My parents continue to put the boot in, so to speak. They have made my sister, Millie, their youngest child, executor of their Will.
Like most people, I am not comfortable dividing the spoils. I think it is discourteous and disrespectful, particularly while those to whom the spoils belong are still alive. Of course, it is nice to receive a memento of someone after they are gone, but that is the key phrase for me – after they are gone.
Most people make a Will, appoint an executor and just leave it at that. It is done quietly and is never really discussed until illness or misadventure strikes.
My sister rang me on the weekend. She couldn’t wait to tell me of her new appointment. She had already had in depth discussions with our parents as to who would get what.
I was horrified. Not just because I hate discussing things like that but because I knew there was an underlying reason for Millie being made Executor and not me, the eldest child. They did it because they thought it would get to me. That saddened me. Really saddened me. Not because I care about having any say about the division of the spoils, but because, you know – Come on Mum and Dad, I am your daughter. Stop treating me like I am the devil incarnate.
When my Irish grandmother died more than 500 people turned up for the funeral in a small village in Donegal. She didn’t have a Will, but she wrote a letter to my Aunt Jo asking her to distribute her treasures. Those treasures were small items – a thimble, a porcelain doll, a leather bound copy of the Bible, rosary beads bought in Rome, a copy of Yeats’ poetry – but they had meant something to each of us as individuals when we’d been growing up. Aunt Jo remembered the significance of the treasures to each person and we were given them to keep for good.
I got the rosary beads. Me, the closest thing in the family to a heathen, but I know why I got them and it will touch my heart forever that my grandmother remembered.
In the 1970s my grandmother and some of her sisters went to Rome, to the Vatican. It was a pilgrimage of sorts. They had the best time of their lives. One of the things my grandmother brought back from Rome was some rosary beads that apparently had been blessed by the Pope. They were made of clear glass. I used to look at them for ages claiming I could see the faces of the angels in them. My grandmother wanted me to have them after she died so I would always look for the faces of the angels.
She did that for all of us – remembering every story attached to each one of her things. We were all so elated by it that we spent hours chatting about the good old days. It was a truly positive experience and helped us handle our grief.
I had hoped that when my parents eventually pass away to have a similar experience. I can see now that won’t be possible. Any good memories I have of them are being eroded day by day. It’s a shame. Never in my wildest imaginings would I have expected things to turn out this way. The line has been drawn in the sand. I won’t cross it again.
At least I know now exactly where I stand. And there is a kind of freedom in that.