Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It Is OK To Take Time To Grieve Before Sharing Inherited Blessings

Dear Tazi:

Many years ago, when I was just a teenager, I befriended an elderly lady who went to my church. I had originally offered to assist her with her housecleaning as a part of my Confirmation service to others requirement when I discovered that I enjoyed her company – she was like a surrogate grandmother to me, and I continued to assist her long after my service project was complete. Even after I was grown and moved away to college and then a career that took me out of state, “Miss Mildred” and I continued to stay in touch through phone calls and hand-written letters. Miss Mildred had never married, and had no children. She was the last of her surviving siblings, though she had many friends she considered family, including myself; whom she called “Daisy”, after her favorite flower.

I had always thought that Miss Mildred was of limited means, and that she made ends meet by living off of a small pension and her social security. What I mean to say is; I never had designs on her estate. Miss Mildred passed away this past winter at the age of 102, and upon the reading of her will I discovered that she was actually quite wealthy; the owner of several properties, including a grand beach house that had belonged to her late parents, which she willed to me. Upon exploring the beach house I found many small touches that told me how fond Miss Mildred was of me – some pressed flowers from a birthday bouquet I had once sent her; a picture of the two of us at my high school graduation; and many of the letters I had sent her over the years. It was quite obvious to me that this house was special to Miss Mildred, and I want to preserve her memory within it because she was so special and great an influence on me. I became a school teacher because she was one, too!

As a school teacher, I have summers off from working, which will allow me to return “home” and enjoy Miss Mildred’s beach house (I still have trouble thinking of it as my own). The problem is, several of my family members have the same idea and have already told me how much they look forward to staying with me while they vacation at the beach.

Tazi, I do not know how I will feel about this in time, but right now I am not ready to open the doors to people looking for a free place to “crash”. Not only am I still grieving the loss of my dear friend, but I am still in the process of cataloging the inventory of the house; which includes many valuable antiques and at least one large, hidden stash of cash that I found under a loose floorboard I was repairing. I do not want people coming in and treating the place like a hotel. My problem is, every time I look at the walls I see pictures of a younger Miss Mildred and her family enjoying each other’s company on the beach and at the house. I feel that by telling my family “no” to their plans to visit I would be betraying the spirit in which Miss Mildred bequeathed her house to me.

I know I have been blessed, Tazi; is it wrong of me not to share those blessings so soon after receiving them?

Miss Mildred’s Daisy

Dear Miss Mildred’s Daisy:

Your letter tugged at my heartstrings and brought a droop of sympathy to my whiskers. You have my deepest and most heartfelt sympathies on your loss. We cats know the intrinsic value of little old ladies who often adopt us for company and in return give us laps for napping! Your Miss Mildred sounds like she was a wonderful woman, and you were a dream to bring happiness and youthful companionship to her.

Your grief is understandable, and I am certain that it is accompanied by more than a small dose of shock at discovering that your friend was of greater means than you realized. To paraphrase the Beatitudes, blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom-sized sandbox! [Ed. Note: To a cat, the beach is one big litter-box]. Your humility towards others has brought you great rewards, and it will be up to you to decide how – and when – you wish to share them with others.

The fact that your family has pretty much announced their plan to stay at your beach house before they have even been invited is in very poor taste. I believe that your Miss Mildred, with her old-fashioned handwritten letters, would excuse you for not having them as guests this summer – or any summer hence until they receive proper invitation, issued by you, into your home. If and when that day comes will be up to you; but right now I suggest that you take the summer to finish your unfinished business.

If and when you decide to start issuing invitations to stay with you, make sure that the terms and conditions of the invitation are clear: that your beach house is a private home, not a bed and breakfast, and that you are not housekeeping or room service. Remind your guests before they arrive that this is your vacation, too, and that you would enjoy their company all the more if you are allowed to enjoy your time off from work. Keep a stiff spine, and don’t back down to any pressure or rude comments that will undoubtedly be hurled towards you.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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