When The Dog Bites, When The Bee Stings

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.

27 thoughts on “When The Dog Bites, When The Bee Stings

  1. Oh Selma, this sounds so much like the issues in my family where there youngest of three daughters has also been made executor of dad’s will. My mother’s funeral was a nightmare of sisters bickering and posessions being gone thru and carted out with little thought or respect to what dad might like done or what memories we might want to hang on to. Dad has his will clearly written and their won’t be any problems with financial matters or big items, but yes, the little things that mean most, I can see it now. I have already told them that if there another scene like the last one I will turn and leave and never return again, and I mean it. I agree with you that it is crass to start dividing before someone is gone.

    Obviously your parents are out to hurt you, to let you know that for some reason you have displeased them. I’ve held that title in my family for so long that I would feel naked without it. I think you are right, that when you step back a bit and see it for what it is, and stop trying to rally against it or change it, it can be very freeing. If I never saw one dime of my dad’s money or a single keepsake from his home I would be ok. I have survived this long without them, and I have a few good memories that I can keep. That can’t be taken away.

    I am sorry that your parents are being so hurtful. Why do people do that to their children? I guess I’ll never understand, but I damn sure won’t do it to mine!


  2. My parents are having a hell of a time figuring this whole executor business. I’m not sentimental in that way so, I just hate for my money grubbing sister to try and pull a fast one.

    Shrug… me I hope I die penniless, make it so much easier.


  3. JOSIE:
    You are so right. Stepping back really puts things into perspective. It is all so terribly petty. I won’t let them hurt me anymore and I don’t care if I don’t get a cent. It’s just not worth it.

    My sister already has the keys to their house and god only knows what else. It is SO money-grubbing. I cannot believe what she has become. I’m with you on – being penniless would make life so much easier.


  4. Sel, what do you mean by they knew it would get to you? Do they really think that you wanted to be the executor??? That you’re into material crap and control??? They really don’t know you, do they? I’m sorry………give to Ceaser what is Ceaser’s I say. Let Millie have it.


    Just that. They have a really skewed vision of who I really am. It’s actually quite alarming. They have often made pronouncements on my character that are, well, out of character. They thought it would get to me but if they really knew me they would know that I don’t care. I guess what bothers me is that they are trying to get on my goat. But I like what you’ve said. Give Caesar the spoils. Or rather Nero. She deserves to fiddle and watch them burn. Families, eh? Am I too old to divorce mine?


  6. Gosh Selma your parents are behaving like children- it is shameful. Leave your sister to it, I fear nothing good will come of it. I think the stand you have taken is for the best. We only get one life, you must live it the way you know is best and that is not bickering over objects.


  7. I’m with Laurie.
    Part of me likes the way my Nan’s gone about things. She knows her daughter is a money grabbing * so she’s divided her savings between her daughter and son (my dad). She’s always refused to trust the banks, so she’s asked them to look after the money and when she goes, it’s theirs. What’s left each month is saved and regularly given out to the great grandkids. She doesn’t own her house, so everything else is material trinkets. She’s already gone round forcing me and my siblings to name what we’d like when she’s gone – and labelled everything up. Maybe, in a way, she’s picked what she knows to be the easiest option.


  8. I’m confused. Wasn’t it Millie they were so disappointed in for staying with her no account violent husband? How then have you become the black sheep?

    Doesn’t it bother them that the very man who has caused them so much worry and grief will get his grubby mitts on their stuff too?

    I can understand your bewilderment in all of this Sel and I think the best and only thing you can do for yourself and your peace of mind is to walk away from all of them until and if they come to their senses. If you don’t they will continue to hurt you and you don’t deserve that. I’m really sorry Sel, it must hurt a lot. Big hugs xxxx


  9. LAURI:
    It is shameful. I just can’t be bothered with it anymore. I would never have expected things to turn out this way.

    What a sensible idea. I have seen so many families get into horrible fights over things like this. It is really appalling. Your Nan sounds like she is trying to consider everyone. What a lovely lady.

