Freeloading Family

My nephew is a freeloader. Yesterday, after years of back and forth, I traveled to Houston to put a stop to it.

My mother’s oldest grandson, in his early thirties, has lived in her home (in a garage apartment) for over two years, now. He moved in after she moved to an assisted living facility. At first she told herself that assisted living was temporary, and she would be going back to the house. And so she would not allow us to put it on the market.

In the beginning, my nephew paid a very small amount of rent. Not enough to cover the utilities. Then he lost his job as a cook at a chain restaurant. After that he stopped paying rent and negotiated an agreement to stay on by taking care of my mother’s yard and doing other handyman tasks. He took care of the yard sporadically at first, and started, but never finished, several projects. He then stopped altogether when he landed a new job working nights at a large box store. I began to get letters from the HOA about the yard. He ignored my texts and voicemails that he take care of things and begin paying rent again, or find somewhere else to live. He ignored my texts that the grandmother he was freeloading off of was in the hospital (she’s been in once more since her hospitalization in June) and that it would be nice if he were to visit her. For months, he steadfastly ignored all communications. That is, until I sent him a notice to vacate. He then began texting and calling in another attempt to negotiate an extension of the terms of his freeloading. This time, I wasn’t buying it.

It finally occurred to me that I was dealing with a thirty-something year-old victim who blamed his problems on everyone else and saw his mooching off his seventy-nine year-old grandmother as an entitlement. Each time I expressed my dismay, he’d say exactly the right thing to me and his grandmother to talk his way out of being kicked to the curb. And then, once the crisis was averted, he’d keep doing exactly as he had been doing. My sister and I have been pleading with my mother for many months to sell the house, which would put an end to her supporting her grandson on limited financial means. At long last, she agreed.

It’s sad, really. History repeating itself this way. His father, my oldest brother, was an alcoholic with a spotty work history. When he couldn’t keep a job, my father allowed him to begin working for his business, and ultimately would support him until the day my brother died. My sister and I often pleaded with my parents to cut him off in the hope that he would dry out and become self-sufficient. Instead, he died of cirrhosis at age fifty-six.

So yesterday, I traveled to Houston to kick my nephew out of my mother’s house. I had arranged to meet a locksmith to change all the locks, and would also change the code on the alarm system. Because my nephew had been ignoring my requests that he vacate the premises, my sister agreed to meet me at my mother’s house so we could show him we meant business. Strength in numbers, and all that. And in case things got ugly.

When I arrived, the team of gardeners I’d hired to get the yard back in shape was there. The yard my nephew had agreed to maintain as a condition of staying on the premises rent-free until he could find a job. The back yard had become terribly overgrown. The weeds were so high you could barely see the fence. The orange tree was unrecognizable in the overgrowth. From the looks of things, he hadn’t tended to it since winter. If then. In front, the grass was yellow, there were weeds growing in cracks in the driveway and sidewalk, and there were several dead bushes. My nephew’s late-model SUV was parked in front of the mailbox (probably a passive-aggressive move). He’d allegedly purchased it the same day I gave him notice to move out, which is one of the excuses he gave for not being able to afford to vacate. (What kind of moron buys a gas-guzzling SUV when he can barely afford to support himself, and had been getting around on a bike?)

When my sister arrived, my nephew came bounding down from the apartment.

Don’t you fucking come around here threatening me. You didn’t give me enough notice. I’m not going anywhere. I need more time.

So, it was going to be like that. He followed my sister and I into the house, carrying on and becoming fairly aggressive. We moved into the front yard, where the gardeners and neighbors could intercede if need be. This did not shut him down at all. He continued to yell and swear and threaten, behaving like the horrible entitled selfish little creep that he is. My sister, who is friends with his mother (my brother’s ex-wife), called her for help. The same ex-wife who hasn’t once interceded, knowing that her son is taking advantage of his seventy-nine year-old grandmother. According to my sister, she was happy for him to be his grandmother’s problem, rather than her own. On this day, the little troll’s mother suggested that my sister and I give him more time to get out. Since it was either that, or call the police, we decided to give him one more week.

As all this was happening, the locksmith was making his way around the house, changing all the locks. We told my nephew the locksmith would be changing the locks on the garage apartment as well, and that he’d be without a key to lock the door for the remaining week of his freeloading stay. Next Saturday, we’d be back to lock the door, regardless of whether his stuff is out. His response to this:

You are no longer a part of my family.

