Monday, March 22, 2010

Bad Family

At the urging of my daughter, I have decided to try and break my writer’s block by writing about what has been crippling me for the past several months. It wasn’t the death of my former husband, nor was it the death of my father. It has been the perfidy of my brother, and the consequent destruction of our extended family. I can’t find enough adjectives to describe his duplicity, or to describe my hurt.

My brother, who is four years younger than me, has always been my hero, my protector. We did crazy things together and he was always there for me – through my first pregnancy when I wasn’t married, through the heart-wrenching breakup of my 25-year marriage, through my rebound second marriage to a not-nice man, and he was one of the few people who was delighted when I married my third, and present, husband. When our mother died, my brother and I grieved together and when our father remarried, my brother and I shared our feelings of dismay.

During the forty years of our parents’ marriage and until our father remarried, we were a close family and our parents doted on my brother and me and, subsequently, our children, their grandchildren. That changed when Dad remarried – my brother and I became somewhat estranged from our father, and our children (who by this time were young adults), though not estranged, did not have the same relationship with him as before. When our father’s wife sustained a serious brain injury after falling while drunk and was subsequently institutionalized, our relationship with our father got back on track. In the meantime, I had moved 400 miles away from my father, Cathy had moved 6000 miles away and Chrissie had moved 450 miles away, so our contact was mainly by telephone although in Cathy’s case (Cathy remained close to him) there was regular contact by telephone, e-mail and mail.

One and one-half years ago, our father moved into a managed independent living facility because he was getting too forgetful to manage on his own. My brother arranged things because he was in Vancouver and I wasn’t. During this period, my brother and sister-in-law were spending a lot of time with us because they were in the process of building a house just 14 kilometers away.

By the time my father died, last June, my brother and his wife had sold their house on the Coast and moved to our area, living in their RV until their house here was finished. When my father died, my brother and I made the funeral arrangements.

A few days before the funeral my brother came to our house. We had coffee and chatted – he seemed a little distant, but I didn’t think too much about it. Later that day, we heard squealing tires out front and the next thing my brother came storming up our driveway, sat down on the patio and said it was time I knew what was in my father’s will and I wasn’t going to be happy (my father had a very, very high net worth). By this time he was extremely agitated and confrontational. My husband and I were stunned – I had never seen my brother like that. He started by telling me that Dad had signed over all of his assets to him and I was not getting anything because my father did not want me to have anything. The proceeds from the sale of my father’s house, my father’s boat and vehicles were all his. When I told him that was not fair, he said, “too bad – everybody in this world has to look after themselves, and I am looking after me – Dad signed them over to me, that makes the proceeds of sales mine.” The more he talked, the louder he got. He was so loud that our next-door neighbors came outside to see if everything was okay. After he had finished telling me about his disposal of Dad’s assets, he proceeded to tell me I was stupid, stupid bitch, I had no backbone, I never knew what it was like to work hard because I had a “cushy” government job for twenty years (I was the director of an alcohol and drug treatment program for adolescents operated by a not-for-profit society – hardly “cushy”). The fact that I was married three times proved that I lacked good judgment and that’s why my father gave everything to him, my brother. He then moved on to my children – he said Catherine thought she was intelligent and successful, but in fact she was a stupid, lying, egocentric bitch and Chrissie was a selfish, deceitful c**t! and all their lives they had been spoiled bitches who thought they were princesses. Then he started on my grandchildren – he didn’t give a flying fuck that Zachary almost died the previous summer, and he didn’t care that Tanner is disabled and terminally ill because they were nothing to him! Every bitter phrase he used was laced with profanity; every phrase was laced with hate.

By the time he finished with my grandchildren – I was so debilitated that I just cried and begged him to stop. He stomped off and I was in shock. I could not believe that my brother, with whom I had never had a harsh word, the brother who I trusted more than anyone else in the world could, out of nowhere, attack me with such hurtful, hateful words.

Two days later, he walked into our house and said he shouldn’t have said the things he did. My husband told him he was no longer welcome in our house and to leave. I couldn’t say one word because when I saw him, the pain I felt, because of our now shattered relationship, was too much. My heart hurt.

I began to dwell, incessantly, on the things my brother had said to me. While I knew I could never forgive him for the things he said about my children and his cold-heartedness about Tanner, but I began to have doubts about who I really was. Was there some truth in the cruel things he said about me? I knew I wasn’t stupid, but did I lack backbone and good judgment? Was I flighty? Was I incapable of dealing with issues in life? Did I just carry one, blithely unaware of the rest of the world? I knew that I had been a well-respected professional who worked hard, was compassionate and caring. Was there some defect in me that my brother saw in me that no one else did, after all he had know me for over sixty years – longer than anyone else (except my father who was now dead). Did my father really think I was so stupid and fickle that I should be virtually cut off? If all of that was true, then my whole life with my family was a lie and if that was the case – then I really was as stupid as my brother said.

Shortly after my father’s funeral, I received a letter from the lawyer who was probating the estate. I was to receive 25% of the assets that were left, and my children and my grandchildren were not mentioned. My brother was named Executor (which I had known for years and had always been comfortable with because I mistakenly believed he had our collective best interests at heart). Then came the cruelest shock: my father changed his will recently– in the event of my brother’s death, my sister-in-law became executrix. If they both died, the duties passed to my nephew and then my niece. I didn’t exist, nor did my children. Neither my father nor my brother told me. This was the final blow. All of the doubts I had about who I was became fact. My father felt the same way about me and my children and grandchildren as my brother did. I was now beyond hurt, not only for me but for my children and grandchildren, particularly Catherine who had a closer relationship to her grandfather than anyone else. How could I shatter that? How could I explain that our branch of the family meant nothing? How could I tell them that he left his cleaning lady $5,000.00, but couldn’t find it in his heart to provide something that would give Tanner some joy or some comfort? That some of the heirlooms that were meant to be passed down on the maternal side of the family were given to their uncle?

