This blog is about Christine, and about my father. Its about betrayal, fear, dependency, trust.
Christine first got her claws (see picture) into my Dad when my Dad had retired and was spending quite a lot of time alone in his villa in Spain in around 1998. her husband had had enough of her and she was looking for a lonely, rich old man. She found Dad. His friends warned him she was a gold-digger, but he was lonely and she gave him what he needed, a glamourous woman on his arm, in his bed and in his kitchen.
He had a beautiful old cottage here in the UK and a lovely villa with a pool in Spain, and a pension of over 60K a year! Dad had been married twice before and swore he would never marry again. Christine did everything she could to get him to marry her, but he flatly refused. He didnt want her to move in with him, so she made herself homeless so he had no choice.
She had a shabby little house in Spain and she sold it and bought a ruin in Denia. A traditional town house but it only had four walls and a broken roof. No one could live there, so while it was being restored – she moved in with Dad. She tried very hard to get Dad to pay for renovations, but he didnt want to. In the end he paid for everything, including paying off her mortgage, air conditioning and heating to be put in, he sold his place and moved in with her. he did this to prevent her claiming his property when he died. He had made a will and set up a trust for his two daughters (my sister Alex and myself) and three grandchildren. He had his solicitors draw it all up. he didnt want to leave anything to Christine in his will, he specifically had a paragraph in the will stating that she should get nothing.
Christines long term plan was to get her hands on his money, lets not beat about the bush. But how could she do it when he had everything tied up? She had to isolate him first from his friends and family, so she set about doing just that.
I used to have keys to Dads cottage in Hotham, East Yorkshire. Dad liked me to go and stay there for little breaks and I did, for years use it as my second home. Christine wasnt happy with this arrangement so she began to accuse me of stealing from the house. The first thing was those cheap bistro wine glasses that you can buy off any market for 50p. Then she said I had stolen a wok, then a casserole dish. All things from the kitchen, Dad didnt cook, so wouldnt know what was in there anyway. Eventually she browbeat him into making me give the keys back, from then on I wasnt able to have little breaks in my fathers house.
It did come in useful once by NOT having keys. Dad rang me one day and asked me if I had been in the house and opened his bank statement. I said no I hadnt, and reminded him that I no longer had keys to his house. I advised him to look closer to home for the culprit. This was in about 2008.
For many years Dad produced an annual document about the state of his finances, he would give a copy to me and one to my sister. The document stated how much money or shares he had, in which account or with which company etc. Christine got him to stop doing this in 2009, and demanded that all previous copies we had we had to return. From then on we didnt get any more information except what he told us.
Later she banned me from the house completely. She had become panicky that Dad had started to ask me to help him with his paperwork. One day he had asked me to come and help him with a phone issue, he had changed provider and was a bit confused as to what plan he was on. So I got all the relevent paperwork out to see what I could discover for him. Christine was out shopping when I arrived. When she got back and found me in the office she was not at all happy. She emailed me calling me a theif, a scrounger and all sorts of horrible names and informed me that I was no longer welcome in “her house”.
Dad had owned the cottage for about 30 years, he had been mortgage free long before he met her. He was leaving the cottage to my sister and I, but Christine wanted to try and get the house for herself (it was worth over 200K).
As Dad was getting more and more distressed because of forgetting things he became more difficult to care for. her solution? Valium. She fed him Valium (easily available from Spanish doctors) daily and sleeping pills at night. Being banned from the house by this time, the only way i could see Dad was to go and pick him up and take him out for a few hours. it was during these times that he told me about the Valium. He also told me that she “begged him for money” – literally begged him, on her knees with her arms around his legs so he couldnt walk away. He hated it. He had tried to leave her and re-unite with his ex-wife in about 2008 I think. Christine had simply refused to move out, complained of being ill (a hernia) and that one of her silicone tits was wrong, it had gone hard or something. Dad crumbled under all this. His ex-wife got heartily sick of it and called it all off.
