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How can we reasonably intervene in our Grandpa's plans to remarry?
October 4, 2011 12:29 PM   Subscribe

How can we reasonably intervene in our Grandpa's plans to remarry?

My Grandpa's wife (my Grandma) passed away in November after battling brain cancer. Losing the love of his life has been devastating, and he's going through depression, loneliness, and grievance. I can only understand the loss he is experiencing, but as a result – he is about to do something very rash that has my family is very concerned.

About two months ago, he was visiting my family (he lives in FL), and he was going on and on about a senior internet dating site that he found. While we were glad to hear he’s considered dating again (no one wants him to be alone!), the thought of internet dating leaves us nervous. He’s very vulnerable – he’s 86, not the best health, has a lot of assets that could be at risk should he remarry, etc. We didn’t understand why he wasn’t finding dates through his church friends, local senior center, gym, etc- but even more surprising, he was talking to women from all over the country (it’s FL after all… women his age EVERYWHERE). We advised him to be safe, reminded him that you never know who you’re talking to online, and stressed that we’re happy he’s dating, but we want him to go about it in a slow, mindful way.

Well – he didn’t listen to our advice because we found out a few weeks ago that he met a woman who lives in North Dakota, he loves her and he might want to marry her. AND – he’s leaving tomorrow to go to North Dakota to visit her for a month. (Seriously.) We were shocked. Completely shocked.

Upon research – we found out this woman has been married three times, her last husband just died, is 10 years younger than him, and seems totally suspect. As we’re concerned about his welfare – spiritually, emotionally, financially and physically; our family; and the legacy of our grandmother – he’s become unresponsive to our well-intentioned concerns. His six kids wrote him a well-thought, loving letter outlining their concerns, and he went and shared it with this woman, totally insulted. My dad reached out to my Grandpa’s pastor to talk with him (my grandpa has been a devout Baptist his entire life) – and when the pastor reached out to my Grandpa, he swore off church and hasn’t been there for weeks. My Dad even found the son of this woman and asked what he thought of this, and he told my dad that his mom is essentially crazy, and they don’t have a good relationship.

We don’t know what to do next. The more his kids push it – the more it drives my Grandpa to this woman. Beyond physically stopping him from going on the plane, we can’t prevent him from leaving tomorrow and potentially getting married out of spite of his family.

He’s a very stubborn man, and he’s completely ignoring the family that loves him – the family he built. This woman has managed to manipulate her way into his life – and he’s falling for it.

What can we do?

Seriously – any advice is good advice at this point.
posted by angsolom to Human Relations (48 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 

We don’t know what to do next. The more his kids push it – the more it drives my Grandpa to this woman. Beyond physically stopping him from going on the plane, we can’t prevent him from leaving tomorrow and potentially getting married out of spite of his family.


You just answered your own question.
posted by liketitanic at 12:34 PM on October 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


There is no way you will be able to tell your grandfather how to live his life.

I get annoyed when my younger sister tries to to tell me how to live my life - I remember when she was in diapers. From his perspective, he should be giving you advice.

Your choice is to fight him and risk losing him - or stand by him regardless of his foolishness.
posted by Flood at 12:37 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's nothing you can do, unless you think he would flunk a competency hearing. And it doesn't sound like that's the case.

So, the only thing you can do is be available for him if he expresses a desire to, for instance, leave North Dakota early. Take his phone calls, if he calls. Maybe send him an email or two during that visiting time, telling him that you love him. In short, remain as open as you possibly can in case he wants to turn back to you and the rest of the family. But be aware that this may not be the case.
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:38 PM on October 4, 2011


Instead of trying to stop him from marrying, try to get him to sign a pre-nup. Or, if you think he has lost his ability to make decisions on his own, petition a court to take over his finances.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:38 PM on October 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wow. He's 86 and you are spending his remaining time here giving him grief? Sorry, but you have a year to 10 left with him, let him be happy.

I am amazed that you are bringing up the fact that the woman is 10 years younger. Um, that makes her 76, not some young floozy.

Protect him, sure. (from what, you haven't exactly said) But spend your time making his adventure with this new woman fabulous, not filled with grief.

He's been going through depression, grief and loneliness, and now being bossed around by his family.

My advice? Support and love him and respect him for his decisions, even if they aren't what you would choose. Don't try to force his decisions, rather focus on bringing him joy. A hot young 76 year old floozy might bring him happiness.

