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Lake House Tragedy, Chapter 25


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As I write this, my sister is up at her lake house (down the road from my mom's lake house) sorting through all the stuff that my dad asked her to remove from the back porch, stuff that he "has no personal use for". According to good old Dad, "come get it or it's going to Goodwill."

My 18-year-old niece went down to see him and the back porch was full of all the stuff from the attic (canning supplies, appliances), plus some antique dishes from my grandmother (according to my dad, "they're ugly, I have no use for them")...all the stuff from the "kid closet" my mom spent so many years adding to for her grandchildren (crayons, games, paints, books, beach toys, etc.)...all the baby stuff she kept for the littlest visitors or to loan out to others (high chair, portable crib, bouncy seat)...and so much more. He handed my niece a box of all the stuff from the bathroom ("I don't need it") and said to take it to my sister. Not only my mom's stuff (her special scented powder, shampoos, etc...but all the basics she keeps their for her visitors). My niece walked back down that dirt road, holding that box and sobbing.

My sister called me last week in tears after she had arrived there...and this is the emotionally strongest sister of the three of us. She choked out what he was doing and of course I burst into tears as well.

My dad is doing one of several things. He is a) preparing the house for his girlfriend's friends to come visit (clearing out closets), and also making it "her" house instead of Mom's B) planning to get it cleared it out so he can sell it, c) letting my mom and us girls know unequivocally that he is boss and owner of that house now. He always resented how much Mom loved it. It was almost like he considered it a romantic rival. I think the answer is a little of each of the above. I think he's too lazy to get around to selling it, I can only pray that is the case and that somehow it does not end up in the hands of his girlfriend.

So now, although my dad has an attic the size of the entire lake house to store stuff in, it is now all down in my sister's garage, which houses a boat/jet skis and everything else. They do not have room, so my other sister and I are scrambling to make plans for an 8-hour trek up there to help go through it and split it up, in hopes that some day it will return to the lake house. I have three small children I am home with full-time and a very full schedule and hardworking husband, so finding that time last minute is horrific. Yet I am left with no choice.

Every time I start to try to move on, or rationalize things, he puts another knife in my chest. He said to my sister the other day cheerfully, "Well, I guess we just do the old agree-to-disagree thing!" Before she could reply, his girlfriend came outside and they had no more privacy after that. Needless to say, she has been at the lake for 10 days and barely spoken to him. HE SO DOESN'T CARE ABOUT ANYONE'S FEELINGS OR NEEDS BUT HIS OWN. I must accept that, and I suppose I am going to counseling next week to try to work through it all...

I so stupidly and naively thought that my heart could not be broken any further after I lost my mom, in relation to my parents, but here I am at square one. It is excruciating. And on top of it all, I feel like I've let Mom down, 100%. She wanted us to protect these things, to make it all work, to have that lake house in memory of her and all the wonderful years we shared there. I've let her down.

I have not spoken to my dad in over a month, and have no plans to in the future. His assessment to my brother-in-law last week, "Yeah, the girls are pissed at me, " in the eye rolling they're-so-dramatic-and-don't-approve-of-me voice. Yet everything he has done is very calculated and timed. He plays the shrugged shouldered old man to the hilt, but underneath it all he is pretty cunning. I wish my brother-in-law had just socked him. :) Sorry.

Thanks for listening, all...

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He will have to live with the guilt for the rest of his Life about his decisions and you should stick by your guns cause you did the very best that a person could do for your mom! Sounds like he is in denial kinda about Moms death and does not want to face reality about it.

THoughts and Prayers and Take care of yourselves!!

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I'm so sorry. I know a lot of people probably read your post and didn't get what the big deal was about the lake house. I live in our lake house, I bought it from my parents, and I would be heart sick if this house left my family. I hope that one day one of my kids will buy it and it will passed on. Is there anyway all you girls could go in and buy the house from him?

I am so sorry for what you're going through.

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Hi Ry,

Thanks for what you said about the lake house...it's a family vacation house and it's been in our family since the 1960's when I was a baby. We have tons of extended family up there along the beach...

Re selling it - the annoying thing is, a few months ago we all talked about trading off (going when he and his girlfriend aren't there), and he even said "I should just go ahead and sign it over to you girls right now." (My parents owned the house outright, but the annual property taxes are pretty high - a few thousand dollars. We girls would have split those...) He really never had a lot of interest in the house, and his one of his biggest beefs was that spending the summer there preventing him from travelling elsewhere during the warm weather. That's the big irony..he and this new "adventurous" woman have planted themselves...AT THE LAKE. So much for his globehopping dreams. It's frustrating esp. b/c he blamed my mom all those years for their inability to go elsewhere - but the reality is he would never have gotten around to planning a trip if my mom agreed - and she KNEW that - he's a total dreamer.