    They have changed their tune about Millie’s husband. They are so worried if they don’t accept him it will push her over the edge. I, on the other hand, feel that I can’t accept him under any circumstance. So, as a result my parents have got it in for me for putting a spanner in the works. It is a really bizarre turn of events. I will admit that it has hurt me a lot. But hey ho, there are worse things to contend with in life. Thanks for the hug. I really appreciate it!


  10. well even tho i can tell it has ripped at your heart strings not to have been chosen the executor,, perhaps in the long run it will be a good thing,, as you will have more than your share of grief to contend with when the time comes.. life is so short,, and seemingly for ever filled with these little detours..

    i think it was mean of your sister to gloat about her appointment,, but i also think there will be a lot of work entailed in the appointment and she probably hasn’t thought about that yet..

    i hope you aren’t hurt to deeply.. my heart goes out to you…


  11. PAISLEY:
    I’m OK, hon. It’s just all the carrying on that gets to me more than anything. I really don’t like manipulation and game-playing. You’re right – there’s a lot more work involved than my sister realises. Dealing with grief in those situations is hard enough. I am glad to be spared anything further. Your comment has clarified things for me. Thank you!!


  12. I am amazed that your parents are continuing on this destructive path that is causing you so much pain and heartache. Shame on them, that’s all I can say. This is a decision they will live to regret, Im sure. Especially if your sister remains with that “loser” she calls a husband. I agree with the comment above, it really is strange that they would give Millie this responsibility, knowing her track record with men. I just don’t get it…Unless, as I said before, they are both having mental issues, which IS common in elderly people. It happens all the time. Unexplained behavior that is cruel and uncharacteristic. But then again, I don’t know if your parents were ever really kind.

    Many hugs Sel. Take care. You are in my thoughts. G

    PS: Loved the rosary bead story…that is what its all about. Memories that are priceless. Keep looking for the angels.


  13. PS: Thanks so much for posting my movie musings button, much appreciated. I just posted my Nowhere to Run poem. Hope that some of your readers will stop by to participate too.

    Hugs and more hugs, G


  14. Oh I hate these games about wills more than almost anything else. My MIL loves those games too. If someone upsets her she changes her will to remove something she had previously promised to them. I annoyed her by being disinterested. I refused to be grateful when she promised us this or that cos they weren’t things, like you said about your grandmother, that she thought we might love to have, just things she was using as a lever to get us to do stuff whilst she was still around.

    Do not let it get to you. It is just more silly games. I wish people would spend all their money whilst they are alive and just pass on things of sentimental value. I hope that is what my parents do.

    I cannot believe how cruel and petty your parents are being. How come you are so lovely and they are so not?


  15. My heart aches for you Selma. It is so difficult having a parent(s) who appear to do anything they can to hurt you. My mother was always like that. When she died she stated in her will (and also made sure everyone understood well before) that all of her rings (and she had 12 very nice, very expensive ones) were to be place on hers fingers and buried with her. The mortuary director was astounded and did his best to convince us to remove the rings, but we all knew better – our mother was one who defied the saying ‘you can’t take it with you.” and we knew she want haunt us forever if we went against her wishes(demands). As far as her remaining will, my older sister was to receive the property, my younger sister was to receive any and all cash left after settling her estate, my brother was to receive all of dad’s tools and guns. I was to receive an Elvis ashtray I had given her Christmas when my 1st husband and I returned home after living in Memphis. I say ‘was’ because the will also stated if she died first then dad would receive everything, just as she would have received everything if he died first, which she had always proclaimed would happen, thus why she was so explicit in her will. Of course she was wrong. She died first and left dad with a mound of debt that I eventually paid off for him. He has since given me the property, deeded as direct transfer of title upon his death. My brother is to get the bulk of the tools that I don’t want and my sisters are to split any cash left over after settlement of the estate.

