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Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Tim's grandmother Liz worked for nearly 40 years and was brilliant at saving money. She's the reason he was able to go to New Zealand after graduating from high school, and why he emerged debt-free from college. When he started his first year of grad school, she gave him a check that was nearly equal to one-third my yearly salary in Chicago.

I've never been around money like that. I know a lot of people who have inheritances. I knew that was never my lot in life. When I'm feeling particularly greedy, though, I daydream about my grandmother loaning me money for grad school, then forgiving the debt in her will.

It's shitty to think like that. But money will do that to you. After the first year, we started to expect another check the second year. It slipped grandmother Liz's mind. Or maybe she never intended to fully finance us. We didn't exactly ask her about it, and planned our budget on Tim's stipend and my salary. We get by. We cut corners more than I'm used to, and live more luxuriously than Tim's used to.

But the idea of money in the family is hard. As soon as Liz got sick, I started to think, "what if she put Tim in the will? Maybe we'd get enough to put a down payment on a home." I knew family was important to her--it seemed completely plausible that she might do that. I felt like an asshole. This was Tim's grandma, his last surviving grandparent, but instead of worrying about her health, I thought about her money.

It turns out, her two sons were the sole beneficiaries of her estate. Tim's uncle is a multimillionaire. For real. And his dad does well for himself. It just doesn't seem fair.

But I realized that getting money ourselves wouldn't have been much better. If Tim had been bequeathed a thousand dollars, I would have thought, "one thousand?? Why didn't he get five?" If five, why not ten?

Ten? Why not twenty?

No amount would have been enough. In the end, I am really very relieved we didn't receive anything. We'll get by on our own, and be happier about it.



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