Rest In Peace
Oh, for the love of money!
When it comes to knowing a person, the height of a crisis often reflects their true colors. Now a “crisis” often relates to a dramatic change that affects everyday life in some way, like a severe illness, or a death in the family. However, it can be easy for some to perceive a simple conflict as the end of the world.
Take “Shelby” for instance. After her grandparents passed away, she later found out they left behind a savings account with a rather large sum of money, all in her name. In a letter, her grandparents explained that once Shelby became of age, they wanted her to determine a fair amount to share with her full siblings.
Seeing that Shelby did not have any “full siblings,” her first thought was to share the inheritance with her two half brothers, “Matthew” and “Lucas.” The trio was very close growing up.
Even though the letter never mentioned Matthew and Lucas, Shelby considered them the closest siblings she ever had. It only felt right to share the inheritance with them.
Little did Shelby know, her two brothers were about to unleash a torrent of pain and hurt suffering all for the sake of money.
Coming of Age
When Shelby was just three years old, her grandparents passed away. Before their death, her grandparents opened a savings account that was inaccessible until Shelby reached the age of twenty-one.
In a letter, Shelby’s grandparents indicated that a “fair amount,” was not based on the amount that was left behind in the account. The amount Shelby felt was fair was to be solely based on her best judgment and relationship with each sibling in question.
The wording of the letter, though odd, was very specific in favoring Shelby as the moderator tasked with determining who was obligated to what. Seeing that her grandparents left behind a grand sum of three-hundred thousand dollars, Shelby knew the funds needed to be handled responsibly.
Shelby didn’t have any “full siblings” as was suggested for consideration for distribution in the letter, but her half-brothers, Matthew and Lucas, immediately came to mind. Even though they had different mothers, Shelby was quite fond of Matthew and Lucas.
There wasn’t a doubt in Shelby’s mind that she wanted to split the money evenly amongst the three of them. With Matthew and Lucas being a few years shy of twenty-one, Shelby decided she would wait for them to reach the age of twenty-one before distributing the funds.
As soon as Shelby turned twenty-one, her father suggested she use her portion of the inheritance to buy a home. After spending some time hunting, Shelby found the perfect place to start her journey as an adult.
Unfortunately, the home Shelby fell in love with cost roughly one hundred and thirty thousand dollars. With Shelby’s almost non-existent credit history, a mortgage was out of the question. After weighing her options, Shelby decided she would retrieve an additional thirty-thousand dollars from the savings account her grandparents left behind to buy the home.
Shelby was hesitant on going back on her word about splitting the funds three ways between herself and her brothers. However, as her father put it, she would have a couple of years to replace the funds before her half-brothers became of age.
Several months after the purchase, Shelby brought the savings to a balance of one-hundred ninety-five dollars. That left a sum of roughly thirteen thousand dollars that Shelby had to pay back. With her steady and high-paying job, Shelby was confident she would be able to pay back the funds with time.
A few months later, Matthew turned twenty-one. Not too long after celebrating this milestone, Shelby and Matthew met up to discuss transferring his portion of the inheritance. At that time, Matthew only requested fifty-thousand dollars of the one-hundred thousand Shelby agreed to share.
After the transfer was complete, Matthew somehow managed to catch a glimpse of the remaining balance in the savings account. Shelby saw all the color drain from his face as Matthew’s eyes darted from her to the bank statement.
“What happened to the rest of the money?” Matthew demanded.
Shelby tucked away the statement in her purse before she got up to leave. “I used some of the money to buy my house. I’ll have the rest of it before Lucas turns twenty-one.”
Now Lucas was only nineteen years old at the time. Matthew hated seeing his brother’s inheritance “tampered with” as he put it.
Shelby squirmed in her seat. It was hard to resist the urge to remind him she didn’t have to give Matthew or Lucas anything. In the end, Shelby decided to keep the peace.
Not even a day later, Shelby got a call from a disgruntled Lucas.