(btw, your grandmother passed away a year ago. I think this has more to do with your grieving issues than his. And also your possible loss of assets, not his.)
posted by Vaike at 12:43 PM on October 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


We're not trying to tell him how to live his life - we're asking him to consider his family before he makes a potentially big mistake. There's a difference.
posted by angsolom at 12:44 PM on October 4, 2011


we're asking him to consider his family before he makes a potentially big mistake.

You have asked him repeatedly and he's made clear he will choose to live as he pleases. So the more you push, the closer you get to telling him how to live his life.
posted by liketitanic at 12:45 PM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


What folks here are pointing out is that y'all think that you're just asking him to consider his family. He (and people on the internet) see that as meddling unjustifiably. What you've tried so far hasn't worked, so all you can do now is to let him know that you all are there for him regardless.
posted by ldthomps at 12:46 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You come across to me as being more interested in controlling him and his money than concerned about his wellbeing, so maybe that's how you come across to him too.
posted by jenfu at 12:47 PM on October 4, 2011 [29 favorites]


There's nothing you can do. It's his mistake to make, his risk to take, his money to blow, his burden to carry if it all goes wrong. Someone in your family needs to take on the job of being on his side. My family just watched my sister make 12 months of terrible, awful, destructive, misguided decisions. They all fought with her until I smacked them and pointed out that she was making these decisions despite their opposition and the only thing they were doing was leaving her with literally no allies. Be on his side and be supportive of his choices even if you can't endorse them so he has some people left when this all goes to shit.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:48 PM on October 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


yes you are telling him how to live his life - and at 86 he's proven he can do without your advice. If he gets a few more happy weeks, months or even years out of this that's brilliant. If she turns out to be the monster you imagine telling him he's making a mistake is not going to encourage him to turn to the family for support early on which might allow you to minimise damage...
posted by koahiatamadl at 12:49 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far "I think this has more to do with your grieving issues than his. And also your possible loss of assets, not his" - I could care less about the assets that could one day be mine. Seriously. I have an uncle that is developmentally disabled who lives in a group home, and who my Grandpa still supports. A lot of money is put away for him - and we're worried that a woman coming in could jeopardize those funds.

And the fact that this woman is 10 years younger only means she'll likely live much longer than him. His health is not great.
posted by angsolom at 12:50 PM on October 4, 2011


we're asking him to consider his family

He has; he is not interested in being talked out of things. He's 86, what's wrong with marrying a kooky lady? I...

has a lot of assets that could be at risk should he remarry

Oh.

I think if it seems obvious to strangers on the internet that you are trying to keep your inheritance secure instead of your grandfather happy, it's probably all very painful to Grandpa at this point, that he can generate so much excitement just by dangling the prospect of a bit of risk to his bank account. When was the last time his six kids sent him a "well-thought, loving letter" before this...?

You "could care less" about the assets, but are kicking about the life expectancy of his girlfriend? Christ.
posted by kmennie at 12:51 PM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would run a Lexis/Nexis or get a PI to do a search on her--judgments, bankruptcies, etc., just so you know what you're dealing with. Prior marriages aren't the mark of a bad person. And, if she's got a bunch of outstanding warrants--at least you know. Your only other step is a very drastic one, and that's to get him declared incompetent, which will guarantee ill-feelings.

I understand that these are unattractive ideas, but a dear friend of my mother's was taken to the cleaners at 92 by a guy she met online and her kids could do nothing about it. People who prey on the elderly are everywhere and they don't always have the markings of criminals.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:52 PM on October 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Consider that he is getting something out of this long-distance relationship that he's not getting out of his biological family, his church friends, local senior center, gym, etc.

If you want to be a part of his life, trying to figure out what components of that may be and how you can offer those to him seems like it should be your focus. As everyone is pointing out here, the focus of your question is "how could he act like he doesn't care about our wishes?". Sounds like he doesn't feel that you care about his wishes or wants.
posted by straw at 12:52 PM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think people are being overly harsh with you here, you seem to mostly be caring and want to make sure your grandpa isn't being manipulated. However, you have probably pushed too far involving so many other people. I think your best tack is to back off and tell him that you understand he's happy and that perhaps you've been too concerned and then maybe change it up so that you talk about wanting to meet this woman (who has become so important in his life), and that if he does want to marry her, that you really hope he lets you all attend and show your support and happiness. This might stop him from jumping into marriage on this trip and maybe give him and you more time to explore how good or bad this relationship may be for him.
posted by katers890 at 12:53 PM on October 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Quit pushing it and be there for him should things go wrong. Tell him how happy you are that he has found happiness again. Invite him to visit with this woman. Then you will have standing to warn him about things like "be sure to have a prenup to ensure Uncle Sam's assets".
posted by jeather at 12:54 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


