accountability, adultary, cancer, cautionary tale, childhood, codicil, death, fact, facts, final wishes, gut feelings, hospice, intuition, liar, lies, mistakes, narcissism, narcissist, over-reacting, overreact, thief, will
I hope I don’t burn in hell for writing this……
I had an uncle who lived about 1.5 hours away from me. He was a flamboyant narcissist. He and his wife would come to my town every month or so, sit at my kitchen table and rattle on, telling me the same stories of their lives, over and over again. Actually, he regaled us with his stories. She sat and listened. Occasionally, she and I snuck off and talked, but mostly she played the role she’d been assigned – dutiful wife, verifying even his most outlandish of claims. She played this role till the end, despite his adultery and threats of divorce. As far as I know, she never wavered in her resolve to be his sidekick, even knowing how often he strayed.
She died about 15 years before he did. We all assumed he’d soon be remarried, and we were surprised when he did not remarry, and he barely dated. In later years he told me he’d been on a few dates, but none of the women would go for a second date. One told him “you’ve looked at every woman in this place except me; why would I go out with you again?”. He paid a huge price for his misbehavior.
He was diagnosed with cancer about 3 years ago. I spent some time with him, taking him to Dr’s appointments. I hung in for about 9 months, then called it quits. I was tired of listening to him talk about himself, telling me the same old stories, for hours, not once asking me about my life. Well, that’s an exaggeration – he always asked about me, as I was walking out the door. He was an ass.
A few weeks ago he landed in the hospital, and my mother and aunt called me to say he was on hospice. I went to sit with them, and it was then I caught my 1st glimpse of his final years. I’ll call her Jane.
There were a few other people in his town who looked out for him, but he was primarily dependent on Jane. She showed up at the hospital about two hours after I arrived, and she stayed for 3 hours. For 3 hours I watched the Jane show.
She had two main themes: 1 – him, and 2 – her.
When discussing him, she spent a tremendous amount of effort convincing us that she knew him better than anyone else. She knew who his friends were, and who he’d had falling outs with. She knew what he liked to eat and what he did not like. She knew how he felt, what his wishes were and just about anything else you could ask. That is, if she’d stopped talking long enough for you to ask. This is a common trick of liars, in case you don’t know – they chatter on and on, aways directing the conversation, and making sure topics they can’t pull off don’t get brought up. She was a master.
The second topic was her. We found out she’d been in the process of divorcing a bad guy when he up and died on her – Her words “died on her“. According to her, this guy had taken out numerous credit cards in her name, and she was up the wazoo in debt. Because of him she was estranged from all of her children, and had no one, except my uncle. She was also drowning in debt.
By the time she left I suspected we were dealing with a liar, but I said nothing. It was not the right time or place, and it didn’t matter.
My uncle died that night, and after a few hours straightening up his house, we all left. My mother flew home, and my aunt and I drove back to our respective homes. My aunt is the executrix of the estate, which is substantial. The money in Vanguard was willed to two of his favorite charities. His home and van were willed to a local boy who worked with him. Cash in safe deposit boxes and various other valuable were given to my aunt to dole out, with Jane being one of the benefactors.
Two issued weighed on my aunt. The 1st was that the boy he had left his home and van to is alleged to be on drugs. According to my aunt, and substantiated by Jane, my uncle had decided not to leave items to this boy, to instead give them to the charities. He did not, however, change his will. The second issue was that my uncle was known to hide cash and valuables in his home. Waistcoat pockets, underside of mattresses, old cookie tins – who knew where, or how much he hid. My aunt was anxious to get back to the house to look things over.
The day after he died, my aunt got a call from Jane. Suprise, suprise, Jane had an addendum to the will. Allegedly, my uncle had typed this document removing the boy as a beneficiary. Jane could attest to the documents veracity because she is a notary, and it was she who notarized the document!
I went with my aunt to the estate attorney, and could see the blatant smirk on his face when he said “this could be considered a valid codicil to his will. As long as the boy doesn’t contest it, it will stand. If the boy contests it, a judge will have to decide if it is valid or not”. Perhaps it was my imagination but I could swear the attorney was rolling his eyes behind my aunts back.
To be clear, my aunt and mother don’t care. They want his estate put to rest, and they want his charities to get what he wanted them to get. It is easier for them if the boy is cut out, so it is easier to accept this document as valid, which they have and which I have not remarked about. I can’t help wondering two thing though:
1 – Why did Jane never mention this document before? For that matter, why did my uncle never mention this document? After all, if he was really concerned about cutting this boy out of his will, wouldn’t he have told his sisters “hey, by the way, I wrote an addendum to my will and Jane notarized it”. Nope. Not a word.
2 – The 1st line of this document said “I made a mistake”. I knew my uncle for 56 years, and never did I hear him say he’d made a mistake. I would wager to bet he never ever used those words. He wished he had listened to his wife when she told him something was wrong in her brain and she was going to die (she died of an aneurysm) but that was not a mistake. Sometimes he regretted cheating on his wife, but that was not a mistake. He was definitely sad that he had sent his son to China, rather than allow him to marry his local GF, but it wasn’t a mistake. My uncle did not make mistakes. Narcissists don’t make mistakes. Events take “unexpected turns”, people behave “out of character” or “circumstances change”, but narcissists never make mistakes.