Over the past eight months, as I have struggled with my feelings about what transpired, I have had many discussions with my children and it has become very clear that my brother, presumably driven by greed, influenced my father, who had become very forgetful and dependent on him, because my brother had power-of-attorney and total control. I have to believe that, because to think that my father, knowingly, could be that cruel and dismissive of the love that I and my daughters had for him would be too much to bear. If my daughters and I can’t trust the memories we have, it will change our family history forever. My brother has already destroyed the wonderful memories of him. My brother is dead to me. I don’t want the memories I have of my father to be dead also.

My husband, my friends, and my children, have said that I have to let it go – that I should ask God’s help in forgiving my brother if I am ever to find peace in my soul. I have done a lot of soul searching about that. I have had a lot of conversations with God – probably one-way, because I am not prepared to listen to what I know he would say. I have decided that I will never forgive my brother. He is now dead to me. I do not have a brother.

None of my turmoil has been about money, it was never mine to begin with and I never expected anything, except my mother’s gold chain which has been passed down to the eldest daughter for almost 200 years. My brother refuses to give it to me, to pass on to Cathy, as my mother wanted. I know my mother is spinning in her grave.

I have put a curse on my brother, not only because of his deceit, but because he kept the gold chain. My ancestry is Irish and Scottish, on the maternal side. The chain comes from my Irish great-great-great-grandmother. I have put an ancient, Irish curse on him and his family. And I have written this post.

I hope, now, that I can put this horror behind me and move on.


  1. WOW. I am so sorry. I don't think I have the right words. And even if I did, I'm sure it wouldn't lessen the blow.

  2. I haven't spoken to my uncle in 10 years over a very similar set of issues ... but a much smaller sum of money.

    No, it's not about the money. It's about the pain, the betrail, the feeling of complete helplessness that anyone you love could treat you so badly.

    My prayers are with you and yours. As putting it behind you and moving on is all you can do, I hope it happens for you.

  3. I am so sorry:(
    I'm sending my own curse out into the universe for them too.

  4. Isn't it amazing what greed can do to a person. I am so sorry that he has shattered your relationship.

    I have no words, but lots of ((((Hugs))))))


  5. What a sad, messed up man your brother is. Although taking the money is mean, I find it more appalling that he would say nasty, disgusting things about the character of you, your children and especially your grandchildren (since they are still children and can certainly have never done anything to deserve what he said).

    Money is a siren call to many and it seems that it caught and warped your brother. I think it likely that he helped to warp your father as well and I think it's best to remember your father in a good light.

    I pray that your brother truly repents one day (although that may never be) and I hope your grandchildren never know what he said about them.

    I am not one who forgives easily or fully. I tend to hold the hurt and betrayal close to me. I can understand why you would evoke a curse on your brother and I may well have done the same thing. But maybe not. If the curse truly sets your heart free of the hurt then so be it, but if it fills you with hate that consumes you for months I respectfully suggest you may want to look at another way of closing this chapter.

  6. How horrifying. I wonder if your brother altered the will and had your father in his confused state go along with it. I'm sorry that you had to deal with your brothers venom... I do not blame you at all for cutting his out of your life.

  7. Oof, I hope this helps you to move on... and maybe eventually come to a place where you can forgive if not forget. The accusations your brother made strike me as possibly a stance he backed himself into and convincing himself to take in order to justify his greed to himself. Which makes the things he said more entirely about himself and not about you and yours. If it took that much vehemence to convince himself, perhaps one day he will come to a commensurate state of remorse.

  8. Perhaps forgiveness is too much to ask but that man is taking up free rent space is your head. Kick him out now!
    I hope writing this post gave you some freedom from the hurt.

  9. Powerful words! It's amazing what money can do to people, and it amazing how the people you think will always be there for you can turn in a heartbeat. We are dealing with a breech of trust and now, estrangement, in our own family and it tears at the heart. Just to imagine how these people you love so much can just disappear out of your life and leave you floored.

    I haven't yet found a way to come to terms with it either. You can't control the actions of others but you can control *you*. May we all find some peace and comfort somehow.

  10. I'm so sorry. It's never easy to "meet" the dark side of someone you loved - someone you thought you knew.

    My great grandmother wanted me, the first great grandchild, to have a formal portrait of her and my great grandfather on their 50th wedding anniversary. Through a strange series of events, my grandmother ended up in possession of said portrait. After my great grandparents passed away, I asked my grandmother for the portrait only to be told that I couldn't have it because I didn't "deserve" it. I know it's just a picture, but it still hurts nine years later.

    *huge hugs*

  11. What a horrible thing to deal with in the wake of such a tremendous loss. I can't imagine how it must have hurt. I hope you can grieve the loss of the brother you knew for so long.

    love and hugs.

  12. I don't know that I woud ever be able to forgive either. That being said, I'd still try and free myself from the anger, however one is supposed to do that.

  13. I truly believe in Karma. And it's a bitch. You actually don't even need a curse. He's already marked.

    I haven't gotten very good at the whole forgiving thing. It's really hard for me, particularly when it's not me that was hurt by a person but someone I love.

    But I do find peace often in knowing that what goes around comes around. I have more faith in that than just about anything else.

    I hope you will continue to write. I love hearing from you.
    ~Angela from 'All Things Angela'

  14. Families are funny things and inheritance's seem to bring out the absolute worst in some people. It sounds as if your brother has had his head turned by the promise of it all. Peace to you and yours and I hope that there can be some reconcilliation if and when he comes to his senses and realises the truth of the hurt he has caused. What an awful thing to do to you all.

