Bills Before Wills

I readily admit that I’ve been more than a bit scattered since my Mom died.  As such, I don’t feel that I fully grasp information, or even that I’ve gotten the full picture.  Because of this, I’ve asked the same question over and over, and I worked to get my family to slow down on distributing things from Mom’s house.  As such, only two “things” were exempt from the will, which meant everything else belonged to the estate.

This is where things got rocky from the start and caused a major earthquake sized “FUCK YOU” in my last childhood sibling relationship (the other one being dead; and the other 3 not having grown up with us). I finally, last Sunday, got the FINAL WORD on what to do.  It was, yes a sentimental item or two can be taken and can be overlooked (provided it’s really not valuable).  Aside from that, everything else belongs to the estate and, as the executor (read: Estate’s Bitch/Pip/Minion) it’s my job to sell them to pay of the deceased’s debts.

Yes, friends.  BILLS BEFORE WILLS.  Although it is LISTED in the will that the executor can, and indeed may need to, sell the personal items to try to settle the estate, I wasn’t really sure to what extent that was necessary.  It’s pretty necessary since I have to list pretty much EVERYTHING, where it went, and what it went for. Which means that I can be sued for mismanaging the estate’s assets.

You’d think with information like this, that my family would lighten up on me.  Instead a full-fledged attack was waged on my character and actions.  Since 90% of this was on Facebook, and I was pretty busy trying to clean up my Mom’s house to put on the market, I missed it.  That said, people who had a glimpse of the vitriol prior to being blocked were stunned.  I’m guessing it’s hard to be considered the victim and good person when you’re writing amazingly hateful things about someone on a public forum.  Then again, there is the small blessing of business combined with a lack of smart phone that kept me from knowing, partaking, or even commenting on said campaign.  Which is good, because, in the immortal words of Chris Trees, “Don’t engage the Trolls.”

Since this whole thing began, it’s been a huge issue that I would have to sell my mom’s possessions to satisfy her debts.  Yet, it never ceases to amaze me how people can think that I WANT to do this.  As if, of all the options in the world, selling things to satisfy bills was my idea of fun and entertainment? But then it finally dawned on me, we aren’t talking about people of integrity or honor to begin with.  After all, the same people who would readily allow my mom to live in filth; borrowed large amounts of money which were not repaid either a) at all, b) in entirety, or c) in cash, or d) all of the above; and who accepted lavish gifts of dinners, items or bill paying placed on her credit card were not the kind of people who would feel that following the law was a priority.  After all, they don’t pay their bills so why should the estate?

You’d think after all of this, I’d be broken and wounded.  Instead, I feel relieved.  Now that the rest of the family refuses to have anything to do with me, I’m free.

Just as soon as I settle this estate.



Stream of Consciousness

Normally I’m so very in touch with my feelings.  Normally.

Normally I can name them even when someone doesn’t want to hear them. Normally.

Yesterday normal stopped, and it hasn’t restarted yet.  I don’t have words for my feelings.  In fact, they’re lost, rumbling around in my brain, not sure where to go.

You see, my brother, Michael, died yesterday.

Since I don’t live near my family, my communication lifeline is a phone.  Of course I was at school.  Students come on Wednesday. There’s so much to do. My friend, Carol, was with me correcting some of my bigger mistakes.  Then the text.  He had been taken to the hospital, and my mom was going up.

The calls back and forth trying to figure it all out.  My sister, Christine, called to tell me.  I didn’t cry.  I still haven’t.  I don’t know why.

Some might blame my anti-depressant, but I don’t think that’s it.  I think it’s that, because we didn’t really have a relationship, I didn’t lose anything.  Which is just horrifying, sad, pathetic, and awful.  To think when someone leaves that you’re sad because he was so young (46), he had children just out of high school (19 and 20), that he’d already had heart problems but that he went to the doctor every three months so why?  My thoughts aren’t “I’ll never see him again.”  I rarely saw him, and when I did it was for short periods of time.  I’m not thinking, “I’ll never hear from him.” We didn’t call, email, FB post, comment, send letters or even carrier pigeons. In fact, I have the same relationship with him that I always had.  One of hearing about him, but not experiencing life with him

I’d like to think that this feeling of being numb is just shock.  I’d like to believe that at one point I will fully mourn the loss of my brother.  Yet, perhaps, I’d already lost him a long time ago in old battles, perceived hurts, judgments, and estrangement.  Perhaps the only thing left to mourn is the place where we come together as family, united, and have a real, authentic relationship with one another. There is no chance of that ever happening now.

