Tag: family

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The Farmhouse

I continue to mourn loss of the Wilcox farm—the majority of which my father unexpectedly deeded to the pastors of his church during the last weeks of life. He died on April 16, 2024.

The deeding deed was kept secret from immediate family until after he had passed. I attempted to contact the main pastor—twice. He ignored me. Inaction has shaped, or reshaped, my perspective about the incident, which won’t be publicly shared here.

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Requiem for the Farm

Two months ago, or thereabouts, on March 27, 2024, my father signed over title to a large portion of the family farm to the two pastors of his local church. The transfer of ownership was quite unexpected and was not disclosed—to my sister—until after he died on April 16. We all understood that he intended to will the property to the couple, but his estate would pass through the typical legal process first.

Since my grandfather’s will hadn’t been probated, the older document might supersede the other—something I presumed a lawyer and judge would sort out. That process would be opportunity to also open a discussion with the pastors about final disposition of the approximately 100 acres. The unexpected transaction nullified everything—unless the older will is legally enforceable. I wouldn’t know.

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What Real Camping Looks Like

Welcome back to the North Maine Woods, circa mid-1970s. I am the skinny, short kid to the far left; my father, in the red hat, is to the far right. Next to me, my cousin Dan looks at something; my guess is an insect.

His sister Debbie, sitting up, came along with two obnoxious friends. I spent several weeks as object of their abusive taunts and teasing. Wicked women, they were.

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After the Pond

My father was a controlling, jealous, and quick-tempered man. The distance between Andromeda and Milky Way galaxies separated our personalities. He and I shared little in common, so much that if not for some physical resemblance my only conclusion must be illegitimacy. But Mom was faithful; he was the one who slept around, which precipitated her divorcing him.

Ah, the day she confided in me was joyous. I was relieved that he would be gone and me freed from his anger, curses, and putdowns. My sisters suffered loss at his departure. I thrived in his absence. Even during the lean teen years, when we had no Christmas presents and often were hungry, I wouldn’t want him around. Mom was a single mother with four children; he contributed nothing. She suffered for her brood; he looked after himself and his new family.

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My Uncle and His Camera

Now a blast from the past: 54-years-ago this month, meaning May 1970. My Uncle Glenn holds his gorgeous Yashica Mat-124. The newer G model released that year; I don’t know how long he owned the medium-format twin-lens reflex camera.

Wow, what a beauty she is (oh, and my uncle is handsome, too). The Mat-124 packed two—count `em—lenses at one of my three favorite Prime focal lengths: 80mm (28mm and 135mm are the others).

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The Farm

Today would be my father’s eighty-third birthday, but he died on April 16, 2024. Rather than commemorate him, I celebrate what he took away. Secretly, sometime during his 40 dying days, he signed over title to a large portion of the family farm to the co-pastors of his church.

They say 75 percent. But other documentation indicates that he only had control over 7/12ths of the nearly 100 acres. Regardless, as I begin to grasp the extent of subterfuge and lies, presumably unprompted (but who knows) on his part, my feelings about him darken. My great-grandfather purchased the property in 1895.

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Daughter and Mother

Why wait for Mother’s Day (May 12, 2024) to celebrate mom? While rummaging through Google Photos, I happened upon a portrait of my sister Nan with our most beloved parent. Date and locale is unknown to me, but presumably sis could identify both.

I had some fun with the Featured Image. One of Google Photo’s mischievous editing options is something called “Color Pop”. You can see how everything around the women becomes monochrome. But not without imperfections. Look at mom’s left hand and some fingers on her right hand. Color is gone.

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Back to the Earth

They buried my father’s body, today, at a cemetery in Woodland, Maine. Mourners moved on to the local church that he attended, for a service celebrating his life. The event was broadcast live to a members-only Facebook group. My account is self-suspended, thankfully. I didn’t watch.

Before posting, I decided to remove the remaining paragraphs of this missive that explain the last sentence of the previous paragraph. Let the dead, or their memory, rest in peace.

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Father-Son Moment

My father and I weren’t distant, but we weren’t exactly close either—mainly because our characters were markedly different. I wasn’t the son he had wanted, and Dad didn’t get another. I am eldest of four siblings (three sisters).

Stated succinctly: We shared almost no interests in common, and our dispositions were lightyears apart. I am fairly easygoing, while he was one of the most controlling persons I have ever met—oh, gosh, but not in a brutal, cruel way like parents who beat their kids or spouses. He was simply demanding of everyone, but, to reiterate, not violent by any means. That said, mom divorced him when I was 13, and his departure was a relief.

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Dad and Daughter

My father’s death yesterday ends one saga and begins another. His grandfather purchased the farm in 1895, and the core property has remained continuously with the Wilcox clan. At one time, the expanse topped 200 acres. But portions were sold off decades upon decades ago, leaving 100 acres—60 of which is for farming and the rest is woodland.

Dad chose not to leave the portion over which he has title—nearly two-thirds, including the buildings—to family. His pastors, a married couple—and not their church—are the inheritors. The arrangement isn’t some surprise; he made clear his intentions years ago.

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For Father

My father has passed away—40 days exactly since life-saving treatment suspended and he left the hospital to decline in his home. A few minutes after 9 this morning, my sister Nan telephoned to say that he had taken a sharp turn downward and wasn’t expected the last much longer. She called again, almost exactly four hours later, to let me know he was gone.

Some weeks ago, Nan asked me to write the obituary—a task I resisted. Top reason: In this age of Artificial Intelligence scanning and rampant criminal scamming, I was reluctant to share much family information publicly. For some people, death is an opportunity to take advantage of others in their grief.

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The Son and Father Fishing

Dad is at his home on the family farm, in a hospital bed, and cared for 24 hours a day—mainly by the pastors of the local church, supported by (I think) hospice caretakers. He is lucid, but declining, which is his wish based on other health considerations. The man has proved to be physically stronger than the doctors predicted, however. Our Wilcox clan comes from hearty stock.

My parents eloped to Canada at age 16. The eldest child, I was born just as mom turned 18. My parents always seemed young to me, because they were. Only as an adult did I understand how much and the ways we kind of grew up together.