When my paternal grandmother died, her children began fighting over the objects they thought had “value.”
I was a young reporter living in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, at the time of her death.
I had no money. None.
It’s important to note here that all of my living paternal aunts and uncles are millionaires.
After my grandmother died, my Uncle Ted decided that the best way to honor his mother was to rush around her home marking which things he had bought for her and my late grandpa with his money.
My dad, knowing that I didn’t have a microwave oven, asked my Uncle Ted if I could have my grandmother’s microwave.
Ted, who at the time owned homes on the east coast in Maryland and in Naples, Florida, and probably in Europe – I don’t even know – said “No.”
He had purchased that microwave. He was going to keep it.
As a child, the thing I wanted the most in the world was a brother or a sister.
Not one to ever mince words, I wrote a letter to each one of my aunts and uncles after I returned to Wyoming. I told them I had always wanted a sister or brother but after seeing their behavior at their mother’s funeral, I felt grateful I didn’t have siblings.
True story: I didn’t even like my paternal grandmother. She was racist. She was unconscionably horrible to my mother, the best person I’ve ever known. Still, she was my grandmother. How my Uncle Ted honored her was to put pieces of tape on the things he had paid for to mark them as “his.”
A nicotine-stained Pillsbury Doughboy and a coffee can filled with buttons were the only things I asked for after her funeral. Why the former? I squeezed the heck out of that doughboy when I was a toddler. Why the latter? My grandma played Hide the Button with me when I was a wee one.
I could’ve asked for diamonds. Or the many stacks of cash that I discovered in margarine containers in her freezer. I was staying at her home by myself. I could have easily slipped that money into my bag.
I did not.
I was in my 20s, making $18,000 a year in one of the most expensive places to live in this country of ours. The only items I wanted to take home were those that reminded me of my grandma on a visceral level.
It would be a few years before I could afford my own microwave.