Friday, June 3, 2011

The True Color of Death

About a decade ago, I watched helplessly as my then-fiance's paternal aunt made a play to be named his father's sole heir. She conned a dying man into signing over his new SUV "because I have to take Charles to all of his doctors' appointments", buying her a new cherry dining room suite and an oak suite that she inherited at his death (that was actually in the expensive apartment she forced him to rent near her Lexington home). Her intention was to prove that his son, who had a full-time job, wasn't "doing his duty" and therefore was not entitled to his father's estate.

I have never been more proud when it turned out that what she'd conned his father out of was all that she was getting...and that he'd also squirrelled away a significant amount of cash to get his son a new car and pay for essentials until the estate could be probated...in an account known about only by his attorney. Auntie Dearest was fit to be tied. She was determined to rob her nephew, an only child, blind, for her own gain...and moreover, she felt entirely justified in doing it.

(Just as a point of further reference, she ditched her senior Yorkie. Try to imagine infantile, moronic gushing with a heavy Eastern Kentucky accent: "So I can get one of them 'pixie-face' Yorkies that only weigh a pound! They're so cute and tiny!", et cetera, ad nauseum. It was all Chuck could do to keep me from killing that stupid, vacuous woman on the spot. She is one of the most amoral people I have ever had the displeasure of knowing.)

On the night of the viewing, we were in the funeral director's office discussing something, in the presence of Auntie Dearest. His maternal aunt, who at the time we believed to be more trustworthy, was also there. The man asked for a check to cover the casket flowers, horribly expensive out-of-season purple irises (chosen by Guess Who)- and Auntie Dearest whipped out her dead brother's checkbook. Chuck's maternal aunt strode forward, plucked it from her hands, and gave it to their nephew, stating: "The moment that Charles died, Chuckie became the executor of his estate. You have no right to this." Believe me, it was almost a knock-down drag-out, but thing was, she was right.

The next day at the funeral, Auntie Dearest and her brood took the front pew at the church by force, relegating us to the second pew- an unheard-of breach of funeral etiquette- and once again, she felt perfectly within her rights. She did the same thing at the cemetery, taking the chairs under the canopy and forcing the dead man's son to stand outside the tent in the blazing July heat. As the Disabled American Veterans finished the twenty-one gun salute, she rose to accept the folded flag, and God Bless the DAV, because that old soldier looked her dead in the eye and said: "No, ma'am, that's for his son." I thought her head was going to explode.

Once again, his family has pulled a fast one. The aunt who once stood up for him has executed a couple of really nasty turns since that day eleven years ago, the latest of which involves not calling Chuck when her son, who had spina bifida and was just about the only relative he had left whom he trusted, succumbed at last to the disease at the age of 44. Chuck found out from reading the obituary column in the local paper. He called me in hysterics at 2:30 in the morning, and it makes me want to go to Prestonsburg and slap the hell out of his aunt.

Over the years, dealing with his extended family has been quite an education. This is not how it's done where I come from, and I am absolutely sick with it that this man, who is an orphaned only child, has been absolutely lionized by vicious people on BOTH sides of his family. Now that Buddy is gone, he only has two cousins left out of a very large family to whom he speaks. It's disgraceful, and that's the absolute least I can say about it.

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