Dirty Laundry and the Elephant in the Room


Is the elephant pink, gray, multi-colored?  Does it matter?  It’s always there.

My father turns 90 in a few weeks.  He’s losing his memory, and having trouble getting around.  His muscles are constricting, but no doctor has sent him for physical therapy. They give him shots.  Since he hasn’t much to do, he calls his children just to talk, but it’s too late for that, and here’s why:

My father was always  a hard worker.  He went to college, and majored in business, and  early on, he had a meat packing plant.  This business was profitable enough when he started, but approaching  20 years in, he had to sort of re-invent the company for a niche market.  This will be relevant when I explain a few things.  He never really was close to any of his relatives. His brother had some sort of learning disability (was it dyslexia?) & so his parents made my father hire his brother.  Not sure what he did in the busisess. Sales? Whatever.  & when my father incorporated the business…for some reason, he gave both my grandfather  and his brother a(my uncle) shares of the business.  My father also hired my grandmother’s youngest brother, who wasn’t retarded, but a bit slow.My father worked all the time, Or rather, he left the house about 4:00a.m. to make sure the plant was open for trucks, He never trusted anyone to open up for him.  What i;timately happened is….his father died, and left his shares to my grandmother & uncle. So ,they had majority shares of my father’s business.  He had also taken on a  partner to generate sales and infuse capital. So all these people had control of the business my father ran.  Not sure how it happened this way, but they did, and  to  get out, he liquidated  and sold th capital equipment to my stepbrother.  He was supposed to  stay on as a consultant, but due to a very bad contract (you’d think he’d blame a lawyer), he was forced out with no consultancy, and, instead, my step brother pays my stepmother.  You can imagine the tension, but the marriage remains intact.  I don’t get it.

Because of my mother reaching out, my father was in touch with relatives, but actually, we spent more time with my mother’s relatives…until she died. Then, those contacts sort of fell apart.  They fell apart for many reasons, but one reason was my mothers kids—me, my 2 sisters, and brother, were ‘odd’.  Now we know my brother and I have Asperger’s, but we were just too much for  my mother’s brothers families.   Bad influences? Whatever.  We siblings are pretty much estranged from our cousins.  It is even more pronounced because my stepmother is strongly bonded to both her and her first husband’s families.  Good for them.  I admire that.

My brother always  had behavior issues that my parents never successfully addressed.  That is, he was always rewarded for his arrogance and  short temper.  He was ‘the boy’ and many relatives also made excuses for this.  These behavior issues turned into addiction.  He’s been in jail several times, and my father has always paid his legal fees.  He allowed 2 houses to go into foreclosure, and my father has bought him his 3rd place to live.  My brother wanted to be a herpetology entrepreneur, but never was disciplined enough to keep sales records and avoid the trap of not being a  self starter. He’d get high  many days.  He has 2 advanced degrees, but had been caught several times stealing drugs.  My father seems to characterize this as my brother  marching to the beat of a different drummer…not being mentally ill and addicted.  He can’t allow my brother to hit bottom, as my brother might die.  so this state of affairs drags on.

Due to this pattern, my father has alienated his daughters. One son is worth 3 girls, and it is pretty obvious.  It’s disappointing, but it is what it is. He has always treated his daughters like  children. He thinks it perfectly  appropriate to show up where you work to just ‘see’.  So, we no longer tell my father where we work.

No matter what you tell my father, he will give you advice, and tell you how to live your life. I used to trust him, but I realized he gave me bad advice for my situation, and I had to figure  things out for myself. Both my father  and mother were disappointed that I learned to groom dogs and didn’t go to college after high school.  I think my father is now proud that I went to college—and graduate school—and never asked for money.

I did ask my father to consider investing with me in a 6 flat about 30 years ago, but he  clearly wasn’t interested. Instead, he invested in a house my niece rehavved and  didn’t break even.

I have blogged before about insurance, and how much my father bought—trusting another  guy his age, never mind that insurance is not transparent, and you  don’t know what you will end up with, A minor thing, but now, in a few years it will be over.  We’ll go through papers and see how much insurance he has, and  if there is any money left over.  Of course, at least we don’t have to support him.  I have a friend whose father was badly injured in an accident, and he became a quadriplegic.  In order to get  any sort of aid, he  and my friend’s mother were divorced.  He might have gotten a settlement, but I remember my friend scrambling to find assisted living for his father because his money was about to run out, None of the siblings would help. That’s the dynamics in families.

I wonder  about families that all get along and support each other. Well, you never know. somethings are never how they  appear, but this family is exactly how  it appears.

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