I found out today that Cousin T and Baby Sis are finally in Las Vegas, and they have started cleaning out Auntie’s house as part of settling her affairs. Her chaotic, borderline hoarder, mini mansion track home within 15 miles of the Las Vegas strip.
Until the call today, I didn’t realize what a mix of relief and insult I was carrying around from being replaced as her executrix – even though I’d told Auntie to replace me many times. Even though I am not on top of things enough in my own life to handle the work that closeout entails. I’d already been through a nightmarish cleanout of Auntie’s Florida home, with the help of Cousin T, her neighbors, her housekeeper and Auntie herself. 2010. Off work from the big fruit company for the Winter shutdown holidays. Chaos, that I should want no part of… and yet I’m a mix of guilt for being relieved, as well as frustration that I’m also NOT allowed to help in person because Baby Sis wants no part of me.
Of course, because I know where most of the bodies are buried, the phone calls from Cousin T have continued for the past 4 months as they pick my brains for information.
Today’s call was to ask if I wanted anything specific of Auntie’s possessions. Anything that I might have valued which I gifted to her over the years. I reminded them that I’m trying to pare down my own possessions and didn’t want or need anything. [You’d think Cousin T would have remembered that I took nothing from Auntie’s home during the Florida cleanout. However, since she shipped a number of items to her own home, and neighbors were grabbing anything Auntie offered (only to have her later claw the items back, claiming her relocation was made under duress), that chaotic time was to be endured and got through. Not to be enjoyed and not to be re-experienced by recalling who got what. But, I remember. Sadly, I always remember].
I don’t need the nightmare of work sorting through past-due bills, manipulative car or money loans to virtual strangers, and certainly not the filth left behind from her unschooled dogs. Somehow, though, my feelings are hurt because I’m not there. Not doing one final chore of paying my respects by servitude.
No one else in the family is there and helping, yet I still feel I’m being derelict in my duties to my Aunt. To my sister and cousin. Family shows up, and I’m not allowed to do so. My Orphan status is emphasized again. I’m no longer family.
Like I said, I’m feeling guilty relief.
I still feel the trauma of that long ago 1975 Friday night May evening, when we were pulling everything out of the house, parking it all at the curb of our 200 year old house and barn. I was 15 years old, 4 years into my parent’s dirty little turf war, and preparing for my home to be sold at auction the next morning. Almost 3,000 square feet of space between the house, the basement and the garage / workshop / loft and barn.
Everything that we couldn’t take with us into homelessness parked and on display for the world to judge as worthy or unworthy for rehoming. For a new life without us. Neighbors and strangers picking through our so-called trash. Cars lined up at the curb, waiting to grab whatever tools or heirlooms were being dragged to the curb. Surreal. Ugly, even though everyone was well-behaved. The vultures were circling, picking over our misery and misfortune. All thanks to Daddy Dearest valuing money and pain over sanity and decency in keeping his children housed and sheltered.
Mom didn’t know where we were going to land. Dad was certain the judge, after the house was auctioned out from under us, would take us away from our Mom, helping him by twisting the knife in the wound he’d made with his infidelities and unhappiness with his life. I’d already met with Dad’s lawyer in in 1974, refusing to turn against my Mom and lie about accusations of maternal abuse for my father. I wanted no part of his total annihilation plan, as I was assured that the judge would decide where it was best for Baby Sis and me to live, Big Brother having already moved in with our father at the bachelor’s boarding home down the street.
Down but not defeated, Mom managed to broker a deal to sell the house at the 11th hour, avoiding the final humiliation of an Auctioneer in the front yard. With a few weeks to complete the paperwork she got us moved into an actual address, a 1940’s tract home nightmare / DIY dream of mold and mildew, endless repairs, and DIY rehabbing.
Why do I tell you all this? Because homes are a lot of work. People and their emotions are a lot of work. Fighting over assets is so not my scene. I don’t know why I can’t be content like any other beneficiaries of Auntie’s estate to just leave things to the Trustee Duo, but I can’t. Being excluded hurts. I’ve been Auntie’s caregiver, long distance, since my Mom’s COPD took control in 1998. 22 years of long distance caregiving. I’ve certainly given my share of love and care and inclusion that is the duty one owes to family members. I know it will be nice to have whatever inheritance which may remain after all of her out-of-control debts are settled. But, even if there’s nothing monetary left, she will always be in my heart. I don’t want or need her detritus to remember her.
So, today’s call got me all stirred up, needlessly. I feel guiltily relieved for not having to do the necessary cleanup work, as well as hurt that I’m not included. 👀 Crazy, right? 🤷