    I do not know if the animosity with your parents comes from both sides or if it is promoted by one with the other being a follower, but if it is promoted by one and if that one goes first, I think you will find an open gate to mending fences. I hope so, for your sake. I know how hard it is to know a parent doesn’t like you. I have cherished the past 11 years I have had with my father. I never knew him when mom was alive.

    As for your sister, shame on her! There will come a day when all she has left is you, but of course she won’t even have that, will she? She will have to suffer the loss of your parents alone while you will have already gone through the grieving process of losing your parents now with friends who love you.

    And make no mistake about it Selma, you have many friends all across the world who love you and have been touched by your writings. I believe you inherited something more than the rosary beads from your grandmother – you inherited her sincere interest in and love for the people in your life. Thank you for sharing your love.


  16. Selma…..I read this and get major jolts of anger on your behalf. I can empathize to a large extent with how you’re feeling, and I daresay its a stew of emotions swimming around together.
    I havent written much (yet) about the 2 year “Will” experience my husband and I have just endured because it has just recently had some resolution if you can call it that. But, I intend to very soon. It has been an emotional roller coaster.

    After long drawn out illnesses, my husband’s parents both died within two weeks of one another. The person left in charge of the estate was none other than my sister in law who has serious mental health issues and hasn’t worked in over 16 years. If I was a Psychiatrist, I would diagnose her with a Borderline Personality Disorder…narcsistic, with a twist of entitlement and no empathy. She’s a major “victim.” You’d think that was a BIG clue to her parent’s. Ah, no. The whole family was in denial…..thought she merely had a learning disability.

    Anyways…I won’t write the whole story here…. except to say that as I read about your recent “news” I was struck with a couple of thoughts….
    1. Like my husband’s situation, your parents are being very mean and selfish and hurtful to you. Like you, my husband should’ve logically been the one to oversee the affairs. It would’ve been fairly done. Logically, the Executor should’ve been my brother in law….the eldest, who is a professional architect with a strong business background. But, they decided to screw everybody.

    2. They think they can control your sister’s mental health issues (ie. not going over the edge) by “saving” her in this manner. There is untapped shame and guilt over how your sister’s life has unfolded and it is coming out in the most profoundly twisted manner…..much to the determent of your relationship with them and with your sister. Of course, they may never admit this…..and chances are it may never be recognized.
    It seems to me it’s some kind of bizarre back handed approach to “help” the weakest as well as be hurtful to you. They are trying to save her from herself! Like they have the power or something. What they have done already has severely wounded relationships over their need to assuage their own feelings.

    Selma……that rosary is more meaningful now than ever. May the angels always watch over you beautiful woman. Keep processing and writing about your feelings…. you have many gifts….


  17. I’m so sorry to hear about this. I hated it when my grandmother gave EVERYTHING of my Grandpa’s to my brother, because he was the ELDEST BOY, even though he is the third child and his memories of Grandpa were much less than my own, and he and I shared a bond that my brother never dreamed of having. I am still bothered by it. My mom, knowing this, came across some things Grandma hadn’t parted with when she went to the nursing home, and so she gave them to me – a toy Grandpa played with as a child, and his wallet that still had his driver’s liscense. They are treasures.

    Same thing with dad. I got his class ring and the en graven business card on stone because I was the one that had worked with him and his Dad when we had a family business – no one else did. My mother learned from Grandma’s mistakes, and moved forward.

    That’s all we can do Selma. Learn, and keep moving forward. I wish you peace with your family… something we all struggle with in one form or another. Mine is acceptance – I have never been accepted from certain members of my family. My true self is considered stupid and flighty. Oh well… they can stick it. I have little to do with them at all anymore. Not very Mormon of me, huh?


    I am beginning to think there may be some credence to what you say because I feel my parents have changed. The way they react to things, just the way they are is different. It seems to have just suddenly happened. Perhaps it is a consequence of aging. I wish they were able to look at how they’re behaving and stop. I’m too old for all the drama.