  15. You have written this powerfully. I commend your clarity and your desire to put this behind you. Forgiveness is never easy under any circumstances, but this seems especially challenging. It sounds like your own extended family (children, grandchildren) is very supportive. That, I suppose, is your ultimate legacy. Wishing you peace.

  16. Such an old old and hard hard story...the betrayal of a family by one of the very members in fact. It's odd how money can turn people into scary, greedy, hateful monsters. I don't use the word monster lightly either.

    In my own family I have watched my mother's family and my husband's family explode and implode over money, probate court, the influence of second spouses, ministers, and attorneys. I watched in horror as the influence and lessons and memories of my grandmother were trashed, just so the second-much-younger-wife could feel okay with walking off with the money from my maternal grandmother's father, heirlooms, jewels and cold hard cash. My grandmother was married to her husband almost fifty years, the step-grandmother barely two and she walked away with the bulk of everything: even hiring a New York antiques company to take almost all of the house's furnishings, stained windows, tiles, (the house was very old)...she was killed two years later and it all went to her niece. Six children, spouses and grandchildren...not one cent, not one painting, horse, farm, nothing. The farm that had been in our family since before the Revolution sold and developed. It's as if our family has vanished.

    And yes, I"m still angry. I am still afraid I could choke this woman with my bare hands AND the executor she talked my very ill, very frail and in terrible pain grandfather into naming in his "new" will! I wince every time we drive past that awful church that was left 75,000 for its construction fund (still no new church) or I drive past the hill where the big old beloved white house was, the scene of so much.

    What was real? What is real? Is there still a tendency to leave the sons/boys/men in charge over the daughters? Or is is just money has amazing power?

    Wishing you all the best in dealing with this!

    Take care,

  17. Wow. You hear about stories like this all the time -- nasty, vile, sneaky, underhanded family members 'forcing/bullying/tricking elderly relatives into changing their wills, signing over their assets, and then defending their behavior in the most vile manner -- but you always kind of hope it doesn't really happen.

    Wow. Your brother is a selfish piece of scum. And so is his wife and kids for going along with it -- because, believe me, they know what he did; the may have even helped it. You know it; he knows it; but he'll have to live with it. I think saying all the vile, untrue things was his way of trying to defend, in his own head, the horrible, horrible thing he had done.

    I'm so sorry.

  18. Well, I want to say, "forgive and forget..." but I can't. Cause this story hits waaaay too close to home. Sounds a lot like what has happened to our family after the passing of my grandfather. My grandmother was to be "left" things, (which actually wasn't much, just an old shattered house she wants to live in until the end, hardly 800 sq ft...needs to be torn down by anyone's standards but ours) but when we found out that the house was left to their son (my uncle), he tried to have his mother LEAVE the house. It's all been about money in their case, and if my grandfather was alive, he'd have beat the stupid and greedy out of them...but he died a horrific "accidental" death involving him and a road grater driven by someone who probably shouldn't have been driving. Yeah...I put an old Eskimo curse on your brother as well. But, I'll be praying for YOU to get through this.

  19. I want to be stunned at the heartless actions of your brother, but as you can clearly see from the numerous posts-- it happens all the time. And I think that is what disturbs me most. I want your circumstance to be the exception, not the new normal. As long as we humans have been roaming this Earth we have been too easily tempted by the good things that others possess. True, of us is it required to forgive everyone, but I will never believe that a good God asks that we become doormats for someone who wants nothing more than find a place to scrape off the crap he's stepped in - just so he can find a way to sleep at night. We're asked to turn the other cheek, not invite the abuser to stay at our home. I'll pray for you to find some measure of peace. I'll pray for us all -- all of humanity, because we so desperately need any help we can get these days.

  20. I don't know you, but I came over here from Catherine's blog. I am truly so sorry this awful thing has happened to you. But can I give you a piece of advice that you can take or leave?

    Unforgiveness and bitterness is a poison we swallow hoping it kills the other person. When really it slowly kills us. Forgive him. Not for him, but for you. Because if you don't, I promise you, this will poison you.

    I am not CERTAINLY not saying forget, I am not saying move on. But forgive. It won't fix him, but it may start to heal you.

    1. I forgave my mother and it felt as if 10 years had fallen away from my life.

  21. All I can say, Is that I am so sorry. I hope that writing about this has allowed you to let go of it all in some small way, to pass into a new phase of life after the death of your father, and to find peace for yourself.

    It's so hard to deal with greed and horrible behaviour, but when it is a trusted member of your family, it cuts deeply.

    I'm sorry you've walked this path too.

  22. Blessings.

    His lashing out, espcecially at the children, would indicate guilt. Does he have a gambling problem? I'm betting that the estate was stripped of all assets and income before your father died. IMO, he's been so vicious because he doesn't want you to pursue a legal battle which would reveal his conversion of the estate.

    What you remember of your father and brother, who you are and experienced is all true. The only player who has changed is your brother and there is some reason behind the change.

  23. I came over to lend support since your daughter asked for it. To give you some love.

    I realize now that I cannot give anything powerful enough to you to help ease this pain. I have not been to this stage in life yet (I still have my parents, knock on wood), and I have no idea how you feel...I can only imagine what is proably a tenth of the horrific pain.

    What I can do is send some really karma driven energy to your brother. I FIRMLY believe people get whats coming to them, and I can only HOPE that your brother gets his commupance (sp?).

