During the drive to Alabama last week mom and I discussed grandpa's situation.
The topic came up a few times during the trip. While I was driving on day 1 I listened to mom discuss the matter with her sister-in-law. And the topic came up while we were visiting with her friends who also "winter" in Gulf Shores.
I learned that grandpa receives $16,000 a month in rent, not $11,000 as I had thought.
I also learned that the siblings opted out of the business arrangement that gave them a share of the flooring business. I'm not sure grandpa is too fond of this, as it'll increase his financial obligation for the 2009 tax year, a year that started without him getting a rent payment.
It was during my chat with mom that I realized where things went wrong. When grandma died, grandpa took a trip with a few of his golf buddies that winter, a trip south. Grandpa hadn't traveled in years, primarily because he didn't want to leave grandma in her declining health. I don't think he was bitter about that, it was just the way it was.
Grandpa should have spent a lot of his time and money traveling, doing something that would help get his mind off grandma's death. Traveling south in the winter wouldn't have made him forget grandma, but it would have helped get him away from everything back home that reminded him of grandma. He could have spent thousands of dollars traveling the world without putting a significant dent in his savings. It's hard to believe things would be worse than they are now.
Of course he could of went back to Naples, Fla., where he use to go for part of the winter many years ago, and met the Huggy Bear of Naples. We'd end up with the same mess we have today, except the problem would be hundreds of miles away instead of in our backyard.
I expect the family business to survive the recession, but it's going to create a lot of hard feelings and leave lasting scars for many involved, and some of those scars won't be easily forgotten.