Friday Night Fights

On Friday afternoon, my brother and I (and our lawyer) are going to mediation on my mother’s estate. She died intestate in March 2004 and it has taken this long to settle affairs with our “stepdad.” Their house was in her name, which means that my brother and I are heirs to that asset. Three years ago, John (the “stepdad”), presented us with an offer to either sign away our rights to the property, and giving us full access to her personal effects (of which there were few, some crappy clothes and a very small collection of books; we’re not even sure if she even had any old photographs from when we were babies) OR start making mortgage payments on the house (and he would be responsible for the property tax). We rejected that offer and countered with the opportunity to buy us out of our interest so that he owned the house free and clear. It took him two years, but he rejected that offer and threatened to sue us for back mortgage. So, now we’re going to mediation in San Antonio.

There’s a lot more to it than this: nasty behavior on the part of his lawyer, John himself feeding misinformation (we suspect) to my grandparents, and just the usual complicated baggage that comes with being the children of a broken home followed by multiple remarriages. Lots of bad blood.

I’m really nervous about this mediation, mostly because it’s going to require me to be in the same room with John for 5 hours. Granted, Matt will be there, as will my brother, and my dad will be taking care of Harry (I think), and it’s not like he’s going to beat me up or shoot me or anything (at least, I hope not!), but I just cannot bear the thought of being in the same room with that creep, who seems hell-bent on punishing us for our mother’s death.

In some ways, I think this will help me with the grieving process, to get this ugliness behind me and have the specter of John and that g-damn house no longer looming over me. In a lot of ways, I feel like he thinks he “owns” my mom and controls all access to her (she’s buried across the street from his/their house), and I truly do think he blames us for her death (because, you know, we forced her to ignore the lump in her breast for 9 years).

I’m not looking for a payday, obviously, I just want some closure and I want what’s fair. I don’t want to have to pay mortgage on a house that I don’t have access to, and which we can’t afford. But I am just sick, sick, sick over what I’m facing on Friday afternoon. And you can rest assured I’ll be drowning my ass in margaritas at Rosario’s that night. And Matt will have to keep me out of Yarn Barn and indulging in retail therapy.

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  1. Ugh, that sucks. Sorry you have to do it to get it over with, but I hope that the ugliness is minimal come Friday.

  2. gimpy

     /  January 9, 2008

    I want to offer my sincerest of apologies that you should have to be dealing with all of this, M!!! This completely sucks.

    My GF’s father passed away last summer. She spent (too much of) the Christmas holiday with her two brothers going through the three storage lockers that were full of her father’s belongings. That was tough enough. And, he left a will! The biggest conentions with which they had to deal were issues such as who gets Dad’s colander. Still, it was a very hard thing for her to have to do.

    I simply cannot imagine what it must be like having to deal with this jerk dragging out this painful part of dealing with the death of a parent in this fashion. But, know that you have my sympathies and, I am sure, those of everyone else who reads your blog. I’ll be thinking of you on Friday!

    And, for what it’s worth, you are being *very* generous in calling it “his/their house”. It your Mom’s house, plain and simple.

  3. Good thoughts go out to you as you have to face this. I can understand what you’re feeling having gone through it three years ago in a struggle to settle my father’s estate.

  4. Jenny

     /  January 10, 2008

    I’m sorry you’re having to deal with all of that. I hope there’s some sort of satisfactory resolution and some closure soon.

    For what it’s worth, mediators will often separate the parties into separate rooms and travel back and forth between the rooms. You’ll be in the same room at the beginning, but you may well spend most of the mediation separated from John. And if you’re more comfortable with it that way, it’s certainly worth mentioning to the mediator beforehand to encourage the mediator to move in that direction if it looks like that might improve the chances of reaching a settlement.

  5. kmelkight

     /  January 11, 2008

    I’ll be facing south and sending good feelings your way. And if there was any time you deserve Yarn Barn retail therapy, it is now. Matt, do not stand in the way!

  6. dawn

     /  January 12, 2008

    Good luck and hang in there. Maybe we’ll see you over a margarita?

  7. BetsyD

     /  January 12, 2008

    I hope it was not too awful an experience and that you got some resolution. I’m glad you had so much support.

    I’m sending love from across the Atlantic.


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