Notes for two of my nieces
When I was young some things happened in my family that I now wish I knew more about. I remember my three older sisters talking about things that I didn’t understand, and when I ask them about it now, they say they don’t know what I’m talking about.
Some of my nieces are fairly young now, and I want to make some notes about the last 10-15 years in their family so if/when they look back on this time, they can get a semi-impartial view of what I know. (I’m 99.9% certain that they don’t read this website, or even know that this website exists.)
The first hint I got about problems in your family was in the early 2000s. At that time, my third sister — your mother — asked me for several “loans.” Each loan was $3,000, and they totaled up to somewhere between $9,000 and $15,000. (I don’t remember the exact amount, though I know the total was at least $9 to $12K. I just remember that they caused some grief between my wife and I.) After a little while I realized that I was funding some sort of sinking ship, and I would later learn that your mother’s husband had a serious gambling problem.
At the time your dad and his brother owned a restaurant, and I just assumed that they were having a difficult time. At some point they expanded to open a banquet hall as well, and that may have factored into my decision to keep loaning them money, as I assumed they had cash flow problems. My sister didn’t tell me about the gambling problem at this time, or that he was also severely depressed. She just said that she needed the money to pay her bills.
My mother’s money
Another thing that was going on at this time is that your mother “took” somewhere between $100,000 to $250,000 from my mother (your grandmother), depending on how you count. The way she “took” this was by telling my other sisters that she would take care of my mom for the rest of her life if she could use the money my mother had as a down payment on their house. (My mother could not live by herself.) So she used that money and other income my mother had to help pay for the house and all of the family’s expenses.
The twist in this is that this sister and her husband eventually went bankrupt, meaning that she/they lost all of my mother’s money. They quit paying their taxes, quit paying their mortgage, maxed out a handful of credit cards, etc. From what I understand they lived in the house you grew up in for about two years after they stopped paying their bills there, and as I write this today, your dad still lives there. If you remember that your mother never answered the phone when it rang, or that she turned the volume off, or disconnected the phone completely, those were creditors calling to ask your parents for money.
Sorry, I know that none of this is what you want to hear, but I know that you saw these things.
The older sisters
During this time, Sister #2 kept telling Sister #1 what was going on, but Sister #1 kept ignoring her, or at least that’s the story as I know it, according to Sister #2. Then when the poop really hit the fan, Sister #1 became very angry.
As for me, except for loaning money to Sister #3, I didn’t know any of these stories until the last two years. I was living a long distance away from my family, and I didn’t ask about these things, and nobody told me anything.
So while Sister #1 is guilty of doing nothing to protect my mom while she was informed of what was going on, I am guilty of doing nothing to protect my mom due to my own ignorance. (In my own defense I always asked how everyone was doing, but I never got these details until the last few years ... 2011 or 2012 at the very earliest.)
Fast-forward to today
I may fill in more details here as time goes on, but the point I want to make today is that if you fast-forward to today, the relationship between all of my sisters and I is strained, and according to Sister #2, she can’t really communicate with Sister #3, and Sister #1 has now also given up on trying to communicate with Sister #3.
From what I know, #3 gets hostile when #2 asks her questions about her work schedule. #2 now works as a sitter for my mom, and needs to know #3’s schedule so she knows when to work. I have heard this for more than a year, and now Sister #1 is apparently also having a hard time communicating with #3.
Actually, #1 and #3 have been having a problem for years. If you remember the “family vacation” we took together in 2014, #1 was angry at #3 for the entire trip, with #2 acting as an instigator, egging #1 on. If you thought that vacation was tense and ruined by your aunts, it was.
Notes: #1 was upset at #3 for everything related to #3’s decision of where to move after you (all) left your first house, but was even more upset about what #3 was doing in regards to her oldest daughter going to college. It’s important to note that #3 is a control freak, and that extends to trying to control her sisters, and to some extent, me. As mentioned, #2 was an instigator during all this time. I picked up #1 at the airport during this trip, and #2 quickly called us and told us #3 wasn’t happy with the hotel, and during the trip she kept telling #1 and I that we needed to talk to #3 about a variety of things, but mostly related to caring for our mother, and the whole college decision issue. For the record, I just wanted everyone to enjoy the vacation, as I was paying for a lot of it, and I wanted you girls to be able to see some things you hadn’t seen before. I was concerned about my mother’s care, but as for the college decision, I didn’t feel like that had anything to do with me, at least not as long as I wasn’t paying for it. (If I was going to pay for it I would have been involved in the decision, but until then it was all going to be your choice.)
