• Claire Tomkinson


"Is there a downside to inheriting a home and property?" I asked, searching my husband's face for the answer neither one of us knew. Like most answers that are sought, it came in time. It turns out that an inheritance is much more than a house, land, or money. It covers everything loved one's leave their children. What you have is a choice.

Do I accept this inheritance or not?

To decline is not the path I know, because my husband and I said, "Yes". "Yes" was the answer to the building that was being taken back by nature and the home that held three generations of memory, and possessions. It was the answer to a lifetime of physical treasures and sixty years of Depression Era hoarding. It was the resounding answer to a well that had gone dry, but could flow at $112 a foot, 400 feet later, cool and crisp, and untainted by city requirements. It was the answer to the wisteria, roses, and hummingbird vines that smell of heaven, and sing reminders of my grandmother's fingers gently poking them into the soil, and of her absence, leaving them to rip through brick and pulling centennial trees onto the house. It was the answer to irreplaceable retro tile, chandeliers, and fixtures that floated magically over rotten, missing joist. "Yes", was the answer to ALL the family photos, myths of hardwood floors that lay under the carpet, a decade of mold, crumbling drywall, and door knobs that when rubbed clean were solid perfect brass. It was the answer to giant bedrooms, limitless living space, a homesteading dreamland, and more trips to the dump than evening stars on a clear night.

We joke, today, about the shamanic deaths we died trying to reconstruct the fullness of this inheritance into the gift it was intended to be. But the reality we live has become a metaphor for each of us who was raised by another human being, or was born of an organic body, and allowed to grow into adulthood to face the question, "Do you accept your inheritance?"

If you say "Yes", you get it ALL. The best of your beloved and the worst of their cyclical, selfish nature. These are two sides to the same coin. A coin can prove to be a heavy thing, a burden. It can hold the bearer back from their own divine destiny with the constant reminder that this is all you have, all you will ever have, and you must cling to it or be lost. In the same way, this coin can be the investment one springs from. Choosing to embrace, both the flaws and fortune of family, as foundational treasure created to propel you forward into all you can become.

I suppose you could just decline the entire offer and toss that coin, unfettered, into a parking lot, keeping your eyes fixed forward in search of trails to blaze to a fortune you created all on your own.

But this I know. Someday, a doe-eyed seeker will notice a glimmer on the pavement and stop to pick it up, thinking to themselves, "How lucky I am!"

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