To which my sister and I responded in unison:

That’s your choice.

There’s nothing like a common enemy to unite estranged sisters.

The locksmith then changed the locks on the garage apartment, without further incident. I expect my nephew understands the jig is up. I expect he realizes that he cannot stay beyond next Saturday, and that there is no plot he can concoct, no excuse he can give, no plea he can make, to change our minds. I am hopeful his freeloading ass will be out by Saturday. If not, I will move to Plan B, as suggested by the locksmith: I’ll turn off the utilities.

Once the little horror is off the premises, my sister and I will begin the task of sorting through my mother’s things and clearing out the house, getting it ready to put on the market. We’re up in the air about whether we should sell it to a contractor, who will do the work the house needs, or whether we should have the work done ourselves and then list the house for sale. We’ve decided to get various bids for sale “as-is” and have a couple of realtors give input on asking price and necessary cosmetic work if we were to get the house into a saleable condition.

Once the house is sold, my load (including the freeloading load) will be a bit lighter. Something I’m in dire need of. The stress of the past several years continues to accumulate, and I can physically feel it taking its toll. After I returned to Austin last night and had time to reflect, I came to a decision. I’m done working at BigLaw as of end of next year, no matter what. I simply cannot continue living the way I’ve been living, and hope to end up in a different circumstance health-wise than my mother. Every time I visit her, I see my future, and it is grim. And so I’m going to change course. Sixteen more months. I may not be entirely ready for early retirement, financially, but I’ll find a way to supplement my income. It will work out. In the meantime, I’ve got a much-needed vacation coming up in a couple of weeks. A respite from the events of the past several months at little cabin on the shores of Lake Superior. In less than three weeks, I’ll be soaking up strength and sustenance from the depths of Gitche Gumee.

For those who are curious, I have remained booze-free through the shit-storm. Keeping it sober. Keeping it frugal. Keeping it real. Day 226.

About UB Ella

UB Ella (f/k/a Unconfirmed Bachelorette) is a 50-something recovered lawyer who left the practice of law to embrace a full-time writing life. Never-married, child-free Ella resides in Austin, Texas and Ontario, Canada with her four bad cats.
This entry was posted in Early Retirement, Elderly Parents, Freeloading Family, Retirement and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Freeloading Family

  1. foguth says:

    Isn’t it amazing how certain individuals believe that they have the right to use and abuse ‘family’? Count yourself fortunate that he disowned you!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. lbeth1950 says:

    Sounds like real progress.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. josie416 says:

    I fully support your decisions; obviously, he has problems that are not being helped by this situation, and you and your mom should not be held hostage by them. I also wish for you the peace and respite (later…much later…) of being able to let go of your anger.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The anger will subside. Eventually. The way he behaved yesterday, after years of trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, was tough to take. His living off my mother but not calling or visiting her despite being just a few miles away is reprehensible. I’ll be relieved when he’s out and the house is sold, and I can take a step back. Thank you for your support.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. onedogrunning says:

    Good for you. You’re doing him a favor whether he thinks so or not. One of my uncles married a woman who took over my grandmother’s finances under the guise of helping and then stole every penny. It’s reported she did the same to her own elderly mother. My grandmother refuses to tell the police or any other family members, including my uncle. It’s very sad. Thanks again for your great blogging, I am two months into cutting my alcohol consumption down to the recommended safe amount. You were a big help and inspiration!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. You write well, so put your family into a TV script. You’d make a mint. Be easier to retire early.

    Enjoy Gitche Gumee. I’ve long wanted to pass through there.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. franhunne4u says:

    This kind of aggressiveness alone will land him into jail. Sooner or later. If I had been there, police would have been called. His mother did not take care of him earlier? Then why should she have a word to say now?
    I just hope he does nothing to the house like arson or damaging water supply or shit like that!

