Chapter 3: What the Will?
The weeks that followed the news of my parents’ death felt like days. Maybe hours. I had spent many hours on the phone with people back in Canada making funeral arrangements and providing details and writing eulogies and I had no idea what I was doing. I was just floating through space, doing the best I could but unable to tether myself to reality.
I had flown out for the funeral, of course, but could remember almost none of it by the time I had returned to my home in Greece. Once I was there, I was almost immediately met with a flood of information from the executor of my parents’ will, a man by the name of Mr. Gagnon.
That particular morning, a Wednesday, I was sitting on my bed holding the envelope with the will inside, unable to really process what was happening, when I received a phone call from Mr. Gagnon.
“Hello,” I said, not bothering to mask the gravelly tone of my voice. “This is Adelaide.”
“I’m just calling to discuss your parents’ last wishes, Adelaide. I hear from the courier that you have received them.”
“Yes, I have them here. But I’ve not opened them yet.”
“Would you like to go through them yourself first? We can reschedule for a couple days from now. I’m afraid I can’t push it much further than that as there are some urgent matters to discuss.”
“No.” I shook my head though he could not see me. “Can we just go through it together now? Is that okay?”
The pause on the other end of the line grew uncomfortably long before Mr. Gagnon replied. “Normally I’d say no, but this is rather time sensitive so it will have to do.” And then he instructed me to open the will and ran through various items with me. Of particular interest, he noted, was the section as pertained to me and my inheritance.
Apparently, because of the terms of the will, I would have to vacate my property here in Greece — as he reminded me, it was actually my parents’ property — within two weeks. Listening to the man talk about how long I could be in my own house and how it would be cared for in my absence was, honestly, too much. So I just tuned him out and reread the lines for the sixth time.
How could they do this to me? Why did they want me to have nothing? Hadn’t I lost enough already?
“Adelaide?” Mr. Gagnon’s loud voice shook me from my thoughts. “Adelaide are you still there? I think we may have lost the connection.”
I cleared my throat. “Yes. Yes, I’m still here. I can hear you now.”
“We should probably move over to the accompanying letter that describes the particular terms of your inheritance as your parents provided it additionally so it would be private for you and the people who need to know.”
I nodded, and the silence lingered.
“Sorry, yes. That sounds good.” I broke the seal on the letter and slid it out of the envelope.
And boy was that letter a shock. I kept it from sliding out of my hands as I read all about the laundry list of reasons why my own parents did not consider me a competent adult and a bunch of stuff about why they were still trying to parent me after they died and stuff.
Apparently, my hilarious parents were under the impression that it was ‘inappropriate for a twenty-seven-year-old to be gallivanting about the world throwing away money.’ A phrase which meant that though I was not outright disinherited, there were to be some… unpleasant conditions placed upon me if I wished to access any of what they left me.
Mr. Gagnon continued to read the specifics. “To demonstrate your sense of duty and preparedness for managing an estate of this size, you will be required to reside with your maternal grandmother for a period of at least one year or until such time as she determines you are ready, whichever is longer. When such time has passed and she grants her assent, the entire estate will be passed to you. In the interim, I will hold the estate in trust and I will ensure its care and upkeep.”
My maternal grandmother? My mom’s mother? I haven’t seen her since I was seven!
Mr. Gagnon broke my thoughts again. “So that is all, Adelaide. Do you have any questions for me?”
HA! Did I have questions?
But instead of asking Mr. Gagnon about any of those rules, particularly what would happen if my grandmother never decided I was ready, I just said, “No. I don’t have any questions, thank you.” and hung up the phone. And I sat there, staring at the wall as the letter lay beside me on the bed.
I don’t know how long I was sitting there, staring at the letter, but Kat interrupted me by breaking into my apartment and shaking my shoulders.
“Oh my gosh, thank goodness you’re okay I’ve been texting non-stop!”
I sighed, wiping the tears that had unknowingly fallen off my cheeks. Trying not to cry was taking everything I had. I really thought I’d be over it by now, but I guess your parents are your parents.
“How are you holding up, A?” Kat asked, sitting on the floor beside my bed.
My brain is numb. Is this how people feel when they are mourning? Is any of this normal?
Kat snapped her fingers, trying to get my attention. “Well, did she write you out or not?”
I shook my head.
Nothing makes sense.
“Wait so she didn’t write you out, or she did and you need to crash at my place? You know you’re welcome anytime.”
I didn’t even know how to answer that. “I don’t know? Maybe?”
“What does that mean?” Kat’s impatience was starting to slip through her careful attempts at friendly support.
“It means...” I handed her the letter, fully unable to believe I’d read it correctly, but knowing I had. Mr. Gagnon was nothing if not thorough.
Her eyes scanned across the page as her jaw grew more and more slack, eventually resembling how I felt. “So…” she reasoned. “You aren’t exactly disinherited? She could have done worse!”
“Could she?” I asked. “I’m not sixteen! I don’t need a guardian!”
I don’t know why I’m so angry. It’s not like she didn’t warn me I’d get nothing if I didn’t become respectable or whatever.
“Well, I know, but how bad could it be? You just have to prove yourself or something, right? Go live with this grandma for a year or whatever, and it’ll all be over. She wanted to leave you with a good future, I’m sure of it.”
“Yeah, I guess. But then why didn’t they just leave me the business? They’ve been promising I’ll have a job there when I’m done school for… well, for my entire life and now it’s like…” I threw my hands up in the air, holding back tears. “It’s like this stupid fucking accident took away everything I had!”
Kat scuttled up onto the bed and wrapped her arms around me. “I’m sorry, A. I can’t even imagine.”
I immediately dissolved into tears. “I just don’t know what I’m going to do, Kat. Nothing makes sense anymore and I just… I don’t want to go, but how can I not, you know? How can I just ignore their last wish? Don’t I have to at least try?” My sobs made that last longer than it should have, and Kat just patted my head and hugged me while I cried.