Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I await my Pulitzer

Just to make sure that I maintain the standard of depressing, ill-tempered, and inappropriate posts you have all come to expect, I offer today a draft of the letter I intend to send to my dear step-mother.  I have not sent it yet, and I don't plan to until I have cooled down sufficiently to edit a bit of the venom out of it.  But you all might enjoy it.  The venom, anyway.  

Here ya go: 

Erika, 

You mentioned the need to be gentle with each other, and I couldn't agree more.  You have been my friend for eight years and I would be heartbroken - after all that has transpired - to lose your friendship.  Now that all has been laid before me, I understand why no attorney or probate judge has contacted me, my brother, or my sister concerning my father's estate.  There was no reason for us to be contracted my any legal authority, since neither my sister, my brother, nor I have inherited anything. 

I have a few more questions that I hope you will be good enough to answer.  Some may be difficult for you to read and for that, I am truly sorry.  However, I must be forthright.  Anything less would be guileful on my part and an insult to our friendship and your intelligence.  Try to understand that i ask these things so that I can grieve knowing, at the very least, the whole truth about my father's regard for me and my brother and my sister. 

1) Why did it take my asking, point blank, what the disposition of my father's estate was for you to reveal that my brother, sister, and I are without any legal rights?

2) When you and my father agreed to arrange your affairs in this way, did you ever consider that a boilerplate will is not typical in situations where there has been more than one marriage on both sides?  And if you were aware of the many alternatives more suitable for couples in your financial condition, why did you and my father agree to dismiss those alternatives? 

3) At the time you and my father made these wills, did you believe that they dealt justly with my brother, my sister and me - not to say my mother, who was joint owner of all that my father owned until the moment she died? 

4) If you thought the wills you and my father signed were just wills at the moment you signed them, do you think so now?

I do not think the wills just.  My father, in effect, asks us, his natural children by way of his will to replace our mother - who raised us from babies and who died at 52 - with another woman.   Erika, no matter how much we all love you, no matter how grateful we are that you gave my dad a few years of happiness before his untimely death,  no child would simply "boilerplate" one mother for another - and would certainly not do so for motives so despicable as money.  Could any decent, sane, morally upright person ever do such a thing?  Would the people you have come to know in the past four years - my brother, my sister, and me - defile my mother's memory in such a way?  I am sure you know we would not.  

Yet this is precisely the scenario we are apparently to endure.  

It is for these reasons that I say that my father, a man I loved more than my own life, was no longer the man I thought I knew once he remarried.  The change began almost from the moment of the ceremony.  I could give you hundreds of examples since his marriage in which he behaved in ways that hurt me terribly - ways that I would never have dreamed possible.  To give you just one, the visit I made in January was of two days duration.  One of those days, he spent an entire 9 hours watching a football game at Dave and Evie's while I sat alone on the couch wondering when my father had developed this unusual interest in football, which he never liked at all the first 62 years of his life - and why the hell I bothered to visit people who clearly didn't spending time with me more important than 9 entire hours of... football.  Four days later, my birthday came and went and my father never even called me.  Birth cake or no, do you have any idea how hard I cried when midnight came and I realized that my father didn't think calling me on my birthday worth doing?

My belief is that your desire to be the love of my father's life regardless of whether my mother existed or not lead you to ask my father to sign the will you described to me.  I believe he signed it because he adored you and would have cut off his own head to please you.  But in signing that will, he did wrong - both by his natural children, my mother, and in the long run, you.  A just will would have saved  you the pain of reading this message from me.  

My father's will has gravely wounded, emotionally, and financially, children who would have been his slaves for one kind word a year - who hung on his every word - who spent every vacation day they had each year by his side.  During his illness, we spent our savings and incurred unfathomable debts to stand by him when he was in peril.  Can you doubt that we loved our father to our own absolute ruin? 

Did he love us?  Well, if one where to judge by the contents of his will, he regarded us as a mere biological inconvenience.  Is this true?  And if not?  Is this will just?

I am undone.   I will never see my father - or our relationship, and sadly, you, the same way again until you make right what is gravely wrong - namely, my father's will. 

I say this with the full knowledge that legally,  you have no obligation to engage in so much as a phone call with me or anyone connected with the name of ______ ever again.  The legal papers you and my father had drawn up gave total power to your to the point that you could disengage from my father's family and his natural children at your pleasure, with no legal consequence.  

All this said, my dearest wish is that your conscience and your reflection on thee facts I have laid before you will lead you to act quickly, within the limits of the law and common decency to rectify this error - that our friendship can survive and that further - something like a family can be salvaged from this legal and moral disaster. 

If you choose another path, peace be with you.  My own conscience - with regard to you, and my father, whom I encouraged in all innocence and good intention to marry  you, is clear. 

Love, 
Nina 

15 comments:

P said...

wait - what happened? there is no email! I can't go on without it!

P said...

Oh wait - now I'm feeling really dense. You *meant* to exclude it. I am awaiting my Nobel Prize.

catherine said...