This was Jane’s 1st mistake (hahahaha!).
The second happened in the days that followed. In those days, the days before my aunt got back to my uncle’s house, Jane scoured the place. She told my aunt she had found nothing. One of the other neighbors found the diamond rings under the mattress, but Jane found “nothing”. She reiterated this. Numerous times. And she stuck with this story.
Yesterday, my aunt and I made it to his house. Our intent was to pick up items for his memorial service on Saturday. We wanted things like pictures, his 10 pairs of reading glasses, his walking stick and weights. The type of things that his loved ones will look at and say “oh yeah, I remember when…….”. we were wandering around the house and my aunt noticed that his stereo system was gone. With it were the 50 cd’s he’d collected during his life. Gone. It was hard to know what else might be gone, because we hadn’t spent time looking at his house in that way. We’d looked at it in terms of what to clean out of the fridge, and what to make sure was clean before we left. Inventory had been the last thing on our minds the day he died.
We wandered around, picking up memorabilia. Eventually my aunt suggested we pack up some china, because my uncle’s wife’s sister wanted it (sorry-family lines….ugh). We started packing it up when it dawned on me – there had been 2 stained glass cardinals with the china. I remembered them because I love cardinals, as did my late aunt. When my live aunt suggested I take them my stomach had lurched – it felt wrong. I thought for a second and said “let’s take them to her grave site”. That had been our plan, to pick up those cardinals and take them to her grave site. Except, they were gone.
After packing up the china my aunt said “hey, he had 3 marijuana cigarettes in the top drawer of the dresser next to his bed. Go get them. Everyone will get a kick out of them”. As I walked towards his bedroom, Jane showed up.
I probably don’t need to say, this but the pot was gone.
Jane made a grand entrance, loudly describing all the work she’d done to clean up the house. She pulled out a suitcase she had packed for my aunt. In it was pictures and other items that are priceless to us, but useless to Jane. She did give my aunt the diamond rings, but I feel sure only because it was a different neighbor who found them and told my aunt about them. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the “diamonds” were found the be lab made, which wasn’t a thing when my uncle purchased the rings)
Jane brought with her the Hess trucks she had “taken for safety”, but had to bring back because my aunt knew about them, and specifically asked for them. Curious.
Here’s the real kicker. My aunt and I had been in the house for almost an hour. It’s a small house, and we’d looked through every square inch of it. As we were preparing to leave, Jane exclaimed “look what I found! More life insurance!”.
In her hand were four large pieces of paper, each well over 8 by 11″. They were heavy stock, and folded into fourths, creating a thick stack. Jane had “found” them under a towel on a counter. At the time, things were moving too quickly to really ponder the implications. Later though, I knew that those papers had not been there before. Additionally, she “found” them when my aunt and I were out of the room they were “found” in.
I have not doubt she had those papers in her possession when she showed up at the house, and she made a scene about having “found” them.
Why did she give them to us? They were worthless to her. She kept referring to them as “life insurance”, but a quick glance revealed them to be stock in an insurance company. I would stake just about anything that she knew exactly what they were, and she knew they were worthless to her as she did not have his death certificate.
In two days my aunt is having my uncle’s memorial service. I suspect that Jane won’t show up. Even though she claims she’ll be there, I think a last minute issue will prevent her from attending. Unless she thinks there might be something in it for her. I’ll keep you all posted.
Why am I writing about this? I’ll tell you!
I had tremendous intuition as a child. In fact, I hitchhiked up and down the east coast without a scratch, because I knew who’s car to get into and who to say “no thanks” to. I survived by my gut, and it was the one part of me that I’d always prided myself on. Until I was abused by a narcissist.
Over the years I spent with my covert narc, my intuition meter died. Literally. I had no connection with my gut. I walked around in a fog, a state of perpetual confusion, constantly doubting what I thought to be true but could not prove. “Gut feelings” were dismissed. Always.
The thing about “gut feelings” is this – they are based in fact. If you take the time to look over the circumstances that led to a “gut feeling” you will probably find that there were concrete clues that led to the feelings you had. For example, the wording of my uncle’s addendum. That is a clue. The fact that I had scoured the counter where the stock certificates were “found” – that is a clue.
Most of what we believe to be “gut feelings” are actually beliefs based on fact. Unfortunately, it is not often that we put the time and effort into examining what facts led to our feelings, so we maintain that these are simply “feelings”, diluting their importance.
I’m not sure how to end this. I’m not sure why I’m writing this. In a disturbing way, I find this to be a cautionary tale to leading a narcissistic life, but I feel yucky talking about it. My uncle, my mother and my sister had a difficult, confusing childhood, and I don’t really want to judge them. It is not my intent to judge him, or anyone else. But I suppose in all honesty, it is my intent to judge Jane. Jane is a liar, a thief and an overall bad person. And ultimately, it brings me no joy to know that in his final years she was his primary caregiver. That is really sad. The whole story is sad. And perhaps, if I knew her, I’d feel like Jane is sad.
Truthfully, I’m telling this story for a selfish reason: to remind myself, and to tell all of you, that my intuition meter is back! I am no longer overwhelmed with such self doubt that I can’t reason my way out of a paper bag. I am getting back on track. I’m waking up, seeing people and events for what they really are, and no longer letting others convince me that I “misunderstand” or “overreact”. I Get It.
This is a cool place to be in!