Should I include wife’s corrupt family members in funeral?
Q: I’m strongly disliked by my wife’s family, because I discovered how one brother led a surprisingly affluent life.
His employment was terminated 25-plus years ago, and his wife never worked outside the home.
Yet he owned a large house, two cars, a boat/trailer, a golf cart, etc., and paid all the related expenses.
Well, after losing his job, he cared for a wealthy aunt. When she died, he and his wife cared for another wealthy aunt until she died.
Then, they took over caring for his aging mother. His siblings never questioned how he could live so well. My financial background is in white-collar crime investigations, successful in both prosecutions and defences. I soon figured things out.
They quickly realized this, though I never told anyone, not even my wife.
The couple started having family conference calls about me, claiming that I was likely abusing their sister. But their mother loved me. She made her feelings known to the family, which upset the brother and wife even more.
I’d never even hinted to her what was going on, even when the couple bought a new car called “mom’s car,” with mom’s money. She knew nothing about it. When the siblings inherited, none knew that it was far less than it should’ve been.
Meanwhile, I’ve not interacted with this family for years. My wife has final-stage Alzheimer’s disease and her family’s stayed distant. When my wife passes, should I include the brother and sister or should I omit them? I’ve been the sole caregiver during this long arduous journey with my wife, and her family has offered nothing.
A: Here’s what matters now: You helped your wife through the sad, frustrating difficulties of her mental and physical losses through Alzheimer’s.
Her relatives lacked the character to help, given their fear and dislike of you. No surprise to you.
Though you didn’t tell your findings to your wife, you don’t say how she reacted to the family conferences, and whether she maintained a relationship with her brother and sister-in-law.
For the obituary, do what she would’ve wanted. It’s this gesture that’s your link to her, not what you feel about the relatives.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding living with a controlling wife, who post-divorce, alienated children from their father (Sept. 9):
“For guys like me who’ve experienced similar treatment, my message to them is to keep positive and believe in yourself to be the good person you’ve always been.
“Get some support through like-minded people or a doctor or a true friend. Don’t beat yourself up over the actions of other toxic people, whoever they are.
“I know I always did the right thing for my mental health and happiness.
“While divorce and separation are difficult, it’s worse when you have a spouse who’s out to destroy you in any way.
“In my case, it was the games, the police calls, not showing up for visitation and just taking the support money and using it for herself.
“Worse, was telling the kids their father’s a deadbeat and does not want to see them. I paid all my support on time.
“More — preventing me from seeing my kids through accusations that I was sexually abusing them.
“After a few years of therapy, medication and booze, I met a friend who supported me and got me through the bad times.
“Years later, when I connected with the now-adult children, they were bitter and hateful like the mother, which is really most sad.”
Ellie’s tip of the day
Even when bitterness marked a family, don’t fuel it after a death. Do what your loved one would’ve wanted.
Ellie Tesher is an advice columnist for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: el[email protected]tar.ca.