Scathing, a work of art. She had better make it through that whole thing and pay attention to each word and nuance just as I have. She had better let it settle in, and sear her soul until she can't move - or must move. If there is any rightness in her, she should find herself without breath at the reality beyond her own being made explicit, and desperate to regain it by answering your questions at least to herself in whole truths, then committing the actions necessary to make things right and expunge her deep guilt.

Nice use of 'guileful'.

ByJane said...

Excellent up to the point where your rage at your father starts leaking out (the football/birthday paragraph). I don't know what kind of legal advice you've had on the situation, but don't people sue to have wills overturned all the time? That being the case, it seems to me that the Purpose (ah, yes, the Rhetorical Purpose) of your letter is to set forth the "evidence" of your father having been befuddled by his overweening need of this woman, so much so that he signed away his children's birthright and their inheritance from their mother. Assume nefarious intentions on her part and find a way to prove it.

LizB said...

Wow; let's just hope I never piss you off. You definitely made your point and dropped the ball in her lap to do something to make this situation right.

I apologize if my next paragraph offends you; that's not my intention. Through this medium, I have come to know and love you as a person, and certainly mean you no harm.

Assuming your dad was not suffering from any mental illness, he set forth this will in "sound mind and body." You may never know why he did this, but he did do this. It's natural to make your stepmother the target of your sorrow and anger, because she's HERE and evidently has quite a few character flaws anyway. By all means, if you can prove she coerced him in some way, then pursue this matter legally; however, don't allow yourself to think that if you successfully contest the will and redistribute whatever remaining assets there may be, you will feel much better about all of this. I don't think you will. I think with money, or without money, you have a long period of mourning ahead.

Much love.

Avitable said...

I think that explaining a few specifics with regards to the financial hardships you have all placed on yourselves might be a good idea, as well.

country roads said...

You're a lot more civil than I think I would be able to be.

Nina said...

P, it didn't post correctly the first time. It's here in all its ugliness, now.

Cath, you are too good to me.

Jane, you are right, of course. Revision is underway.

LizB, it is hard to piss me off - really, really hard. This is not the first time I have written to someone to explain my ire over one thing or another. But keep in mind, I never write missives such as this one over trivial matters. And just so you know: when my dad signed that will, he was two weeks post knee replacement surgery and high as a kite on morphine. The fact that he didn't have the sack to amend the will later, I do blame him for.

Avitable, I might throw in the part where in a single month, my dad's illness cost me upwardness of $7000 - and that there were others where the bills for plane tickets and hotels hovered around $4000, but we'll see. Revision always improves the final product.

C-R, this is the only way to talk to a person whose conscience is so fragmented that she might be a qualified sociopath. In fact, I am so damn near convinced that she IS a sociopath that I may never send this letter. I already know it will do no good but to clear my own conscience of the sin of neglecting to stand up for my own mother, who is right now giving my dad the ass beating of a lifetime in the hereafter. If you had known my mother, you would know that not even Jesus Christ could get in her way when it comes to giving my dad the full measure of her rage when he truly deserved it. And boy howdy, does he have it coming.

sybil law said...

It seems like your dad was so in love with this woman that he thought she would do the right thing, and sadly, she's just a bitch.
I honestly think this letter is perfect, minus a few typos, only I would also add more specifics of your financial hardships as Avitable suggested.
I'd also look into having the will overturned. It doesn't seem like it would be THAT hard to do.
I freaking HATE that bitch. GRRRRRRRRR.

Lisa said...

I'm sorry that you have to go through this. I'm glad that you are confronting her though and I hope you get some sort of resolution.

La Lou said...

I know I don't know all the ins and outs and legal options to explore but it seems to me that if your Father signed a boilerplate will printed off the internet, while under the influence of morphine and this crazy woman, then you most certainly have a case. Did you Dad have a will prior to his second marriage that a family lawyer might have a copy of?

I think the letter is great but I would definitely pursue this legally. I don't think you'll feel better about any of this with or without the money, but at least you won't be in debt.

Maggie said...

I agree that you should take out the football/relationship graph, and should give more detail on the expenses you incurred during your dad's illness.

I think you should also reference your dad's sedated-on-morphine state when he signed this will.

And I continue to hate that this dirty business was thrust upon you. I understand that you blame yourself for the introduction, but really, her sins and selfishness are her own to burn for. Please dear, you are doing so well by your family's honor, do not take undue blame on yourself.
Love love love.

Annie said...

Nina, this is a GREAT letter. I would not have been as kind as you.
If the woman has a soul she will
give up some of that money. Send it.

LizB said...

Nina, now that I know your dad was post-knee replacement surgery when this will was signed, I can't stand your stepmother even more. The sense of timing smacks of evil intent. Damn, girl.

La Femme said...

Hi there, i just stumbled across your blog. I'm sorry to hear that you are going through such a tough time. I would recommend in the strongest possible terms to any client of mine presenting with a similar situation to pursue this through the Courts. The sooner the better. Take care.