Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Elderly Father’s ‘Wife’ is Ruining Our Relationship”

I’m middle-aged and have one brother, a few years older. Our parents were happily married for nearly 50 years when our mom suddenly died four years ago. Dad was 78 at that time. Dad walked around for the first few months after Mom died in terrible depression, as we all were, as we were all very close. Four months after Mom’s death, my dad went to a class reunion, and the next thing we knew he had hooked up with a woman, “Carla,” whom he knew from high school and who had been widowed about 10 years before.

We got to know Carla fairly quickly because, against all better judgement, Dad sold his house, his other property, his cars, and my mom’s cars, etc. and moved in with Carla at her house. Since then, he has put his own money into building a two-car garage onto her house, he helped with landscaping expenses, and they renovated the top of the house into an apartment. He told us he would in turn have one year to live at the property if she died first. They are not officially married that we know of due to a pension from her husband, but he tells everyone they are married. He made me feel very uncomfortable with the lie that they are married early on in the relationship. He never would have tolerated a lie like that from us. At any rate, they seem happy. They like to travel and go places and do things. For that, we have been very happy. However, Carla has three daughters in their 50s. Carla has been trying to make us meet them all along. I have met the two oldest daughters, but the third daughter lives out of town. Every time the third daughter comes to town Carla will call and want to get us together at the last minute. Since it is the last minute and we all lead very busy lives, it has not worked out for us to meet with the third daughter, nor do we really want to. We feel like the two of them live together and that’s fine, but please do not try and bring us together in some sort of Brady Bunch scenario. We are way too old to deal with that.

Most recently, we have had many issues with Dad and Carla. My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary and went on a cruise in November. When we returned, I was sick and spent the weekend in bed reading a book Dad had given me a year prior. When I finished the book, I thought, “Gosh, I want to get him a book for Christmas and I’ll get Carla one as well.” I had no idea what kind of books they were into, so I texted Carla’s oldest daughter who is in and out of their house daily. She informed me that they did not exchange gifts and so she couldn’t help me. The next thing I knew Carla called to tell me that I had upset my father by wanting to buy gifts because they did not buy gifts and did not want us to give them anything and stress them out. She then proceeded to tell me that I could not continue to have a large Christmas with lots of gifts and food just because that’s what my mother had done. Needless to say, that did not sit well with me and she and I had words. I spoke to my father later that evening and told him how upset I was by her words and that it was not necessary for her to say those things to me. So then Carla called me a couple of weeks later and told me that she had had surgery, that she wasn’t able to do much, and that one of her daughters couldn’t be here for Christmas while the other one’s father-in-law was sick in Florida, so she wanted to do a drop-in on Christmas evening at their house. I told her I had not spoken with my brother yet, but that we normally do a big Christmas at either his house or my house, which she knows since she has been around for them the past few years. I spoke to my brother that night and found out that he had already planned on a big Christmas at his house, so I texted my dad, who then did not respond. My brother saw him the next day and told him about the plans for Christmas and that he expected him to be there.

I saw Dad and Carla the day after that, and the two of them blew up at me about Christmas. I explained to them that they need to try and accommodate everyone, not just her family. I explained that I expected them to show up for a couple of hours. They both acted like it was a real big deal, but they ended up coming and we had a wonderful time…or so I thought. I told Dad on Christmas day that I thought that he and my brother and I should get together at least once a month just for lunch so that we can talk and see each other. We made plans for the third Monday in January. I called and texted my dad with no response. Finally, he called the Saturday before our scheduled lunch date and said he would have to look at his calendar and let me know if he could make it. He never returned the call. So I called him on Tuesday, and he hurt my feelings telling me that he would have to think about going to lunch with me and my brother! After work, I drove to their house and had a long discussion with them and told him how much this hurt my feelings. Carla said it didn’t bother her that I didn’t want her there, but that my dad didn’t want to go without her and that they were like teenagers and they just wanted to be together all the time.

Dad reluctantly agreed to meet my brother and me for lunch later that week. We had a long discussion as my brother was late getting there, and I asked my dad for a copy of his medication list because I’d always had a copy in my purse in case something happened to him, which it did frequently. He argued with me about that when he had always insisted, before Carla came along, that I know all the information. Then I asked him about the healthcare POA and will and whether I was still executrix as I didn’t have a copy of the will and I didn’t have a key to their house in case something should happen and I had no way to get into his things. He said he would get me all of that but, of course, that has not happened. He told my brother and me that he did not feel comfortable leaving Carla out of our lunches. We explained to him that sometimes we would just like to talk to him and that we weren’t trying to exclude her from anything in particular and would still do family functions together, but that sometimes we just wanted to have lunch with him or hang out with him alone. He cannot understand that and refuses to accommodate us with that at all.