“You did what with my money?”
Shelby was stunned at the sudden aggression Matthew and Lucas expressed toward her.
Lucas wasn’t even of age, yet his hell-bent attitude begged to differ.
To make matters worse, when Matthew found out the savings account was shy of thousands of dollars, instead of telling Lucas what happened, Matthew simply told him that Shelby “stole” the money. This lead to unnecessary conflict between the three of them that honestly hurt Shelby.
For years, the three of them had a bond that she thought was unbreakable. It was hurtful to see such ugliness arise from her brothers concerning money that technically wasn’t even theirs.
“Matthew told me you stole that money from my part of the inheritance. How could you do something like that, Shelby?” Lucas demanded.
“I didn’t steal anything!” Shelby exclaimed.
“Then how do you explain the missing money?” Lucas snapped.
“Your brother should have told you,” Shelby explained. “Yes, I used some extra funds to cover the purchase of my home. I’ve been paying it back. All of it will be back by your twenty-first birthday.”
“But why mess with money that isn’t yours?” Lucas insisted. “What about the interest I’m missing out on because you decided to take it out of the account?”
Shelby couldn’t believe her ears. It wasn’t like Lucas was never going to get his portion of the inheritance. All she needed was two years to raise the money. The three of them had grown up together yet because of something so simple, their relationship had completely flipped its script.
“You won’t be twenty-one for another two years,” Shelby stated. “That’s still plenty of time for me to replenish the funds, Lucas.”
Lucas grunted, “Fine.” Then after a pause, he announced to Shelby that he and his brother would be paying her a visit to “set things straight.”
Of all the things Shelby and her brothers went through together, she never thought a piece of paper would be the final nail in the coffin of their relationship.
Shelby felt empty as she stared at the contract her “brothers” placed before her. Matthew and Lucas sat across the table from her in her once peaceful home. Their negative energy hung heavily in the air as they bore holes into her as she read over the conditions.
In the contract, both brothers insisted that Shelby pay back the thirteen thousand dollars she still owed plus another three thousand dollars in interest. Shelby thought the entire ordeal was over the top, but out loud she agreed to pay the funds.
That wasn’t until she read the last line of the contract.
Matthew and Lucas wanted the money in six months instead of the two years Lucas agreed to just the other day. The brothers also demanded she paid additional “emotional distress” fees and other ridiculous made-up fees that formed a long, pretentious list down the paper.
Shelby read the final part of the agreement over and over before she looked Matthew and Lucas dead in their eyes.
“I’m not signing it,” Shelby said.
“What do you mean?” Matthew’s voice amped. “That money belongs to Lucas!”
As soon the words left his mouth, Shelby sat up in her chair and leaned forward.
“There is nowhere in the letter that said I had to share anything with either of you.” Shelby forced herself not to raise her voice. “I was only doing this to be nice to whom I thought were my brothers.”
“That’s our money!” Lucas whined. “Do we not have the same grandfather? He left that money for us!”
Shelby pinched the crease in the center of her forehead before speaking. “The letter states that I have the responsibility to distribute the money in whatever way is fair to me. Seeing how you two have been acting, I think fifty grand is plenty enough for the two of you to split amongst yourselves. I’m not signing this contract and you’re not getting anything more.”
After that, Shelby handed the contract to her brothers and escorted them out of her home. Shelby found herself fighting the wave of emotions that hammered her insides. She always knew money brought out the ugly side of people, but she never thought her brothers would have changed so dramatically over money that technically wasn’t even theirs.
A short while later, Shelby tried to distract herself from the heartbreaking conversation by doing some chores around the house. Suddenly, her cell phone started to ring. Shelby let it go to voicemail. Not even a second later, she got a text notification, followed by another. A minute later, an email notification ripped through her thoughts followed by excessive chiming from notifications coming in left and right. Frustrated by the sudden lack of privacy, Shelby snatched her phone up to see who was wreaking havoc on her notification wall.
