“Interesting how we perceive things differently.” Boy, is it ever! Seems like just a few short years ago I received a frantic phone call about the potential sale of family property – and that person wanted it stopped, didn’t want someone “outside” the family to get her hands on it (or maybe just the proceeds?). Now, all bets are off.

Forget how we’ve been looking for a house for nearly two years, and paying rent in the meantime, forget how the set-up would be perfect; even, for a moment, forget that this property has been in the family for almost 160 years. Forget, too, how a few particular individuals might read this and almost certainly get the wrong idea.

Too bad.

In 1850, my great-great-great-grandfather started a farm near the Missouri River; he passed it along to his daughter, who bequeathed it to her own three children. One of them was my great-grandmother, who left it to her daughter and two of her grandchildren. One of those grandchildren sold their portion to my dad, and my grandmother gifted her acres to my mother. Up until my dad’s death in 2001, the land was farmed by a family member.

When I was small, we lived there. I helped my great-grandpa feed the animals, and work in his garden; we sat on the steps of the summer kitchen to eat watermelon, and he etched my name in the concrete. I learned how to work the old cistern, just to watch the water gush out; I ran and played with my dog, Bitsy, and his dog, Trixie, and learned to climb trees – even ice-skate, when we had the big storm which covered the whole area with inches-thick ice. We had kittens in the barn, and I rode my pony, Sissy, all over the farm – sometimes in the cart that she pulled, too.

Gramps raised pigs, and gave me one for very own – which I promptly named “Wilbur”; I earned $10, too, when he went off to market. Nana and Gramps and others did the butchering and sausage-making in the garage, and the old washhouse became my playhouse when I was older.

Fast-forward to around 2004, and my mom and sister called me, frantic, because my dad’s trustee was planning to sell a large portion of the fields to “someone”. They wanted to know what to do, and they wanted me to do it. Well, surely by now they’ll deny that, but I was the one who had to read and learn and understand all the documents, all the legalese, make all the phone calls and write all the letters. I’ve spent a lot of money on attorney fees and appraisals.

What did they do? They “didn’t understand”; it was “too much”, too overwhelming; they didn’t “have time” to read things or make comments. They got “too upset” talking about the situation.

Turns out, after 4-5 years of fighting and paying lawyers, there wasn’t anything to be done; my sister stopped speaking to me, my mother has become overly-involved with my son and completely discounts me, my parenting, or anything to do with my life. Except, of course, her own perceptions, which are rather skewed. She barely ever calls, or emails, and only wants to know about my daughter or my older son; never asks about me or my husband or our youngest. Or anyone else. She has no idea what I think or feel about anything, what I’m doing with my life, nothing. I’m sure she feels qualified, though, to gossip about me, and comment to all her friends. I doubt she’s changed much.

For someone who has stated, over and over, that the farm is her daughters’ legacy, but who has also made mention that I would be “horrible” about the farm when she dies – merely because I’d want to live there – she is adamant about selling now. It was so important, she actually called to tell me the news.

Of course, she also inherited (and sold) both my grandmother’s house and her other farm. Made quite a career of doing this, hasn’t she?

So much for a family legacy. I guess she’s forgotten the history.


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