“I know lots of people who fought over inheritances. Neither of them would back off,”
“Everybody ended up with nothing.”
Growing up, I played a soldier in my big sister’s army. Arm tickles and errands on command, I followed her cues and leadership all the way into my thirties.
However, with her absence to Japan these past years and my subsequent role as Dad’s primary caregiver, our relationship has shifted. The weight of the responsibility has made me a leader too and we now find ourselves as two queen bees with a single farm hive.
Kristin and I are as similar as we are different. Raised on land without boundaries to protect us, we now both require a large amount of control over our surroundings in order to feel safe.
You read it in the papers and hear stories from friends: families torn apart over an inheritance or care of an ailing parent. Death, old wounds and injustices shake up a fragile peace. And, overseas requests feel like instructions to a resentful employee and results in closed ears and a threatening taste of a faraway powerlessness.
Emotions pinball and nuclear bombs and civil wars bounce around in our heads. With our brother’s death and father’s declining health, we are all under a lot of stress.
“You have a good family home here. Keep it that way.”
Says Dad, hands in his pockets beside me as I cradle in the hammock on a sunny day.
Outside enjoying the view, Andrea tells me there is a solution I can’t see yet and I’m choosing to believe her. I am also choosing to leave the future where it is. Right now is about caring for an old man in the home he created, fostering the relationships around him and loving him while we have him.
“All of that being said, and as difficult as this is for both of us, how fortunate are we that we have anything to manage? Some people have no inheritances or properties to manage and be stressed out over. Some people don’t have parents still alive and around to take care of. We are actually incredibly blessed.”
Fighting over the farm is like fighting over a Christmas present. It’s only hard to share if you’ve forgotten your gratitude for the gift.
“Czechoslovakia break up,”
said the bus driver, translating the radio broadcast during our 24 hour ride from London to Prague in the summer of 1992.
Backpacking around Europe with Mum, my adolescent memories of Prague remain clear: young men in military uniforms waving from barrack windows, a funky clock tower in the square, a Jewish cemetery of bodies buried on top of bodies and a gallery of their children’s art from a concentration camp during the Second World War.
At the time, the bus driver looked sad at the news of change. But twenty years later, the Velvet Divorce is a successful example of a divided nation finding peace without violence.
“Never sell this place.”
Says Dad, a promise I can’t make.
Continents apart, Kristin and I pause to breathe. Peaceful negotiations begin and I remind my gratitude to stay close as we transition to a new era where boundaries or borders protect both my sister and I, regardless of our differences.
And as for Dad, we both agree. We keep him home for as long as we can.