My Father died when I was ten years old. Sadly, I never really knew him very well because my parents divorced when I was about two. But I knew beyond all doubt that he loved me and loved my brother. I was his “poochie pie,” and my brother was his little soldier. I’ll have to admit that being a poochie pie was easier and considerably more pleasant than being a Mini-Marine. Much less was expected of me; I was there to be adored. My older brother was always held to a higher standard. It was his job to “take care” of me. He had his hands full there!
None of that mattered, though, when it came down to the end. We knew, even as children, that we were not named in Daddy’s will. The phrase, “You were left out of your Father’s will,” followed us for years after his death. I remember being hurt and not understanding why he did that, and it wasn’t until I was much older that I finally came to appreciate his reasoning.
My Father was an invalid, left that way from the ravages of war, and his Mother took care of him for the last few years of his life after my parents’ divorce. He repaid her by leaving her his property and money.
One piece of property that he owned, however, was sold, and the money was put in trust for us until we reached the age of 21. He also knew that the Veterans Administration would take care of us – something they actually did for veterans back then. We were essentially declared “War Orphans,” and the government paid for our upkeep and education each month, year after year, until the day I graduated from college. My Father knew these things would be in place for us when he wrote his will. I personally came to recognize this in my heart and had accepted his decision as reasonable.
That is until recently. I had the occasion a few weeks ago to attend a workshop that I almost didn’t attend because it was basically about a site with which I was extremely familiar: the Shelby County Register of Deeds site. I had decided to attend, however, because the Shelby County Register himself was giving the presentation, and, after all, I usually learn something new with every workshop I attend. (I’m a firm believer that we all have something to learn with each and every experience.)
I definitely learned something new that day.
The Shelby County Register of Deeds website is a jewel. The folks at the Shelby County Archives work diligently and constantly to update the records that they have on hand to get them online as quickly as possible. Consequently, every few weeks or so, something new is added. I often forget that and hadn’t checked the site in a while.
The Register mentioned in his presentation that the Probate Court Will Book Indexes/Images 1830-2000 had been updated, and my first thought was that I needed to get home and check to see if my 2nd great grand aunt’s will was there. Elizabeth Dixon Love (b. 1812) had inherited most of the Love family land and money, and I’ve been trying to find her will for a number of years.
Her will wasn’t there - but my Father’s was. I was stunned! I had never even thought to look for it before, so I’m not sure how long it had been there. But I was even more shocked to read the following words:
“…to the express exclusion of my minor children, Richard Enloe Love, III, and Carla Lee Love.”
Why was I surprised? I knew that we had not been in his will. Yet there was just something about seeing those words in writing that was devastating.
Poochie Pie needed to get a grip on reality….and I finally did. I know that my Father loved his children, and that he did what he felt was the right thing at the time. As a mother, I understand how he felt about his own mother and what he felt he owed her.
Yet as a daughter, the tears appeared suddenly and unexpectedly as I read those words. The old, “You were left out of your Father’s will,” phrase haunted me once again. There is something about knowing about a thing and understanding it, but it’s quite another concept altogether to read it in print. I’m resigned to the fact that the will is out there now and can finally write about it.
Poochie Pie has put her sassy pants back on.
@2014 Copyright by Carla Love Maitland