  24. Wow. Death and greed certainly bring out the very worst in people, and I'm so sorry you are going through this. I understand your feelings toward your brother. My grandmother is dead to me. Actually, she's more than dead. Whatever that is. I've taken grief for feeling that way, and I've heard more than once, "But she's your GRANDMOTHER!" but it has truly brought me peace. As far as the money, I know you said it means nothing, but do you really feel that way? I have a friend who was in a similar situation not too long ago. She hired a lawyer, was able to prove that her father's will had been changed after he was no longer of sound mind, and she ended up getting what was fairly hers. My guess is that you could also, and your brother's rage was due to the fact that he knew the will could be contested. If he bullied you enough, you'd just go away?? I don't know you or your situation, but it may be worth looking into. I'd be damned if I went down without a fight. Best of luck.

  25. I appreciate every comment. While it is horrible that other families have experienced what mine has (and worse), it also comforting to know I am not alone in my experience. I think it is much easier to talk about forgiveness that it is to really forgive. I have given it a lot of thought and even if I may go to hell for the lack of forgiveness in my soul, I do not think I will be able to forgive. Invoking a curse has helped and writing this post has helped.
    Her Bad Grandma

  26. I am not much on leaving comments, but this story blew me away! I am so sorry for your heart ache. It makes me happy in a way that my grandparents didn't have any money to speak of...I hope you find a way to make peace within yourself, and I don't blame you one bit for not being able to forgive.

  27. I was so happy to see you pop up in my Google reader and then so sorry to read this tale of betrayal and pain.

    I'm Irish, we curse well, but you already know that no good will come of this, your brother has forsaken family for money, he has cursed himself.

    I wish you the emotional strength to see your way through this dark time without too many scars.

    As my mother always says - there's no pockets in a shroud.

    Boliath xx

  28. I'm so, so sorry. I don't have any words of wisdom. This situation is so awful, for the whole family.

    The kindest thing would be to discover that your brother had a brain tumor that changed his personality. I think, though, that he's just got a black and awful hole where his soul used to be.

  29. Ugh, this is heartbreaking. I'm sorry that such a close person to you turned on you so hideously.

  30. My dad and my aunt used to be incredibly close as children. And now, my dad, my siblings and myself have not spoken to my aunt in 10 years. She acted as power of attorney, moved my grandmother into a home (even though my dad and stepmother offered to move in and care for her because they were retired and capable). And when she died, my aunt sold the house and everything in it, even though a majority of the stuff was to go to my father. It pained my father immensely and he still hasn't gotten over the pain. To bring her up is a big no-no.

    I am sorry that you have had such a close person hurt you so.

  31. This happens again and again. I know that's no comfort to you - but nothing I can say would be. I'm pleased that writing your blog helped get some of it out. But there is something about inheritances that turns perfectly nice relatives into vampires. I remember when my father in law died, and the huge fight over the dusty old books in the attic. When my grandmother died, leaving me the set of jade Buddhas that her brother, a spy for the CIA, bought while in Korea just before the Korean aunt "kept them" for me because I had no place to put them. And the rocking chair that my mother used to rock me aunt would just hold onto those for me until I got "a place". I never quite understood this, since I did have an apartment, but I never made a scene. Then my aunt died, and her stepchildren were hovering like vultures and took it all. Working in a law firm I see this sort of thing often, too.

    I'm not sure I could forgive either. And certainly you won't forget. But hopefully the pain will ease as time passes. I wish you the best.

  32. With such a surprising and complete shift in personality, I have to believe something happened to your brother. When something similar happened in my family, it wasn't that big of a surprise. There were hints of issues in that family member that made it more plausible, and honestly, easier to forgive later. Maybe he developed a gambling problem or maybe he's become mentally ill? It seems late in life to develop a problem like that, but maybe there's another health reason (like the earlier commenter said about a brain tumor) underlying this personality change?

  33. I'm so, SO sorry.

    I've been dwelling privately on some similar terrible happenings in my own family following the death of my grandmother - greed, cruelty, irrationality. I don't know if my family can recover.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I wish I could offer you comfort instead of commiseration.

  34. My children and I believe that the cruel words he yelled about me and my family were his way of justifying, to himself, what he had done. He, unbeknownst to me, had vetted all correspondence that we sent to Dad (he let that slip during his tirade.) My brother does not have any illness that would have precipitated his outburst. What he did required planning and deceit and when he had to be accountable to me, he tried to justify his actions by attacking me and my family. I have spent eight months thinking about what he said and did and while I still have a hard time beleiving that he actually did what he did, I no longer feel the pain of betrayal - just anger.

  35. the above comment was posted by me (Her Bad Grandma). I forgot to sign it. I haven't figured out yet how to post a comment with my name on it. Catherine help!!!!

  36. Mom - when you post a comment, open the box below that says COMMENT AS and click on Name/URL - then fill in your name or The Bad Grandma and leave the URL space blank (or put and voila!

    I'll give you a tutorial next visit ;)

  37. Wow.. just... Wow.

    Were I in your shoes, I could never ever forgive your brother. It definitely is not about the money, it is the absolutely cruel way he spoke about you, your children, and your grandchildren. That is absolutely beyond forgiveness.

    Save your forgiveness for your father, as I'm fairly certain he did not truly understand what he was doing. My father has dementia and his slipping away from us. I can see how he could easily be swayed by someone he trusts to do something out of character. When you forget things, you rely on those you trust to get you through the day. Your brother took advantage of that.

    As someone stated earlier - karma can be a bitch. And I certainly hope your brother pays for all the damage he has done.

  38. I'm so sorry. I wish I could say that forgiving is the best thing, that it would be for your own peace of mind and spirit, but I'm still struggling with forgiving. At least, I've moved on so that I don't dwell on things, but when something does bring them to mind...I still feel anger and betrayal...

    I'm hoping you find peace of mind. I'll be keeping you in my prayers.