If he's a competent adult, there's nothing you can do. He is an adult. He gets to marry her, burn all of his money in a bonfire, sell his house for a dollar, and shave his head and join the circus. Even if she's marrying him for his money, and is a nutter, and you all hate her and everyone who has ever known her hates her. He gets to marry someone you loathe, and make all sorts of mistakes, and lose all his savings on craps and trinkets, and (maybe) regret it afterwards. He just does. You are not the boss of him. Not even if you have the best of intentions.
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 12:58 PM on October 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


We're not trying to tell him how to live his life - we're asking him to consider his family before he makes a potentially big mistake.

You've asked. That's what you can do with an equal relationship between related adults. Now, sorry, you need to stop asking. And also? Stop dragging other people in. That's the gateway to drama.

Why shouldn't anyone meet someone online? It seems like your family is appalled that such a thing could happen. (It also seems like your family is appalled that she's been married three times. It's your right to judge people but you might want to stuff that down deep inside. Not sure what you mean by "suspect," either. Is she a grifter-stripper of some sort???)

Your grandfather isn't some helpless kitten. He's a grown man. He's going to visit her and get to know her! If he decides he wants to, he'll marry her. They may very well decide they don't like each other! Who knows. I really think I'd be livid with you all, if I were him.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 1:02 PM on October 4, 2011


I have an uncle that is developmentally disabled who lives in a group home, and who my Grandpa still supports.

Setting up a trust to protect your uncle when your grandfather passes is a different issue than your grandfather marrying a 76-year-old nutaloon gold digger from North Dakota.

If that is really and truly your main concern, one of the kids should call Grandpa, apologize profusely, and say, "Dad, I just got so worried about Brother Morty that I had this vision of him living in a cardboard box someday. He's going to be taken care of, right?"

Otherwise, he's 86, and he lost the love of his life less than a year ago. He gets to do whatever he wants, including marrying Anastasia of the North.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:06 PM on October 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


You say, "This woman has managed to manipulate her way into his life - and he’s falling for it." I don't see manipulation. They're both recently widowed, they were both on a dating site for older singles. They both, as adults, connected and chose to pursue a relationship together. Is there something you've left out?

At this point, it seems like what you're objecting to is the fact that your grandpa didn't take your family's advice on how to meet women. What, exactly, makes this woman more suspect than a woman your grandpa met at the gym or at church?

He made an impulsive (perhaps even foolish or naive) decision to travel to visit this woman. Be there for him anyway. If he says it's great, and she's great, and he's happy--believe him and rebuild trust so that if she does turn out to be a bad apple, you have a leg to stand on (and if she turns out to be great, so much the better). If he says it was a mistake and is embarrassed--banish the phrase "we told you so" from your vocabulary.
posted by Meg_Murry at 1:12 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ugh. I sympathize strongly with the position your family is in. My grandfather was taken for almost every penny and alienated from his family by a woman he was romantically interested in, who was a sociopath and a con artist.

People kept telling us to stop struggling, that my grandfather was a grown man, that we should be happy he was happy. But we could see what what actually going on as she systematically stripped him of everything he owned and drove wedges into all his other relationships.

Eventually after this woman neglected my grandpa’s medical care, moved him into a retirement home, and was working on selling his house, a judge decided that my grandfather was not, in fact, a competent adult, and he was assigned a financial guardian. Far too late to protect his assets, or save his relationship with his son and grandchildren. Almost too late to leave my grandfather with anything to live on, but his guardian finally secured a court order that made the gold-digger give back some funds to my grandfather.

The best case scenario would have been that your grandfather and grandmother had all their assets in a trust that would protect them. If they did not have anything like that set up, I guess you should back off, document everything that happens with this woman, and try to talk gently to your grandfather about making sure your uncle is taken care of forever.

If things get worse, start talking to lawyers and Adult Protective Services about how you might be able to intercede.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:14 PM on October 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Tell him you love him, that you're sorry about the letter you wrote, and that you wish him complete happiness.

