When I was a kid, somehow my mom taught me not to ask for things that weren’t mine or to appear too greedy if you had a future claim to another’s things.
When my grandparents passed away there were many things that I would have liked to have had. I (foolishly) believed that anything of real worth would be dealt with appropriately by deducting the cost of the item from our inheritance or distributed equally.
What a dumbass I was!
Although I did speak up about a few things, I was told they had already gone to someone else. Little did I know that when I visited “someone else” that not only had they gotten the items I wanted, but a whole host of other things too. One relative in particular has the bulk of the family photos.
I’m 37 now (shudder) and as I get older things come to my mind that I wish I had. I have barely any photos of my grandparents, and even less of my father. A couple of years ago I wrote to my relative asking that she send me just a few of these photos as I was trying to put on a display so that my kids could know their family better. I received a polite refusal. She reminded me that she had made several nice copies of photos for my brother, sister, and me just a couple years before that, couldn’t I trouble one of them for copies?
Well, let’s see… the photos of which you speak were photocopied in black and white on regular printer paper so, no. That would not be convenient for me. You may remember having them printed on photo paper, but you didn’t. Or maybe you did but never sent them. Regardless, it was at that point I chose to cut off my father’s family from my life. I pray that they don’t know how hurtful they have been over the years. I pray because I refuse to believe that people are that ignorant and cruel on purpose.
More recently I’ve been thinking of my Grandpa C and all the fishing we did with him. I was able to get the fishing rod that I (and other of the grandkids) had used when we were kids; and was just thinking how great it would look on this empty wall in my living room with Grandpa’s fishing helmet and a few photographs. My dad had the same helmet and I contacted my brother and sister in the hopes that one of them had it or knew where it was. Sadly, I am left believing my greatest fears have come true and it was sold in the great garage sale that was held when mom moved out of our childhood home.
It was then that I thought, “Damn… I’m going to have to contact the relatives to see if I can pry it from one of their cold, dead hands.” That thought got me thinking about all the other things I was denied and it just makes me ill. I feel that my good nature and the way I was raised, along with my inexperience and young age was taken advantage of and now here I am with a growing obsession of family togetherness and no evidence that such family ever existed.
I hope that if there are things that you would like to have from your parents and grandparents that you have the courage to speak up firmly but gently and let them know if there is something of theirs you treasure. It’s not crass or greedy if you do it with the right heart.
I should note that I did not receive nothing of my grandparents things. I received a lovely desk and dresser that were leftovers no one else wanted and in disrepair. I also received a small painting that I was told should “really be returned to X” because it was their relative that painted it for my grandparents, and a ceramic Christmas tree with removable bulbs that lit up from the inside that I had to get special permission to take since “Y” is still living and originally made it for them. And Grandma’s tweed recliner. Because when you have no furniture, you’re grateful for anything.