Legacy

What would you do if you suddenly won $25,000 dollars?

Take a moment. Get a pen and paper. Jot down three things.

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Would your answer change if you inherited that money?

Would you feel more obligated to be practical with it? Pay off debt? Set aside funds for retirement or your kids’ college account?

My grandparents died this year. They were in their nineties. They lived long lives, though I can’t say whether they were happy ones.

The last time I saw them was over 16 years ago, when I was 22.

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It was a reunion.

The last time I saw them before that was when I was five.

Around that time, they had a falling-out with my parents. My vague understanding is that it was over my parents’ enthusiasm for AMWAY, which my grandparents felt was a cult. Maybe they were upset by the blatant get-rich-scheme it represented. The false hope.

I really don’t know.

What I do know is that they had an amazing capacity for holding grudges. Perhaps it had something to do with  their Irish temper. Pride. The clashing of equally charming, charismatic men? My father and my grandfather were (probably) so much alike.

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My father and his parents were never able to resolve things, because my father died in a tragic military accident five years after their falling-out. I grew up telling people we had been disowned.

I’m grateful for this inheritance.

It comes at the intercession of my grandparents’ neighbor, who convinced them to include us in their will when she noted that my brother and cousin were devoted visitors.

I’m grateful for this inheritance.

It comes at a time of financial stress. It will really help.

But I’m not grateful for my legacy.

A legacy of easily ruffled feathers, hurt feelings, grudges. It’s in my genes. It’s in my history.

How could they let go of us so easily? He loved me once.

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My grandfather and me

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11 thoughts on “Legacy

  1. Pingback: The Life of Kylie
  2. This is a beautiful post. Families are so damn complicated – you know that I know that firsthand. I like the idea of using the money to break cycles too. oxox.

      1. Yes, we should talk. I’d like that! Lunch again sometime or a park playdate where we might get to have a minute to chat?

  3. Woah. I was going to make a smartass comment about Disownment By Amway (because *snort*!) but then… jeebus.
    I’m happy that something you need and could use is coming to you. Other than that, families can be strange; lucky thing is we don’t have to follow in their footsteps. Hugs!

  4. Yes, that was my thought too, that this was maybe a way of making amends? Or an expression of their regret? Your story is both fascinating and heartbreaking.

  5. I know. It’s astounding how people can hold grudges like that. Then again, I am guilty of holding a few of my own. And I have thought I was SO right. Sometimes I wonder if it’s written in a family’s history and it take a LOT to break that sort of cycle. And maybe one of the ways your grandparents tried to break the cycle was to leave you an inheritance?

    1. Jenn, thank you for reading and commenting! That’s a very insightful thought. Maybe I should use the funds to “break cycles” too.

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