  39. i am so sorry for your pain. my family has gone through something similar, and it definitely is not about the money. it's about breaking a bond that you didn't ever think anything could break. others who have written that your brother has cursed himself are so right: he will end up with no family. lots of money, maybe, but no people of his own. greed builds on itself; over time greedy people connive all of their loved ones out of their lives for the almighty buck.

    i have cousins who are dead to me because of a similar situation. i don't hate them anymore. it's not even like they are dead. it's like they are strangers. i don't wish them dead, i just don't care about them. they made their choices, i made mine. i have my family still. they have no one - not even each other, because once they got the inheritance money, they sued each other for it and spent it all on lawyers.

  40. I'm so sorry. It's always horrible when something like this happens, and deaths seem to bring it out. I know the pain; my family is falling apart right now in the aftermath of my grandmother's death. The abject cruelty of my aunt towards a dying old lady has completely ruined us for the past few months. Like you, I have soul searched - and I cannot forgive her. I cannot forgive her for the damage she has done and the way she has changed my family. I hope that you are able to find peace, soon, though, even through the hurt.

  41. I am so sorry that you are experiencing this in a time when there are so many other things that need your attention. It isn't fair how much heartache your family has experienced in this past year.

    I agree that it doesn't seem at all to have been your father's doing. I also agree that your brother's triad is a result of his own guilt and need to justify his actions. I wouldn't ignore the possibility that he has some sort of problem, like gambling.

    This would never justify his actions. I am not of the forgive and forget camp. I don't think this level of betrayal should or could be forgiven. All you can do is try to find peace with it.

    I don't want to make this about my family, because I really do believe that your story is awful and you need the support right now but I do want you to know that you are not alone and that you can find peace with this.

    My grandmother had a very similar situation with her siblings. My great-grandfather got sick and grandma and grandpa moved to a different city to care for him. My grandma cared for her father for years, visiting him daily. It got to the point that he was dying. At this time, her siblings basically stole their father. They came and took him and all of his things (including all of the family pictures). They wouldn't tell my grandma where he was. They didn't even tell her when he died. None of us attended his funeral (if they even had one). We were given nothing to remember him by. We were not even given the pictures of our family.

    My grandma has moved passed this betrayal. We don't speak of her siblings. We do however, tell stories about her father. We still feel close to him. Nothing they did could take that from us.

    That is what you need to hold on to here. The love and relationship that you had with your father. The stories that you will be able to tell your grandchildren of him. I think this is what helped my grandma heal the best.

    My heart is truly aching for you. I am so sorry about this wound your brother caused when you needed your family the most.


  42. You know how much I love you and your family. You all mean so very much to me, and I'll never forget the way your entire family has taken me into your folds and accepted and loved me as though I've always been part of your clan.

    Which means this post hurts to read because I know, having spoke to you and Cat, just how much this has hurt you and how deeply wounded you are because of your brother.

    How I'd like to say a choice words to your brother. None of them would be very friendly either.

  43. Wow. I can't even imagine the hurt his words must have inflicted upon you. Sounds like you did the right thing. I know therapists and other smart people would say that cutting the ties is never the best move, but sometimes that's all you can do. It's a sad day when you learn that some relationships are just toxic - even relationships in your own family.

  44. I completely understand why you are not able to find forgiveness in your heart right now. This sort of betrayal would have to knock all of the joy out of your soul. I hope that you can refill the spaces previously held by your brother with the love of your husband, children and grandchildren. I'm so sorry you are having to suffer this pain.

  45. I have an Irish background as well and will add my curse to the mix.

  46. I worked in an estate planning law firm for years. I saw what I would have considered to be close, healthy families do unspeakable things to one another when a death occurred. Even worse were the ones who took advantage of an ill, elderly parent (it's theft, simple as that). But it isn't always about the money - one family spent their father's entire legacy on legal fees fighting one another over items as stupid as a $10 KMart fan. No joke. Incompetence and Death bring out the worst in people in a most shocking way. I am so sorry for your loss.

  47. I am so, so, so sorry you have been betrayed by someone you trusted. He sounds like a very disturbed, petty, angry person. Please take care of yourself and surround yourself by those who really do love you. You deserve that love.

  48. I am so, so sorry. I am shocked at how cruel people can be to their own family. It's unforgivable. I don't know what else to say except, I'm sorry.

  49. WOW.

    Just despicable, really. Imagine being your brother, laying down going to bed every night, trying to stuff down his niggling conscience.

    Sometimes, forgiveness is not an option.

    I hope he reads this post. And just because you can't forgive does not mean you will go to hell, does not mean you can not have peace in your own heart.

    Stay strong. And keep writing ... what a powerful voice you have! Whoosh!

  50. Wow. I am so sorry for the betrayal from your brother. You do not have to forgive him. You are not under any obligation to turn the other cheek.

    He does not deserve your forgiveness or space in your head.

  51. oh my stars. That is truly, truly horrendous, and I'm sorry you're living it. How terrible.

  52. I know it costs money, but perhaps you could have gone to a lawyer and had it out in court, arguing that your brother manipulated your father (who wasn't in the clearest state of mind) into signing over everything to him and his family.

    That's a stressful thing to do no doubt, but I could not rest if I thought somebody in my family had gotten away with that -- and not because of the money involved, but because of the principle.

  53. Your brother obviously let his greed lead him into a layers office to remove you from the will, and in his mind he had to twist it so you were so bad you didn't deserve it.

    Eventually the pain will ease, and you'll be able to remember the good times, but you'll never be able to forget this episode.

    I hope these comments, from the internets, give you some comfort.

