Saturday, September 13, 2008
The Legacy of a Step Child
As a follow up to my earlier post titled, Feeling Like Dirt on a Piece of $@#*, I shared about my experience from last weekend. We were visiting my dad, recently burdened with a severe disability that has put him in a wheelchair, taken his speech and is slowly taking his ability to swallow food. We joined him as he was awarded into the town's Hall of Fame for his years of service to the community. It was to be a proud moment for him and for our family however, it also marked a memorable moment in our family history when we were all gathered to notice how significant my dad's disability had become.
The discussions around the breakfast table the morning after the award ceremony were all positive and you would have thought they were all optimists however, from my perspective they were just in denial. Afraid to face the realities of what is to become. Afraid to not know or control the outcome of my father's health.
And, although I also fear those things, the most painful points I shudder from is the loss of my father, the only blood relative I have left will soon be leaving me. All I will have left are step families and in-laws.
At face value I have always gotten along with my step parents. I have considered them a blessing to my life. Both my step mom and step dad have added strength and stability to my life that I would have never had with either of my parents alone. But, as my father becomes frailer by the day, I am reminded that I am only a step child with no rights to a proper legacy.
It was just one year and a half that my mother passed away. My step father was the executor of my mother's will and although my mother and I had a tumultuous history throughout the years, it was the two years before her passing that we had become closer and more forgiving towards one another. Prior to that time however, she had done some demeaning and deranged things to her will and her assets leaving little to nothing to my girls or to me. She had left much of her assets to distant nieces and nephews to my step father's relatives. To write about this today, hurts my soul, but it is what it is and I have to learn how to not let it get the best of me and my memory of my mother.
The one item that my mother willed to me was her jewelry. However, the mourning turns even darker during a visit to, now my step father's home (I was so used to calling that place, "Mom and Tom's" to hear it just called "Tom's" place was awkward for me.) We were visiting my step dad around Christmas time. I knew this time would be especially difficult for him and since he had no family of his own, I felt it was my duty to spend some quality time with him near the holidays. I had also called him daily after my mother's passing until I knew he was stronger and had friends near by to help him. I even considered having him move closer to us so that we could look after him. He had been my step father for 13 years and I felt the God-given responsibility to look after him.
It was during this Christmas visit, ten months after my mother had passed that I first received a copy of the will. I had not gone through my mom's things because it was too painful for me yet. In addition to losing my mother, we had been told that Sienna had ADHD and Sensory Integration and I had Sarah as a permanent hip ornament, only one year of age. I also had to let my company of 10 years dissolve since I was unable to keep so many clients' demands abreast while caring for my step father while at my coma-induced mother's bed side. So, after we prepared a holiday dinner, I asked Tom if it would be OK if I looked at my mom's jewelry. Sienna and I opened the night stand drawer and saw the jewelry like a glimpse of my mom's joy sparkling a bubbly smile at us. Queen Bubbly was my mother's Red Hat Society name and it fit her to perfection. Although, the bubbly side of her was only half of her. The other side was burdened with depression and a heavy grip to the past.
More on the story of the passing of my mother, how my step father treated her will and the reality of my legacy in future posts.