Since Covid hit, we haven’t seen Dad as he is now a recluse. Carla allows him to go nowhere…oh, except they did visit with her out-of-town daughter twice. We had to demand to see him on Father’s Day. I invited them to my house for a socially distant cookout as I have two large porches, but they demanded we go to Carla’s house and get together in the garage in 95-degree weather! We did go there, and it was so hot that she finally allowed us inside although she kept hollering for Dad to stay six feet from us. I drove over there last month to talk from the car briefly as we were told that is how her girls visit with them, only that isn’t true as they’ve been visiting inside according to my uncle. Then last week it was my birthday. Dad called to see if I got his card in the mail. I said I’d really prefer to see him but, apparently, he couldn’t deliver the card to the driveway even though he lives 10 minutes away.

That Saturday my 20-year-old son and I went to Carla’s and were allowed to come in. We tried to visit and my son wanted to bond with my dad over his stamp collection, but Carla was hot on Dad’s heels everywhere he went in the house. We went to his office and started looking through pictures, etc. I asked him to give me the updated passwords to his accounts since we were by the computer and since the list I had was old. Carla insisted we go back to the living room as we were less than six feet apart. So, we did and I continued to ask him about the healthcare POA which Carla very nastily said she had. When I asked about the will and access to it, she demanded that we leave her house!!! She said he has a new life now. He was trying to tell me I had the code to the lockbox, but I didn’t know what he meant. It was like some kind of code and she just kept getting angrier. He said nothing in the will had changed and I was like, “If that’s the case, then why am I being asked to leave?” In the past, Dad always made sure I had that kind of info. Obviously, Carla doesn’t want us to have access to her house, which is crazy when I run a 10 million dollar museum, lol.

When Dad first got with Carla, he told us that nothing would change. Now everything has changed. We feel like we have lost our mother and our father, too. Every conversation I’ve had with him over the past 10 months has been one in which he argues over everything. I’m at the point where I don’t even really want to see him. I’m so hurt by his behavior and how he accepts her terrible behavior. I spoke with my uncle who lives nearby as well. This is my dad’s brother, and he feels exactly the same way and says that he feels awkward going to lunch with the two of them as he and my dad used to play golf and do other things together while they no longer do any of those things. I need some advice before this whole family rips apart. I want to take my brother over to Carla’s and talk to them about all of this, but he says it’s futile. My brother is hurt and angry as well, but he really doesn’t care if he sees Dad or not. Thank you so much! — Depressed Daughter

Your father is an adult, and although he’s in his early 80s, you don’t mention any reason to believe he is of unsound mind or incapable of making decisions for himself. That you have repeatedly made demands of him and his time, judged how he spends his own money, disrespected his physical space during a pandemic, told him you “expect him to be at” family functions as if he has no agency, and seemingly harassed him about his will and other legal documents nearly every time you’ve seen him or spoken to him recently suggests to me that whatever fault lines have been created or disrupted between you since he met Carla are not entirely Carla’s fault. In fact, of the things you’ve said about Carla, the only thing that sounds remotely questionable is the weird way she reacted to the idea of exchanging Christmas gifts. The other things you mention about her – that she wants you to meet all her daughters, would prefer having a few people drop by her house on Christmas as she recovers from surgery rather than going to a big family get-together elsewhere, and has created boundaries around visits with each other during a pandemic sound reasonable to me.

Most of Carla’s behavior that you’re characterizing as problematic seems more protective of her and your dad’s safety than anything else. Even inviting you to her 95-degree garage versus going to your house suggests she preferred staying in an environment where she had more control over social distance. This would seem especially prudent if you are someone who doesn’t follow social distance as strictly as Carla and your dad do. (And based on your letter above, I think that’s a fair assumption. Your characterization of your 82-year-old dad as a “recluse,” a term with arguably negative connotations, because he’s spending most of his time at home during a pandemic is an example of what I mean.) Maybe, if she and your dad have had more interactions with her daughters, it’s because they believe her daughters are generally being more cautious in their lives and so D and your dad feel better about opening their quarantine bubble to include them. Maybe they have reason to suspect you are exposed to more people and places than D’s daughters and so they want to keep you at a bigger distance (like, at least six feet).