Anyway, a few months later, the announcement was made that he and "B." (his girlfriend) would be spending the summer there, and that he hoped we would have the maturity and grace to join them for a visit. Huh? We don't even know this woman, and he expects to spend our vacation with our kids stuffed into a 900-square-foot beach house with paper thin walls, watching my dad and her toddle off to bed each night? At the place my mom called home? There are so many things wrong with that there's no point in listing them...

It probably had to do with the fact that we "cannot accept his current lifestyle", according to him....he wanted to bring this woman to my baby niece's, Christening, which was on Mother's Day and very emotional for all of us. We needed our DAD there, all of him, and this was about honoring our mom's memory too...it never occurred to him how it would make my sister feel. "B" did not attend, suffice to say. We never said we don't approve of her or dating, we only asked that he wait until he is somewhat exclusive with someone before bringing her to family events and having to introduce/explain everything to our kids. He would not admit to being "serious" with her, but still wanted to bring her along to events within a week of when he started seeing her - he was really proud that he had women "chasing him" and that he was a quite a "catch" among the older ladies (his words). I just don't get it...

Thanks so much, Katie and Randy, for your posts. I don't know if he will ever feel guilty, I think I am quickly realizing that my dad doesn't have the capability for that emotion. And yes, Katie, maybe someday we will be able to talk about it...after much therapy and only if I decide to take whatever he dishes out...which as you can see is not the current plan... :wink:

I think what really gets me, and I am filing it away in my brain for when I am older...is that I've seen certain people in their twilight years who adopt the attitude of "I've lived this long, I've earned the right to do whatever I want, whenever I want, and everyone needs to accept that." Well, that's a nice fantasy, but as long as it negatively affects the people around you, you're going to be pretty alone. I don't see why thoughts of accountablity sometimes fade into oblivion when you age...I guess it's facing your mortality, etc...but thinking it and actually doing are two different things...

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Michele,

I'm hoping for better days ahead for you- with or without him in your life...it sounds harsh, but sometimes you have to make that choice and do what's right for you. I call it self preservation. Keep us posted. We are all here for you.

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Hi Michele.

I know how you feel. My mother died when I was 19 and, when my father remarried 3 yrs later, I cried my eyes out.

But now, being 64 and having been married to a fantastic guy for the past glorious 41 yrs, I have a very different point of view. And maybe -- just maybe -- it would be not that different from your mother's.

Faced with NSCLC Stage 4, I hope fervently that my husband finds a new partner after I'm gone ASAP! He's 65 and in pretty good health but I'm devastated at the thought of him being alone and especially of him growing old alone. And I make sure to let him know how much I want for him to be with someone who loves him and who he loves after I'm gone.

No one can or will ever take your mother's place for you. But there's a reason marriage vows say 'Till death do us part'... Try to be happy for him that he has found someone to share his life with, difficult tho that may be for you. And good luck.

Ellen in PA

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Michele,

I'm so sorry you and your sisters are having to deal with this. I truly can't imagine. I have no good advice to offer, but I just wanted to let you know I'm sorry and I hope that your dad sees the light and gets a grip on himself sooner rather than later. You've all already lost too much, and he's giving up so much.

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As Ry suggested, if your father is willing to sign over the lake house or sell it to you guys at fair market value market (or less), this would take a huge burden off of you.

There was a period of time I was upset with my Dad and now that he is gone, I realize how trivial those fights were. There is not a material thing in this world, not even my childhood house that I lost which keeps me up at nights. What I wake up to is he is gone. My stepmother and uncle acquired everything but my true love for him and my memories.

He wanted me to have his house. It was not legally stated and I can only be amicable to the others parties involved and move on the best I can. I can hear my Dad now telling me to relax, it will all come out in the wash.

I have pictures and I have memories, material stuff just doesn't seem to matter. As we all know, we never truly own anything. We can't take it with us!

Missing him is all I know and for now, is all that is important. We have to allow ourselves to grieve our true loss.

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Michele, I am sorry to read about the troubles you are going through.. My husbands cousion went through the same thing with her Dad after her Mom passed of caner. He remarried 4 months after the first wife died, which totally tore that family apart, it even went as far as him saying that he was going to have my husbands aunts grave dug up and moved someplace else so he and the new wife could be next to each other... thankfully in the end of it all that didnt happen, he now has divorced her and "woke up" !

Hopefully your Dad will wake up soon and realize family is forever!

Shelli

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Just letting you know that I feel for what you and your sisters are going through. Your dad just seems so heartless right now as this is so new that you did not have time to heal and he should have waited.

I do hope someday he will wake up to the fact about how important family is.

Meamwhile it is what it is. You and your sisters have wonderful memories of your mom in that Lake house and that could never be taken from you.

I hope one day he will wake up and realize what he is missing by being estranged from his family. If he really is serious about this woman and marries her I hope you will try to give her a chance. Afterall it is not her fault what happened. Maybe she will want some kind of relationship with you all and get him to change the ways about how things are going down.

I know the only thing you can think of right now is how heartless he is for what he has done to your moms memory. But it seems to me that perhaps he was not the best husband to begin with.