The real state of things came to light in 2009 when Dad fell in Spain and hurt his arm. Despite this they caught their flights back to the UK as planned. An X-ray revealed that Dad had broken his left arm very badly, Dad was left handed, so this was the worst arm to break. What did Christine do? She immediately flew back to Spain to “pick up some more clothes” leaving Dad stranded in a cottage, not able to drive, there are no shops in the village and no bus service! She was gone for two weeks. John and I went a few times and John showered him, I shaved him and cooked. We stayed over a few times. But with John working full time in town and having three cats we couldnt just move in to look after him. I live in a flat above a shop, with lots of stairs, and no spare room or Dad could have come here. In the end he went to stay with his sister until Christine returned. After that my aunty never welcomed Christine to her house again.
Her strategy of isolating him from his family was going apace.
One of the very first things I noticed that alarmed me was that very early on Christine insisted they have separate bedrooms and SHE occuied the master bedroom, Dad was relegated to the spare room!
The end game began in 2011 when Dad was diagnosed with Parkinsons. By this time hardly anyone visited the house as Christine was so rude and unwelcoming when anyone did visit, that they were reluctant to every repeat it. Christine commenced a renovation of the property as she had decided it was to be sold and a bungalow purchased in a nearby market town. As my husband John and his business partner restore properties (mostly for landlords) Dad wanted them to do a lot of the work. So around this time John and Paul were often at the house. It was around this time that Dad was ringing me almost every day and sometimes several times a day, very distressed, very unhappy. He by this time no longer drove but could still use a telephone and email. He used to ring me when she was out shopping. he was suicidal at times. Once I was so concerned I got John and Paul to go and visit to see if he was alright. During this meeting Christine admitted she used to give him Valium “but I’ve stopped doing that now”.
Sometime before this I had called Adult Protection (Social Services) as i was so concerned. Soemone started going in, and a man took Dad out once a week so Christine could have “respite”. I had also been in touch with his GP trying to raise the alarm. I was desperately miserable, I didnt know what I could do. I told him time and again to throw her out, but he wouldnt, couldnt. He asked me if I would go and live there to look after him, I said I would, we would, John and I would. But then he said i could only take one cat. i have three cats, how would I choose? And what would I do with the other two? It was impossible.
I would bounce between feeling despairing and miserable with concern for him, and pity, and anger that he was allowing it and had had opportunities to get rid of her and hadnt seen it through. When I was in the angry states I wouldnt see him and I would try and avoid speaking to him in case I said something i would regret. Most of the time I was frantic and trying to think what i could actually do to help. Its a very frustrating situation to endure. When I did see him all he would do is moan about her, say he doesnt love her, say he is afraid of her, he told me she bullies him. He was looking more and more henpecked.
He was very worried about money, she was spending a lot (of his money) on the house, on herself. He wasnt worried that she would get her hands on his main investments as they were protected. But he worried a lot about his off-shore bank account where he had over 60K stashed. He told me that the bank only did things if he himself spoke to them, it had a password, he knew that Christine had discovered the password. So he told the bank to only act if it was his voice that said the password.
In November 2012 the house had sold and they were moving into the bungalow. Dad was miserable, he loved his cottage, he didnt want to move. John helped with the move. I took Dad out for lunch and a drive around so he wouldnt be “in the way” while they got some order into the place. She had sold all Dads lovely antiques at the local auction and bought the reproduction furniture that was in the house.
Dads health declined sharply after the move. Not in his familiar surroundings disorientated him. She was very much Mistress of this house.
Boxing Day of 2012 was the last time Dad ever came to my flat. John collected him and brought him here, my mother also came. Dad fell asleep by the fire. Later John took him home. It was lovely, I made a trifle and Dad eat absolutely loads of it!
Other things changed once Dad became ill. Previously I had been banned from the house and having contact with Dad had been made very difficult. He sometimes dared not see me, he said it wasnt worth the hassle he would then get when he got home. After his diagnosis I was still not welcome in the house, but taking him out for a few hours was actively encouraged. I started taking him out once a week. It was so terrible as he was so depressed, anxious and miserable, and frankly, frightened that if I was feeling down I had to keep away.
I took him out many times but after each time I was exhausted, it was draining. I did it as much as I could. By this time I had a caravan and would spend most of the summer away in a field. Dad wanted to come and stay in the caravan, so I bought a three berth van so we could have him come and stay. It never happened, he was too ill by this time.
How it all came to a head as he began to die, and what Christine did in the final chapter is in the next blog.