My grandmother complained that my stepfather was upstairs practicing my mothers funeral hymn days before she died. My grandfather complained that he was blocked by my stepfather from coming to visit his only daughter one last time the week before she died. I wasn't even invited to the funeral, completely blocked by my stepfather and the Mormon Church, and in the end I did not attend. I only got second hand accounts of what actually happened at the funeral.
None of my mothers biological family was consulted in any way regarding the services, or invited to speak at my mothers funeral. The funeral was run like a church meeting, largely dominated by Elder Packer. Elder Packer is an Apostle for the Mormon church and he was the mission president for my father thirty years earlier. He didn't really know my mother as he mispronounced her name the entire time. Her funeral wasn't really about her in the end. It was about my stepfather and the church. Accolades to his pain and suffering and enduring faith in the truth of the gospel.
I was out serving a two year mission for the church in Texas. I was unsanctimoneously told over the phone of my mothers death by my mission president, and it was just expected that I would stay out and complete my mission. No counseling was offered, no help. Nothing. I was alone. Nearly forgotten. Left feeling like I had something to spiritually prove, as one does when dealing with a narcissist. I recall writing Elder Packer at the beginning of my mission regarding the myriad of concerns I had with what was happening at home. He assured me that the Lord would take care of my family if I just went out and served with all my heart. Which I did. But had I know that this is what he meant by "taken care of," I may have had a very different response.
Back then, we weren't allowed to contact our family at all, except through letters and email once a week. Phone contact was prohibited except on Christmas and Mothers Day. Fortunately I was able to speak with her briefly the week before her death. I was granted five minutes by my mission president to check on my brother who had broken his jaw at the time on a four wheeling accident. I was assured that everything was fine by everyone. My mother had a strong testimony of the church and wanted nothing more than for me to finish my mission, which was one more year. So, to be fair, it wasn't entirely my stepfathers doing. But, looking back, I don't believe that I could have returned if I wanted to anyway as I'm fairly certain that only shame and trauma would have been awaiting me.
Not that I missed anything anyway. Everyone that I talked to hated the funeral. My mothers father and his wife of the past thirty years described how Elder Ballard largely focused on their lack of faith and belief in the church during the service and how they were randomly approached by a stranger and told that they would be getting no money from my mothers passing. Among many other unpleasant experiences related to me by others.
My mother was faced with a difficult decision right before her death. Where to be buried. She finally agreed to be buried next to my stepfathers first wife, where he too would be buried. My stepfather promised her that he would move my father to rest at the foot of her. However, he gave my brothers and I the option at one point to either move my father, or give that money to my older brother who was struggling financially at the time. We opted to help my brother.
But knowing my stepfather as I do now, I do not believe that he ever had any intentions of moving my father and used this awkward situation of making us choose between moving my dead father or helping our living brother. He should never have made us choose to begin with. But I think it was a means to an end to get what he wanted anyway in typical narcissist fashion.
You see, in the Mormon faith, a literal resurrection is taught, along with the doctrine of plural marriage. I believe that my stepfather hoped that after everyone popped out of the ground, that he would have a chance to convince my mother to ditch my dad and to be his second wife forever. If my dad was there too, it would have cramped his style and diminished his chances to get him to convince her to choose him. This might sound insane, but my stepfather frequently took the church very literally.
So my parents rested apart for 15 years, before my brothers and I banded together and paid to have her moved to his side. At which point we had another memorial service for her. One that was actually about her. Warm memories were shared, tears were shed. So I was able to attend her actual funeral, you know, the one that was actually about her and not my stepfather and the church.
I returned home from my mission one year after her death, getting multiple different accounts of what happened while I was away. It was hellish as I tried to pick apart the different versions of the story that didn't add up. I would talk to one person, then I would talk to my stepfather and heard his spin on everything. Then everyone would be mad at me for betraying their confidence on the issue. Everything finally made sense when I finally realized that my stepfather simply was a liar.
My stepfather picked me up from the airport upon my return, with what appeared to be a calculated and rehearsed show in hindsight. He described his love for my mother with tears in his eyes. He also took the opportunity to describe how he had divided up the funds from the sale of his business. He told me how the money he didn't keep went into a perpetual education fund for the grandchildren... complete lie as far as I can tell. He wouldn't tell me how much he sold his business for, but then couldn't help but brag about the $30,000,000 price tag a day later to some of the neighbors.
I know that I keep bringing up the money. The money is a difficult topic because for anyone who has dealt with a clinical narcissist, you'll understand that its not all about the money, but it is. Money represents power and control to the narcissist. So they are going to do everything they can to undercut their perceived competition in order to control it. While simultaneously gaslighting everyone around them, pointing the finger of greed at them.
For me, the money was the final dishonor to my mothers memory. Not only did my stepfather perceive my mother as bankrupt. But when he sold the business and created two different distinct socioeconomic classes within his own family, he completely dishonored her memory and dream of unity. The cherry on top was the million dollar houseboat that he built immediately after, that I and my brothers were not allowed on because we could not afford to fix it if something went wrong according to him.
She ultimately chose to be buried where she was to create unity and that piece of trash completely dishonored her and divided the family. Even after I understood what he'd done, it took me another thirteen years before I completely understood the full impact of what he had done and why and to see him for what he truly is. It still breaks my heart. Especially since I took up my mothers cause for unity for all those years to my own detriment as well. I didn't want the money to divide us. But it left my brothers and I feeling inadequate in the family, while the thoroughbreds felt defensive and entitled to the millions they'd received.