As far as your dad avoiding lunches with you that Carla is excluded from, and Carla being “hot on the heels” of your dad the one time you were over to their house, might they both be trying to avoid the relentless confrontations you keep making about your dad’s will, passwords to things, and other legal documents? Do you ever have just shoot-the-shit conversations with him that don’t revolve around this agenda of securing a foothold in his estate? Reading between the lines, it’s obvious your dad has a bit of money. And it’s obvious that you’re afraid you’re going to lose a share of it. If it’s this obvious to ME, someone who doesn’t know you or anything about you beyond what you’ve shared in your 1800-word manifesto above, then I would have to think it’s very obvious to your father who has known you all your life.

If you want to save your family, quit harassing your dad. Be grateful that he’s safe and healthy and, as you said yourself, very happy with Carla. He has a roof over his head, a companion during these isolating months, is healthy, and by all accounts seems content with his current life. Can’t that be enough for you? Can’t you just be happy he has someone to share his final years with? I could understand your being upset if he we were with a woman who was using him for his money, showed no interest in his life or family, and was aggressively trying to push you out of your father’s life. But by your account, it doesn’t really read like that. And, in fact, YOU sound more intent on ruining your relationship with your father than Carla does. Even your insistence that her desire for you to meet her daughters was pushing a Brady Bunch scenario sounds a little bonkers. You’re all middle-aged! This would never be a Brady Bunch scenario. She just wanted the offspring of her and her partner to meet each other. That’s not abnormal; it raises no red flags.

You sound so resistant to Carla being an extended part of your family, to the point that you are actively sabotaging your own relationship with your dad, and I don’t think you see that at all. But I do. And I suspect that others reading this, who have no bias and no dog in the fight, see it as well. You don’t sound like a loving and supportive daughter looking out for her dad’s best interest. At best, you are being very awkward about maintaining some degree of control over your dad’s assets and health proxy. Wanting a degree of control over an elderly parent’s health proxy and assets is understandable, but when it’s the sole intent of nearly every interaction, it brings into question your actual agenda. Are you trying to protect your dad… or yourself? It sounds an awful lot like it’s the latter. If you truly want to save your relationship with your dad – for the sake of your actual relationship and not for the sake of your stake in his estate that you think you’re entitled to, quit harassing him and respect his agency to make decisions for himself, including where he celebrates Christmas, how he spends Father’s Day, whether he brings his partner with him to lunch dates, and, my God, how much physical distance he maintains when there’s a pandemic raging through the world that is particularly threatening to people in his age bracket! Start acting like you give a damn about HIM – him as a person, and not just someone attached to legal documents and passwords you’re desperate to get your hands on.

***************Follow along on Facebook,  and Instagram. If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

33 comments… add one
  • Kate B.

    Kate B. September 1, 2020, 10:18 am

    Yeah, Wendy nailed it. You are causing more trouble than D is. You “demanded” to see him on Father’s Day? Yeah, that would make me want to run over there. You don’t “expect” people to come to your house, you invite them. They are free to decline. Especially when keeping distance from people is so important right now. He probably prefers to see D’s daughters because they don’t hound him about his personal affairs. You sound jealous and possessive. You want things to get better? Back off and quit blaming D for the problems in your relationship with your father. You also sound like you’re counting the days until he joins your mother in the grave. I’m sorry you lost your mother, but life does go on, and your dad has a right to be happy in his final years if he can. Quit making it hard.

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    Kali September 1, 2020, 10:31 am

    Here’s a scenario, LW: you learn Dad has given all his money to Save The Redwoods in his will. How invested are you now in passwords, proxies, and power of attorney? You sound like a controlling a-hole and are seriously over-involved in Dad and D’s lives. Leave them alone.

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  • avatar

    Miss MJ September 1, 2020, 10:38 am

    Literally everything Wendy just said. I can’t even with this right now. My father has a new girlfriend and I’m super excited for him because he’s happy. Him being happy makes me happy. You should try the same, LW.

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  • avatar

    Rebecca September 1, 2020, 11:11 am

    Good lord, how can several supposedly adult people be so far up in each others’ business??

    WWS, and also, don’t buy books for people if you don’t know them well enough to know what they’d like. Sheesh.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie September 1, 2020, 11:54 am

    This is pretty common. And it’s not pretty. LW you are demanding that nothing changes, but something did change. Your dad fell in love again – which is lovely. D doesn’t sound like a bad person, it sounds like she has kids and grandkids who love her very much. It sounds like she wants to be a part of your Dad’s life, which is why she wants to join you for lunch.

    As for the gifts – well maybe she’s like my family – 30 years ago we stopped giving excessive gifts at holiday time. We have pretty much everything we need, and most of what we want – so we give to charities of our choice instead. My mom still sneaks me and my sister something small like $20 and kids under 18 still get gifts. But if you have three kids and your sisters have three kids and her kids have kids – that turns out to a lot of money if you’re spending $50 – $100 per kid.

