The first time I ever encountered the effect money has on people was when I was 13 years old, and my father had just died. He died of cancer, so his death was anticipated – albeit incredibly heartbreaking for my sister and me.
He had a girlfriend, but their relationship wasn’t that serious. They’d been on and off for five or so years, didn’t live together, didn’t have any joint kids and didn’t celebrate Christmas or other traditions together, so I guess their relationship was one of convenience and perhaps a sense of security.
As my father’s illness advanced, he was unable to take care of himself; he was weak and fragile and had to be under constant supervision. A hospital bed was installed in the living room of his girlfriend’s house, and a nurse came to see him every day to supply his high dose of medicine and make sure that he was comfortable.
After his funeral, several visits to court followed
A few days prior to his death, my father’s girlfriend forced him to marry her. If he didn’t, she would “let him die in a hospital.” With two teenage kids, an elderly mother, absent father and alcoholic brother, he didn’t have anyone else to take care of him, so he agreed. After all, he knew he’d written a testament with a lawyer his girlfriend had recommended declaring everything he owned to be left for his children.
A priest came to the girlfriend’s house and conducted the ceremony in the bedroom, because my father was too sick and drugged up to get out of bed. There was no ensuing party or celebration – not even wedding rings – just sleep.
My father succumbed to his illness a few days later, and after his funeral, several visits to court followed. Somehow, my father’s testament had gone missing and no records of it were to be found in his home or at the legal office that foresaw the creation of it. This all happened almost two decades ago, so there was no digital record of it.
We later learned that my father’s girlfriend withdrew an equivalent of US$5,000 on the day that he died, and she’s been unable to account for that money ever since. My family has no doubt that that money was used to make the testament disappear.
The lack of a testament ensured that my now stepmother inherited everything: My father’s insurance money, his belongings, his name – his everything. We went to court to have their marriage annulled based on him not being clearheaded and questioning the disappearance of the testament.
I’m appalled by the greed, ruthlessness and indifference that money evokes in people
However, the court ruled in her favor but decided that she was to give us birthday and Christmas presents every year on our father’s behalf until we turned 18, while also agreeing to “voluntarily” give us a sum of approximately US$3,000 each.
To this day, I have never received a single present nor money, despite several attempts at contacting her.
The priest resigned the following year after receiving numerous complaints about doing immoral ceremonies, while the nurse that deemed my father well enough to complete a wedding ceremony was fired due to misjudgment in several other cases…
While this incident of greed has been the most heartbreaking and traumatizing for me, unfortunately it hasn’t been the only one. I won’t get into details with the other ones, as two of them are still ongoing. What I can say is that I’m appalled by the greed, ruthlessness and indifference that money evokes in people.
Finally, I hope to inspire you to do yourself and your family a favor, to make the proper arrangements in due time: Be transparent about your wishes for when you’re no longer here – talk about them, write them down, make a trusted someone responsible for carrying them out. It’ll make a tragic event more manageable and save your loved ones a whole lot of unnecessary and untimely worry. I know I could’ve used more time grieving my devastating loss and less time being denied the right to inherit my father’s personal belongings.