You can read the full version of Richard’s letter at The Moneyist Facebook Group.
When I was 6 years old my parents split and there was a nasty divorce. They were both teachers and were working in the Bahamas in the 1960s.
There was a custody dispute and I was kidnapped by my father and taken to another island. My mother came back to England with my sister and my father agreed to return me if mother did not name my father as an adulterer in the divorce proceedings. My father put me on a plane from Miami to Heathrow in November 1969 in a T-shirt and shorts.
Years went by with no contact with my father. Nice guy!
On my last visit to my grandfather in the early 1980s after the death of my grandmother he promised me and my sister a £1000 ($1,396) legacy each. My father is an only child and was made executor of my grandfather’s will.
In the mid-1990s, my wife and I decided to go to Nassau for a holiday. On our first day there, we visited our old house and came across an old neighbor who immediately remembered me and put me in touch with my two half-brothers and my father. We spent time together.
I discovered that he stole our £1000 legacy and scuttled off back to the Bahamas (along with the sale proceeds of a detached house and the contents of my grandfather’s savings). I was left in emotional turmoil.
Obviously this revelation somewhat soured my newfound relationship with my father. He has not answered any correspondence since. He has set himself up as a pillar of the community and as a local author, he pontificates about religion and family values in online blogs, it’s laughable. I guess there’s nothing I can do about the money he took from me, but this email finds its way to you in the hope you can change that belief.
Sometimes, the best response is no response.
Your father was not a stand-up guy. He didn’t take an active role in your upbringing and he fled the country with your thousand bucks. When I read your letter, I felt bad that you were torn up over such a relatively small sum of money for so many years. And then it hit me: You’re searching for something worth far more than $1,000. You’re searching for the love and respect your father failed to give you as a child and, as far as your happiness and sense of self-worth is concerned, that’s priceless.
Try to stop thinking about this $1,000. Even if you finally received it, despite all the magical thinking in the world, your father wouldn’t suddenly turn into the guy you wanted him to be and I doubt you would feel much better about him being the pillar of the community. I’m not going to advise you to see a lawyer for such a sum. Why don’t you do something nice for yourself? Cook your sister dinner, light a candle for the good parent you had and light another for the bad parent, and let it go.
They both made you into the man you are today.
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