Riding Life!

Riding Life!
Life is like a wild horse--Unless you ride it, it will ride you! (from the movie: "Princess of Thieves.")

Thursday, July 22, 2010

C: Pampered to Death

She was the lone sister left at home to care for her widowed father, selflessly.  She had given up college to do so.  Her father needed her, after the long battle with her mother’s illness.

When she was in her mid-thirties, much to her surprise, a gentleman began to court her.  He was a big fish in their small town; he spoke in public for the local chapter of his preferred political party.  He was a lawyer and accountant; a man of substance with the freedom of a professional office in his home.  By this time he was divorced from the mother of his four almost-grown children, all of whom lived in another county a couple hours away.  He was fifteen years older than her.

After several years of storybook courtship filled with trips to stage plays, dinner in fine restaurants she had never before experienced, and surprise gifts, they married. 

As a wedding gift, his mother gave the new couple a nice five-acre tract sliced from her larger holdings.  Our girl threw her savings account into the pot, and they built a dream house—just right for them.  They lived there 39 more years.  Storybook house; storybook life.   Bliss.

During their marriage, the courtship never seemed to end.  She was not allowed to carve a roast—she might cut herself.  She would never be permitted to stand on a stepstool and reach for a pot from over the refrigerator—she might fall.  He tended to every detail of their lives.  She received wonderful gifts, from the simple to the lavish, often for no reason.  She traveled.  She did not have to worry her head about anything.  Her husband took care of it all.

She did continue in her job in the nearest city, a government employee.  It was low-stress, and she enjoyed the work.  He saw her off on the train each morning, and each afternoon he was there to retrieve her when she returned.

All the neighbors and family talked about how spoiled she was; he did everything for her; he must have loved her so.  He had the reputation in her family of being rich.

He fell into Alzheimer’s and, like she had with her father, she selflessly stayed with him, forbidding others from even speaking of putting him in a nursing home.  The last two years of his life, he had no idea who she was.  He thought she was just the woman who came in to care for him, which was also the truth.

She discovered that before he forgot how, he had spent every dime of their savings and had charged their credit cards to the hilt, mostly with cash advances so that he could continue his life of “generosity” to others.  He doled out money like he had it.  He had always been so generous.  She was later to say that the fault was in his good heart.  In her late 70’s, she was saddled with trying to manage debt for the first time in her entire life.  It was not easy—she could only muster the money to pay the minimums on the credit cards, squeezed from her pension and his Social Security check.

He finally slipped away and, even though the past years had been hard, the day of his passing was difficult for her.  Little did she know that her near future would become even more so.

The week after he was buried, his grown daughters confronted her.  It seemed that the “wedding gift” from his mother had not been a gift at all.  It was more like a loan.  Mother had given husband only a life estate in the property.  Now that he was dead, she had no right to stay any longer on the property.  Never mind that she had, those thirty-something years ago, put all her savings into the home built there.  No, she had no claim to it.  Her investment in it was lost.  She was evicted.

So, now in her early 80’s, she was homeless.  She had to vacate her home and get rid of almost all her belongings.  The only thing that she could afford to rent was a mother-in-law’s quarters tacked-on to someone’s home a few miles away.  So, that is where she is spending the rest of her life.  In penury.

And, though Husband has moved for the most part into sainthood in her memory, so willing is she to remember the best, there are moments of clarity.  In those clear  moments, here is what she realizes and occasionally admits:

  • He was a lawyer.  He knew what she did not: that she had no claim to her home.  This was hidden from her.
  • He was an accountant.  He knew what she did not: that she had debt to juggle that would cripple her.
  • That her own security after he left this earth meant nothing to him; he lived only for the moment.  What happened to her after he was gone meant nothing to him.  Walk talks louder than the talk…
  • That his displays of generosity and kindness to her were not for her; they were for him, as were the big-shot gestures he made by throwing around money to others.  They were all purely for his own ego.  And they were greatly to her detriment.  He did not care.  It was—every bit of it—all about him.
  • And she realized that she had only moved through her life from one father to another.