    I hope you get lots of takers with your prompts, G. Using movies is a really good idea!

    I’m with you completely. I would rather people spent all their money while they were alive and just LIVE. It’s horrible to use what you might leave to someone as a way to get at them.

    One of the guys who works with my husband is set to inherit millions from his father who is one of the biggest pieces of work I have ever met. The money has turned both of these people into shells. It has such control over them. Who would really want that?

    My parents used to be lovely people but something changed in the last few years. I don’t really know how it happened.


  19. JONAS:
    That’s it. It is so completely unnecessary. Can’t we all just get along and appreciate each other while we’re still here?

    You’ve made me cry with your beautiful comment. What an incredible story about your mother’s rings. I am speechless that she felt the need to do that. How hurtful for you.

    It does not surprise me at all that you paid off all of your father’s debt because I know how tenacious and responsible you are. How fortunate to have you as a daughter.

    There is no quarrel on my side of the fence. It is mostly coming from my mother. There has always been an uneasy truce between my mother and I, mainly because we have very little in common and she thinks and has stated that I am far too bohemian in my attitude to life, which to her is tantamount to failure. It is very hard to change that line of thinking. It’s not really worth the effort. I hope things will change, but I fear they will not.

    Your comment about how I am like my grandmother means the world to me. That’s all I ever wanted to be!


  20. DANA:
    You have just put into words what I have been trying to say for ages but couldn’t articulate properly. This is all to do with my mum trying to save my sister from herself and somehow it has become twisted and warped into something it really shouldn’t be. It actually makes me feel better to recognise that because I was beginning to think their opinion of me was a correct one.

    I am sorry you have had to go through such a trial over the last two years. Our situations sound so similar. It must have been incredibly frustrating and painful for you. I will never understand why people do such things. The angels ARE watching over me. I know it because they have allowed me to meet people like you.

    I agree with that 100%. They can take a running jump. If people can’t accept us as we are then what is the point? We are special, unique people who would enrich their lives, but no, for some reason we are not good enough.

    I think the point you make about learning from mistakes and moving forward is very important and can be applied to many aspects of life. Onward and upward, I say!


  21. Dear, dear Selma (hugs). I guess it hurts being felt left out. All I can say is, let it go. Stop letting it hurt you just by not dwelling on it. Hurt passes away. Families here have similar issues; some of my mom’s family members were fighting way before my grandmother passed away. I am not even bothered about the inheritance; I don’t have one and I don’t expect one.


  22. But, they didn’t cut you out of their will altogether?

    Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise …. my Dad was executor of my Grand-dad’s will, and had to arbitrate in a pretty unpleasant ‘He said I could have it!’ argument.

    (‘To my dear wife, Anne Hathaway, I leave my second-best bed’ … W.Shakespeare)


  23. ROSHAN:
    I don’t care about the inheritance at all. I’m just not looking forward to the inevitable fighting. I think I may leave the country before it all goes down. And change my name…..

    I have no idea. I haven’t asked. I just don’t want to give them any ammunition. I think it is a blessing in disguise. Who needs the aggro?


  24. Dad was embarrassed when he asked if I minded if he left his house to my nephew. I said I didn’t mind at all; I can’t use it, and would probably sell it. And, I’d rather somebody with our name lived there, rather than see it become a holiday home for some amusement arcade millionaire.

    (Besides, I’ll still have a bed for the night when I visit the Lake District :D)


  25. I love the story of the rosary. And I’m so sorry that your parents are behaving this way. You’d think when having to deal with a situation that forces them to face their own mortality, they would choose to act in the kindest way possible. You would think.


    That was very generous of you because I know many people who would want the house regardless. It is good to keep things in the family and it is lovely to have somewhere to stay on holiday!

    You would, wouldn’t you? I don’t pretend to understand them anymore. That’s what I want when I’m older – to act in the kindest way possible. I will feel then that I have learned what I was meant to on my journey!!


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