Not sure how it works in other families, but anytime my parents leave on vacation, a huge envelope always arrives in the mail: their last will and testament. Because they are Hispanic, they have a special DOOM gland that attaches to the pituitary so that anytime a moment of pleasure is about to rush through the bloodstream, an equal dose of DOOM is also released. While most people think that the worst that can happen in Cabo is jello shots, sunstroke, diarrhea or having your wallet lifted by a fresh-faced kindergardener, my parents are convinced they will succumb to cancer, ground glass will be stirred into their margaritas, the Avis rental car will fly off a bridge due to bald tires and indifference or terrorists, itching for some beach time, will force their 727 into the ocean.
Edward and I used to joke about this all the time. "Has the envelope arrived? Are you in the Platinum Club or did you get downgraded to Business Class?" Because in the Will, you always know where you stand. This is not to say that my parents used their Will as a weapon. Never did we hear, "You're out of the Will if you don't eat your peas, " or "If you come home smelling like pot one more time, I swear the lake house will be donated to the Nature Conservancy." Nope. None of that. Two things my parents never discussed with us children: money and sex. Which would explain why we often confuse the two. I've just now stopped slipping the Ranger a rolled up $20 every night.
Historically, Edward and my other brother, R, were annoyingly discrete about these envelopes. They NEVER cracked the seal; they'd just file the most recent copy with the other sealed envelopes that have collected over the years. Edward believed it was bad luck to read the Will, that by flipping through the 100-page document, events beyond anyone's control would start to snowball. R just thought the whole thing was boring. I, on the other hand, had the package ripped to shreds between the mailbox and the house, "I got the Lexus! I got the Lexus! I knew it. I knew it."
Ah, that was a Golden Time, before the Divorce, before the long drive north, before the funeral. Second Edition is now in the margins. Living in the rough. Out in the cold. Since Edward died, my halo has dropped off, and I've been relegated to the Cone of Silence, a special place usually reserved for White People That Marry Into The Family, newspaper reporters, snobby waiters and federal agencies such as La Migra, the DEA and Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms.
In all fairness, it must be said I was not much of a comfort to them during and after the funeral and I didn't move back to New Mexico as requested. And then there is that matter of the boyfriend. While they like the Ranger plenty, HE IS THE REASON OUR DAUGHTER, WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE HERE TAKING CARE OF US WHILE LIVING IN A HOUSE WITH A WINE CELLAR, IS INSTEAD WEARING RUBBER BOOTS, EATING JERKY AND LIVING IN A LEAKY TREE HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE WORLD. Not that my parents NEED taking care of, mind you, they are healthy and able, but when the Mexican Mafia rings and you let voice messaging take the call, well...No Lexus. It probably doesn't help either that my only heir is a shit-eating Husky.
Now that my parents are spending the month of September traveling in Europe and a new, fat envelope is propping up my laptop, it would appear relations are thawing. I get the 15-year-old Farm Jeep that smells like chicken poop and beer. R gets the Lexus. Which makes perfect sense, if you think about it. Life with a Ranger at the edge of the world certainly requires four-wheel drive.
Someday, Mia, this will all be yours.