I have been thinking about a situation that happened to me a few years ago, and while I have moved on, the shock of what happened still comes to mind sometimes. A good friend of mine passed away, and left some things to me and several other people in her will. Now, I know that many people would think that the only thing I care about is the things, but that is the least of it. In fact the things mean very little in the scheme of things. What brought this to mind again is the trip we made to visit her grave, which we do as often as we go to Reno.

What has bothered me over the years is that her children, chose to keep everything, and not honor her will at all. It was such a selfish act, and not because of the things, but because her final wishes were not honored. Oh, I’m sure they thought that they just couldn’t part with their mother’s things, but they didn’t belong to them. They stole from their mother!! Stole her right to have one final say in her own life. Stole her right to leave a bit of herself to her special, beloved friends. And, they stole their own peace of mind, because I know that every time I see one of them, she quickly looks away, because she feels guilt.

My friend had given me other things through the years, you see, she was an artist, but she told me that I was to have my choice of her paintings when she passed away. I knew it was in the will several years before she died. And it was brought up by her daughter right after she passed, but then it was dropped. There were some paintings that so reminded me of her sweet spirit, but I would never have deprived her daughters of all the paintings. We could have easily come to a workable agreement, but I was never given the chance to be generous toward her children. I received occasional correspondence from the attorney, who told me that there was nothing he could do about their refusal to honor the will, but nothing more. I don’t think of myself as a greedy person, but I do feel awful because my friend was robbed of her final say. She had been so happy when she told me she had put in her will to give me the paintings.

I just can’t believe people could be so cold, as to steal from the dead! It doesn’t matter, I suppose. At least not to them. But think of how they would feel if their children did that to them. It puts it in a very different light, doesn’t it. Please, when your loved one makes a will, do the honorable thing…honor their wishes.

4 Responses to The Honorable Thing

  • Hello Caryn: Wow, I do not know why I was surprised by your friend’s daughter’s actions. For whatever reasons they must have not thought that they were betraying their mother by not honoring her wishes. The first thing I thought of was Ex. 20:12 Honor thy father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you (NIV). Be assured that your response to their actions is the most important thing. May the Lord bles you in all you do.

    • Thank you Daphne. I agree with you. I could never do that to my parents. The sad thing is that I absolutely would have made sure they got some of the paintings as well, because she was their mom!! It could have been a blessing all the way around. I appreciate your words. Thanks again.

  • While I understand why people make a will for their major assets, what I don’t understand is why they wait until their gone to give the special things to the people they want to have them. Every time I make a quilt, I give it to the person who I think would love it as soon as I finish it. I could put them all in boxes in a closet to wait until I’m dead but I want to see their face when they receive my work of art. I want them to enjoy it now.

    My mother didn’t put a list in her will but she did write names on the back of her needlework and I distributed them as she wished. There were some people who I know she would have wanted things to go to that she didn’t have anything noted for so I picked pieces I thought they would like. People who were kind to her the last year were remembered even though nothing was in her will. In addition, I made up “memory boxes” for all the grandchildren with teapots and kitchen towels, candle holders and doilies, jewelry and angels…all things that epitomized “grandma”.

    To be completely honest, I was so mentally fried when all of this was going on, that I have no idea who got what now. I wonder, having gone through this so recently myself, if the children of your friend were so overwhelmed that they couldn’t part with anything. Or maybe they didn’t understand the relationship you had with their mother. The daughter you mentioning looking away makes me think that she is ashamed of the way she handled things. Please understand her heartbreak at the time and how maybe her thinking was my mother is gone and I can’t bear to let go of anything of hers.

    Even if she was not close with her mother, maybe especially if she was not close, those paintings were all she felt she had left. My brother took all my fathers tools – even ones that were labeled with my name because he felt he “deserved” them. He and my father had a horrible relationship and I couldn’t imagine why he wanted Dad’s tools (my father was very abusive to him) – he didn’t even build things like I do – but I understand now that if couldn’t have the relationship with Dad, at least he had his things.

    Grief makes people do strange things. The loss of ones parent is so overwhelming and if they don’t have your strength of faith, it’s even harder. I know.

    • Amy,you sound like a wonderful person. Believe me, I know what you mean here.Many of the paintings my friend intended to me graced the walls of her home, so they were willed to me, as she always felt that I took an intrest in her paintings, when even her children did not. There was no other way to do it, but to will them to me. Nonetheless, I would have shared them with her daughters, but I was never given that option. They should have honored her wishes.

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