I really hope things work out in the long run. Maybe he will not want to keep it and will sell it to you all if you still want it and can afford it.

I hope the therapy helps you as you seem to have such bitterness you have to get it out before it consumes you. I worry about you as you have such a wonderful young family which has to be your first priority. I know your mom would want you to be back to yourself and not to be consumed by her passing.

By the way, you in NO WAY let her down. You were a wonderful caring daughter and your dad is responsible for his action not you. There is nothing different you could have done.

My heart to yours, Michele,

Maryanne

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Your story is so familiar to me. My father started dating weeks after my mother’s death and married within months. Although accepting that was very difficult - what was the hardest was the fact that he seemed to completely forget my mother – threw away things that were important to her – things that her children would have loved to have – I just found out – after months of questioning – that he even got rid of all the family photos. My mother had stocks that she inherited that she saved and saved for her children – I found out recently that he has cashed them and spent them – it is not the stocks I am mourning – it is the idea of it – the total disregard of our life before - the total disregard of Mom’s wishes. And what is the most difficult of all – is that with his second – and now third wife, he put them and their families far above his own. Holidays with them, only talks about them – brags about them – and never asks about or visits or even sends cards to his own children and grandchildren.

The sad part is that his grandchildren have no relationship with him – and his relationship with his children is now once a month phone calls.

Of course I want my husband to marry again some day after I am gone. But he has promised me that he will always always always remember to put his children on the top of his importance list – to always remember the traditions we have made with them and to be an integral part of their lives. And I have started to write down things for him – family recipes that we always have on holidays, what things around the house are important and not to be discarded without asking the kids first, what he needs to keep on hand when the grandchildren come – and I go over it with him – often – I want better for my kids than what my father has been for me.

What you need to know is that YOU did not let your mother down, HE did.

And, as hard as it is, try to move on, move past it – make new - happy memories with your siblings and their families – I believe our mom’s are watching us – let’s try to make them smile!

Wishing you peace

Janet

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I can't tell you how much I appreciate everyone's input, and everyone's varying viewpoints. That's what I really needed to hear.

Sherri, I totally get where you are coming from, and that is what makes this all so painful. Fear that I am going to regret this lost time when he is gone, etc. But I guess this goes so far beyond material things - my dad was a wonderful dad, always...but my parents' marriage was less than great. I don't think he ever saw it that way, and if he did it may have been because my mom wouldn't let him completely control her. He finally got control when my mom begged for a porch on the lake house in her final months, and absolutely refused to discuss it. I.E., she was going to die anyway in his mind, and he couldn't think beyond that one track...also, he finally was able to completely prevent her from doing something she wanted to do.

My dad appears to be this mild-mannered, mellow guy - but in reality he was brought up in a household where his mother worshipped the ground his father walked on, very traditional - and although my mother was a complete domestic goddess, she wasn't going to bend completely to the will of a man. She confided in me a few years ago that when she married him she was a bubbly, innocent girl. He was in the military and she moved far from home...and she said he would come home in a foul mood sometimes and not speak to her for days, she was so lonely. It explains so much why my oldest brother was almost an obsession of hers for many years - he was her savior when he came along into her lonely life. It also explains the level of bitterness that was there by the time I came along. My dad also drank a lot (until his later years), and that made her life hard with five kids.

So far I've been able to keep the crappy husband thing separate from the wonderful dad thing, and continue to have a relationship with him. But NOW he is trying to do the same thing to us girls he did to my mom, and you know what, it ain't gonna fly. I have too much sadness over the way my mom spent the seven months she was sick (she called their house "The Morgue" because of the way my dad sat there and stared at her like a deer in the headlights - she imagined he had the funeral home on speed dial.) And the porch thing - he was a total jerk about that.

So you see, there's so much more water under the bridge and this is about so much more than material things... He is desecrating my mom's memories, which the lake house is a huge part of. If I want a relationship with him it has to be 100% on his terms, and I'm in the process now of deciding if I can live with those terms. Right now I can't...

Janet and Shelli, I've heard so many stories like yours. It absolutely gives me chills. Reading your posts broke my heart. I don't know what gets into people's minds, I really don't. We barely saved the family photos from my father-in-law when he remarried - I can't express to you the precious mementos that were thrown the trash, historic pieces of family memorobilia - WWII letters, etc. It hurts to think about it.

Again, you guys are the best - I really appreciate getting everyone's take on this, and I hope that I have good news for you someday....

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  • 3 weeks later...

michelle,

I don't post much here anymore, but, I came across this post tonight and I just can't believe how cold your Dad is being... I feel so badly for you and your siblings and wish I had the answer to "why"... "why would this man behave in a manner so hurful"... but I don't... I can simply shake my head and feel somewhat sorry for him for he has NO IDEA what he is giving up in life by treating his daughters so shabbily. My heart goes out to you... Love, Sharon

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