My nephew "helped" me move and wanted to charge me a lot of money - now my sister's family is mad at me!

My younger sister and I were always very close. Our Mom died when my sister was very young and I jumped in to act as surrogate. I was divorced and childless; she eventually married (I planned and my brother and I paid for the wedding). She had 4 kids, whom I considered partly mine. I gave them things my sister and brother-in-law couldn’t afford. I visited them when they lived overseas, and really considered myself part of the family. I have spent every Christmas with them since the early 80s.

When I lived in the same town, a verbal thank you sufficed (although barely), but when I moved far away, the lack of gratitude became more of an issue for me. I always sent them thank-yous, hoping to teach by example, but it didn’t work. Nor did talking to my sister about it. She would acknowledge that they should show gratitude, not just to me, but to their Grandparents, aunts, whoever sent them gifts. When the children were all teenagers, I explained how I felt, and asked them for cooperation in acknowledging gifts. I am not talking here about trivial gifts. I have given them trips to Europe and Hawaii, a truck, wedding flowers (plus a gift), e.g. When they did not respond, I bought each one thank-you notes geared toward their interests, and explained that if I did not get acknowledgment of my gifts, the gifts would cease. After all, as an Aunt, I have no obligation to give gifts. There was no acknowledgment, hence the gifts ceased.

Last year, my sister chastised me severely for not sending niece #2 a gift for her 16th birthday. My sister pointed out that I had taken niece #2 to Europe at about that age. I acknowledged that, but pointed out what should have been obvious – when niece #1 was younger, I had a very high-paying job, and few obligations. I was unceremoniously pushed out of that job, and have fallen on very hard times. In addition, niece #1 was always careful to stay in touch with me, thanked me for gifts, and treated me with respect. I then explained to my sister that, while I could not take niece #2 to Europe or similar, I had paid for 10 years of ballet classes, and had taken her on trips many times – twice to New York, where we stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria and The Plaza and went to Broadway shows, the Ballet, and Radio City Christmas Show; to Niagara Falls; to the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. My sister angrily replied that these expenses got me benefit because I then had someone to go to the ballet with, and that I was going on some of the trips anyway, and taking niece #2 gave me company. I was devastated by her callousness. We stopped speaking. Niece #1 tried to run interference, but inadvertently made things worse by telling me that I really wasn’t part of the nuclear family, but an extended family member rather like aunts and uncles who the children rarely saw. Further, she said that the children did not like it when I visited, because my presence “interrupted the family rhythms.” This because I borrowed one of the family’s 4 cars for a dental appointment, and sleep in the computer room when I visit. I had also yelled at nephew #1 when he was disrespectful to me. My planned Christmas visit was curtailed from 9 days to three, with the proviso that I leave on Christmas day. Since it is a minimum of seven hours of air travel to get there, I respectfully declined to go.

The latest incident arose when I asked for help to furnish a condo I own in Florida. The place was purchased as an income property, but it had been vacant for almost 2 years due to the economic downturn. I can’t sell it because it as lost so much value, and I owe way more than it is worth. I had left quite a bit of furniture at my sister’s when I moved after the job debacle, and I asked for a bed back. Instead, she offered to return a lot of my stuff, for which I was thrilled and grateful. Nephew #1 was to drive it down in a cargo van, and help me unload it. I would pay fro his gas and costs. The first night was to be roughing it with air mattresses, but I had arranged for a queen mattress set and queen futon to be delivered our first full day there. Nephew was also delivering a sofa. My cousin offered to come help me move.

I sent Nephew #1 my debit card and $50 cash for meals for the 12 hour trip. About 10 days before the trip, with airline reservations set and schedules all arranged, my sister informed me that nephew #1 was brining his girlfriend, and intended to stay in a motel, and that I was expected to pay for it. It was not presented as “Hey, nephew #1 is uncomfortable that cousin will be there – is there room for 4 people in a 1,000 square foot, 2 BR, 2 Ba condo?” but “Nephew #1 and girlfriend want to ‘do it’ without chaperones and you’re paying.” About 4 days before the trip, my nephew got on the phone while I was talking to my sister, and stated that his goal was to “come out even” on this trip. I was so afraid that if I said no, he wouldn’t make the trip, I said OK. Well, he made the trip and gave us a whopping one hour of help, then proceeded to spend the rest of the weekend with the girlfriend. I took everybody out to dinner one night ($50 apiece) and gave him another $100 cash. When I got home, nephew #1 sent me receipts for the van (as expected), the motel (over $300), and various and sundry receipts including a deposit for jet ski rental, sunscreen, sodas, several large restaurant and bar bills, totaling several hundred dollars more. I sent a check for the motel and van along with a note saying that I assumed the other receipts were sent to show how he had spent the $150 I had given him, and how disappointed I was that he, knowing the financial situation I was in, would choose to stay in a motel, costing me a lot of money. I told him about a friend of mine who had driven, along with her 75 year old husband, for 16 hours to deliver a truckload of my belongings to me. All I paid for was their gas, food, and lodging, and that they had stayed with me while they were in town. I told nephew #1 that I had hoped for at least that much consideration from my own family!

Well, the check has been cashed, and I have not heard from my sister in almost 2 weeks. Usually she calls daily. So, I’m the bad guy for not succumbing to extortion. Geez, it’s a good thing nephew #1 didn’t propose while he was in Florida – I probably would have been expected to pay for the ring!

Am I the bad guy here, or have I turned my sister’s family into a greedy bunch of money-grabbers? I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut.
By SadSis 9 years ago :: Family (Extended)
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