Also ask him if there's any way you can help with his finances to ensure that your developmentally disabled uncle continues to get the financial support since he's moving to a different part of the country and will be far away. Just do this in a way so that he's 100% clear you're actually concerned about your uncle and you and your family don't want the money for yourselves--this isn't really clear from your postings on this thread. Maybe at some point he'll think it's a good idea to give you a power of attorney, and this way you can help protect those funds.

But this is his life, and his choice, and he's more than entitled to make his own mistakes.

If it turns out badly for him, give him a hug and tell him you love him, and don't tell him you told him so.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:29 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Our concern that this woman is manipulating our Grandpa stems from the fact that he has - for now - rejected his religion/church/church community. He's a devout baptist and has strongly lived by his religion his entire life, and while I'm not religious - I respect someone with a strong faith. To go your entire life by a single belief system, and then to reject it in a matter of three weeks is very alarming to us.
posted by angsolom at 1:31 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the one hand, I understand that you're concerned. On the other hand, he's 86. How long do you think is an "appropriate" time for him to wait to get married again, if he so chooses? Because he's not a 20-something who should finish school before getting married to his first girlfriend, he's an elderly man who was recently widowed. He does not necessarily move on with his life at the same rate you do. He does not have the same potential AMOUNT, objectively, of life left to him; waiting is not necessarily in his best interest.

Stop pestering him by having family interventions, contacting ministers, or finding long-lost sons of the woman you don't know is actually manipulating him. Talk about a trust for your uncle, if that's the main worry, and be available to your grandpa if he needs to talk. You're pushing him away, that's not going to help anything.
posted by lydhre at 1:37 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


To go your entire life by a single belief system, and then to reject it in a matter of three weeks is very alarming to us.

To me it seems quite possible that your grandfather was thinking something along the lines of "My kids and grandkids won't respect my decision and keep trying to tell me what to do and how to live my life, and now they've roped my pastor in to lecture me too? When he knows even less about what's going on than the kids do? Bah! God and I have enough history that I can be good with Him even without the 'help' of a pastor."

Average life expectancy in the US is 75.6 years for men. Your grandfather has survived 10 years longer than the average, he does not have that much time left (relatively speaking), and he's probably quite aware that he doesn't. It's understandable and laudable that you and your family want to be sure he's not being exploited or taken advantage of, and if you find evidence that she actually is a scammer, that's one thing. But other than that — and actually, even if you do — it's his choice. And he's the only one who gets to decide how he wants to spend what time he has remaining.
posted by Lexica at 1:49 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Your uncle probably needs to have a trust set up anyway, regardless of who your grandfather marries -- if only because stuff like that is complicated. Why don't you have a conversation with Grandpa about THAT, without even mentioning this woman, and see if you can at least get that troubling aspect squared away. You can posit is as part of estate planning, which should happen anyway at his age, regardless of whether he's married or not. And then you will have one less thing to worry about.

The rest of it is kind of out of your hands. He's a grown-up. She may be a nutter, but at the same time, a woman recently widowed at 76 who's had 3 husbands doesn't even seem like THAT many husbands (if she got married at 18, that's an average of 20 years with each!). But you can't really do that much about her anyway. I would be concerned, too, if I were you, and it would also have zero to do with my inheritance. But square away what you can -- the trust -- and hope for the best with the rest, I vote.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 1:53 PM on October 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


It seems like you're pretty concerned about the money side of this. You've couched it in your need to protect him, but I'd be interested to hear whether you'd be 100% OK with it if he decided to leave his entire estate to a charity. Leaving his entire estate to a spouse he just met isn't really that different.
posted by odinsdream at 1:55 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are some warning bells here that aren't necessarily to do just with the wedding. It sounds like there are some drastic personality changes here that are outside of the new relationship. He's turned his back on his church after being devoutly religious, a family man is no longer speaking with family members, etc. I would be concerned about possible health concerns that could be contributing. Little things can cause huge mental status changes in otherwise healthy elderly folks and the stress of losing a life partner, changes in diet or appetite related to that or even some unknown medication interaction might be leading him to make more rash decisions than he might otherwise. I'd suggest having him see a physician and you can even pitch it to him as a chance to prove to you all how healthy he is and what sound decisions he is making.

If that all pans out, does he have a financial planner? Maybe having that person talk about estate planning for your uncle and making sure he is cared for would be another way to approach this with your grandfather. Ask if another member of the family can have power of attorney over that trust, just to be sure it remains untouched. If finances start to look hinky, a call to Adult Protective Services is absolutely the way to go.