Of course, it was Matthew and Lucas.
A Family Affair
Shelby slowly went through every single message sent by now estranged half-brothers. In just that short amount of time, Matthew and Lucas flooded Shelby’s voicemail with hateful messages and wild accusations about her new decision concerning the inheritance money.
Shelby’s inbox overflowed with intimidating messages from her brothers. Matthew and Lucas even resent the contract via email and demanded Shelby sign it. The excessive messaging persisted for days. Both brothers asked Shelby why she decided to go back on her word about their agreement and continued to resend the contract until finally threatening her with legal action.
Having had enough, Shelby blocked Matthew and Lucas. Shelby refused to let her brothers pester her any longer about money that was her’s to begin with.
After a few weeks passed, Shelby found out that Matthew and Lucas took to social media to air their grievances toward her. She had blocked them on every possible platform, but because of the many family members that followed them online, it didn’t take long for Shelby to get hateful messages from aunts, uncles, cousins, and even family friends that only knew one side of the story.
At first, Shelby tried explaining the truth to other family members. However, fueled by the only side of the story that made her look like the “bad guy,” the harassment only got worse, so she began to block more of her once cherished members of the family.
Shelby was deeply saddened by everyone’s sudden involvement and change of heart about her. To save time and additional heartache, she began to simply block family members that slithered their way into her inbox one by one.
One day, as she was going through her messages, one stuck out in particular.
A twenty-seven-year-old man named “Michael” reached out to Shelby. In his message, Michael claimed he was also her half-brother. Michael extended an apology for the family drama Shelby was involuntarily warped into.
Shelby was skeptical, for she had never seen or heard of Michael in her entire life. She was about to block him, but Michael sent her an all too familiar photograph.
Thicker Than Water
The photograph was old and discolored, but sitting together on a couch was her grandfather, father, Michael, Shelby as a little girl, and their dad. Michael sent screenshot after screenshot of photographs of her grandfather and father together followed by a picture of the two of them playing together.
Everything seemed surreal to Shelby. There was no denying that Michael was definitely involved with her father and grandfather in his youth. After gathering more information, Michael explained he also received a letter and inheritance from their grandparents with instructions to distribute funds “fairly” amongst their father’s illegitimate children.
Michael also informed Shelby she had another half-brother who was eighteen years old. It made Shelby slightly uncomfortable finding out about so many other children who were fathered by her dad. However, it was also nice to finally meet some long-lost brothers who seemed to have much better sense than Matthew and Lucas.
After doing additional research, Shelby and Michael were able to put two and two together.
Their grandparents set up their will to cover for the children Shelby’s father had in his previous marriage… as well as the children that were a result of the multiple affairs he had.
In the letters, they made sure to emphasize that the illegitimate children were not entitled to funds meant only for the children Shelby’s father had within his marriage. Shelby’s grandparents also made sure to set aside funds specifically meant for any other children he had.
With everything brought to light, Shelby summoned the courage to write Matthew and Lucas a stern and final letter demanding they stop spreading lies about her. They had no right to the money and she no longer wanted anything to do with them. The letter also stated that she would be keeping the money for herself.
Weeks later, Shelby was still receiving hate mail from other family members, but she stood firm in her decision. Shelby did manage to hear by word of mouth that Matthew and Lucas’ ill feelings toward her transformed into a simmering rage between the two of them. Matthew refused to share any of the money Shelby had given him originally, which made Lucas feel he was “screwed over twice.”
To add to the hysteria, Matthew and Lucas’ mother also found out about their father’s multiple children. Shelby later found out about a half-sister that was born long after their dad was remarried. Unfortunately, a huge fight followed, resulting in their dad being forced to permanently move into a hotel.
Shelby’s dad tried calling her to reconsider her decision on multiple occasions. However, Shelby no longer felt the motivation to deal with everything and everyone except Michael. Seeing everyone’s true colors made Shelby realize how few people she could actually count on in her life.