Inheriting a Small Fortune or Two

Dad always told my sister Lindy and me to save any money we inherited. He said:

You may spend the interest, but please don’t ever touch the principal.

Unfortunately, he neglected to mention any of these thoughts to my mother.

Both of my maternal grandparents had siblings who never married or, if they did marry, never had children. As you may remember, my mother’s mother died when Mother was only eleven years old. My grandmother’s brother was the kind and gentle Uncle Emery. Uncle Emery had served in World War I and he lived on several acres in a small home out in the country. You may remember that my sister Lindy was convinced that Uncle Emery’s suicide was precipitated by our last visit.

His suicide did occur within one week of our summer visit to him. However, I believe that he was ill and didn’t want to have to go to a nursing home or the hospital. Luckily for Mother, his money was not “wasted” on health care and she was one of his heirs. Of course, my mother wailed and cried when she found out he had died; but the next thing we knew she was on her way to Indiana with little more than a wave good-bye to us.

Inheriting MoneyOnce she returned home, Mother began shopping–after all, she had some money to spend. She purchased a new washer and dryer and told everyone in our household to keep their hands off HER machines. It was quite a paradox–Mother had to be in the mood to wash and dry clothes, but she would not allow anyone else to use the machine. What a conundrum.

Next she bought some things for herself and opened her own bank account. She had an interest in a farm and homestead called “the Old Home Place” by Mother and her family.

Hillbilly CarMother held on to her share of the property for a few years, but later on she was talked into signing a Quit Claim Deed for no money. No, she wouldn’t have done a thing for my sister Lindy or me, but she couldn’t wait to sign her property over to some cousins.

My grandfather had two sisters, Aunt Olive and Aunt Gwen. Aunt Olive had never married, and she lived for a few years with Aunt Marty who assumed she would inherit Aunt Olive’s money. Instead, Aunt Olive moved back to Southern Indiana and left all her money to the church and the cemetery.

Funny MoneyThat left Aunt Gwen who had married Uncle Bob, who died before she did. They had had no children. When Aunt Gwen died, she left her money to her nieces and nephews, so Mother was “in the money” once again. Now Mother did not inherit as much as her siblings did–but you can probably guess why. Aunt Gwen was not that fond of my mother. Remember, all of her relatives had been “blessed” to have Mary visiting them at their home and fully taking advantage of their hospitality. So Mother’s percentage of a rather large estate was less than anyone else.

Los AngelesThis time Mary was living in California when she came into her money. I really can’t imagine what she spent her inheritance on. Money seemed to drift through Mother’s hands. She always said that money “burned a hole” in my sister’s pocket; however, those words might be better applied to herself.

Cocktail waitress balancing a beer on her headMother and money just did not seem to go together. She always acted like she didn’t have any money, but yet she always had her beloved cigarettes and special drinks.  One of her favorite questions was:

Do you think I am made out of money?

Looking back, I think those words might have had a ring of truth. She certainly had more money than she ever let Lindy and me know about.


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