Home > Uncategorized > Preparing for Death – part 2

Preparing for Death – part 2

IMG (2)The one thing that I truly was not expecting when my father died, was to be almost completely cut out of the days after.

I was laying in bed tonight, tossing and turning, as happens a lot now, so I finally got up to write my story down.

Everyone who knows the me that I was when my father was alive, knows the bond we shared. I was the pal, who even at my youngest age, was the one who was always by my dad’s side. Even after he and my mom divorced he still arrived at our house to pick me up … and was amazingly prompt and always happy to see me. We’d drive to his place with me on the armrest of his Buick, seated right next to him, listening to my Disney tapes or Kenney Rogers. As I grew, some nights we’d share a bag of sour cream and onion Lay’s potato chips and watch the Muppets, that turned into Knight Rider, that turned into Dukes of Hazzard … and generally a race day and sometimes even a Red Sox game and through high school, turned into a lot of my games.

IMG_0005So when he said, some 30 years later, that he was getting married again, I was overjoyed … for him. Not for me. As my friends and family will tell you, the Mrs. didn’t like me (or the family, or the friends). It was a nearly impossible time. The new pair didn’t invite me to the one daughter’s wedding, which maybe was the step-sister’s choice. And just before he died, they took a trip to Boston where I’d lived my weekends with him, watched him and my cousins all run the Boston Marathon, where we went to games and races – our home away from home – and I wasn’t even included.

But I never, ever, ever thought that when my father was gone from this world, that I would be an outsider at his funeral and to his wishes.

When dad died, I was on a plane headed to see him. I spent the weekend at our place – in Newport RI. He’d been taking me there since before I can remember.  I’d made that choice because I hadn’t seen my family since Christmas and we have the best opportunity to get together in Rhode Island, only an hour or so from where I grew up. There are hundreds, if not thousands of memories from there. Like the year he bought me a $500 car and while he was heading up there with his nephew, my cousin, the engine went! Fortunately I had his car and couldn’t be blamed for  the mishap. Or the years before they put the fencing under the condo and we could run right down to the water. Or the year I got my kite stuck in the lamp light. We used to spend hours on the point flying the best kites.groupnewport Then there was the year my college friends all came down. We all, including dad, had a blast! Although the year we went to look a a family grave site in Connecticut wasn’t all that fun. But as I was saying, I was headed to see him the morning I was told he died. However, in just re-reading an email from November it seems as though a friend of his was told he died that evening … so why would I get a voice message halfway to Florida that my father was dead?

Whatever the reason or maybe the mix-up, I got a voice mail saying my father died while I was flying, or just before I was flying, and that I should turn around and go back to Rhode Island. It was horrible. I had no idea what to do. Would you go to a place where you were clearly not welcome? I was trying to be respectful and yet, it was not a respectful request.

IMG_0005But I did what I thought was right, as I always had, to protect my father. I should have told my father about her upfront. But I didn’t and that is on me. So now I have to live with all that has happened since … he told me and his family that he had worked on a Will. She and the lawyer say there isn’t one. Always, always make sure you know where it is to be held. Don’t have faith in people or in the system, have faith in yourself. This is the single best thing anyone can do to save themselves a lot of hurt and trouble. When things go ‘missing’ and there’s only one person who can make that happen, like the American flag that finally found it’s way to my home 6 months after dad died, you can only blame yourself. Dad told me to find it, and I couldn’t. I was removed for cleaning up his office, even though I was always the one to do this task, from the time I was small. I never believed that when he died, greed (or possibly entitlement?) would take over in her.

I tried to call my dad’s wife when I finally made it back to Rhode Island and drove home to North Carolina. I only got voicemail. She never returned that call to tell me when she’d be holding the funeral. I wasn’t included in that either. Even as his only heir, in her eyes I obviously had no rights. I’d written an obituary, instead she had her son-in-law write one … and his age was wrong. He died a few days shy of his 67th birthday. My mom found his obituary and funeral arrangements online before I got the generic group email of when the service would be.

The true betrayal is that the place I wrote about earlier, the one in Rhode Island, was the only thing I had asked for in his death. It was our place. The one placeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I would still be able to go to, that I had with him almost all my life. The place we shared before her. Very much like the places she had before him, I would never dream of taking them from her. She and her lawyer, who my father phoned multiple times and sent emails to regarding the deeds, have completely ignored my one request and my father’s obvious wish. I’ve basically been blocked from her home, wasn’t even invited there after the funeral, had never been invited to the place my father re-vamped for her in California, will never see his car, computers (that I maintained for him), the sailboat, the bank account with the Meso settlement checks coming in, she liked the iPhone cover I got him, so that didn’t come back, the 2 vintage  cars he financed almost complete overhauls on, and the time in Newport. I’m not saying I didn’t get anything. My grandmother started something that my father continued and that I now have, and to me, that legacy is incredible and I am grateful. I’m so grateful that was done outside of good faith. And I believed. It was our FAMILY place. She doesn’t want our family but she feels it’s within her rights to our place.

Like I wrote in Part 1, Preparing for the Death of a Loved One, have conversations. Follow up. And don’t leave anything you want to hold onto to chance. Death brings out terrible things. I’ve heard about it and seen it before. I just thought that since she and the lawyer, both had his wishes in writing, that they would have executed them when he asked and when he was alive. It doesn’t work like that. People are lazy, they are busy and they lie. Don’t let it happen to you. Talk.  Decide. Get the paperwork.

And yet the attorney didn't do this then or when we called him in the last weeks and days of dad's life.

And yet the attorney didn’t do this then or when we called him in the last weeks and days of dad’s life.

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