Beyond that, he is an adult and is free, like the rest of us, to make what might look like a bad decision to the rest of the world. It's wonderful that he has you and the rest of your family watching out for him, and what's clear is that he has support if things do fall apart with this woman.
posted by goggie at 1:57 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm really surprised at how hard people are coming down on the OP.

Leaving his entire estate to a spouse he just met isn't really that different.

Unless she's a conning sociopath, which WE DON'T KNOW YET.

Some good advice from Squeak Attack; quietly do some research to see if anything big pops up, protect your uncle, and that's about all you can do.
posted by Melismata at 1:59 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


People who are concentrating on what money is left after he dies are missing the fact that she could clean him out quickly, and leave him with nothing to live on after she goes. Does he want to live his last years in a state-run hospital, or his own home?

And if you've ever been through something like this, the whole "he's a grown man who gets to make his own decisions!" grates pretty fast when it's pretty clear he's not as mentally competent as he was when he was 60, that he's not making his own decisions, and that they're being made for him. The law sets the bar for proving loss of competency pretty high and that sadly makes the elderly very vulnerable to being exploited.
posted by Squeak Attack at 2:07 PM on October 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


The rejection of his church may come from feeling pushed by his pastor and that might be his anger coming out. Just like feeling pushed by his kids is making him move away from his family, feeling pushed by his pastor may be making him move away from his church. (remember, this has nothing necessarily to do with his belief or faith, just the social aspect of his church) From what you wrote in your post, it sounds like everything that looks like his pulling away is a reaction to his feeling ganged up on. Once that goes away, and he no longer feels 'me against them' everything will probably settle back down. The more everyone opens up and relaxes with all this around him, he will do the same. Opposition never feels like a safe place.
posted by Vaike at 2:22 PM on October 4, 2011


*Should* we intervene in our Grandpa's plans to remarry? Perhaps one of Grandpa's children could say to him "Dad, you talked to me about how things work when I was a young man, and I want to be just as caring about you. In the world of Internet dating, there are a lot of people who aren't honest. To be quite honest, it's kind of hard for your family to see you considering marriage when Mom hasn't been gone very long. I'd be really appreciative if we could talk about ways you might protect yourself, and your assets. If you re-marry, a new wife should be cared for. Do you expect to protect some of your assets, and perhaps provide for your kids and grandkids, too?"

I do think you are being too invasive. Why didn't he look for someone at church, etc? Maybe he's having a blast on the Internet, talking sexy, and feeling great. Maybe Possibly Crazy in N. Dakota treats him like a hot ticket who knows how to have fun. Spending his fortune on a good time might not be the worst thing that could happen to him. He has 6 kids; if she takes him for every cent, will you take care of him? Maybe the message should be "Dad/Grandpa, I'm so happy you found someone who makes you feel good. I'm worried that she could be using you for your money, but maybe she's using you for your body. I sure wish you'd set some savings aside, just in case, but no matter what happens, your family loves you and we'll be here for you. Can't wait to meet your new sweetheart."
posted by theora55 at 2:25 PM on October 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Our concern that this woman is manipulating our Grandpa stems from the fact that he has - for now - rejected his religion/church/church community. He's a devout baptist and has strongly lived by his religion his entire life, and while I'm not religious - I respect someone with a strong faith. To go your entire life by a single belief system, and then to reject it in a matter of three weeks is very alarming to us.

So have you talked to him specifically about that? Leave the woman out of it...just talk about how he's left his church/faith. Make absolutely NO mention of the women (otherwise it becomes about her and not him). Just see what he says. You might get more insight that way then trying to convince him of something. If this marriage comes up, ask him if he's prayed about it...not with the pastor, just him and God (if he's faithful he'll get what you're saying). And sometimes the light bulb comes on for people when they hear themselves talking about something instead of being focused on defending their decision...if that makes any sense.

If he comes back from North Dakota and is still fully intent on marrying this woman, that might be the time for ONE person to ask him the question "OK...how does this affect Uncle in the facility? Does this change how his support is provided? Have you talked to her about this Uncle and what kind of support he needs?" That conversation might lead up eventually to him realizing that if he doesn't have a trust set aside for Uncle then those finances could be in jeopardy.