The karma of cutting off communication
Getting back to today, #1 and #2 have pretty much had it with #3. At first they wanted #3 to live up to the deal she made, which was to take care of mom for the rest of her life, but as of yesterday it sounds like the tide has shifted, and #1 and #2 no longer want to deal with #3. From what I’m told, #3 has made it very hard to deal with her, instantly getting angry with any questions about her schedule or plans, so #1 and #2 have basically said, “Fine, you win, we won’t deal with you any more.” #1 lives over 1,000 miles from #2 and #3, and yesterday #1 told #2, “Why don’t you, your husband, and mom move out here?”
One thing I’ll say about #3 is this: I understand that she is basically in survival mode. She separated from her husband, and she’s always worked as a waitress, and now she has to work hard to make end’s meet. I had to co-sign on her rental agreement just so she and my nieces and mother could live where they lived until late 2014.
I was also surprised to learn a few years ago that #3 and her husband didn’t have health insurance. They basically had to pay for health costs, such as the birth of you girls, with cash out of pocket.
Another thing I’ve learned about #3 that I didn’t know is that she has some sort of ADHD or ADD. As two examples, she couldn’t sit down by herself to fill out divorce papers via an online law service, and she also couldn’t sit down to fill out paperwork for your current healthcare.
About #3’s husband
A few notes about #3’s husband, your father. I never disliked the guy. I always had a hard time understanding him because he spoke broken English, and with a thick accent. He’s often say things like, “Him’s brother,” and other phrases I couldn’t comprehend.
Of course I was pissed that my sister tricked me into paying for his gambling problem.
I will also say that I didn’t realize he was a crappy father. In the last two years I learned that his oldest daughter took up soccer so that her dad would come see her play, and then he never came to her games.
And about four years ago — 2011, I think — I was playing a video game with the youngest daughter, and your dad came downstairs and wanted to say goodbye to you. I was going to stop playing so that you could say goodbye, and you turned to me and said, “Just ignore him, he’ll go away.” I’ll never forget that moment, as it opened my eyes to your situation, and what a crappy father he was.
One other thing I know about him: About 12-18 months ago, when they opened the new restaurant, he told Sister #2, “I don’t know why I agreed to do this (why he agreed to do this with his brother). I should have just taken your sister to Florida like we always talked about and done something new down there, by ourselves (meaning with you girls, but without his brother).”
I think that going along with his brother on all of his crazy schemes was a major part of your dad’s depression. If he had just stood up for himself and said, “This is what I want and need, and I don’t want to go along with your schemes any more,” he might have been a different person, and a better father. That’s just a guess on my part. Personally, I have no idea why he went along with his brother on the restaurants and banquet hall.
The biggest things I’ll say about Sister #3 are this:
- She is really bad at planning for the future and handling money. At Christmas 2014 my other sisters and I were stunned at the number of gifts she gave you guys. I thought she should have been carefully controlling her expenses and given minimal gifts, and told you, “Girls, as you know, we’re having a lot of financial issues, so I can’t afford to buy you much,” but instead I saw the biggest Christmas ever. From what I’ve seen she also shops at Walgreens a lot, when she should be shopping at Walmart.
- I’m very disappointed in her for lying to me about the money she “borrowed” from me. She also never really said she was sorry about that. She did promise to repay me, but of course unless she wins the lottery there’s no way she will ever be able to do that.
- Most of all, I’m very disappointed in her for losing your grandmother’s money. That has a severe impact on how your grandmother will live out her final years.
The end, for now
Of course there’s much more to all of this, including a few other things that I have learned, and 99% things that I don’t know. These are just a few of the major events of the last 2-3 years.
I don’t know how this will all work out, but as I mentioned in the beginning, there were a lot of things that happened in my very young years that I couldn’t comprehend at the time, and can’t remember clearly now, and I wish someone had kept a journal of those things so I could know the truth, or at least a little more of the truth. So that’s why I’m writing these things here today.