Money just fucks everything up, doesn’t it? I am well acquainted with the constant anxiety of not having any — it was not too many years ago that we were in the middle of “there is $71 in our bank account right now and the car insurance is due, so thank god we have a credit card” — but it is news to me that the presence of money can be a problem as well.
I don’t think I’ve written much about my dad in this space. About twelve years ago he and my mom started what ended up being a really messy and drawn-out separation and divorce process. I really don’t want to get into that except to say that the divorce was caused by my dad’s infidelity and that he is now married to the woman with whom he was cheating on my mom. Not a new story, not a particularly interesting story, but painful all around.
My brother and I reacted very differently to what was going on with our parents. My brother has not spoken to my dad in probably ten years (I can’t be sure, but it’s likely that the last time they spoke was at my wedding). My dad has never met his grandchildren, my sister-in-law has never even spoken to her father-in-law, and my nieces don’t know they have another grandpa. My brother knows I still have a relationship with my dad and has asked me repeatedly not even to mention him or his kids. My dad doesn’t ask, I don’t offer, and there is this gaping hole in the conversations we can have.
My mom has been trying for years to get me to say … something … about my dad and how I feel about the whole mess. Honestly if I could figure out what she wanted me to say I would just fucking say it, but I don’t and so she keeps asking. And this is the worst part — I know that by continuing to see my dad and talk to him, I am continuing to hurt her. My brother has made the “right” choice and has sided completely and irrevocably with her, whereas I have been … I don’t know … insufficiently angry, maybe? I just don’t have it in me to cut him out of my life like my brother has done. When I talk to my mom or my brother I feel like a traitor, like a failure, like some kind of morally suspect foreign body.
And this is why I don’t post about this — I’m getting pretty far down the garden path here, and it’s hard for me to get my thoughts about it in order.
I’m going to try to get to the point here soon.
Recently my dad gave me some money. Like, a lot of money. Like, a lot of money.* He says he knows we can use it now and he doesn’t see the point of waiting till he’s dead to give it to me. I asked him if he wouldn’t rather set up some kind of a trust for the baby, but he said that sounded complicated and it was easier just to give it to me.
It is going straight into a new bank account to be the start of a college fund, but I know it doesn’t really belong to me.
Half of it belongs to my brother.
My husband and I are in total agreement that however angry my brother is, however dirty this money would seem to him, his kids deserve a boost in their college funds too.
So here’s where I need some advice. We are going to be seeing my brother for Christmas, and I want to bring him a check for half of the money at that time. But I REALLY, REALLY don’t want to ruin the whole visit by fighting about this money the whole time, so I feel like I need to talk to him about it in advance just so he’s prepared. But I also don’t want this to be the final straw that makes him decide to cut me out of his life too.
What on earth do I say?
I have been putting this conversation off for several weeks now, and we are getting closer and closer to Christmas and I just can’t figure out how to bring it up. My husband and I agree that if my brother refuses it (which is a possibility), we will hang on to it and make a gift to each of our nieces when they turn 18. I just don’t want to fight about it. I’m so tired of fighting.
* I know we all have different ideas about what constitutes “a lot.” This definitely qualifies for me.