as it is smaller and the mortgage is less.
Here comes the tacky part. My mothers “friends” the couple I mentioned in the beginning of the story live about 20 minutes from the retirement house and for some reason my mother had given them a key. Most likely so that they could check on the contractors for her and that kind of thing. When they heard of my mothers illness, they went to the house. The walked through the entire house and made a list of all the things they “wanted”. These things include the brand new couch, my mothers old car which is stored in the garage for when they visit, a few antiques that were bought locally, brand new appliances, and other small items. They called my mother who is easily confused because of where the tumor is sitting and gave her their list.
First of all, she is still ALIVE. Second, why in the world would they think they are going to be given these expensive items? They did not ask for mementos of my mother. No pictures, or books, or letters. Just the most expensive and newest items they could find in the house. Needless to say, they are getting nothing. It is amazing to me that people hear of this kind of tragedy and their first thought is “what’s in it for me”. 0909-10
Condolences, LW, on the impending passing of your mother.
There was a quote by Elizabeth York that I used in my second book that went like this, “Weddings are fabulous crucibles that reveal the character of all those involved.” As I’ve grown older and encountered more funeral and death related situations, I’ve amended that to, “Funerals are fabulous crucibles that reveal the character of all involved.” Weddings may be the harbinger of latent character flaws but a death in the family will *really* bring out either the best or worst of people in ways one would have never expected.