left biblioblography: And The Sibling Rivalry Rageth On...

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

And The Sibling Rivalry Rageth On...

So I kinda lost my cool not long ago. Over a car.

Let me say this in advance: everything my little sister did was nothing short of heroic. She was there for my mom constantly - I have a full-time job, so mostly I'd show up at my mother's bedside while she was in the hospital, in therapy, and at the senior living center where my mom lived briefly. Sis isn't working (truth is, she's had maybe two good jobs, one she got fired from after many years, another she got laid off at), so she had the time. She juggled bills like a pro, coordinated so much in such little time. Truth is, I don't know if I could've done as well as she did. Or at all, for that matter.

I was impressed. Deeply. She held our mother's hand as she passed, whispering words of encouragement, as the rest of us watched on in tearful silence.

There's one word I can express in admiration: Wow.

And she handled the funereal services, and she's still handling the bills.

One would think that this wouldn't degenerate into some childish squabble.

One would be wrong.

Prior to Mom's passing (and after), I made a point that I wanted (and needed) her car. My car's pretty much ready for the old glue factory, I never had enough cash (until recently) to do maintenance and repair, so it's fallen into disrepair. I could give you a catalogue of its ills and woes, but sufficient to say, it's making odd noises and smells more than a little funny. So my little sister agreed. We discussed it a couple of times.

In fact, she left it parked over at the condo for about a week, left a message that I should go about turning the car in my name, etc.

My two sisters and my niece stopped over one weekend, and I walked over and bought cigarettes and some stuff from Safeway, and when I came back, it was gone. She hadn't said anything about taking it. We had discussed sharing the car, so I shrugged, and went about my business.

Foolish, foolish man. Right after that, I got a mass email to any and all, about my mom's services. Which I discussed here.

The next week, I got a message on my phone. Older sis, telling me that she and younger sis were going to see the probate lawyer.

The very next day. Now, I don't know about anyone else, but I get a message telling me about an important event at 7:00 PM the night before a work day, I get a little incensed. Truth is, I had a root canal that day, but nonetheless. There was also a note.

I left a note saying, very simply, "Leave the Corolla."

The note the next day read something along the lines of, "The Corolla is now a part of the probate. Lawyer's advice." Something like that. I didn't keep it.

Here's the thing: I knew she was driving it all over town. I was...infuriated. Late Saturday night, I drove over to check it out. Hell, I went over to lock the fucking thing down. Put the club on it, take out the extra set of keys.

It was in their driveway. I bailed at the last moment (I had the car key in one hand, the Club in another): their bedroom was right overhead, the window open. 'No', I thought, 'I'll try to handle this like an adult.'

So I sent her this email message:

Hey [Sister].
Listen: we had an agreement. I only have 40 days to turn the car over into my name, as a rightful heir. The probate lawyer is your employee (I'll need his name & number, BTW) - you don't have to do exactly what he says. If my car was working fine, wouldn't even care. I'd have it fixed, but I have to sink a few thou into my mouth (teeth are coming apart again).
I'm only asking you to honor your agreement.

The following is the fisking I did of her response. Needless to say, I was..enraged, to put it mildly.

*****Begin correspondence*****

I'll take this piecemeal:

[She] wrote:

It's sad that we have been reduced to emails & simple notes.
It is sad - but you roll over anything I say verbally constantly. This is the only way I get to explain myself fully. Like the last time we spoke, where you pulled out a scorecard to justify your actions. I got a fucking speech from you, which I hardly needed. I'm a grown-ass man, & you are most definitely not in charge of anything anymore. You also brought someone into my living space (I'm making the house payments, so that gives me the right to refuse entrance to someone) who I don't respect at all (priest and ministers are parasites, they should get real jobs), you glossed over any objections I might have by ambushing me w/this shit.
The services by the way were lovely as well as the dinner you missed, why was that? We could have used you there (especially Shane).
I'm still furious that you didn't even have the courtesy to consult me about the services. What, you thought maybe that I'd object to having any? She was my mother too. The three of us should have at least discussed it first. Besides which, I grieve privately.
Strike one.
The question is where does family fit into your life?
The question actually is - does my family fit me in at all? Obviously not. You people have always treated me like a 2nd class citizen. This latest set of escapades proves it.
At the time of the so called agreement, I was power of atty, [Big Sis] is the executor now the car is part of the probate which can take up to 10 months?
So-called? You agreed to it.
I might add, I've spoken to Mr. [lawyer]. We both agreed, that since it's part of the probate, it would be best if nobody drove it. Wear & tear over 10 months will reduce the value.
Don't bother objecting. The rules apply to everyone equally.
I understand your situation, all I can offer you is the Taurus free of charge. Which I mentioned to you, after the third time you asked for the Corolla...
Yeah, in case my Acura broke down. Nice try, no cigar. What, you think my memory's that bad? You left a message on my answering machine advising me to have it turned over in my name. Of course you won't remember that: it's not convenient for you.