The trip to North Dakota may not go well anyways, so be prepared to help him get back home if needed. And find a way to ask questions about how things are going when he calls, instead of being accusatory towards the woman, just keep asking questions like "and then what happened? What do you think about that? Interesting...I wonder if there's something else going on there" etc.
posted by MultiFaceted at 2:46 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


he’s completely ignoring the family that loves him
There's so little evidence for this in the question and your follow-up posts that I can't help but think you're confusing "ignoring the family" with "doing what the family don't want him to do". Maybe that's not true, but if you've approached talking to him anything like you're approaching this question and the responses, it might be what your grandfather thinks.
The trip to North Dakota may not go well anyways, so be prepared to help him get back home if needed. And find a way to ask questions about how things are going when he calls, instead of being accusatory towards the woman, just keep asking questions like "and then what happened? What do you think about that? Interesting...I wonder if there's something else going on there" etc.
That's good advice in the abstract, but those example questions are, quite rightly, going to be seen as accusatory or, at best, passive aggressive.
posted by caek at 3:14 PM on October 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just a word of advice... If you use askme as a place to validate your already formed opinions and positions, you'll probably not take full advantage of those whose opinions differ, but might have some interesting/useful perspectives or ideas.

If I were your grandfather, I would be a bit pissed at all of you.
posted by HuronBob at 4:47 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's an adult, and he may not be around that much longer. He has the right to decide how to live his life.

His assets are his, not yours, not your uncle's.

If my church decided to suddenly tell me how to live my personal life, I'd probably reject it, too. You're pushing way too hard here. You started this process by telling him how you wanted him to date ("in a slow, mindful way"). You can't tell people what to do and infantilize them and expect them to respond well. If you have specific concerns or general concerns, air them in a nonconfrontational way and assume that the person has listened, and then it's out of your hands because as you're finding out you get pushback.

Talk with him about setting up a trust for your uncle, if you want, and apologize for being pushy and say you were just worried about him.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:54 PM on October 4, 2011


>Someone in the family could be generally positive about the relationship, and then take him aside and say "listen, people are concerned. I'm actually excited for you--but if any of us met someone on the internet, you'd have a fit. So let me ask you --what would be the warning signs if this woman is scamming you? I assume its crossed your mind. So what would you consider a bad sign....okay, if I start seeing any of those warning signs, do I have your permission to point it out to you?"
posted by vitabellosi at 5:27 PM on October 4, 2011


If my church decided to suddenly tell me how to live my personal life, I'd probably reject it, too.
(This made me chuckle.)

Anywho, OP, I would probably be really concerned if I were you, too, the same way I'd be if my 18 year old daughter ran off with some guy I'd never met. He's an adult, but he's also elderly, and 86 varies a great deal from person to person. If my grandpa had done this when he was 86 I would definitely have been concerned because I knew his mental state well, and knew that his memory was not so good anymore and he was starting to get confused pretty easily, though he could still feed and clothe himself and live on his own. If he had been in this situation maybe we couldn't have really done anything to stop him, but I don't see anything wrong with feeling nervous or concerned. It is horrible to think of an elderly loved one being manipulated or conned and natural to want to protect them from that.

But I don't think there's much you can do about it other than keep in good touch with him. If he does or says something that sounds like he really isn't competent, move quickly. This woman could really be alright, but again, keep in good touch with your grandpa, and if things really start to sound fishy (more than second hand stories or inferring things about her based on your grandpa's own spiritual decisions) call APS. You don't have much to go on right now so the only way you can protect him is to stay in his life and stay involved. Be supportive and loving.
posted by imalaowai at 6:09 PM on October 4, 2011


Thanks for everyone's responses - I appreciate it. I know a lot of you said we had no right to intervene or meddle with his affairs - but it only stems from love and concern and the fact that it's how my family operates. We're very involved in each other's lives. All of kids told him that while they are slightly worried for him, and this is not in keeping with how they raised them, - they will support him in his quest for happiness, and should he change his mind (or not) - they will never say "I told you so." I shared the link to this thread with my family, and they, too, appreciated everyone's outside point of view.
posted by angsolom at 7:02 PM on October 4, 2011


There is zero evidence that this woman has manipulated him. He left the church after interference that stemmed from you guys- not her.

Can you not understand how insulting your claim is? You guys pushed him in a way that forced him to act, and then you turn around and claim that his girlfriend manipulated him into doing it. In one stroke, you 1) suggest he is child-like and unable to make such a decision for himself, 2) imply something very nasty about someone he cares about and 3) shift the blame for the family's interference in his life and church.

