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with me as teen

News that my dad had died suddenly and unexpectedly while on vacation, was shocking.  He was 75, so it wasn’t utterly untimely, but certainly unexpected.  By all accounts, he had been quite healthy!  He’d actually been for a checkup just a few weeks earlier and had called me afterward to tell me everything looked good….

From the minute I got that phone call on the evening of March 23, 2012 from a sister who hadn’t spoken to me since 1998, I was not only emotionally beyond grief, I was immediately thrust into a state of actual shock.  My body literally stopped functioning normally.  I was chronically nauseous, unable to eat, and instantly began what would turn into a three month bout with Montezuma’s revenge. My brain seemed to slow considerably and rendered itself almost incapable of processing information.

It was like moving underwater…everything fuzzy, slow, and out of focus..and movement itself felt like pulling weights far beyond my strength…

I could write a dissertation on the physical, mental, and emotional effects this had on me, but that would be nothing extraordinary.  Grief is overwhelming.  It starts immediately in your heart and over the next however long, it spreads to your stomach, skin, mind, brain, soul, and life, like a virus inhabiting every tiny piece of everything.  However, what I need to do here is document all the oddities surrounding his sudden death.  Somewhere, somehow, these facts and strange circumstances must be documented.

The wolves, my sister and mother, (starting with my estranged sister’s phone call informing me), knew this would level me in every imaginable way, and pounced immediately.   In fact, hindsight has opened wide on all the zillion ways the wolves planned it all…from that very first phone call.

  1. Although my dad’s death was allegedly “instant”, they waited many hours to inform me.  My sister said they hadn’t wanted to “upset me at work”, so they waited until nearly 9 pm to call me although he died at 1:34 in the afternoon.
  2. She lied about where he was when he died.
  3. She lied about various aspects of his will.  Interestingly, although she resides in Washington, she demonstrated vast and detailed insight into Michigan estate law, by informing me of all the ways my dad’s will wasn’t technically “legalized” in the state of Michigan (these claims later proved to be lies).
  4. She informs me with a little giggle that “Strangely enough, dad had just told me (her) just last night where he keeps his will there in Michigan“.

The very night before he leaves to go home from his week long California vacation, he randomly tells my sister whom he’s not at all close to and whom lives in Washington state, precisely where his will is in his house in Michigan – a house (and father) she’s not been to visit since 1989. Literally about 12 hours between his life and death he tells her where his will is!

  1. She immediately begins the argument for cremating my dad before sending him home from the state of California – where he was on his last day of vacation when he suddenly dropped dead.
    1. Her thoughtful argument for immediate cremation was that she adamantly didn’t think I should “see him this way”.  She expressed concern for my seeing him in “such a state”.
      1. He died of arterioscleratic cardiovascular disease – not a gunshot to the face.  His physical appearance was absolutely fine.
    2. All my life, literally since I was a very young child, my dad has been made clear his burial desires – none of which ever included cremation.  He even took me to the exact spot he wanted to be buried at least 3 times in my life before I  turned 15 years of age.
    3. I refused the cremation in California.  Although in my immense grief and shock, I very likely would have agreed to it had my dad not been very clear all my life regarding his burial wishes.   The strength I had to stand my ground on that very adamant and manipulative argument came entirely from how clear my dad had always been regarding his burial wishes. Personally, I wasn’t able to think clearly at all in the moment…nor did I have an ounce of strength or argument for anything whatsoever at the moment.
  2. She repeatedly told me how much she and my mother (who was there with them on vacation in California at the time of his death and hadn’t spoken to me since 1998 also) loved me – although she’s known her entire life this is not a truth.

Mother offers to fly straight to Michigan saying she wanted to help me with my two teenaged daughters during this terrible time.   Mother, again who’s not spoken to me in 14 years,  flies straight from California to Michigan (she resides in Ohio) to “help me and my children” through this.

6. Mother(who divorced my dad in 1973 and married her wealthy lover in 1976 -the man whom she cheated on my dad with during their marriage) wants to stay at my dad’s house, even though my children and I are emotionally unable to step foot in it yet. I agreed to allow her to stay there.   After all, she hadn’t spoken to me in 14 years, my dad was abruptly dead, and she’s actually suddenly being kind enough to come out of her way to help inconsolable me and my devastated children, right?

