Sunday, September 16, 2007

Family and Staying

Every family eventually reaches that point where they have to decide who will get what when the parents pass on. I never thought too much about it until my father passed away 6 years ago, and all 5 of us kids were suddenly thrust into a world where, someday, we'll have to divvy up the lifetime accouterments of our parents.
There is very little of real value except the house, but there are always things that each of my siblings and I deem important. For me, it's the ugly-ass kitchen clock. It's really horrible. It's a large block of wood shaped like a house, with the numerals burned into the face of it. It's ugly, and on occasion looks a tad creepy, but it's how I learned to tell time over 30 years ago, and it makes me feel like I'm home. It makes the right clicky-clacky sound and I just know that if I can look at the clock years from now, even if it's no longer in Mom and Dad's kitchen, I'll still feel like home. I'm sure my brother and sisters have something in mind that they want, too.
Home. Home home home. My parents built the home we grew up in. I was born here. I can't imagine another family living here, ever. It's ours.
When I was little, maybe 10 or 11, I had a nightmare that I came home and another little girl was in my room, living there. All the colors were different and another family lived there too. It wasn't my home anymore..... I remember waking up crying. My mom told me that was silly, because we would always live there. It's not silly anymore.
Not one of us kids, nor any of the grandkids have EVER spent a Christmas anywhere but Grandma's house. Christmas lives here. Summer days live here too, in the pool with all the grandkids playing in the sun and water. This is where the family is together.
Who will live here when Mom is gone? My husband and I would have to uproot the kids from their school and friends if we moved here (even though we live 5 minutes away, we're technically in another town.) There is also the issue of land.... we have a lot of it, and our animals need it. Mom's house is on a single acre.... it's not enough. One sister lives in the same town as Mom, but she has horses and again, Mom doesn't have the land to have horses on. Two older sisters could do it, possibly, but they both live in apartments and would have to assume home-owner roles of fixing stuff, etc, which is a lot of responsibility to have. My brother could maybe take the house, but then it would be his.... and he's a private sort of guy. If the goal is to keep the house in the family, so that we can still be together for holidays and summertime fun, it wouldn't happen, cuz my bachelor brother would rather be dragged nekkid across a field of broken glass than have his bitchy sisters and their 6 kids playing in what would be his pool.
So what do we do? We've started having this discussion, but no one wants to finish it. No one wants to talk about the elephant in the middle of the room. But my mom's health is getting iffy, and she's well into her 70's now, so we can't avoid the topic forever.

It might seem strange to you that I haven't really mentioned my Mom here. I will completely avoid the discussion that would precipitate the house discussion. I can't handle it.

I hope and I pray that my Mom will be here for years yet, and that my youngest daughter will have memories of Grandma's house.
As for me, lately I've been looking at the clock in the kitchen with a dreaded desperation. Stay. Stay Stay.

Many friends have gone though miserable battles with siblings over their parents' estate. I just don't think any of us are like that. There are some families that I know will be like that, scrapping for the last bauble to pawn off for the next cruise or vacation. I think that's just sad. My brother and sisters and I don't want any of it. We want Mom to keep it. We want Mom and the house and the clock and everything to stay.


Balancing Act said...

Well my family has gone through it and it is not pretty. Since dad has sold everything very cheaply to my beother he has nothing left for my children. Therefore, there is nothing to fight over except his attention. Though the memories are quite vivid in your mind it is just as important as to who you are spending your holidays with as to where you spend them.

The Better Half said...

Its good to have everyone get together to build a plan with Mom's blessing. The meeting is hard for all involved.... but not having a meeting/conversation is even harder when everyone is wondering what "Mom's" wishes were. When a parent dies it can bring out the best and worst in families. Having a plan regarding the personal effects and property will make it easier for everyone to deal with the emotions and memories.

Dingo Deb said...

*chuckle* it's funny you mentioned that clock in the kitchen..It's the only clock that's ever been there and's seen better days but I agree it's one of those things that identifies it as our home. For me,it's Lulubelle (the cow cookie jar)with the little kitty sitting on her back that says "home" to me. So much so that I found an original one like it on ebay and paid a ghastly amount for it..but I just HAD to have it. And even though I now have a Lulubelle on my fridge and I smile every time I walk by her...I still always think of home and how she is always there looking at up from atop the fridge.