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I spent the morning talking to a lawyer about the house I own with two of my siblings, and about how it has been a recently unhappy partnership because expecting all of us to work together, even for the common good, is apparently too challenging. It seems we’d rather live in fear of the other guy getting something he isn’t entitled to, and other painful ideas, than figure out how to work together to enjoy our siblingness. Since our shared childhood was unique we might rally together to uplift one another and laugh at the absurdities of life. But we don’t. The lawyer told stories of family after family where the parents believed naively that giving all the kids the family home would help bring them together despite obvious clues to the contrary. But it never ever does, he said, even in families where the kids like each other and get along.

So on the ride home in the car, after pondering the sorry state of mankind, and that I’d just detailed the facts of our joint ownership and the sordid history of it all to a stranger who has chosen the life occupation of hearing such miseries, I put my head down and blew through a pack of tissues.

It’s not a good idea to try to do in death what you failed to do in life, and in this case that means creating a happy, functional family.