  54. I am so sorry. The only words I have to offer to comfort such cruelty is the very limited comfort (sort of) that it has happened to others, including me. Very very similar, except my father had nothing. Literally nothing more than a few thousand dollars, barely more than would pay for burial costs. And still my sister tried to verbally cut my head off - accusing me of wanting "the money" (umm, all $800 of it?). I found out later that she was in teh midst of financial difficulties. Perhaps she just exploded with her own greed and need, I'm not sure, but it was very strange....

  55. I don't know what province the will was probated in, but you should be speaking to a lawyer as soon as possible. A will that is the result of someone influencing a person who no longer has capacity to make financial decisions may not be valid in that jurisdiction. Most provinces have statutes of limitations that run 2 years from the time of "discovery" of the wrongdoing. Executors have special duties to the estate. Although I do not practice wills and estates law, I see enough here to highly recommend that you see a good lawyer as soon as possible to explore your options. Obviously something terribly unjust and possibly illegal has gone on. Just a thought.

  56. I am praying that you find some peace. I do not know you but applaud your strength. God bless you and your family!

  57. I wish there was something I could say, ANYTHING I could say to make this easier. This is an absolutely horrible thing that happened to you, and I'm sorry. I don't know you, I don't really know Catherine except through her blog. But from what I can see of you both, you don't deserve to be treated this way by anyone. It's heartbreaking to me to think about having my sibling treat me in this manner, I can imagine that you're grief is so strong. I hope someday you somehow manage to get that necklace back. I hope you are somehow able to find a little bit of peace for yourself. (BIG Hugs)

  58. I no longer have an aunt & cousin after their behavior when my grandmother died. My aunt drained my grandmother's account over time to where there was almost nothing left when g'ma died. But g'ma was in & out of the hospital & so sick she didn't know what was going on. My aunt gave everything away. Her son took my g'ma's ring that was supposed to go to the only granddaughter. Me. I was supposed to get all of her jewelry - and she had some beautiful stuff. Instead, I got her costume jewelry. My mom got a few pictures that were hers to begin with. My brother got the flag, which my aunt tried to take as well. On top of that, my aunt tried to send all of g'ma's outstanding bills to my mother, saying mom was responsible for them. My aunt never produced the will that she said made her executor. Since all of us lived out of state, we didn't feel we had a lot of recourse. Especially since everything was already gone. We got there too late. My aunt has always been jealous of my mom's life. I say that truthfully, not out of spite. My mom found a good man & got married at 18 & is still married 45 years later. My aunt has been married several times. She will never have grandchildren. She is full of hate & ill will. She also stole some things out of my mom's house that belonged to grandpa & we didn't figure out what happened to them until much, much later. To say I'm bitter & want to wish her ill is an understatement. I don't know how to forgive her. Not for taking what wasn't hers, but for hurting my mother. And her son for threatening us just after the funeral. They are scum & have no idea what family really means.

    I have never been able to write about this because my father does not want me to. Even though it would be cathartic for me, he doesn't feel others should know about our personal affairs. So I'm posting it anonymously to hopefully get rid of it, and to let you know you are not alone. I'm so very sorry this happened to you. Having someone you trust turn on you is the most hurtful thing. I should have put an Irish curse on my aunt, too, since we're also Irish & Scottish. I hope you are able to move on at some point.

  59. I'm so sorry. Greed and death are two things that change people to creatures that are barely recognizable.

    I know it's difficult to let go, but I have had to do exactly that to family members of my own. I won't say it doesn't hurt, it does. It hurts like hell, but eventually I decided they could no longer have the power to hurt me.

    My way of dealing with things of this nature is to write down everything, and I mean everything they have done/said that has hurt me. I then would write down my responses to that hurt (because many times what they had done/said rendered me silent)...and then I burned it all. Maybe I'm a pyro, but I do love burning it, watching it reduce to ash and go up in smoke, I watch it and feel a release.

    I hope you can find a release that works for you.


  60. You know the first thing you should do to move forward is ensure you have a specific and ironclad will for yourself. Regardless of the quantity of your assets, it will save your family from any possibility of this fracture down the road.

    Big hugs to you Bad Grandma. This is a terrible story.

  61. I am so thankful that my daughter encouraged me to write this blog. Sharing my pain and anger has been therapeutic. Thank you to those of you who have shared your similar experience. I know that reliving the betrayal is so painful. To those of you who suggested legal action - my brother told me his legal team made sure that all actions taken were within the law. I did consult a lawyer and while he agreed what transpired appeared coercive, it would be an extremely costly and lengthy process to prove it. I had neither the heart nor the resources for a protracted battle.

  62. I am so, so sorry to hear about your loss. In many ways, it is a grieving process. To grieve for the loved one you thought you knew.

    My husband and his brother were best of friends since they were little kids. They were the best men at each others weddings. And his brother, the younger one, idolized my husband. Until one day he started calling me and telling me how horrid and evil my husband was. He turned on his entire family and has isolated himself completely. There was an element of money involved (an inheritance from a grandmother that he never received from his father) but it really wasn't about that. As it turns out, we've discovered he is mentally ill. It was all so sudden and shocking. Obviously not the same as your situation but I can feel your anger and your grief as if it was our own.

    You seem like a strong and beautiful spirit and I am so sad you have to go through this.

  63. This is heartwrenching to read. I'm sure you've thought of every scenario, but is there any way that your brother swayed your father's hand at changing the will and his final decision? Are you SURE that's how your father really felt? I'm sorry, I know you probably think about it all so much. The old phrase "sticks & stones..." is SO UNTRUE.


  64. I am so sorry that someone you never thought you would ever have to question has betrayed you the way your brother has. I do know how that feels to some extent, but nowhere close to the cruelty you have been given.

