End of the White Line

My brother’s standing in the hallway, holding a few framed vintage photos. The photos look like them from the early 20th century – in one, a stoic, stone faced family stares bleakly into the camera. In another, a baby in a christening outfit.

“Do you want this?” my brother asks.

“Who is it?” I respond.

“I don’t know. Maybe our grandfather? Or our grandfather’s father?”

“Nah, I’m good,” I say. For all the times I’ve wandered through thrift stores, ogling the vintage photographs and the portraits, the opportunity to own framed photos of my own family doesn’t intrigue me. Probably because it’s the white side of my family. I don’t know who any of those people are, or what they did, and, frankly, I don’t really care.

I’m at my brother’s house because he has a few final details to hammer out when it comes to my paternal grandmother’s will. So we are gathered there so he can dole out various knick knacks that may or may not have sentimental or financial value. The last thing that he has is a ring – a diamond ring. With a ruby in it. It was my grandmother’s wedding ring, and of course I want it, but I do the honorable thing and defer to my mother. My mother takes the ring, puts it on.

“If your father saw this, he would kill me,” she says. We all laugh. My mother waves her hand around, watching the diamonds glisten.

“But you deserve it. After everything you went through,” I say. It’s true – my grandmother, a waspy, wispy woman whose blood line was 100% Dutch, was never kind to my mother. Mostly because my mother is Mexican and Filipino. My mother nods her head in acknowledgement of my statement.

“That ring is worth thousands of dollars,” my brother tells her.

I look at my siblings, who are gathered there, masks on, socially distanced, and I can’t help but smile. For all the horrible things my grandmother did to her daughter in law, isn’t this the best revenge. We are all mixed race, and my siblings’ children are even more mixed and less white than we are. When my grandmother died, she was the last remaining white person in my family. And now, here we are. The white people may be gone from this family forever, but their money remains.

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