    You seem to think it has to be your way or no way – that D is an intruder that she’s going to take your inheritance, your Dad and dismiss everything about your Mom. If you make her your enemy, I promise that will be the case. But I bet if you deal with it like an adult and talk to her about how you can reshape your visits and your holidays she’ll find a compromise.

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    ron September 1, 2020, 12:47 pm

    My Dad remarried after my mother died. They were married for over 25 years. My Dad definitely could not have lived solo. His wife wasn’t the person we would have wished to see him marry, but that was his pick and his choice. A lot changed with the remarriage. That is to be expected. Some of our old family traditions continued, many did not. My siblings and I would have changed some traditions on our own.

    LW — I am not going to jump to the conclusion that you are only interested in your father’s estate. I think you are still grieving the loss of your mother and the way things were. Grieving can take a long time, but change has to happen, because your father has to get on with his life, just as mine did. Kids are a comfort, but many of us need a partner and the kids just won’t be enough.

    It is totally unreasonable for you to still be your father’s POA, executor, master of his passwords and holding a key to his house. He has a life partner now. Those roles legitimately belong to her. Your father says he would marry her, but for financial considerations. You think this is awful, but this is a situation which many elderly, repartnered people find themselves in, because of legal technicalities. There may be no piece of paper, but your father and partner consider themselves to be married. You need to get with the program, even if you won’t totally understand or agree unless you sometime find yourself in the same legal/financial quandary that dictates against a remarriage.

    You want to protect your father and share your mutual grief over your mother’s passing, but you need to remember that he has a new family, but still loves his old family. My father remarried quite quickly, not because he loved my mother less than he should, but because he had been so tightly bound to her that he wasn’t capable of living alone. Up to the day he died, he never stopped telling me that he would always love my mother. I knew that and didn’t need the repeated reassurance.

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    • avatar

      ron September 1, 2020, 12:48 pm

      Confusing in second sentence. ‘They’ is my father and second wife.

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      csp September 2, 2020, 8:14 am

      Love this response.

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  • Guy Friday

    Guy Friday September 1, 2020, 12:47 pm

    Let’s set aside the gifts thing for a second. One of the things that pisses me off SO MUCH as a lawyer who does some adult guardianship/estate planing work in his practice is when family members insist upon fighting tooth and nail over who the Power of Attorney is, as if that’s some title that gives you power. Do you understand what a PoA does, LW? He or she acts in accordance with what the ward would have wanted if they’d been coherent. It’s not designed for you to exercise your own moral judgment. If you are opposed to DNR orders, for example, and your dad wants one, then you have two choices: do it, or don’t be his PoA. That’s it. There’s no third option. If you don’t approve of how he’s spending his money? Too bad. That’s not your call to make, because it’s not your money. You’re not entitled to one damn penny of his estate, and the sooner you grasp that the better you’ll be. And it shouldn’t matter WHO the PoA is as long as they do what your dad would have wanted done.

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    • avatar

      Bree September 1, 2020, 6:47 pm

      Estate planning/elder law attorney here. I 1000% agree with Guy Friday. Death and remarriage bring out the worst in people. I have had children try to bring in their elderly parents to make them change their wills or poa’s. It’s despicable. If LW wants dad in her life, so needs to back way off.

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  • avatar

    golfer.gal September 1, 2020, 2:22 pm

    So, I do agree that there is a clear undercurrent here of “I want to make sure my father’s estate goes to me and not this outsider”.

    But, this woman telling the LW she “could not continue to have a large Christmas with lots of gifts and food just because that’s what my mother had done”….wow. That’s appalling. Talk about dictating to other adults what they can and can’t do. If my dad’s new partner effectively dictated to me that I was not allowed to carry on my mother’s Christmas traditions, I’d be well and done with her at that point. I’d also be asking my dad to meet for lunches without her. I sure as shit wouldn’t be prioritizing either of them in my holiday planning ever again, or meeting her other kids. Ultimately I agree that, unless her dad is vulnerable due to cognitive decline, she needs to back way off of asking her dad about passwords, the will, etc. It’s very possible it has been changed, or this woman in angling to get it changed, but that is your dad’s choice to make. Let things cool for a while. Keep conversations light for a while. Ask your dad how he’s doing, talk about recipes, family members, pets, current events. Play cards or boardgames together. Take some of the pressure off. Focus on enjoying the time you’ve got with your dad and accept that, when it’s over, what will be will be. I know that can be hard to do but it’s the choice you’ve got.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark September 1, 2020, 2:29 pm

    We’re the same age LW. But you sound way older and way more entitled somehow.

