Should I be worried about father?

eppinghouseFebruary 19, 2012

Mom died of cancer. My 85-year-old father was her primary caregiver for the year she was sick. They were married a very long time.

Within months, dad became involved with the woman who cleaned their house every other week for the last few years and has essentially given her and her adult children hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial aid. In exchange, his name is included on the deed to her house.

Dad has been keeping the relationship and financial aid a secret from his entire family. About a month ago, I pieced a few things together and asked him. He says it is "almost as if mom told her [the housekeeper] to look after me" and mom "would have wanted me to help her" financially [she told him she was about to loose her house]. He also mentioned he is thinking about marrying her because, "she knows what I'm like" [the housekeeper chatted a lot with mom, who liked to talk], "has done my laundry for years" and "so we can be together."

After that one conversation with him, dad doesn't want to talk about the relationship and never brings up this women's name. I've suggested we all get together, but he seems to want to keep the families apart. I've told him I support his having a relationship and eventually remarrying--that I want him to be happy--but that I worry this is a vulnerable time for him.

Dad is sharp, active and works part time because he enjoys it. He is financially well off. I'm worried that his grief has made him vulnerable and this person is taking advantage.

I understand the adage, women grieve and men replace, but something doesn't seem right to me.

Should I be worried or should I back off because it is his life?

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My parents' neighbor, a man I've known my entire life, lost his wife after her illness of a couple of years. Within a few months he was married to a woman we found out he'd evidently been seeing either before his wife's illness or met during the illness. To say the least I was SHOCKED! He is about the same age as your father. I haven't talked to his children about it, but he signed his home to the kids and walked away to be with the other woman.
If it were my father, I would be concerned because he is not able to make good decisions due to a stroke and several illnesses. But you describe your father as a competent person. I'm sure he misses your mother and wants companionship. This person might be looking for financial support, and knowing your parents for a few years obviously knows your father can provide it. If you are worried that she is going to take everything from your father, maybe you should just talk to your father to ask the questions you are wanting answers to.
My father is 83 and we have a good relationship, I can say pretty much what's on my mind and he can do the same. If one of us gets mad or gets our feelings hurt, we are adult enough to let that be known too so we can find compromise even if we disagree.
I guess what I am saying is if I were in your position I would go to my father and tell him my concerns and hear his side. If he has valid enough points for you, then let it be his life.
I am at my parents' house several times a week and don't always call before I go, maybe you could drop by when you are in the neighborhood and catch the both of them at home and you can have your get together, even if it's impromtu.
Good luck with whatever you choose.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 6:15PM
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"...given her and her adult children hundreds of thousands of dollars..."

The principal is common enough but the amount is astonishing. If you say he's still "still sharp" well, OK, but if he is he should know this. And, if he's sharp, he'll acknowledge and accept the necessity of having a conversation with his heirs about it. He would know something like this would be bound to raise eyebrows if not suspicions.

If there's so much wealth that "hundreds of thousands of dollars" is no big deal, then please disregard. I've never moved in circles where such an amount is considered trivial. I would be worried.....especially about what comes next.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 2:44PM
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No. Close to 200k is a big deal. He is usually VERY frugal, but now says he doesn't need the money and it's his to do what he wants with. I agree with his second claim, but not his first--he might need the money down the road. I'm guessing he cleaned out most of his cash flow, although he has other less fluid but considerable assets.

This is why I am wondering if his behavior is related to grief, loneliness and/or a sense of mortality--and he might pull out of it.

I'm torn between protecting him and our family and not getting in the way of his happiness.

BurtsMomForever- I wish I had the close relationship you have with your father. You are very lucky--although somehow I don't think it's all "luck." :)

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 11:07PM
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No it's not luck that my parents and I have a good relationship. We have spent years pulling and tugging for our own opinions but always managed to come together as a family when necessary and with the loss of my little sister a year ago and the loss of my son 7 months ago, and the loss of their health in the past year they rely on me and it is my pleasure to help them. I'm 53 and they finally have begun to treat me like an adult instead of a 12 year old!
I still say, even risking more distance from your father I would talk to him and make sure that he has at least something set back that his new woman and her family can't get to in case he needs to go into a nursing home, assisted living or other retirement place, or even need in-home care. That is very expensive. Is there someone who is close to your father that he will listen to who would go with you to visit your father and talk to him? A doctor, lawyer, accountant or good friend of the family?
Family dynamics are always difficult, especially when there is not a close, trusting relationship where opinions can be voiced without judgement.
I do not envy you your quandry and I wish you lots of luck in figuring out how to go about talking with your father.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 11:17AM
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If he's legally competent he can, indeed, do what he chooses. However endowing strangers in-blood with assets of this magnitude is certainly suspicious.....his giving such amounts and they accepting them. I think there is ample reason for concern.

Also, you might consider digging deeper. Have there been any documents drafted....Powers of Attorney, etc.....which would be a very grave concern if I were in your shoes? Can you talk with your dad? Is he open to you?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 11:24AM
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