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re right, eventually his aggressive behavior is going to catch up with him, and there will be consequences beyond getting evicted. We were hoping his mother would tell him to leave and he would listen. Wishful thinking.
      I hope he doesn’t do any damage, either. If he does, then the police will be called. Since he knows he can’t talk his way out of it this time, I expect he’ll be moving in with his brother. I think there had to be a confrontation before he’d take me seriously. He thought I would feel sorry for him and continue to indulge him. He thought wrong.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. ainsobriety says:

    I’m sorry your nephew is like that. It’s sad, but you and your sister seem to have found some strength in it. Take care of yourself. This must be pretty distressing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Anne. It was distressing. I’m glad she agreed to help me confront him. I had a feeling he wasn’t going to go quietly. Yes, take care of myself. I need to do that now, more than ever. I have neglected myself and it is catching up with me.


  8. It sounds like real progress was made by this confrontation – time for the freeloader to grow up. Like an addict, he has to be given no other option. Good riddance! And good for you and your sister for saying what you mean and meaning what you say!


  9. rivieradinah says:

    You’re quite simply a badass. I think I’ve mentioned this before. I wish we had known each other when I still lived in Austin. But then, we were both still drinking, both working at law firms, so that might not have worked out as well as it would today. ❤

    You stood up for yourself and for your family and you weathered some major drama without drinking. Awesome.

    If the family drama brings up some latent emotions, after the adrenaline wears off, just remember that drinking never helped anyone in a situation like this. 😉

    Sending you lots of love today…thanks for sharing your life with us.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Even so, I still would have loved to have known you. 🙂

      You know, you’re right. I did stand up. I’ve stood up for my mother many times growing up (against my dad), and got the shit kicked out of me on more than one occasion. And it suddenly occurs to me that this confrontation was reminiscent. My nephew looks a lot like my dad, and his aggression was frighteningly familiar. This drama that’s been playing out over the past few years with my family needs to end soon. I’ve had enough.

      How’d you know how I felt when the adrenaline wore off? I had a rational discussion with myself of the sort you suggested, and then had a cry and a long hot bath.

      Thank you, Dinah. I’d make you a heart, but I don’t know how. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Wow — Kudos for taking your nephew on directly, and staying strong in the face of his victim mentality. I hope he’ll one day come to his senses and apologize, but of course that’s unlikely. I hope the rest of the process is less dramatic, so you can unload this stress from your heart and mind, and focus on your mom!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s amazing how stressful ‘loads’ like that are, particularly the freeloading kind. What you did was brave and difficult. And good for all concerned. Now, I hope you can have a great vacation!


  12. Anonymous says:

    You go girl. Proud of you in every way.


  13. The Pootle list says:

    Am glad you have a deadline for pulling the plug the plug on the job. The decision itself is a load off the shoulders!

    Enjoy the vacation and the sunsets.


  14. Kudos to you and your sister for putting an end to the nonsense. What an ass, that nephew of yours. Enjoy your cabin time, soak it in, and stay strong. Life is getting better! Yes, it is!!


    • Thanks, PP. And good to see you! That nephew is an ass. But according to him, he’s no longer my nephew. And he thought that was punishment. All kidding aside, I expect he’ll calm down as time passes. I’m hopeful this will point him in a better direction. It’s up to him.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. s3collins says:

    Dealing with entitled people is infuriating. Good job on staying sober. Best of luck dealing with him again on Saturday.

    If it’s any consolation, I hear the housing market is Houston is pretty good as of right now.


    • Thanks! It is infuriating. Hopefully he’ll be out without further confrontation. The market does seem to be up. I hope it goes quickly. As for cutting out booze, it’s a super way to cut expenses. Especially with the red wine habit I had.

      Liked by 1 person

      • s3collins says:

        I’d be ready for more confrontation. Usually people like that just don’t get it.

        Moderation in every aspect is easier said than done, especially when it comes to things like. I definitely understand you there.


  16. valley96 says:

    Wow!You handled that wonderfully…I’m a lurker here ,but full of admiration for your determination and ability to see whats important…I keep seeing the big picture of being able to enjoy my older years too by taking care of my health today….cutting down the booze…getting my butt out for walks…need to get the financial plan in better order…you are an inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A lurker! I’m thrilled to receive your comment, Valley96. Thanks for reminding me that I do have a big picture going. All these pieces have seemed to be discrete projects, at times. But yes, they are building blocks to health and happiness as we enter midlife and beyond. Best wishes to you on a successful master plan.


  17. karenboddey says:

    Freeloaders suck. Sounds like the vacation is coming just at the right time.


  18. Geraldine says:

    Family issues can be SO stressful but well done holding your ground, this guy sounds like a real user. Not what anyone needs around just causing problems and contributing nothing positive.


