GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Lifestyle

September 30, 2013

Family won't pay deadbeat dad's cremation expenses

Dear Abby: I was divorced 14 years ago. Afterward, my ex, “Tom,” hid from me because he was afraid I’d have him arrested for not paying child support.

Our son is a Marine, and the Red Cross notified him that his father was dying in a hospital on the East Coast. My ex’s aunt had contacted them to notify my son as next of kin. Tom had remarried, divorced again and had a girlfriend. He died a few days later.

Nobody is willing to pay for his cremation. I asked his sister and aunt if we could split the bill three ways, even though I realize I’m not obligated. They refused, even after being told the remains would be deemed “unclaimed.” The county would dispose of him as an indigent drifter. Their excuse was they hadn’t heard from him in several years. I told them they were preaching to the choir, since I was the one he hid from.

I do not resent my ex because I realize his death was as unpredictable as his life. But I do feel bitterly taken advantage of. When I accused his relatives of false concern, they got angry at me. How can I demonstrate honor to my son by dishonoring his father that way?

On The Spot In California

Dear On The Spot: You are not the next of kin; your son is. Ask him what he thinks would be the appropriate way to handle his deadbeat dad’s remains. You made the effort to have the family pay for the burial, and that should show your son that you tried to honor his father.

I don’t know how long it has been since your ex passed, but this is a case where the body could have been donated to a medical school. There is nothing dishonorable about that.

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