My kids refer to their father’s wife as “that woman.” When the rare occasions arise that they speak of her, the term surfaces and along with a rarcor reserved specifically for her and the situation their father left behind. About anyone or anything. They can dislike their jobs and their bosses, but their tones are tinged with distaste or frustration, never such angry venom.
There was a life insurance policy, which benefitted them. From this there was correspondence back and forth, between attorney and young adult children. There were specific bequests in his will, which resulted in additional correspondence. Because my kids cannot cope with her. They will not tolerate or bear her irrational anger with them or the drumbeat of verbal abuse she unleashes whenever they must communicate directly. While I am most definitely biased and hearing only one side of the story, I am hearing it enough from their paternal grandparents and siblings as well, people I have know for 40+ years and who have never treated me with anything other than kindness and respect. These are not angry, money-grubbing folks eager to take or steal the few things my spouse left behind. The items they desire – photographs, books, gifts or souveniers from happy times – these things hold no value to anyone else. Yet she holds them jealously, guarding them as if they are priceless artifacts worth millions. Her preferred currency is hate and discontent, maintaining a high-level of conflict and anger, casting them as the evil-doers and she the innocent victim in this family drama.
In the beginning, I urged them both to try to rise above her pettiness and muscle through it to get what they desired of their father’s things. It really was not a lot – my daughter wanted photographs or at least copies of photographs taken through the years, my son strongly desired a set of Toliken books given to his father as a gift – yet the his widow refused to grant access or to provide them with the items. She claimed so many things I find it impossible to reconcile with the girl and boy who grew up into a kind-hearted, responsible people. It has been over a year now, and the kids have had no interaction with “that woman” in more than 6 months. The pictures my daughter wanted remain in her vault somewhere, and it is a painful topic to broach with either.
This morning brings a 6 a.m. text from my daughter. There might have been some drunk (from the widow) emailing involved, but apparently there is a window of opportunity for them to retrieve the photos and other items they have wanted and asking me to accompany her and G to that woman’s home on Friday to retrieve these items. I say sure, because I have a lot of confidence in my ability to avoid conflict with her and appreciate my kids’ trust to keep them from having explosive, emotional breakdowns.
Then she tells me the “gotcha” of the offer.
That woman wants the kids to give her 20% of the proceeds from the life insurance policy. In other words, she want the kids to pay her for their father’s stuff. My son and my daughter are angry – REALLY angry – about the request, yet after discussions between the 2 of them and their significant others, they have decided to agree to her terms. They have no idea what their father left her by way of insurance or anything else, and their desire for photographs and mementos of their father and his life is very strong.
As a parent, I am absolutely FURIOUS. Yet as the mother of grown ups, I cannot fault them for their willingness to buy back their dad’s possessions. M and I have had similar discussions about his stepmonster and his father’s things, items that M is bitterly angry that were part of his family history with his mother and his father, both now deceased.
Whether my kids expected me to be upset and to voice a strong opinion on their choice or not, I merely expressed my disgust at that woman’s behavior and readily agreed to accompany them to retrieve the items. My only advice on the subject of the funds exchange – insiste she accept a cashier’s check (instead of her request for cash) and explain they will give it to her only after they get the specific items they previously requested. Any shortage of items means no money, period. I also said there is still time to change their minds, no one will judge them harshly for not wanting to pay for items rightfully theirs. C and G both agreed that is good advice and will think about it further before going forward with the negotiations and final arrangements.
Other than really angry, I do not know how I feel about this. Maybe sad? My kids are getting what they truly want, yet they both have to give up a significant amount of money to get it (about $7,500 each). Had she simply asked them for help, I feel strongly they would have given freely. This method, however, feels so underhanded, awful, slimey, and I wish I could do something to protect them from this transaction. But I cannot. This is their father’s widow, these are things they want from their dad, and she makes the entire situation 100 times worse each passing moment.
I feel the need for another shower. I expect the feeling will linger long after dealing with this is concluded.