Choosing Conflict: A Blog

6 years ago

My grandmother died in June. She was 94. She lived a full, wonderful life, and suffered little in the end. We were very close; when her daughter (my mother) died (at the young age of 32) (cancer), my grandmother took care of me in many ways. And I did my best to honor her final years with lots of visits, with taking care of her when I could. And now that she’s gone, I find myself in a quandary.

My grandmother kept the first dollar she ever earned in a frame. And years ago, she sold her house so that she could set up a trust, a legacy to pass down to her children and grandchildren. She was very proud of that trust. It wasn’t much money, but to her it symbolized a successful life.

My uncle, the son my grandmother thought she could trust to handle her affairs, years ago commandeered the money in the trust and is now refusing to account for how he spent the money in the process of caring for her.

There isn’t enough money in the trust to sue him into providing that for which he’s legally responsible. So some of my cousins, also trustees, are advising me not to make a fuss. “Move on,” they say. There’s nothing you can do about it.

But one of my cousins has contacted a lawyer. She’s prepared to pressure my uncle into honoring his obligation to provide for an accounting of how he spent my grandmother’s money.

So what do I do?

I know that even if my uncle has mishandled my grandmother’s money, or if he can’t provide documents accounting for how he spent that money, I don’t have the money to sue him. So… I’d just be draining the money in the trust.

And yet… it’s not about the money. It’s about my grandmother’s legacy. That money was so important to her. She would demand to treat the trust with respect by insisting it be handled correctly—meaning that my uncle should provide the trustees with an objective accounting of how he spent her money in the name of her care.

 It’s not practical, choosing to engage in a battle with my uncle. Likely nothing material will come out of it. But by doing so, I feel I’m honoring my grandmother.

Can engaging in conflict be a way of honoring someone???


Elana Paige

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