    Admittedly, D’s reaction to the Christmas book gift was batshit crazy.

    But — damn! Near every other anecdote painted you in a very bad light. Rethink your approach to your father and his wife. NEWSFLASH: Your attitude about meeting her one daughter was just downright cunty. (Sorry — there is no other word for it. As — yes, it was just THAT bad. ) Seriously. I was kinda shocked you could even write that and remain oblivious to just how vile and spoilt it made you look. Petty, too. Actually, that’s the overall tone of your manifesto. Just… petty.

    Not a good look.

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  • avatar

    Depressed Daughter September 1, 2020, 3:14 pm

    WOW!!!!!! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that there are so many nasty people on here ready to bash me when I am legit looking for advice! Let me set the record straight, my first career was in nursing. I nursed both of parents through bouts of cancer and various illnesses over the years. To think I am taking risks during a pandemic is ludicrous. I don’t even go to store but have groceries delivered or picked up. My place of business is still closed so I work from home. If I had not tested negative for Covid, I would never have asked to see Dad for Father’s day. D did not want to see us….It was completely the other way around from the way you twisted it. You’re wrong in that I’m not a loving and supportive daughter! I did much more for my parents than any of my friends ever did for theirs that’s for sure. We were always very close. When Dad met D, I was happy for him, still am that he has someone to love. We got along fine until the last year or so. I invited them over frequently and they came, rarely was it reciprocal. Yes, we “shot the shit” frequently. The only time they wanted me to come by was when her daughters were there. Yes, sorry that’s my downfall….don’t really want to intermingle. I don’t really see the need to do so. I just wanted to see my dad and that’s still the major problem here. Meanwhile, my brother is completely disgusted with their relationship so only sees Dad occasionally, most of the time when I plan something. As for the important papers, my Dad throughout my entire life, would always drag me into his office to show me where the papers were at, passwords, safe codes, etc. He made copies of his med list and insisted I carry it, made copies of his passwords, etc to give to me. I DID NOT ASK! So, you think I shouldn’t be suspicious when all of a sudden he acts like I shouldn’t know these things? I should just wait and see what happens? Any attorney will tell you that you should give a copy of your will to your executor. I know mine has a copy. Oh, forgot to say that he’s been hospitalized twice where we didn’t know about it. Once was during an ice storm where she called her son-in-law to come get them from the hospital instead of me or my brother. I’ve never been mean to D even when she was a witch to me! I still showed her respect as that is the way I was raised. To want to spend an hour a month over lunch with my dad I don’t feel like is too much to ask. I’m sure my dad doesn’t go clothes shopping with D and her girls, etc. That’s all I’m asking for is a little of his time….not everytime but sometimes. It’s kind of like wanting to talk to your best friend so you meet for drinks but she’s invited someone she works with so you just sit there making small talk if you can but the co-worker tries to carry every conversation. We’ve all been there.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy September 1, 2020, 4:08 pm

      I/we can only respond to what you share. In 1800 words, you didn’t really give any examples of D being a “witch” to you. The Christmas book thing was weird – I will grant you that (and I did in my response) – but even that I wouldn’t necessarily say she was being a “witch.” But you gave plenty of example of YOU behaving in an overly aggressive way.

      I’m really sorry you lost your mother. It’s an enormous loss that you probably grieve forever. Do you think it’s possible, as some have suggested, that you are projecting some of your grief onto this situation? You are having trouble accepting the change in your dad’s life, in his availability to you, in some of your family traditions? That would be normal.

      I don’t think you sound like a bad person, but I do think you sound like you aren’t giving your dad the respect he deserves. He can decide for himself where to celebrate Christmas, where to spend Father’s Day, whether and when to give you access to legal documents. He’s allowed to change his mind about things, too. These demands and expectations you put on your father are inappropriate and don’t come across as the loving and supportive daughter you say you are.

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    • avatar

      csp September 2, 2020, 8:24 am

      LW, I think you see yourself as the person that stepped in for your mom and carried the torch. You handled the holidays and legal stuff and family matters. Then you were pushed out. And that is hard. You can see the things that made your family and your mom being erased. That is hard and of course you worry. I would worry if my dad sold all his assets and if she died he would get kicked out and have no back up plan. That is a lot. But it is his life so just try to reframe this relationship and make the best of it.

