Three months after my brother Tom passed – a frenzied phone call from my sister-in-law Ellen shocked me and left me speechless. She hired a surveyor to check the property lines of the land where she lived (which included a comfortable home my brother built). Ellen’s tense voice informed me she just learned Tom had signed the acre of land and the home over to me more than a year ago. Where was she going to live and what was going to happen to her? She repeated those questions several times? I told her I knew nothing of this transfer and assumed Tom was suffering from a brain tumor and thus denied not only his progeny but his wife their inheritance. I too was bereaved and tried to put behind the years of acrimony which created its own form of grief aside . I tried to take the high road.
I assured Ellen she would not be homeless and experienced what one could call a mental lapse. I signed the acre and home back to her. I have lived to regret it many times and never more than the recent past. Ellen has been ill and now lives with her daughter in Beaumont. She does not plan to live in Kountze again and has plans to sell the home. This has distressed me for a number of reasons – I live next door and what will become of the timber, the little bit of heaven my brother worked hard to create? What will happen to all the family archives, photos, historical documents? It is more than obvious my brother’s wife and progeny do not care one little bit about their ancestry.
I have learned not only is my brother dead but any hope of a family is as well. I have found negatives photos in the rubbish and an assortment of items which should not have been tossed. I noted a truck in front of the home on Monday and stopped to see what was happening? My niece’s paramour emerged from the home and stated he, Robin and Chris were busy boxing, preparing to empty the house. They had boxes filled with photos, etc. for me. My niece was sitting on the floor – her son in a chair. The air was tense as such meetings tend to be. I reminded her of my generous act when I signed the land back to Ellen. She replied it was the right thing to do. I replied Tom would not want the land to be sold. That must have been his idea to sign it to me?
When I was asked what would I have done with the land I replied I would have allowed Ellen to live there as long as she wanted. At that point my niece Robin yelled that I would have left them out and demanded I leave. She also threatened to call the police and report I was trespassing. Excuse me but what insanity is this? Me – the aunt, sister and sister-in-law who generously transferred the land back to the surly sister-in-law? My deeds of kindness ignored and in its place the surly and vile actions of an ungrateful, devious seed of my brother. I left but made certain I would not allow such behavior to be ignored. Later a Kountze cop arrived at my front door with a trespassing report. I explained the situation and knew the evil which entered my family so many years ago continued to spread like a virus. The darkness I felt in the late summer air nothing compared to the darkness which covered my soul. I knew there was no turning back. I knew the adorable children who use to sit on my knee were gone and in their place unrecognizable villains.
The next day I began to sort through the boxes of photos, papers. It was sad to see so many family photos, so much of family history deemed unimportant. Photos of Ellen as a baby stood in a pile of other photos – some bent, some like new. Nothing was sacred in the land of narcissist. My mother’s diary – written from the time she was 13 til she was 81 was among the items tossed away. Hardin County History book another casualty to the selfish tribes. My task is clear – to make copies – share with those who appreciate how awesome history is.
My sister wants photos of Grandpa and Grandma Bean’s home. Other stellar tributes have caught her fancy – Mom and Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary photos, the kids when small and as they grew, cousins on a creek bank, aunts and uncles as they sat and talked of life so many years ago. My brother’s stint in the US Army is chronicled in photos. He appeared happy and at ease with his fellow soldiers. He did not know what life held for him. I felt a touch of sadness for the young man who could not forecast his future would not live up to his expectations or his potential. It would include his out of control daughter who threatened her aunt, of a grandson who is on probation and has little direction, of a wife and progeny who do not and did not respect him, cherish him or appreciation his sacrifice and care. They viewed him as a sperm donor and a financial landfall. They had and have contempt for the Beans and their varied and creditable history. It is disgusting.