Yet, he will live on.  As an organ donor he was able to donate many, many parts so that up to 100 other people can benefit.  His eyes, bones, veins, heart valve, and skin will all help other people.  Because he was stationed overseas in the first Iraqi conflict, there were organs that couldn’t be used.  Yet, to improve the lives of many in death is a wonderful legacy.  As my niece pointed out, whoever gets his skin is lucky.  He had the most beautiful skin — clear with a gorgeous complexion.

So to my brother who died at the same age as our father, I say good-bye.  I wish I had known you better.  I wish we’d made each other better, stronger, and happier through collaboration rather than being separated through competition.  I wish you’d had a happier life — fulfilled.  I hope in whatever is next, for you were a believer, that it is an afterlife worth being in for eternity.  I wish you great love.  I’m not sure you always had that.

Rest in peace.

Love, Obsession, Admiration

the past six months
have found me
confused, befuddled

i didn’t realize
the connection
until I was reiterating
that steve jobs said
you can only connect

and i realized
i was sorry he was gone

i’d called him satan’s schlub
so many times because of the cult
that followed him
but realized it was with
great affection

because i found him admirable
in that he reminded me of

if it were he alone
i think i’d be ok
but then rem
called it quits

and i thought i was ok
with it because
i hadn’t been in love
or even like with them
for a while

but in truth
i wanted to be
i wanted to feel the joy
of listening on infinite
repeat the latest cd

which never came

instead, there was an
achingly beautiful
good-bye that broke
my heart

it still does

that hurts more

but the genesis
was the loss of
my beautiful baby girl

my cat

yes, i know
“just a cat”

but she wasn’t
she was my pride,
my joy, my brag
she never appeared old
until she was dying

i promised her
she could die at home

i never imagined she’d
die alone

and i would be stuck in a
work meeting that meant
less to me than
any one moment

with my sweetest love

in my rush to move forward
i’d forgotten to mourn

my love, my obsession, and
my admiration


I have to say that I’ve been somewhat fortunate in my life to have known limited sorrow.   When I was younger and my grandmothers died, I thought it was due to being old.  Of course, now that my mother is older than either would ever become, I know they were not old.  I feel sad for the loss of knowing one, my Grandma Conn.  The other, however, was scary.   The reason became clear after her death, but that’s another story.  The same with my grandfather’s passing.  He was older and had a bad heart.  It was sad, but not tragic.

My father’s passing was not exactly unexpected; although it was a surprise.  He was due for another round of open heart surgery.  He didn’t want it.  I knew that.  His life had rarely been easy for him.  There were a lot of obstacles in his path.  While I knew he was sick, I always assumed there’d be one more day.  In fact he told me that his last night when I went off to do something — we’ll do it tomorrow.  Well…

There isn’t always tomorrow.

This is the tragedy of death for the survivors.  There wasn’t that last day.  I think of this as Carol, my tribe-member from Olinder, called me to let me know that her brother was in the hospital.  Last week was the four-year anniversary of her daughter’s death and the eight-year anniversary of her sister’s.  I know this weighs heavily on her.  It makes her hurt in ways that others can’t imagine.  She is family oriented — she loves the family dinner — with a family that continues to get smaller.  Her pain is obvious.  Yet, what platitude do you deliver to someone who’s lost their husband, child, and sibling who may lose another?  She is silent in her sadness.  After all, I think she thinks, what do you say?  What is left to say?  Is this how it is when you’re really old and everyone has gone before you?  But Carol’s not old…

My own family has faced the tragedy of the unexpected death many times in the last two years.  Rather than circle the wagons to protect what’s left, each tends to erect a bunker with a huge, barbed wire fence, a moat, and a grenade launcher.  In sadness that seems too deep to touch, we dare each other to come near us for condolence; then lament that there is no one there to ease the pain.  We play martyr to whom?  ….and for what cause?

I think we mark the passing of the years for loved ones whose deaths “make sense” to us.  For the tragedies, though, we sit in fear of what the day will do to us.  Time circling back to deliver the blow fresh, as though time never passed.  With tragedy death we take on guilt.  We ascribe blame.  We try desperately to make sense of the senseless.  We rail against the circle of life because it didn’t spin the way we expected it too.

It just now occurs to me, if love is a warm blanket; then sorrow is a fog that envelopes our house.  We just need to remember, that behind the clouds is the sun.