380 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 80 PART 3 MAY 2022
reminded her too much of the man she had just buried. When he convened
a family meeting to, as he said, “chart the future,” Mary harboured no illusions
that his intent was benign.
When Mary arrived at Peter’s law offices, she was immediately whisked
into the large boardroom and seated on one side of the long mahogany
table, there to contemplate the majestic surroundings: the panelled walls,
the view of the park below and the three sombre pictures of the firm’s
founders, now all long since deceased. Clearly, this was a setting designed
to intimidate. She appreciated the intended theatre.
After a wait of ten minutes, the door at the end of the boardroom opened
and her three children and their spouses entered. Peter, as the alpha male,
took the chair at the table’s head and the others sat at the side of the table
opposite her. She thought, “Five against one and the referee is fixed.”
Peter opened the meeting by informing her that he was the executor of
the will, and then with quiet condescension continued, “Mother, the family
has had a meeting to discuss things and we have come to some thoughts and
conclusions as to the way forward.”
She wondered, “Did he realize how the use of ‘Mother’ grated? Was he
doing it simply to annoy her?” She let it pass and looked up and asked, “We?
The family? Conclusions?”
They all assented, completely oblivious to the innuendo implicit in her
Peter continued. “We all think it wise that you do nothing precipitous.
This has been a shock to us all, but especially to you. In my opinion, moves
made in haste and under pressure are often regretted. Ultimately, we
believe you will not want to be rattling around that big house and would be
more comfortable in something more manageable, but that can wait.”
He paused briefly and then, assuming he had her assent, he continued.
“I can also assure you that there are sufficient assets to continue the
monthly amounts that you have been receiving, and even for extra amounts
you may need for special things such as travel and special events. We will
be there for you. All you have to do is ask.”
There were no comments from the others, so with their tacit approval, he
sought to bring the meeting to a close. He said, “We have all been under a
great deal of stress with all of this. I thought we needed a break, so I have
made dinner reservations for us at Crocodile. My treat.”
With that, they all began to rise from the table. Mary interrupted their
departure. “I am sorry to hold you all back, but I have a few questions. If I
don’t ask them now, there may not be another chance.”
“Of course,” Peter said, and they all sank back into their chairs.