Despite what you claim, you are telling him how to live his life. Worse, when he roundly rejects your assertions, you decided he's confused, manipulated, and ignoring his family. You pushed him away. It's possible this woman is a gold digger- but you pushed so hard without basis that he won't listen to you when and if he needs to.

THe money isn't yours yet- and, yes, this is obviously about the money- and he still gets to make his own decisions.
posted by spaltavian at 8:23 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


It sounds like your uncle is the biggest concern. Are you prepared to say--or is the relative closest to him prepared to say:

"Listen, Grandpa/Dad, you must think that we are only thinking about your money. No. We would all be ecstatic if stuff works out with Francine and you leave every CENT to her. That's your prerogative. You can also give every CENT to John Birch or PBS. It's your money, you worked all your life to earn it, you can do what you want.

We are only worried about 2 things--(1) Uncle Joe, and (2) that you don't, God forbid, end up in the state nursing home at age 99 if something goes horribly wrong here.

You don't HAVE to show me/us anything. But as a favor, we would all sleep a lot better at night if you showed me the latest version of Uncle Joe's Supplemental Needs Trust and your long-term care insurance policy. I won't disclose any details. I will just tell people that you and Joe are going to be taken care of. And then we'll all stop worrying."

That's what I'd do. YMMV.
posted by skbw at 8:29 PM on October 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


And life is funny--in my family, I'd pick not the relative, necessarily, that he likes best, but the one who has already "made it" financially and whose business sense he respects. Or closest available version thereof.
posted by skbw at 8:31 PM on October 4, 2011


Unless there's something else you haven't mentioned about her being really evil, I don't see anything yet that's a massive red flag. Unless all of her spouses have died under suspicious circumstances or something.

But...old people hop into relationships really, really fast due to the time factor. And he just lost his wife, so he wants to replace her as soon as he can possibly manage. I don't think you're going to be able to argue logically against that need. He's not getting it met anywhere else in his life.

Basically, unless he starts showing signs of dementia or something, you don't have a leg to stand on here. He can elope with her the second he gets off the plane if he likes.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:12 PM on October 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like how her son says she a nutter and doesn't really have any contact with her - that's a good sign. What skbw says, and maybe tidy up the guest room in vase he has to come live with you. Not much else you can do but meet her and hope for the best.

Sorry - everything may be just fine. But I can certainly understand why you a concerned about his state of mind and what this woman is up to. (Men in his age group can be very choosy.)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 6:00 AM on October 5, 2011


And, you know, OP, thinking about your piece of the action does NOT make you a bad person. I'm not saying that you are, but if you were. I would bet that many people who'd call you shallow for it either have never been in that circumstance, or have been in precisely that situation and have been plenty worried about the money themselves. If your grandfather was in business, as he must have been to get enough money for people to think about it, he would probably say that it's just good business sense to wonder whether or not you'll get the $50,000 you were expecting. It would be dumb not to wonder this.

BUT BUT BUT the venial consideration, however understandable, cannot be the main impetus here. As you already know, clearly!
posted by skbw at 8:28 AM on October 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Look at what he's doing. He's pulling up stakes.

He's not acting, he's reacting. Each time someone tries to talk him down or stand in his way, he's issuing himself a permission slip to sever another tie to his family and his church. Once he manages to be offended by each of you, I'd be surprised if he didn't roll up his tent and go.

I would recommend one person in the family showing him unconditional support (and meaning it). Don't bring up the uncle, don't bring up asset shelters, don't bring up crazy. Don't ask him why a frail 86 year old is flying north instead of a maybe-healthier 76 year old flying south. Tell him it's great and you're glad he's got the opportunity to get to know her better, and you won't leave him any room to sever ties with you.

Maybe all he really wants is to know that whatever he is going to do is genuinely his own choice.
posted by Sallyfur at 11:47 PM on October 5, 2011


What has his age or wealth or health got to do with anything? Just remember that he's a human being who has created an apparently successful life and is now continuing to live it. His choice, not yours. I'm afraid that your comment "has a lot of assets that could be at risk should he remarry" leaves you open to some very disturbing thoughts - I hope undeserved ones for your sakes as much as his. We make our own lives, and that includes our own mistakes. It's called human dignity. I'd advise you not to try to take his dignity away from him.
posted by nickji at 10:22 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


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