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  • avatar

    Helen September 1, 2020, 3:47 pm

    There are a lot of similarities between LWs dad and my father in law. My fairly wealthy FIL moved in with (but did not marry) his gf at age 78. They are in their 80’s now. My husband is very close with his father, but would never dream of badgering him to answer personal or financial questions. My FIL is of sound mind and if he wants us to know something, he’ll tell us. If he needs something from us, he asks. I hope he lives long enough to spend every penny he has.

    LW, your focus on controlling your dad’s estate is ghoulish. Your intentions are clear to us strangers so you’re not fooling your dad or his gf. Stop pumping your dad’s brother for information! Don’t enlist your son to help with your creepy campaign! Do you use everyone in your life like you do your family? Do you ever stop and think about what other people are feeling?

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  • avatar

    ron September 1, 2020, 4:10 pm

    I don’t think it obvious that she is fighting for her share of her father’s estate. I think she is used to looking out for him, thinks she did a great job of this, and fears this isn’t being handled adequately.

    To LW — it is natural for an older person to give his meds list, POA, passwords, etc. to his nearest trusted person. That used to be you. :Now it’s his gf. That’s entirely normal. He considers her to be his wife. They are not formally married only to preserve the p ension his gf gets from her ex. There is nothing at all unusual about that. I know multiple older unmarried ‘married’ couples like that. Legal rules force people into that position.

    Also, it is not automatic to give a copy of will to your executor. My primary executor is my wife and vice versa, our secondary executors are siblings. They each no where to find our will if something were to happen to both of us and our lawyer would get them a copy as needed. You are not being slighted by not having a copy of your Dad’s will.

    Your complaints here are odd. Your mother passed some time prior to your Dad getting together with his gf/second ‘wife’. Clearly you didn’t have a copy of his will during that period, or you wouldn’t be demanding one today. The only thing that has changed is that he has a new ‘wife’. It is very possible that you are no longer his executor, that she is. That also is normal.

    When my father died, all of estate went to second wife. Neither I nor my sibs objected to this. I was normal and what our Dad wanted. We are all better off financially than our Dad was, although he was always comfortable financially in retirement. Point is, he saw it as his obligation to care financially for new wife. That made sense to us.

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  • avatar

    Fyodor September 1, 2020, 4:30 pm

    Whenever a message is really long I know that the LW is going to be the bad guy because they’re usually cataloging tons and tons of minor slights or working super hard to justify some kind of crazy behavior.

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  • avatar

    Depressed Daughter September 1, 2020, 5:33 pm

    Again Wow!!! What a bunch of hateful trolls here. I think the only ones who get it is golfer.gal and Ron. It was only 5 months in between my mother dying and Dad moving on with D. We literally didn’t have time to digest the situation. Still, I was happy for him and we didn’t have issues until it became apparent D didn’t want him to see his family. Bottom line is I miss my Dad and no, I don’t want to see D every time I see him. I can’t have 5 minutes alone with him. Look, D supposedly has way more $ than Dad. I’m not concerned about the $. I’m concerned that D is manipulating Dad. I guess I shouldn’t be concerned for Dad’s health and ask to be notified if he is hospitalized? I guess I shouldn’t wonder if D’s girls are now his healthcare poa’s? As for my son, he’s felt left out since day 1. Dad promised to take him on a trip for his high school graduation which D squashed. They used to spend time doing guy stuff but that never happens either.

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    • avatar

      Rebecca September 1, 2020, 6:06 pm

      Honestly thought about responding to everything you wrote, but decided instead to address what I think is the unasked question behind what you wrote: if he’s letting D call the shots on his relationship with you, unless you TRULY suspect elder abuse (in which case, get social services involved), there’s NOTHING you can do about it.

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy September 1, 2020, 6:58 pm

      We aren’t a bunch of hateful trolls, Karen. No one has been nasty to you. I think even BitterGayMark, who is known for his biting comments, was pretty restrained. You’re being very defensive and hostile. If we’re wrong about our interpretation of what you wrote, so be it. But, does it really matter? If you know we are wrong and our advice sucks, you don’t have to take it. But if something was said here that struck a nerve for you, it might be worth examining why that is. Is it simply that a bunch of people who don’t know you are wrong about you? Is that really why you’re getting so angry?

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      • avatar

        Kimmy September 2, 2020, 11:05 am

        When I first read this, I did not have the same thoughts as most of the commenters. I think “D” sounds controlling and perhaps is trying to isolate Dad from his family. She speaks for him and makes decisions for him. Recently widowed men are very vulnerable. They often jump into relationships out of loneliness and the need for someone “to take care of them”. Also, the issue of using his money to build a garage with an apartment, at her house…that he can live in for a year, if things go south…red flag. That’s a big purchase that is economically more beneficial to D than Dad. I am not an attorney, but I have worked with the geriatric population for over 25 years. I would attempt to befriend D and her daughters, because that may be the only way to keep an eye on Dad. I don’t see Dad magically growing a backbone in the near future.

