Walking Away From "Family"
My Dad had been married to his 2nd wife for about 14 years when they divorced. She had been a "runner" for a law firm when they met. She was a single mother of 2 daughters who had divorced her first husband because he was an alcoholic and wouldn't stay sober. I had gone to school with one of her daughters' and had advised my Dad not to marry her, but he did. At first, the marriage was okay. She was good to him - as long as he was making a lot of money. My Dad had worked for an oil company and spent a good part of time out of the country - something he had been doing for over 20 years. After a few years of this as a "married couple", he decided to retire and return to the States. They started their own business and he expected her to work in it with him.
She, in turn, had him hire her sister and brother-in-law. The brother-in-law worked, but had been a Vietnam Vet with PTSD and other issues. His rage would explode at any given time, whether people were around or not. He eventually committed suicide - but that's a different story. Anyway, as time went on and she found that the money wasn't flowing as she would like, she decided to go to work for a jewelry store. At first, she was making a good salary. Over time, she would say that business was bad and her paychecks dwindled to less than $20. When encouraged to quit, she would refuse, saying there weren't any other jobs "out there". Later on, we found out that she was having almost all of her paycheck direct deposited into a different account at a different financial institution. (Found a paystub after she moved out.) She would pick arguments with my Dad until he finally said, "I want a divorce." She quickly agreed, grabbed her perfume and jewelry, and went to live with her mother. She filed a restraining order on him so that he couldn't go into his garage, which by the way, was where she had been storing all sorts of things. She basically filled the garage with everything she would need to start a new household. He had asked (before the restraining order) why she was buying so much stuff and she would only say it was her mother's. Later, we found out it was all her stuff - down to new furniture. When she left, she cleaned out the garage and pretty much everything from the house. She tried to get my Dad to continue to pay for her mother and sister's homes, but the Judge released him from those obligations. Let's just say that marriage ended badly and they never spoke after it was finalized.
My father was married to his third wife for a little over 10 years, although they were together for many more. When they got together, she already had a baby by a man who had walked out on her. He wasn't paying any child support and didn't want anything to do with her or the baby. She was working as a house-cleaner, trying to make ends meet. My Dad was living in a big 4 bedroom house in Southern California. As he got to know Marilyn and her baby, he offered to let her move in and live there with the understanding that she would keep the house clean and cook the meals. Over the course of 2 years, they began dating and when her daughter was around six, they got married.
Marilyn wouldn't allow my father to discipline her daughter and when he would talk about various behavioral issues, it would always lead to an argument. By the time the girl was 12, she was dating boys who were 15 or 16. She would sneak out at night and skip school during the day. She was brought home by the police on a number of occasions. My dad said the only thing they would argue about was the girl.
By the time 2008 came around, they had agreed to divorce and go their separate ways. They had checked into selling their house and were waiting for the moment for the housing market in Florida to pick up. They were sleeping in separate rooms, living their own lives.
Then my dad came to Texas to visit for Christmas. He had been having problems with his throat, had a hard time swallowing and pretty much had heart burn all the time. In looking at him, we could tell that he had lost a lot of weight. My dad was six foot, 2 inches tall. He may have weighed 125 lbs on a "good day". Anyway, I tried to get him to go to a doctor when he was with us, but he said that he would go when he got back to Florida. And he did. On February 22, 2009 - his doctor had him go in for the results.
My dad was diagnosed with stage IV esophageal cancer. He could go for chemo and radiation but the doctor said it would only prolong his life for 2-3 months. He also said that there was cancer all over and that he "lit up like a Christmas tree". So my Dad decided not to go through any of it. He wanted to make what time he had left, matter to him.
So they put the house up for sale, started making plans. Long story short, I went to visit him for a while and helped him make some repairs while his wife and daughter went to Southern Florida for a "vacation". Within 3 months, they had an offer on the house. My Dad came to live with me in early May and now his "wife" has decided that they would stay married, because she "really loved him". Right. She showed up a few weeks later after spending 3 weeks in California "getting Toni settled there". She signed up for a gym membership and spent 4 hours a day there - making new friends, whatever. We were going to the doctor in my town, doing all that we could to keep him healthy and finding anything that he could keep down or swallow.
So one day she comes in and says that she is going to California to see her daughter, celebrate her birthday (she was turning 20), and that the movers from Florida were scheduled to deliver her furniture on that Monday. She'd be back in a few days. Or so she said.
