The mother of all dilemmas.

I got a check in the mail yesterday for $2,000-some dollars. Made out to me. Holy shit, right? I was running up and down the hallway, waving my hands just like those ninnies on “The Price Is Right.” If all I had to do to cash that check was hop around on stage without a bra and rub up and down Bob Barker a few times, I would gladly do it. But it’s not that simple.

This check was sent to me, in my name, because my mother recently cashed out my life insurance policy. She had taken it out on me when I turned 18. Since I now have my own life insurance, there is no longer a need for it.

Technically, this money is unequivocally hers. But from a karma standpoint, she doesn’t DESERVE this money — and anyone who knows my mother would agree with this statement. Let me present the evidence:

  • She spends about $500 a month on clothes alone (she recently went four whole weeks without having to do a single load of laundry).
  • When she comes to visit, she doesn’t bring so much as a ball of lint for untitledson.
  • When she does buy the occasional outfit for untitledson, it is usually from the dollar store (not the luxury department stores she shops when buying for herself).
  • She rarely offers to pay for lunch when we’re together, and has even stiffed me a few times.
  • When I asked Mom if she would be interested in contributing to untitledson’s college fund, she said “no, that’s ok” (keep in mind she always told me the reason she didn’t pay for any of my college was that she never had the money).
  • When her granddaughter (my niece) was in the NICU for three months after birth and my brother and his wife were experiencing severe financial difficulties as a result, my mom told them all she could afford to give them was $50. (another relative — one who has always given my mother money when she needed it — generously stepped in to help them out)

This last incident disturbed me greatly. I am my father’s daughter (he was pretty giving), and I know he’d be turning in his grave over this one. The reason she has the money in the first place is because of his death. But it seems the more she has, the stingier she is. I mean, I would eat ramen noodles every day for lunch to be able to pay for art lessons for untitledson. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than giving to him. For most mothers and fathers, that’s the way it is.

So back to the dilemma — should I play karmic police and withhold the check? Should I cash it myself, perhaps put it in untitledson’s college fund? I’m almost positive she would never find out. In your heart of hearts, what would YOU do? Don’t tell me what you say you’d do — tell me what you’d really do. If you need further evidence to make your decision, click here and here.