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        Rebecca September 2, 2020, 12:06 pm

        Unless there’s legit elder abuse, I really don’t see where we get off insisting that older people not be allowed to make their own decisions, or that they be talked out of their decisions, when we don’t agree with them. You don’t stop being a *person* with the right to screw up your own life just because you’re of a certain age.

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        Karebear1813 September 2, 2020, 12:37 pm

        @Kimmy, I too work with the geriatric population and this is a red flag!

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      Ange September 1, 2020, 7:30 pm

      My dad moved on with a real piece of work after he and my mum split and she was a genuinely hateful person. In the end I’m sure she got in my dad’s head but short of actual abuse he was the one that went along with it because it suited him better at the time. I don’t think D is anywhere near as bad as that woman but you have to remember it’s your dad who is seemingly comfortable and happy with how things are now. You can fight it and ultimately lose or just accept this is who he is and what he wants for his life right now. If you keep running around causing fights and demanding access to legal paperwork all you’re going to do is show him that life with D and her family is much nicer and harmonious than the constant fighting with his kids and he’ll choose them every time.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark September 1, 2020, 6:21 pm

    I would think his gf is his power of attorney. Look — Honestly? If you want to improve your relationship with your father — try being nicer to D. It’s really that simple. Your hostility toward her drips off every update. If we can feel it. So can she. In fact — it is quite clear she does. That you fail to realize this is simply both baffling and bizarre.

    This is good advice.

    But I am not sure you want advice. You only want to vent and bitch. Oh, and be right. NEWSFLASH: You aren’t. 🤷‍♂️

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  • avatar

    Lovelygirl September 1, 2020, 6:36 pm

    I was in a very similar situation after my mom passed. My dad had a girlfriend in 3 months, sold everything and they bought a nice house, cars, and RV together. It was so hard to see him move on, and she was always around so we could never talk to my dad alone. My sister and I gave them space and it paid off. After about 9 months in their new house, we were granted full access to their heavily gated neighborhood, have a key to their house, and access to their clubhouse amenities. It wasn’t easy staying quiet but now a couple of years later we have a new normal that isn’t so bad. We see my dad monthly and talk weekly. We don’t do holidays with them to avoid the awkwardness and it just works for us. We do holidays with friends now until we come up with some new traditions. You have to adjust to a new family dynamic and learn to compromise. Everyone wins, at least enough to keep the peace and still have your dad in your life.

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    Helen September 1, 2020, 6:39 pm

    You miss your dad, but the way you’re going about getting more time with him is all wrong. You’re coming across as controlling and high maintenance. You’re putting a lot of demands on your dad and snubbing his wife. They don’t have much incentive to compromise with you. You won’t even meet her daughter. Dial it way back and have some easy going visits with both of them. If you can forget about your grievances you might get on better terms with them

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  • avatar

    Ashley September 1, 2020, 11:40 pm

    I haven’t commented in a while, and honestly I have no experience with losing parents or being introduced to a parent’s new significant other. BUT what this really boils down to is you and your Dad’s relationship has changed in a fundamental way and you are not dealing with it well. It happens to all of us-friend gets married or has a kid and things will never be the way they used to be. I think everyone has felt that pang of wistfulness that what would’ve been a twosome lunch is now a threesome, or that you are never going to party with a friend until 3 again because they now have a kid. You can feel your feelings and if you need to vent to a friend or therapist, but this is your reality now. Insisting your Dad meet with you alone or demanding his passwords is not getting you anywhere. Your Dad whether you like it or not has made it clear he wants his wife there with him during these lunches. For reasons only he can explain he’s made the choices to see her family and prioritized his time the way he did. We can speculate all we want as to why he is, but again this is your new reality and you need to deal with it. Accept he’s not going to lunch with you solo. Drop asking him for passwords and copies of wills. I think you should take some time to regroup and give your Dad some breathing space. Let him initiate contact, extend invitations. Call him maybe once a week, text every couple of days. Not to punish him-but to allow your relationship to morph into something new. You are still trying to act like nothing is different but your relationship has changed and you do not need to be so heavily involved in his life. There is someone new to keep track of his medications, his will, his passwords.
    I’m not so ready to say you are after his money, and interpreted your need to have passwords and legal documents as anxiety about them having a senior moment. You’ve got to remember they have each other to depend on, I see it with my own parents all the time, one forgets the other remembers!

