Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Chainsaw, Part 1

My grandpa died a couple years back. You remember I got his dishes. :) It has been a journey for me in several ways, some parts are harder than others. It wasn't until last winter that we were able to lay some rumors to rest, find out truth, and live with it. :)

By nature I'm not someone who feels a lot of entitlement. I don't think I'm "owed" much by others. When hugely and obviously slighted by (someone I thought was) a friend, I grieved only before my husband, and the "friend" didn't know I'd even noticed (she admitted months later to doing it on purpose, to gauge my reaction and therefore measure my connection to her...!). I don't think the rich should be taxed so I can have the benefit of the money THEY earned. If you invite a roomful of people to something, I won't assume I'm part of that unless there is eye contact and clarification. :)

I found this challenged, however, when the details of my grandpa's estate became known. The man died with 1 living child (my uncle) and four grandchildren, as well as a son-in-law (oh, and five great-granddaughters either here or on-the-way). He also died with about a half-million dollars, plus his guns, vehicles, and 'stuff' that we helped clear out. We were tremendously blessed to be able to have the aforementioned dishes, various power tools and the like. The will (which we only saw by researching public records) gave his son anything he wanted from the 'stuff ' (the car, several guns), and the remainder to my 2nd-cousin-once-removed - Gramps' nephew. At the time of the memorial, my cousin made a show of taking my and my brother's addresses and contact information, so he could reach us "when everything gets sorted out." That contact never came, though we did pass a few emails back and forth. In one, I was very humble yet very frank in some questions. The biggest one of which was whether or not he knew why my grandpa made no provision for any of his own great-grandchildren. Whether I had done something offensive, or if this was one of his 'moods' where he just became angry at the world for no apparent reason (I was a little more tactful than this). I also asked details about the will and estate that I understood he might not answer. :) The response to this, after being more-than-forthcoming/accommodating in other emails, was a curt, "I'm sorry you weren't able to get your questions answered while your Grandpa was still here." Of course, it's hard to know the details of someone's private will when they're still alive, but anyway...

Eventually I found out that my uncle was given a portion of money - probably to keep him from asking for anything more. My cousin took a tour of Scotland and England with his wife (they have no children) and set up some charitable funds. One is for youth organizations and good citizens, the other is to help our state's homeless pets. I forget the terms (one is only to have the interest dispersed, maintaining the principle forever, the other can be distributed at my cousin's determination. I think you have to apply for these like grants, and my cousin, maybe a board of people at the overseeing firm, makes the decisions).

At the end of the two years or so of wondering, and finally figuring out the facts, I was left with some pretty hurtful realizations. My grandpa (and/or my cousin) thinks homeless pets are more deserving than his own progeny. OUCH. The will made no mention of my brother or I, mentioning our mother only as deceased. OUCH. A fraction of that money could have changed my girls' world - but a faceless 'good citizen' merits favor instead. OUCH.

I was also sad for Grandpa. "A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children" Proverbs 13:22a. He missed out on this. He could've reached past himself and touched those in his own family, those who bear his image, in a fashion. He could've provided opportunity to his own great-grandchildren, who would bless his name their entire lives. His benevolence might've been passed down to future generations even. - I'm not even talking about what hundreds-of-thousands of dollars would do. More like a fund for education, or towards a home, or...? A way to start out more financially secure in life, or money to fund missions trips, or...?  And he missed out on that. Homeless pets are important, but his efforts* on their behalf will not make a lasting impact on the world, or even on his family. If, as I would imagine would be likely had I heard this story from someone else, there was something completely objectionable in my life or my brother's that warranted the obvious and pointed disinheriting, I would have wished him to make an effort to counsel us. Even if we disagreed, I would at least have the knowledge that he had purpose and reason for his decision. He chose not to.

To be continued....

*I don't believe homeless pets were in his will. I think my cousin made the choice toward these charitable foundations, but in either case, Grandpa didn't leave any instruction otherwise.

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