It’s a true story, all of it.  Sad to say.  Can others learn from this?  C

17 comments:

Immigrant Daughter said...

WOW! This really got to you didn't it. I too know its true. It makes me sad to read it in again and to know the stinkers are in every generation. Great blog

Mamma has spoken said...

The sadest part is that the grown daughters wouldn't let her live out her last years in that home. Taking care of their father and making him happy should have meant something to them?

Vickie said...

Aw, this is so sad, C. I hope she did not feel that her life was wasted. She loved, she trusted, she cared. SHE did the right things even if those around her did not. She had a good heart. And those daughters still had bitterness in their hearts for their sorry dad leaving them all and they took it out on this sweet lady. Very sad life...

Kat_RN said...

Very sad. Back in the 70's, when my Father died, everything was in his name. My Mother's job paid the bills, but that was how things were. Even though my Mother was the one who had signed the checks on her account to pay for phone, electric and everything else, when he died, she had to pay deposits to switch things into her name. My Sweet Husband has helped me to build good credit in my own right. He loves me enough to teach me to take care of myself (and he still spoils me). Once again, an excellent post.
Kat

Ayak said...

This is one of the saddest stories I've read. What a selfish controlling man. Because that's what it's all about isn't it? Control. And ego.

I know a couple like this...ok they are only just approaching middle age, but I can see exactly what's going to happen in the future. But love is blind and there's no use in trying to give any warning...I've tried.

A bird in the hand said...

I saw the red flags when I read the part about all those "caring" gestures from him, and I recognized his controlling.

As for his children, they are heartless and cruel. That's all. May they reap what they sowed.

Linda Lou Rogers Averitt said...

HUMMMMMM.......ever wonder why the woman did not ask about the money or the debts, wonder where she thought everything came from, I know back in the day, woman did not say much, but you would think she would have ask. with that said, the sad part is the man was so insecure he bought love and happiness, he thought:((( and maybe he did. The saint is the lady, who was caring and loving and trusting and navie, so sad:( I hope in this case ht goes around comes around:)

flygirl said...

C-I am always amazed when someone is done so wrong and they are not bitter!! She shows great strength and dignity. I pray that she has peace that passes all understanding. FlygirlUSA

Vivianne said...

So here it is the Wicked Stepdaughters instead of a Wicked Stepmother. And I'll bet you they call themeselves Christians.

Zuzana said...

So beautiful and so sad... I guess everything has two sides. Even happiness and bliss.
At least she got to feel loved, despite the tragic ending.
You say this is a true story, I hope this lady will be fine again, one day, despite her advanced age...
xo

Vee said...

So very sad. And it's not the first story I've heard of this kind. Leaves you with a hollow feeling in the pit of the stomach. I hope that this woman has filed for bankruptcy with a good lawyer to help her. And those step-daughters...ugh.

KathyB. said...

Can others learn from it? Yes! I have a dear friend who is a victim of such a man and she is beyond depressed, and she also still thinks the man she loves will come to his senses. I think he has counted on such a woman all along...to her very deep and serious detriment.

I like very much what Vickie said though, SHE did the right things. If one believes God really is in control, and he is the ultimate judge, then both women will spend eternity in the knowledge they did what was right..but sometimes it is darn nice to see justice done NOW!

Coralie Cederna Johnson said...

This kind of thing happened to all too many women in days past. Sad but true. I'm glad you wrote about it though as it is a story that needs to be told!
Sunday blessings!
Coralie

Janera said...

Oh, those daughters are really in for it when their judgment comes. Bless their hearts. . .

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

That story just breaks my heart. How very sad. Women should never keep their heads buried in the sand as far as the finances go. Even in the best circumstances, she will need to know how to manage their situation should need arise.

Sandra said...

What a sad, sad story. I hope she is able to find some modicum of comfort and peace in her new circumstance.

Jody Blue said...

Sad, to be at the end of ones lives and learn that it was mostly a front.

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