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  • avatar

    Brise September 2, 2020, 7:18 am

    LW, I somehow feel for you. I wouldn’t like to be in your situation. It is hard to lose your mother and see your father getting rid of everything in a matter of months (if I read well the timeline) to live with a new girlfriend. I completely get your disbelief and pain at the idea to have lost not only your mother, but also the relationship you had with your father. You didn’t have time to adjust, obviously.

    But I think that you can’t do anything about the situation. It is what it is. And it is quite common, especially for widowers.
    You can only adapt to the reality, in order not to suffer yourself and to not damage beyond control what is left of your relationship with your father.
    He obviously partnered with a controlling woman – for her to not want your dad to meet alone his children or his brother is wrong.
    But yourself sound also in the controlling role – which is now absurd and obsolete. Quit that attitude.
    If after years, you still haven’t met the third daughter of your father’s partner, that is wrong of you.
    If the first time you get a lunch alone with your father and your brother, you speak of his will, that was a mistake of yours. It looks like an ambush.
    You can’t expect to have his passwords – frankly, I would never ask it from my parents. Imagine how D could see this. It would have been more appropriate to ask him – later – if he still expects you to be his POA. Not more than that – which you are entitled to know.
    About Christmas: you could have accepted D’s invitation. Why not let her be the host once? You could get your big Christmas with your brother the next day without your father and D.
    About the will: I think that you shouldn’t expect anything. Just renounce the idea because you might not receive anything,
    But your dad should let you know of his (new) will, you and your brother. That is what good parents do. They don’t let their children in ignorance of their decisions. They want their family to be united and not torn and upset by an unknown will after their death.
    At least, this is what is done in the reasonable families I know.
    Anyway, I suppose that you received a part of your mother legacy, didn’t you?
    In my country, children always get the half of each parent’s assets (the surviving spouse gets the other half), equally divided between each of the siblings.
    In the USA, it seems that parents can exclude their children and give everything to someone else, or to an association or whatever they choose, as long as they are not in a dementia state.
    So: forget the will (probably nothing left for you); focus on an OK relationship with D (avoid all confrontation) and maintain a gentle contact with your father. Don’t intimidate him, don’t ambush him, just talk to him in a more carefree way.
    Make it possible for him to be with D and have a good enough contact with you – as much as you can on your side.
    Perhaps an apology to them both would go a long way? You could regret your pushy behavior, and emphasize your wish to simply maintain a contact with your father. Good luck, I get that there are a lot of hurt feelings here!

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  • avatar

    Karebear1813 September 2, 2020, 12:26 pm

    LW – I think you and family do have room to be concerned. This is more than just moving on. I think there are signs of controlling issues going on and possible abuse due to the information you provided about what your father was like when he was with your mom verse now with this new women that he literally just met. Your father has totally done a 360 regarding his behaviors and that should be concerning. Those are red flags. It is also red flags that a once active father is no longer active with his family and refuses to see his children alone as there had never been issues before. It’s also concerning that she demanded you leave THEIR home once you requested legal documents from your father. She should not have made that request, it should have came from your father. They are not legally married and tech, it shouldn’t really be her business, now should it? Which makes me feel like you dad needs to man up and speak the truth or there is abuse going on. With that being sad, your father is reportedly a competent adult who can make his own decisions. During this hard time for you and family, I suggest back off but keep the doors opened.

    Also, if you believe your father might be having cognitive issues then call his PCP. They should have his POA documents on file and a release of information and will discuss with you his current health status if you are on those documents. If you are not they will let you know that they cant discuss any information with you . You can also tell them your concerns about his change in behaviors .

    Regarding the “code lockbox”. Your father could be referring to a lockbox at a bank. POA documents should be on file as well as the Will. If your parents had an attorney reach out to him and see or reach out to the bank and see if they will tell you anything.

    If you suspect abuse/neglect/financial exploitation look up your state Adult Protective Services and see if you should make a report.

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  • avatar

    brise September 2, 2020, 2:36 pm

    @Karebear: A lot of useful advice here! D. does sound controlling indeed!

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  • avatar

    allathian September 3, 2020, 7:46 am

    There are two things that worry me a bit here, the fact that LW’s dad sold his assets and moved in with D literally 5 months after he buried his wife. Sure, everyone grieves in their own way, but I don’t think 5 months is enough to really know if a person is trustworthy or not.

    The other thing that I’m concerned about is that D won’t let LW see her dad for five minutes without D being there, and I don’t think that’s healthy either.

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