Should I in­clude wife’s cor­rupt fam­ily mem­bers in funeral?

The Peterborough Examiner - - ARTS & LIFE - El­lie

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]­

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