Thomas Wictor



Mom and Dad made no real provisions for their deaths. For some reason Dad threw away most of his tax documents. Since his death we’ve discovered that he had plenty to hide. Mom’s residue, on the other hand, is fully intact. Tim and I have learned a lot about not only Mom and Dad but scores of other people too.

Years ago Mom asked me to help her find a particularly valuable family heirloom. Someone had asked for it. I was aghast.

“If you give it to him, he’s just going to sell it,” I said.

“I know,” she answered angrily. “But I can’t say no to him.”

Mom couldn’t say no to anybody. Her canceled checks attest to the number of moochers who regularly hit her up. I knew about some of them, but I’m shocked at how many there actually were. And the amounts are staggering.

Mom was raised to be a good girl. She felt that saying no would make people think ill of her. Here she is at seven in 1935. Her posture says it all.

“Cross your legs, young lady. Clasp your hands. Smile.”

Seven-year-olds don’t usually sit like that. I know Mom was ashamed that so many people took advantage of her. She finally told me before she had her cancer surgery in April of 2013 that she was paying a man’s rent. I’d met him. He was a con artist who unmercifully targeted Mom because she couldn’t say no.

I told her there was nothing to be ashamed of, since her heart was in the right place. To make her feel better, I wish she’d lived to see that I allowed Mike Albee and Lura Dold to take me for $40,000. I’m not ashamed in the least. Mike and Lura run a professional operation, and I wasn’t in my right mind. People will think it’s disrespectful of me to say this, but in many ways Mom wasn’t in her right mind either.

She had a difficult life, being shipped off to a Catholic boarding school at the age of five. I’ve read her letters to her parents during this time. Nobody explained anything to her. She was told to not make a fuss, so that’s what she did for the next eighty years. It made her vulnerable to predators.

As luck would have it, Tim and Mom ran into the con artist who had talked Mom into paying his rent. Mom had just had a session of chemotherapy, and she was in a wheelchair. The man had the unmitigated gall to ask if Mom would be all right, meaning, “Am I still going to be getting money from you?”

Tim completely unloaded on him, telling him that the gravy train had derailed, and he’d have to make his way in the world without Mom’s help.

“Okay,” the man mumbled and scuttled off. Wonder why?

I was at Mom and Dad’s house when Mom got a tearful phone call from someone who needed $50,000 for an emergency. Mom agreed to give it to her. About a year later, we went to the person’s house, and she proudly showed Mom her new kiln. It was the size of a tool shed. She used it to make pottery, her hobby. Tim told me that they own about $7 million worth of land.

Mom had her own version of the rabbit trance. I saw her go into it over and over. And no, I don’t “blame” her parents or the nuns or the Catholic church, because they didn’t intend for Mom to become a person who was an easy mark for unscrupulous grifters. Eighty years ago people didn’t know how fragile children are. Even today people deny the clear, obvious, inarguable fragility of children. After she was sent to boarding school, Mom almost never smiled like this.

She and Dad both smiled when they were expecting Tim. These are expressions I didn’t witness in person. Not once in fifty-one years.

When Mom was in the nursing home, none of the moochers came and visited her. It hurt her. I told her that most people are childish imbeciles who can’t deal with illness. To distract themselves from their own mortality, they overeat, buy worthless crap, get drunk, and take bizarre vacations, like on cruise liners where the staff hand feeds you. I saw that on TV once. Talk about complete regression.

To make Mom laugh, I gave her my impression of cruise-line passengers being spoon fed.

What irks me about Mom’s canceled checks is that she gave money to people who just pissed it away and weren’t even grateful. I’ve invested every penny that I’ve inherited so far from my parents. The returns are put back into the pot. At some point Tim and I are going to move out of the failed state of California, but we’re going to keep our old cars, and I’m still going to buy my clothes at Target. All I wear are T-shirts and shorts. Those’ll see me through to the end.

Speaking of the end, all of Mom’s moochers have been cut off. Two tried to hit up Tim and me, but they were sent packing.

I know that somewhere, Mom’s applauding. She eviscerated a person who tried to tell her how to react to Dad’s Grand Guignol dying process. It happened over the phone, and I was privileged to witness it. Mom was magnificent. After she hung up, she laughed and said, “I don’t know where that came from!”

Well, it was the person denied. Mom should’ve been like that her entire life. Being fearless and powerful can be daunting. Also, it makes you pretty much alone. I understand why people give in, even when they don’t want to, and it makes them ashamed.

No need to be ashamed, Mom. It wasn’t your fault. Wasn’t anybody’s fault, really. Next time around will be better. I promise.

Oh, and enjoy my new book trailer.

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