    • Yes, that was the worst part; he wasn’t contributing anything positive. We have plenty to deal with without him piling on. Luckily, he left Sunday after a few more days of back-and-forth. One more obstacle, out of the way. Yippee!


  19. ThumbWind says:

    You did the right thing. Tough love is not for wimps. I have similar goals, my plan is to get out of BigAuto in 3 years and help the kids out with their business in upper Minnisota. Fall in the Great Lakes is wonderful. Enjoy its restore energy.


  20. Karen says:

    In the early 90’s I escorted my niece, her husband and four children into a homeless shelter when they arrived on my elderly parent’s doorstep with nothing but a Beverly Hillbillies-esque truck piled high with their soggy belongings. It was the hardest thing I ever did, especially when my niece stood out on the shelter’s front porch berating me for being officially the ‘Worst Aunt Ever’, but what did they expect from two people in their eighties? (I know what they expected, but what they got was me.) Within two weeks they were situated in a home of their own which is a feat my parents and I would never have accomplished. They weren’t happy ‘up north’ and moved away after a year or so, but I still don’t regret what I did. Tough love is the only way. I’m glad your freeloader found the door!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Karen, it is difficult to say no to the freeloaders. Even harder, I expect, when they show up with four kids in tow. I find it astonishing these people do not have a problem mooching off their elderly relatives. My freeloading nephew has now moved in with his cousin. He’s expected to pay rent. I don’t have high hopes for this arrangement, but it’s not my problem. Like you, I have no regrets about sending him packing.


  21. While a horrendous situation, you may have done that guys favor by removing his safety net and not folding to his ugly bullying. Maybe he’ll hit bottom and change – or not – his choice. With luck he’ll stay far away from you and your sister. Draining to deal with ones like that. Applause.
    Can an estate sale company help with unloading the household items? (Sell it as is if possible. Contractors even when you are in town is a nightmare – far too much growth and too much demand)


    • You’re right, Phil, it was horrendous. And bully is the perfect word for his behavior. I hope forcing him to fend for himself will do him some good. But I don’t feel very hopeful. I learned from my niece when I was in Canada that he (and his brother) likely have a drug habit (Xanax, or “bars”). Which explains his lack of motivation and nasty behavior.

      Thanks for the idea about the estate sale company. Clearing out the house is going to be a big job. That may be the way to go. The plan is to get a bid as is, and compare that to market value if we do some cosmetic work: painting inside and out and possibly replacing flooring. My sister will be supervising the work, since she’s just a few blocks away. She’s anxious to get the house sold before she retires next year and moves out of the area. Works for me!

      Liked by 1 person

      • We used an estate company to clear out a house – with ugly family fights looming. The more you can keep a distance the better – So glad your sister is close and willing to get things done quickly and cleanly.
        (You are right, dealing with those with drug dependencies is extremely hard – on you – they are too brain warped to realize. Don’t allow guilt to hook into you. At some point you have to say “people make choices and I’m not responsible.” Hang in there. Just get it done and you’ll feel so much younger and free again.


        • Was the estate company you used in the Houston area? If so, do you recall the name? Hopefully we’ll get it done quickly and cleanly. And there will be no fights. The guilt is a constant battle, but I’m getting better. I’ve let guilt rule my life for far too long. I’m finally understanding that it is self-imposed. I am eagerly looking forward to being free. And then I squelch the guilt that pops up in response to that desire. Progress.

          Liked by 1 person

  22. Kim G says:

    Kudos for not putting up with bullshit! Enough is enough! Your nephew obviously has no clue about the karma bank; you need to make deposits before you can get withdrawals. Simple enough, but some people (to their detriment) just don’t get it.

    I realize I’m late to this post. Is he out and gone? House OK?

    Best of luck with the sale.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we don’t have much patience for such folks.


    • Kim, he is out! He left the following Sunday, after lots of stalling and excuses. When I threatened to call the police, he knew time was up. He left things a mess. We’ll have to replace carpet and paint. And hire some poor soul to give it a good clean. Currently repairs are being done on the outside. And then the real work begins: sifting through and disposing of the contents. The remains of my parents’ life together. But hey, it will be smooth sailing after that.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Pingback: In-Between Christmas | Unconfirmed Bachelorette

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