My brother's in jail.
My mom and I put him there.
Well, actually, he put himself there, through his actions...but we urged prosecutors to pursue a criminal case against him.
How's that for the start to a truly heartwarming family tale? Pour yourself a drink. This is a long and ugly, ugly tale. And I can't believe I'm a part of it.
For most of his life, my brother has been the Golden Boy. Star athlete, good student, popular in school, class president... blah blah blah. I can't tell you how many times during my freshman year of high school that I had to endure the "Are you GOLDEN BOY'S sister???" question from teachers and from classmates who knew him before he graduated. I felt very much like the black sheep of the family, like I could never measure up. But even I looked up to him. He was... is... my big brother, after all.
We could not be more different, in temperament, interests, personality, and apparently, values. For one thing, he's far quieter than I. A lot more uptight. Rather closed off, emotionally. I've never been sure if that's just a guy thing, or more. We've not been particularly close, though I've tried over and over again to break through his outer shell, to reach out to my only sibling, and he keeps me and our mother at arm's length. He and I have even lived in the same region for more than 20 years -- and even in the same city, for a little while -- but we've still only seen each other once or twice a year, tops. Frankly, I stopped caring many years ago. Why keep trying to get closer to someone who doesn't give a shit? Not every family is close.
About seven or eight years ago, he suddenly left his wife of nearly two decades with no explanation. She came home from work one day to find him all packed up, and he told her "I have to leave." He would not elaborate. Can you imagine? She was devastated.
It turned out he'd been having an affair, and he immediately moved in with the Other Woman. Shortly thereafter, he and the Other Woman got engaged. Not long before that wedding was to take place, a matter of months later (but after I'd bought the fucking dress to be in the ceremony I really wanted no part of), he suddenly told us he was living with a different woman. I later learned he'd been cheating on the Other Woman with K (and it seems he's cheated on her, as well, but that's another story).
To quote a young friend
of mine, what le fuck?? All of this was beyond shocking. We might not have been close, but I'd always thought of him as a good guy. I even understand the collapse of a long marriage, especially when the parties involved wed so very young, as they did, but I never thought he'd be such a lowlife as to cheat on her. And then to cheat on her replacement...!
I think it was around this time that I realized I wasn't the black sheep after all.
My maternal grandmother died about three years ago, and she'd chosen Golden Boy to be the executor of her estate. My mother was the sole beneficiary. I should explain a little more about my grandmother: she was a difficult woman. Very. She and my mother were estranged for most of my life, which is why I thought it was so extraordinary that my mom picked up and moved back to Wisconsin about seven years ago, to be closer to her mother, when her mother's health was failing. They ended up estranged again, and were never able to resolve their issues before my grandmother died, and my heart broke for my mother. I know she wanted to make peace, to feel some approval and love from her mother, and it just didn't happen. I can't even imagine how painful that is for her.
So, my brother starts taking forever to do what he needs to do to deal with the legal matters surrounding the estate. We thought it was just him being flaky, though my antennae went up when he started taking so long to pay some of the estate's bills. I couldn't figure out why he'd be so slow to write checks on the estate account when there was more than enough money to cover the expenses incurred, unless something shady was going on.
I can't remember now what got my mom and me talking about this -- probably another unpaid bill, or a bank statement that didn't make any sense -- but it turned out we'd both been having suspicions about what was happening with the estate. We asked him countless times for copies of the bills, for copies of the checks he was writing, etc. etc.... and he stonewalled every time. So we removed him as executor and took away his access to the estate account.
Boy, was he pissed.
Since he still wouldn't provide documentation for any of the money that had been spent, we had to have our lawyer put the pieces together, which was a costly and time-consuming process. But that's how we finally learned just how much money was missing from my grandmother's estate -- really, my mother's money, if you want to look at it that way.
My fucking asshole brother stole $63,000 FROM HIS OWN MOTHER.
(Can you tell how hard I pounded the keys while writing that sentence?)
Evidence in hand, my mother was finally able to confront him, but over the phone, of course, as she's still in another state, languishing, while waiting to resolve this bullshit. He denied, denied, denied. "It was all for estate expenses," he tells her. "I can prove it."
"You'd better," she told him.
What does he do? Nothing. Doesn't respond to countless requests, and later, demands, for documentation. Doesn't respond when his mother tells him he's broken her heart. Doesn't respond to a very pointed email from me. Nothing. So we pursued a civil judgment against him, which we got, and even the judge was shocked.
And then we went to the District Attorney in the county where my mother lives. It's funny -- she was worried that I'd think she was mean for pursuing criminal charges against him. I told her if she hadn't, I'd have gone to the D.A. myself, because I want him to suffer the consequences of his actions.
Golden Asshole finally talked to the detective who was investigating the case in June -- the day before he'd been given a deadline to respond -- and confessed. He finally admitted he'd taken the money for his personal use. And I'm guessing he thought that would be the end of it. That all he'd have to do was admit what he'd done and that would be it.
An arrest warrant was issued in Wisconsin several weeks ago, and my mom got a hysterical call from the girlfriend yesterday. He was arrested Tuesday, and as of this writing, remains in jail, pending extradition.
I should point out that he's been given many, many chances to try to make things right. Many. He never acknowledged any of those chances. He's never even tried to apologize, or explain. Nada.
For a few moments after I got the news, I felt bad. I can't imagine how awful and scary it must be to be handcuffed at work and thrown into jail. But that feeling passed.
See, my brother's a profligate spender. He's always enjoyed the finer things in life, and he's usually had jobs that allowed him to enjoy them. Good for him. After his divorce, though, he ran into financial trouble, but never curbed his spending. He continued to dine out every night, to buy his women (and himself) very expensive gifts and toys, to live in costly homes in expensive neighborhoods, and to take pricey vacations.
THAT'S where the money went. There was no urgent need, no emergency, nothing like that. It was simply his lifestyle. And considering how tight my finances have been in recent years... well, I'm pissed off on my
behalf, as well as for my mother.
Some of that money was mine. That's the irony here: we'd ALL have had a little chunk of money, if all had gone as planned. But now, since he's spent so much money and we've spent so much in legal fees, mom and I aren't likely to see any cash at all.
(By the way: when my grandmother died, the last thing I thought of was her money. I had no idea she even had any. How unsavory, really, to even think of such a thing.)
Worse, though, is the stress my mother's been through because of him. Her blood pressure's up. She feels like she can't move to someplace she'd like to live, because she doesn't feel like she can afford it. And every time I think of that, I want to strangle him with my bare hands. And cut his tiny little balls off. She's 66 years old; she's not had an easy life. She should be enjoying her "golden years."
How do you do something like this to your own mother? Who raised you on her own after your father died?
I hope he's thinking about that while he's sitting in that decidedly un-plush jail cell. And I know there's a special place in hell for him.
I'm sure someone will tell me I should find it in my heart to forgive him. I just don't see how I can. Even my mother once said that she didn't think there was a way back from this. That even if he paid back the money, she didn't see how she could have any sort of relationship with him, considering what an enormous betrayal this is.
I'm with her. I never want to see his sorry ass again.