Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Family feud, chapter 2 (unedited)

We had dinner at mom's on Christmas Eve, as usual. She invited Uncle Phil to join us. Uncle Phil was one of her two brothers that had Thanksgiving dinner with us.

Following dinner, talk turned to grandpa, Huggy Bear and the flooring business.

There was some sort of meeting that took place to discuss the future of the business. Uncle Phil doesn't work for the family business any more, he hasn't for many years. It's probably easier for him to raise concerns than for those working at the store on a daily basis.

Grandpa is starting to get it. He's starting to realize that the flooring business is suffering, like many other sectors of the economy. I'm not sure he's convinced that something has to change. He gets $11,000 a month in rent, and figures that if business is slow, perhaps it's time to cut some employees. He doesn't seem to think his rent checks should be reduced in order to keep the business afloat.

Things are really slow, evidently. I'm not sure if this applies to everybody working at the store or only the family members employed by the store, but my aunts and uncles, at minimum, haven't received a paycheck in December.

From what Uncle Phil can tell, grandpa funds the living expenses for him and Huggy Bear. Grandpa use to cook, especially in grandma's waning years because it was tough for her to do so at times. Grandpa doesn't cook any more, and neither does Huggy Bear. They go out to eat twice a day, every day. Huggy Bear wanted to have Christmas dinner at their house catered rather than have everybody bring food as we've always done in the past.

Huggy Bear has stock, a lot of stock, in a major corporation. It has been given to her by her brother. And since they got married, she continues to receive more. The theory is that she has spent very little of her money or income since marrying grandpa, and that she's living entirely on his dime, salting away all her money for her children and grandchildren. Mom referred to her as a piranha.

Grandpa doesn't have to worry about living another 25 years, and he's not obligated to leave a big lump of cash to his children, but he built a business over decades, and at a time when it's highly challenging to stay in business, he's flushing his legacy down the drain. A couple of my uncles have never worked for anyone other than grandpa, and a couple others have a lot of years invested in the company. His need for $11,000 a month is not only jeopardizing his retirement income, it's jeopardizing the livelihood of half of his 10 children. And he doesn't seem to see that.

Mom thinks it's time for a third party to step in and oversee his finances. But how do you tell somebody he's no longer allowed to spend his cash at will? It's a tough proposition, particularly since Huggy Bear certainly would have no interest in such an arrangement.

Grandpa definitely doesn't see the big picture. He came into the store on a recent Saturday morning, a Saturday when the weather was nasty. He shouldn't have been driving around, but he was. Given the weather and the lousy economy, it doesn't take the Amazing Kreskin to predict the store would be empty that morning. Yet grandpa showed up at the store and questioned why there weren't any customers in the store.

Mom was opposed to grandpa's wedding, and her objections seemed to be a bit self-serving at the time. I remember one of my uncles, perhaps Phil, suggesting that even if the marriage was less than kosher, grandpa is happy, and mom should be, too.

Unfortunately it appears that mom's objections have been validated by her siblings. And that's something nobody wanted, not even mom.

I hope it doesn't get ugly at Christmas dinner. There's no guarantee it won't.

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