A Common Occurrence

I sat across the table from my sister-in-law and listened to my brother tell us things we already knew. We were gathered in the kitchen of the rented house, some at the window seat, some here at the table, a few of the brother-in-laws leaning against the counter picking at the food set out there. For the first time in three days no one spoke much. No one was swearing or drinking. We all just sat in our own minds.

“He said he’s seen this a lot. It’s terrible, but a super common situation.”

A wave of rage batters the shore in my mind. I know Dad picked 2 because he’s the most successful, business wise. But he’s also the kindest.

Who leaves a mess like this for their kids to clean up?

“He said old men are just weak. He sees it all the time.” My brother shakes his head.


It doesn’t make any of us feel any better.

“I really think he thought he’d live forever. I don’t think he did this on purpose. He just thought he’d never die, thought he had another twenty years, at least!”

I think my brother is probably right, but I can’t feel it.

In the past three years, too many things have gone wrong all starting with mom’s sudden death. The kicker being that it wasn’t even cancer that killed her. After ten years of that bullshit, it wasn’t even the cancer that did it.  My father’s relief was more apparent than his grief, that was the next blow. Two of the seven children are still down for the count from that one. The other five soldiered on for eighty days until the next blow. He called each of us announcing his marriage. One was happy for him. The rest looked on in shocked silence. Not the reactions he was looking for, three months after his wedding he changed his will.

He left her everything.

Not just allowed her to live in the house until her death, but also, the final blow, left her all the personal possessions. Not just his, but everything of mom’s still in the house.

When she dies the house and property come back to the kids.

When she dies.

As I walked into the viewing, the same room mom’s was in, the first thing I heard was the second wife’s voice.

“No, he left me everything. There’s a will.”

I turned around and walked back out.

It’s nothing I didn’t already know, but hearing the words from her mouth make me very aware of that fine line that keeps me out of prison. That very thin line that defines me as human.

Out on the sidewalk in the cold night, I try to remember the last time I wanted to see someone dead. Okay, not that hard to remember, there are only two others. Is that number high?

I think about Kirk. It was almost thirty years ago. Back then I ran away to Hawaii. The distance helped but it took years to put myself back together.  Now, there are no beaches, no palm trees, nothing that resembles warmth on my horizon. Not this time. hawaii

He died on the toilet. Three years to the day after mom. He’d had a recent shoulder surgery and died of heart failure.

I like to think she slapped him silly when she saw him. Then I wonder if she hugged him and commiserated with him, stupid, ungrateful children? I wonder what she thought of his second choice in wives? I wonder if the two of them think of us and are embarrassed over the mess they’ve left us to sort? Did they watch her dismantle their great room, selling off rare plants and trees they’d had longer than any of their children?

That was just the Monday after the funeral. She waited till Tuesday to start posting their personal effects on Facebook Market.

Mostly, I wonder how long she‘ll live.


0 thoughts on “A Common Occurrence”

      1. I’m just beside myself about that will. No wonder you’ve been stewing. It’s like thing after thing after thing, just as you say.

        1. We’re still in probate but again tonight I sent some screen caps to the executor because she’s selling off more of moms things. It just doesn’t end and I can’t stop looking!

          1. I just can’t imagine what kind of unmitigated bitch would sell or give away stuff that she knows has sentimental meaning to a large group of people. There is a person without a soul.

      1. We found out my dad had another woman whom he bought a house for in cash and put it in her name. This after he asked for money from each of his kids every month and also forged his wife’s signature on legal real estate documents leaving everyone a grand mess to deal with when he died. No wonder he told us not to return to the Philippines for his funeral. He knew it would be a mess and three or four years later (whenever I started writing like a fiend, 2013 maybe?) my older brother is still sorting out the mess with a lawyer over there. But we can’t touch that other woman’s house at all. That’s all hers, free and clear with everyone else’s money.

        Sometimes I worry that people think me cold for not talking about him or thinking about him (I have to look at my MM blog to see when he died because I don’t light candles for him), but all I can think of are the lies he told me month after month while asking for money that should have gone toward my son, his own grandson.

        I don’t get people most times, that’s why I write my stories and figure people out that way through my characters. They’re more predictable and if they do anything stupid, I can kill them off.

          1. I think I wrote him in Collateral as Heath’s dad. Kinda indirectly but not really. Mostly in passing but I think that’s one reason why that book was a catharsis for me to write when it came to certain parts.

          2. Write it anyway. You’d be surprised. I know when I wrote someone who resembled my dad in Collateral I was writing what I knew and whether or not anyone would believe it wasn’t a concern for me. It was cathartic to get it out on paper and process it because it’s the only way I process things. I may not admit it right there but the denials mellow with time until I can finally say I wrote him into my stories even if it’s not the most flattering character but it shaped my hero/heroine to be the way he/she was. It shaped me to become the way I am.

          3. Right now it just makes me so mad to think about him, or write about them. I suppose it will come out when I need it. I’m getting worse and worse at keeping things buried.

          4. I think such things come out when they’re ready or when you’re ready. I never thought I’d write about him in my stories but it happened although it was so subtle that no one would know who I meant but me then. I think Heath’s acceptance of that’s how his father just was my way of allowing myself that feeling, too. To me, writing about it in that way was cheaper than therapy.

  1. The pure brass neck of the woman! No one could be unaware of the sheer impropriety of her actions, she knows she’s doing wrong, it’s incredibly spiteful. And I’d abso-bleedin-lutly go with the voodoo doll option!

          1. It would be a great novel plot, actually — vengeance a la Ocean’s 8. Or Murder on the Orient Express.

  2. Awful people exist. My uncle stole from his mother and 7 siblings—though found out, he never paid anyone back. It was like an earthquake through the family as he had taken the meat of their inheritance. I’m so sorry that you are going through this now. She seems to be acting spitefully by selling off things that a considerate person might give to the children. Perhaps she is acting in a way that your father wouldn’t have approved of or expected. Regardless, it is cruel and nasty of her to act this way. I hope you’ll have justice in the end!

    1. I wish I wasn’t so surprised by your opening statement! But I admit, they seem to always catch me off guard.
      I doubt that justice is in the future. I just wait for the day she kicks the bucket and we get whatever she didn’t have time or inclination to sell. I look forward to the end of having to deal with it.

  3. Wow, Carly, that is just terrible. I would expect that your father never foresaw this happening, where the person he had chosen would treat his children with such disregard. I do hope that there is some legal solution, or that the executor can talk some sense into her. Wishing strength and peace for you.

    1. I try to let it stay a good thousand miles away. Some-days that’s easy, some-days not. I would urge anyone in a similar situation to verify the will and their father’s wishes.

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