That first week she was gone, my dad and I kept our routine pretty simple. My uncle would come over every day to visit with him and my son was there too. It was very rare for my dad to be alone. But a strange thing happened - on the day she left - she called my son, on his cell phone, and told him to let us know that the movers' weren't sure if they were going to be there on Monday or not. But she would let us know. "Oh, and can you tell your mom and granddad for me?" I found it a bit irritating, a little rude and somewhat sneaky.
On that Wednesday, my dad asked me to take him to the bank. He wanted to check his account. So we went to the bank. As it turned out, all of the money from the sale of the house was gone. Their "joint account" had less than $500 in it. My dad was dumbstruck. He couldn't believe it. The look on his face, the change in his demeanor, everything about him - looked defeated. I really believe that on that day - he gave up the will to live. When we got back to the house, my dad laid on the couch to rest. I went into Marilyn's bedroom. All of her things were gone. There wasn't a pair of socks, a bit of nail polish, a comb or hair there. It was as if she had never been there. I didn't have the heart to tell my dad.
Every day she would call. She would tell him that she would be "home soon" and that she "loved him more and more everyday".
The next Monday was a scheduled doctor's visit. The doctor had told us to start out at the hospital to get a blood transfusion and then go to his office. My dad collapsed in the waiting room. We were placed in a room and I called my uncle and son. They came right over. I also called Marilyn. I told her what had happened and that she should come back. "But my furniture hasn't come yet!", was her response. "Hell Marilyn! Call Mayflower and tell them to come on a different day! Have your mother wait for them. Have your daughter wait for them! You don't have to be there for the furniture to be unloaded from a truck!" She'd get back to me.
Monday turned to Tuesday, to Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. She would call - make some lame excuse on why she wasn't there and then try to tell me what a wonderful wife she was and that she loved him. Finally, one day - after listening to her bull, I said "Marilyn! We know about the money. I know you took all your stuff. I KNOW YOU'RE NOT COMING BACK!!! Stop lying to me!" Her response: "I'm a good wife!!" My response: "Well, I'd have to disagree with you on that one, Marilyn. A good wife doesn't leave her husband to die alone in a hospital. A good wife doesn't make an excuse of "waiting for her furniture to arrive" in order to avoid being there. A good wife doesn't take all the money the man had made and leaves him alone. You are not a good wife, Marilyn. I don't even think you qualify for a "decent person" title." And I hung up on her.
After that she tried calling my uncle - who told her that I was making all the decisions regarding my dad's status in the hospital. She called the hospital and the nurses told her that she would have to talk to "his daughter, who is making all the decisions". I told them not to release any information to her and to give her my number in case anyone inquired about him.
Within 3 days, my dad died. I also found out that she had forwarded all mail to her new address. She called me after his death and asked if I could send her the Death Certificate so she could notify the various entities. I told her that when I started getting my mail back, I'd send the Death Certificates. I eventually had to go to a supervisor at the Post Office to get it done. (She never fixed it.) I never sent the Death Certificates. She never asked about a service or what we were planning.
I received a bill in the mail from the hospital a few weeks after my dad had died. I sent it to her. A few weeks later, I started receiving phone calls from debt collectors. I gave them her cell phone number. When that didn't work, I gave them her parents home number too.
A few weeks afterwards, my uncle asked if I had heard from her. No, not a word. How are you doing, he asked. "I'm still looking at flights to San Diego - weighing the options of cost versus the ass kicking I'd like to give her." A week or so later, I received a check from an insurance company on a claim my dad had filed. It was made payable to him. I sent it back with a note - "Mr. ______ has died. The whereabouts of his widow are unknown. Please take these funds and donate them to a charity of your choice. Signed - his daughter and heir."
For many months, I planned to "visit" her. The only thing that kept me from going was the thought that I would end up in jail for the "justice" I would be distributing to her. Within a few months of my dad's death, I found her on Facebook. She had created a profile - and had "met the man of her dreams" and was engaged to be married. I created a Facebook account for my dad. I sent her a "message" from him. It was short and to the point. It said "You should be ashamed of yourself."
I've stopped looking for flights to San Diego. I've stopped looking at her Facebook page. I have focused my time and energy on doing things that I know my Dad would have been proud of me for doing. I also believe that Karma will bite her in the ass in good time. She's not worth going to jail for anyway.