    I was not yet 40, the baby of nine kids, when my father passed and my oldest brother basically cut me out of his life. My father wasn't even gone an hour and I had lost my oldest brother too. Nothing at the funeral, it was like I didn't exist anymore. Since then, no calls, no returned calls, no stopping in when he is in town, and he hardly makes eye contact let alone conversation at family gatherings.

    It is so hard to deal with betrayal when it hits you from way out in left field. Betrayal of any kind is difficult, but there are always those very few you never think you have to worry about, like your brother.

    I do understand you having no desire to forgive your brother, what he has done to you to justify his own actions and make himself feel better are unforgivable. I do hope you can find peace and comfort in the love from your true family.


  65. Death always seems to bring out the vulture in people! This is exactly why I refuse to have my family involved in my affairs.
    Mind you, I know what's contained in my parents will, they keep both my sister and I updated when-ever they do.
    I truly hope then when the unfortunate passing of my parents occurs, that it isn't this ugly.
    Karma is a bitch and he will get what he deserves!
    I'm sorry your hurting, there's nothing worse then the betrayal of a loved on, especially your brother.
    *huge hugs*

  66. I feel so very sorry for what you have gone through in the past year, I found you through your daughter, which i secretly love...hehe.....having lost my parents in the last six years I must say I was very happy to be an only child, having just buried my mother in law today, with just the two of them, there is no chance of a fight, both are executers(SP) and it's pretty much split right down the middle, except for a small inheritence for each grandchild(3), I just can't imagine fighting over something....our families didn't have much....but I still can't understand it....You are the one who will be able to lay her head on the pillow and go to sleep at night....your brother...I'm thinking he is going to need some major duty sleeping pills....My mother was a great believer in "what goes around, comes around" and if you have the patience...will come to fruition.....all the best....Roberta

  67. How tragic for your entire family and how absolutely horrid for you in particular. I came here from Catherine's blog and reading your account of what your brother did to you after your father's death is painful to read. I read it yesterday and felt disturbed the entire day and couldn't bring myself to write anything till today. I'm so very sorry for the pain your are feeling. What an incredible betrayal.

    Money does awful things to people. It's right out of the fairy tales, is it not? Greed is so corrupting. But I hope you can find peace away from your brother and his family. I hope he someday is able to confront the evil he is guilty of, but that is on him. I think that he will carry the burden of this betrayal for the rest of his life. You, at least, know that you did no wrong and though I can't imagine your hurt, at least your heart is clear of guilt. That is more precious than anything - something your brother obviously didn't understand or value.

  68. Like many of your commenters, I don't necessarily advocate forgiveness here, because what he did was unforgiveable. But I agree you should talk to a competent attorney and explore your options, as your brother should not be allowed to get away with this. And my heart goes out to you and yours, and by the way, you are not an awful person or you would not have helped to raise Cathy to be so lovely. I'm sorry for all your pain.

  69. Oh my goodness. How could someone be so cruel? And so false. Obviously this was not a spur of the moment tantrum he was throwing. The fact that he pretended to be a good person for so long is very disturbing. What a dishonorable man. I am so sorry that he has caused you so much pain.

    And so, so angry that he kept the chain.

  70. Almost worth siccing a lawyer on him anyway at this late date, with the promise to the lawyer that ANY assets they acquire are theirs --- just to stick it to your brother and his family who were clearly involved.

  71. My heart goes out to you in so many ways and the writing in your post is so raw. I'm sorry. Family can suck sometimes. I, too, was betrayed by a close relative, someone I had always looked up to and considered a favorite, and when I found out what she had done, I was, and am still, stunned, hurt, and angry. But she must live with herself. In the case of your brother, money can always be replaced. But respect and love can't. I hope sharing your pain will lift your burden.

    Best wishes.

  72. i'm so sorry for the chasm, the crevice, in yer heart.
    sending you healing thoughts, gentle angels and very very powerful bad-ass faeries.

  73. I came here from her bad mother. The anger your brother has, his beliefs, his words, are not about you, they're about him. When people hate like that it's internal.

    I am in the middle of divorcing and my husband recently lost his mind and locked me out of my home. I was shocked. His anger is palpable but I am no longer willing to carry it for him and it now leaks out of him everywhere. I do know this though, it is his problem and his anger, not mine. I've had my own issues with anger over the years but I have dealt with them.

    Your brother and my husband have not dealt with their anger and I doubt they even know where it comes from. I am sorry though, I know how much this hurts.

  74. I don't have much to offer but my positive thoughts. Isn't it curious how people can focus on money when that isn't the main thing at all. I can completely understand the desire to have those maternal-side things (like the gold chain) passed along as intended, rather than held hostage by someone who clearly sees their value in monetary terms rather than in sentimental ones. That strikes me as one of the worst hurts your brother is causing.

    I treasure my relationships with my sisters and hope we never have to deal with anything like this. Luckily (and this may sound perverse), we don't have much in terms of money, so there's less danger of that tripping things up.

    Thank you for sharing.

  75. What he said that day was absolutely not about you or your kids and grandchildren. He was so out of control because of guilt that the little part of him not yet overcome by greed was trying to justify what he had done. He probably took aspects of your personality and blew them up into calumny, it was the greed monster talking and it is not true.

    Keep your daughters close, you guys will survive together.

  76. Hi Bad Grandmom:
    I came over from Catherine's blog.

    I hate that what monster man said is making you doubt your world view. Nothing he said beyond the specific facts in the will was true. You know that, right? He verbally assaulted you and all you hold dear. But nothing he said about your daughters or their children is true. I'm sorry that he caused so much pain, but that was deliberate on his part. Best defense being a good offense.

