Auntie Julie: Murdered? Conclusion.

The funeral and luncheon took place with the barley mushroom soup, but without an open bar. It also took place without conversation between Slobodan and my mom, and thus without incident. Because had Slobodan, Jozia or Son of Slobodan dared to approach my mom, there would have been an incident. And there would have been two more old Polish people buried in the cemetery.

Everyone stayed in his or her respective corners until the lawyer called us all together in Auntie Julie’s apartment to read the will.

It was there that we learned about the monies involved. It was there that we learned the will had been changed. It was there that we learned Slobodan had taken over my buschia’s share of my aunt and uncles’ estates, a share which originally was meant to be distributed equally among the grand nieces and nephews in the event my grandma passed first. (In case you’re keeping score, that means me.) He also managed to score one of the major shares of the estate, along with my mom, her sister, and Son of Slobodan. So, an estate that should have been primarily split three ways, was split four. He also scored an additional $50,000 for his executor position.

I did get some money; it was less than 10 grand but it was enough to pay for Dilf’s and my wedding. I could’ve used the extra money I didn’t get, too, but who cares. It was the horror of discovery, the knowledge that someone who shared Christmases and graduation parties and first communions with us was a liar, a cheat and a swindler, and possibly a murderer.

Jozia could’ve kept her kolachky-gobbler shut and just enjoyed her ill-gotten gains, but it wasn’t good enough for her to sit silent. When we questioned the validity of the torn notebook paper and requested our own copies of the will so we could examine it at length (and, I might add, bring it to our own family attorney) she went ballistic.

Now, I’ve been in customer service. I’ve had angry people yell at me. I’ve seen traffic altercations. I even saw a bar fight that had spilled out onto the street. But neither at that time nor up until today, have I heard as cruel and venomous a diatribe spewed as I heard from Jozia that afternoon.

“She hated all of you. Always did,” she spat. “She’d tell me, I hate (all of us, named individually.) She just wished you’d all go away and leave her alone.” And, although no one had accused her or anyone of wrongdoing (yet) she then huffed, “I don’t need this money. My husband (her first, not Slobodan) was a doctor. He left me lots of money. And I have my pension. This isn’t about us taking money, this is about how Julie hated you!”

As she sat there hissing poison through her bespittled lips, I looked over her shoulder to Auntie Julie’s kitchen table, where the brightly colored orange candy pumpkins and candy corns we had brought to Auntie some weeks ago still sat in a decorative bowl. She seemed happy to see us then, as always. In fact, the only time Auntie Julie was angry in recent memory was when Aunt D, my mom’s sister, went into a linen closet looking for Auntie’s heating pad. Auntie accused her of “looking for papers;” we chalked it up to Auntie’s age and medicinal load.

Anyway, my sister the paralegal crisply noted, “Whether she hated us or not is immaterial. As heirs we have a right to a copy and we each expect one.”

The uncomfortable-looking, sweaty lump of a lawyer (have you ever seen a man with a comb-over seemingly dyed with shoe polish, so that the scalp is also colored a greasy black?) hastily agreed to send us all copies and we exited, in renewed shock and anger.

None of us cashed the checks that arrived along with the copy of the will; we didn’t want to appear to accept it until we got the okay from mom’s lawyer.

She took all the papers and her story to her lawyer, who has served our family since the 1960’s. I also went to high school with his daughter. (Shout out to Melissa!)

He looked at my mother empathetically, but sadly. He said, “I looked over the papers you sent me before you arrived in my office. I took one look at the name of the funeral home and the lawyer and I knew something fishy happened here. These guys know each other, and they pull dirty deals all the time, but there’s a problem.

“They know exactly how much to cheat to avoid being obvious. I could take this case,” he said, looking at my mother. “But I know these guys. They know all the angles. They would fight me for years, and it would cost you thousands of dollars, a lot of misery, and a good chunk of your life. You wouldn’t wind up with any more of the estate. This is a prime example of pig wrestling.” Pause. “You wrestle the pig, he enjoys it and you both wind up dirty?”

My mom was disappointed, but she understood his wisdom. She asked if she could file a complaint against him to the bar association.

“Sure,” he said, “They’ll throw it on top of the pile.”

So, Jozia, Slobodan and Son of Slobodan, already the wealthiest people in my family, became wealthier. First Slobodan, then Jozia, passed away. I can only guess that Son of Slobodan inherited their estate; Jozia had no children and had alienated her niece (her one known relative.) I wouldn’t know; my family never spoke to nor heard from them again.

My mom sent a sympathy card to Son of Slobodan upon Slobodan’s passing, and one other “let bygones be bygones” letter; but he never replied.

I did “hear” from Auntie Julie again. Not directly, mind you. Two nights after Jozia’s vitriolic tantrum, I had a dream. I dreamt of Auntie Julie, Uncle Ray and Uncle Stanley’s apartment in the city. I was in the pantry, where I loved to go as a child. I saw the warm glow of the sunlight through the transom window; I breathed in the uniquely delicious aroma. I thought of the Charms suckers, root beer and malted milk balls she made sure to have on hand when we visited. The message, though never spoken in direct words, was clear nonetheless: “I never hated you. Never.”
Name: Übermilf
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