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Deathly ill, I sat in my grandma’s tiny white and aqua kitchen drinking coffee.   She and I had always been close but had grown even closer since Grandpa passed away in April and my husband left the state in July.  She, too, was seriously ill, but no one realized she was dying.  Except her.  Perhaps me. 

She gave me a look that let me know I was not to question her and flatly stated, “We decided on this because R is the only one of you kids who is in a position to do the assessment work.  We want the mine to stay in the family and be open to all of you.  It just needs to be in his name because he’s got to be responsible for it.” 

I was devastated, but I understood.  He lived locally, unlike my three cousins; he was the only one of us with a truck; and I was sick and pregnant and abandoned.  But, why couldn’t it go to all of us?  Why couldn’t we all contribute somehow?  Monetarily maybe?  Why was one grandchild gaining sole ownership of the mine upon her death?

Of course, upon her death R gated it and locked it.  It was his.  The papers said so. No one was allowed up there without him, without his invitation, which rarely came. 

My uncle inherited my grandparents’ house and all of its contents just six months after that day in the kitchen.  And, I recall the horror of walking in on him and my oldest cousin pulling drawers out onto the floor and rummaging through Grandma and Grandpa’s things.  A lifetime of work and collecting and organizing in heaps on the floor.

Once he’d sufficiently sorted through their belongings and stripped the house of anything of value, he rented the house to my brother R.  The piano was still there.  My aunt wanted to give it to a local church, but my mom and I begged her to let it stay.  Three years later I offered my uncle $250 for it.  He refused.

A few more years passed and my uncle sold the old home, once the stage coach stop when it was down beside the creek, and the acre it sat on to R.  For $28,000.  With the piano included for free. 

R quickly bulldozed the old historic building and burned what remained.  He tore out the trees and bushes my grandparents lovingly planted and tended.  Well, what was left that my uncle had not already uprooted.   The old home place, the only home we’d ever experienced, was gone. 

In its place he put up a small shop and an old double wide someone just gave him. 

Our safe retreat, the warmth of Grandpa and Grandma’s old and small but sweet home, was erased from existence. 

The piano had been removed before the demolition, and it now sat in the trailer where the dogs chewed one leg off. 

My mother had been given the adjacent acre as her early inheritance when she left my step dad.  And, she left it to my daughter with my son in law as next in line, acknowledging my brother and me as her children yet admitting it was her intent to leave us nothing.

R was furious.  He demanded I help him go to court to get back what was rightfully ours.  I couldn’t.  I was knee deep in a court battle with my ex, fighting for safety for my children and myself.  R saw my refusal to help him as “siding” with my daughter and just letting her steal our inheritance.  So, when dad died seven months later, R once again made sure that he took everything Dad owned, denying me any right I had to it. 

And, here we are…..4 1/2 years later.  Why do I bring this all up now?

Yesterday on vistation (after putting away the naked blow up doll hanging in the dining room–that’s a whole other story) my ex told the kids that he was “just out in” the small area where I live and decided to swing in and say hi to my brother.  However, two strange guys answered the door and said they are his renters.  R doesn’t live there anymore.

I texted my daughter.  My brother has sent his dogs after my daughter and her friends when they’ve been working on my mom’s empty, old place, and he has stolen off of that property.  My daughter wouldn’t even go to the property alone when she was pregnant.   Now, they no longer need to worry about R bothering them. 

Maybe I should have left well enough alone. 

She immediately began checking public records to see if he had sold it.   In doing so, she found that he owns a second mining claim that none of us knew about.  And, it appears he abandoned my grandparents’ claim they left him all those years ago.  The government tried to contact him multiple times, but he failed to respond. 
It’s gone now, too.

I updated my 16 year old on what his sister was finding, and he looked at me, shaking his head, and said, “Wow, EVERYone in your entire family f-ed you.”

I woke up this morning to a frigid cold house I’m just grateful my landlord doesn’t kick me out of.  I tended the animals and brought in wood.  I attempted to wash my hands, but the ice water coming from the faucet was too much for my already cold hands.  So,  I moved on to building a fire in the tiny box at one end of the house.  And, all I can think about is how my brother and daughter have stolen and then just WASTED what should have been partly mine.  My stuggles could have been greatly eased had I received my portion.  Yet, those who wanted it all placed no value on that which could have changed my life.  And, in all honestly, they only acquired it all because, not only mom, but my grandparents, my uncle, and my dad allowed it. 

Like my son said….. everyone in my entire family f-ed me.  

And, people ask how I ended up marrying an abuser.  They ask what attracted me to a man like that.

It’s really all I knew.