7.  Once mother is physically in my dad’s house, she’s very difficult to reach.  She ignores my phone calls for hours on end and in my state of shock, twice in the first 2 days of her stay at my dad’s house, I freak out, frantically thinking maybe she’s died also…such is the difficulty in reaching her by telephone.

8. My paternal aunt (who’s not spoken with my mother since an argument they had in December of 1987) is highly suspicious of my dad’s sudden death and my mother coming to Michigan “for me” because she’s acutely aware of how my mother’s treated me all my life as well as the horrendous way she treated my dad while they were married.

In addition, it’s taking California an unusual amount of time to release and send my dad’s body home. She’s freaking out over this.  I continually try to reassure her that I’m sure it’s just because California is heavily populated and slower than we in the midwest would anticipate.

9.  I mention my aunt’s discomfort at the lengthy time to obtain my dad’s body to mother in conversation and my (calm, cool, never ruffled) mother goes berserk!  She immediately feigns getting all choked up at the “insinuation that she would have ever physically harmed my dad”.  She’s just “so deeply hurt that anyone would ever accuse her of doing such a thing…!”

I was caught quite off guard over this unwarranted and bizarrely random reaction (from my very typically unemotional mother) as no one had suggested anything like that!  My aunt simply was frustrated with the length of time California was taking to ship her brother’s body to another state!  No one was suggesting mother had harmed (or killed?!) my dad….  I reassured mother at length that that was not what anyone was suggesting!!

10. After 2 days in my dad’s house, mother calls me to ask me “Baby, where did daddy keep his gun?”

Huh?  What?!??!?  Literally, in my entire 42 years – 25 spent seeing my dad at least daily – my dad had never owned a gun.  EVER!  In fact, in my entire life, I’d never known my dad to own a gun , discuss guns or firearms of any kind, much less, own one.  Being that my mother led my father on that she loved him from the time she left him in 1973 until the day he died, she would have known my dad never owned a gun – EVER.  And here she is acting all extremely nonchalant and asking me all sweet like where he keeps his gun!?

I was astounded…  This woman had been telling me repeatedly from the minute he died how she “knew more than I thought she did”(which truly, never made a lick of sense to me what on earth she was implying, but I just nodded and said ok every time she repeatedly told me that intentionally vague and mysterious “knowing” statement).  This woman who had intentionally remained close to my dad for all my life and had amped that closeness up after she threw me away in order to maintain a relationship with my kids without having to speak at all to me, didn’t know my dad NEVER OWNED A GUN?  …And wanted to know where he kept this fictitious gun we both knew didn’t exist???

Huh??  What??

Fucking bizarre!!!  Even in my state of shock, I couldn’t wrap my head around her even asking me such a thing when I knew unequivocally that she knew (and she knew that I knew!) that my dad never owned a gun in his entire life…

I expressed this absolute amazement at her question to her, reminding her of what I knew she already knew…that he’d never owned a gun in his life and her reply was (very calmly), Ohhhhh….he didn’t?  I thought he’d mentioned buying one once a few years ago…?

11. My estranged sister spent weeks feigning compassion and “concern”, saying “you just need to focus on your children – I’ll take care of everything“, while blatantly manipulating me to NOT go to the estate attorney’s office with her to discuss my dad’s will…and the subsequent lies I found out she’d told me since that initial phone call….

Anyway…all of this is extremely coincidental since my anal retentive military dad purchased $200 will-making software and followed it to the letter of the law, but never had it signed. 

So…we had to agree upon a will that my dad allegedly created, but allegedly followed all the steps except for the part where he signed it and made it legal.

I never argued this.  I was in shock…  I was overwhelmed with his sudden death and all the knowledge my estranged sister presented about dying in Michigan and Michigan wills…

I never argued this will they “knew all about”.  I was never interested in what money he left behind, as there was no amount of money which could have replaced him in my life.

There’s actually so many more strange circumstance and lies around my dad’s death, but I’m unfortunately unable to phrase it clearly in the typed word, but I’ll leave this with what she said at the estate attorney’s office when the attorney expressed her compassion for our grief. In the attorney’s office, I still couldn’t stop crying and when the lawyer went to tell us what was left to us financially , I just said…I dont even care about what he left.. MY DADDY IS DEAD.

And my sister spoke up and said, I DO!!!!  …I’m here to hear about the money!