  77. Sorry for your pain, but do you really think your father felt that way? Or did your brother persuade your father to change the will after filling your father's head with these horrible thoughts? The outburst at your house stems from his guilt over this. I come from a very divided mother's funeral looked like the Hatfields and the McCoys. I concentrate on being happy with my spouse, children and my one sibling who still speaks to me. The way I see it, it's the rest of my families loss if they don't want to have contact.

  78. I am so sorry for you and your family. I wonder if your brother lashed out because of his guilt that he would get everything and it would be easier for him that way. This is not an excuse, of course. Nothing could excuse that. It does seem so very very very strange and baffling that a brother who loved you for so many good years could say those terrible things. Is there something awful going on in his life that you don't know about that perhaps is causing him to have a nervous breakdown?

  79. I am sorry for you as well. What a terrible thing to go through. How saddening to see such a turn around in the behavior of a loved one. Your sense of betrayal is palpable and distressing. All my love goes with you.
    I must say (and I hope this doesn't offend you), I also feel sorry for your brother. Those things he said... about you and your children AND the grandchildren... ABOUT TANNER? That is just so vile and toxic that I can't help but think he is suffering something terrible. A man who proved himself loving for so many years to say that about innocent children? He is not a monster--you yourself proved it by the evidence of all the years he supported and loved you. So what made him say those things? I feel sorry for him. Something inside him must have been festering in him in secret, all those years--some jealousy of you? an inferiority complex? a need in himself that he couldn't articulate? Did he feel he had to compete for your Dad's attention his whole life? For him to take it out on the children that way, something must have been twisting and twisting him horribly for a long time. There can be nothing you DID to cause that in him Nothing at all. If he supported you for so many years it means you are loving wonderful person.
    There is a famous writer who says that being angry at someone is like drinking poison and hoping that it hurts the person you're angry at. That's certainly how I experience anger.
    Perhaps if you felt sorry for him it would afford you some peace.

  80. I cried reading your post. I am so sorry you've had to go through this on top of all your other grief.

    This is my story too. My brother tried to do something very similar - he tried to get our mother to sign everything over to a family trust controlled by him and basically disinherit our sister and me... Fortunately our mother didn't do it - but she came close. It is mind boggling to me that anyone could be that greedy.

    He has no relationship with our parents, our sister or me, nor with our children. Sometimes it saddens me but more often I pity him for being such a pathetic excuse for a human being.

    My comfort is that every religion believes in a comeuppance of sorts - karma / reap what you sow / etc. That has removed any sense of anger or vengeance I had - that and time - lots of time.

    My thoughts are with you and your family.

    He is not worth another thought.


  81. Forgiveness isn't even part of the story, yet.

    It's a fascinating story. I don't know if the focus on whether or not your memories were right, or if the doubt you feel about yourself does it justice, though: Who acted totally out of character?

    Your brother.

    You have nothing to do with this story; the fascinating part unfolded on your porch: what happened to your brother? How did he change? Was he really and truly not like this? No red flags over the years?

    It gets to be even more fascinating, since you are not about the money (and, don't worry, the necklace will continue down to the appropriate people; your mother knows this: we are strange on this earth, but it all falls properly, in the end).

    Forget about forgiveness, I agree, it's more interesting to watch the drama of your brother's life unfold, rather than deciding how to act as you watch.

    It's IMPOSSIBLE he meant what he said about your grandchildren (you have a cool husband, though, in his saying your brother was not allowed in the house), what in the world came over your brother? Is what I would like to know.

    And, my heart breaks that he smashed so many cast iron pans on so many heads: what got into him?

    You wrote a wonderful post, in that it was so thoughtful. I am so sorry you were betrayed.

    Thinking of you.

  82. I will never understand what he did, but, yes, in retrospect there were some red flags but I trusted him so completely that I believed his explanations. That part of my life is over, that part of my family is gone - it is like excising a cancerous tumor - I may have a scar, but can now move on with my life.

  83. This happened with my father's family as well. So sad when theives rely on self-righteousness to defend their loot.

    Oh, and I would share with you that you don't have to forgive. You simply choose to move on. And by simply I mean with gut-wrenching grief and all the scars. But the past will drag you down, and if you don't choose to look ahead, you'll end up living in the midst of this hurt for a long time. Speaking from terrible, personal experience of my own. :)

    It sounds like you are on this road already; just wanted to add some support.


  84. Don't kid yourself in thinking your brother's behavior is about greed and money. It goes deeper than that and your brother's actions could have been triggered by a hundred different hungers. But they all point to his feeling that you have gotten more than your fair share in life at his expense--of your father's love, of your heart's desires, of being rescued by him--who knows, maybe not even he knows.

    It is easy to confuse forgiveness with reconciliation. But remember, you never have to restore your relationship with your brother. Not even God requires that.

    Forgiving him, however, is not an option. Withholding forgiveness is the same as placing a curse upon yourself-- and your children and their children. I lovingly suggest that you put all your energy into forgiving your brother. Not in trying to find motives, or rehashing what transpired in what order, or wondering if you should have seen the signs.

    And you need to forgive yourself most of all. It may take the rest of your life, but it is the only real option.

  85. I know this sounds strange, but for me letting go of past resentments about my family (extended family) was easier when I could say I forgive them. Not to their face, but in my heart, it was easier to forgive than carry the weight fo that resentment around with me all the time.

    Wishing you the best.

  86. My mother works in a law office that deals with estates and this happens in many many families and it is disgusting and very sad.
    I wouldn't forgive him either. I would buy a voodoo doll. But even so, the important thing is settling it with yourself so that it doesn't do your health any further harm.

  87. Hi, well be sensible, well-all described

  88. Please Sue. Not even for the money, but for the principle of the thing. Please!

  89. Great website, looks very clean and organized. Keep up the good work!

  90. Great website, looks very clean and organized. Keep up the good work!

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