I have a hard time giving a car that Mom loved to someone who will not show it the respect it deserves & keep up on its maintence the way Mom did. Mom would want the car to goto someone who will indeed take care of it.

I've been broke for the last few years. I used to keep the Acura in great shape until lately, when I couldn't afford to keep it up. I used to wash it, take it in for service regularly, when I was working regularly.
I'm not some irresponsible fucking 12 year old. This is fucking downright insulting. The one memento I ask, in memory of my mother, and you think I won't take care of it? Fuck you.

Where exactly are you getting 40 days from, as a rightful heir?
That's the language the DMV uses. We're all rightful heirs. I have just as much say as any of us. Notice I said 'a', not 'the'.
The probte lawyer is [Big Sis] 's as well as our employee, & his name is [...] in Hayward. Which you were advised of via my note & Cheryl's email.
Ummm....No. There's been no email. You most certainly did NOT give me the name until now, otherwise I wouldn't have asked.
It might have been in your best interest to attend the meeting if the car was & is your main concern.
I was advised of it the night before it happened. I can't reshuffle my schedule on short notice. I've taken WAY too much time off of work lately. Strike two.
I have been through enough these last few months that the car is the least of my worries, it amazes me that our family would be reduced to such a trivial discussions.
We had a 'so-called' agreement. My car is smelling funny and sounding weird. I think it's hardly trivial that I might end up w/a non-working car. My state of transportation is hardly 'trivial' - as I've already explained, my finances of the last few years have been horrible, couldn't afford the upkeep. Now I can. Besides which, if it's so trivial, why are you even making a fuss?
Spare me the martyrdom crap. That dog don't hunt anymore.
So as it stands there's no agreement.
Typical. And you wonder where family fits in my life? I can't rely on you people at all.
We'll discuss the outcome of the car in 10 months.
Any other matters via the estate, you need to contact [Big Sis].
Regards [Little Sis]

And...strike three, you're out. Out of game. Out of scorecards. Mom's not buried a whole month, and you play me for 3 pounds of stupid in a one pound bag? [Lawyer] will keep me in the loop, since I can't trust either of you vultures.
Your power of attorney's over, once the principal passes. You are going to have to park that car on the street, since it's now in probate. None of us get to use it, you got that?
You can lie to yourself all you like, you broke our agreement.
I'm done. I'm through w/this family. Seriously. This is too much. I'm a fucking adult and your peer, not some goddamned little kid. I didn't even get a copy of the fucking will (which I asked for).
So cross me off all your lists. Birthdays, holidays, I'm not coming. Ever. Forever. I'm sorry for whoever gets caught in the crossfire of this choice, if it causes any heartache. But what fucking good is family, if you can't even trust them? You remember what I said at the eulogy? "Principles aren't something you put aside, when they're inconvenient."
I'd not have treated you in such a shabby manner.

****End correspondence*****

I received a phone call from older sis the next day: she ruled in my favor. I started getting a speech about everything little sis has gone through: I pre-empted that pretty fast. I heard about 'Mom's last wishes', about harsh words spoken, etc. I did tell her I wasn't sure I wanted the damned thing now, under these circumstances. She told me to think about it. I do recall telling her I get this treatment from both of them, and that I'd about had a bellyfull of it. "I didn't do anything!" "We have a history, sis. You think about that. I gotta get back to work." (Yeah, she called me at work. She did that the time we had a falling out - yep, you guessed it, the raccoon story!)

I might also mention, that same night, I came home to find an empty condom wrapper on my desk. That I didn't put there. Little sis had picked up the mail (it was gone from the dining room table). Any guesses as to the meaning? (I've already figured it out, by the way.)

I think it's clear to anyone w/a glimmering of psychology, it certainly wasn't about the car.

I could go on at length about this, but I leave it to the reader to ponder.

I seriously wonder if I did the right thing. I've been thinking about this for some years. After the 'Law is the Law' debacle, we had a huge fight about my being forced into praying alongside the family (which she's since relented on - and no, I didn't do a post on this, sorry).

I feel bad about her kids, my brother-in-law (though every time I see him, he's usually plastered), his step-dad (we get along famously, and man! Can that guy cook!).

So, yeah, it looks like I'm going to die alone. It is to weep, sometimes. On the other hand, less chaos, more peace.

All commentary is welcome on this one.

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Maggie Rosethorn said...

Oh, KA, this really sucks. I hate it when these things happen. We had some similar things happen when my grandmother died, and it tore the family apart. Good luck. You are in my thoughts.

PastaLaVista said...

After reading that story I'm like blown away. Dude. Don't let it get you down KA. Carry on my man.