The auction of many of the possessions from my former life took place one week ago.
Thank goodness ”We are not the sum of our possessions” (George H.W. Bush) or I’d be a pretty empty equation. Because the sum of my possessions is quite limited these days–thanks to the crimes and Ponzi scheme perpetrated by my former spouse.
After he revealed his crimes, federal authorities seized everything of value that could be sold, the proceeds going to pay back victims who invested their money under the guise of his investment company, Market Street Advisors. I hope it was successful and that every investor/victim receives compensation and restitution.
As for me, I have my jewels (my children.) My treasures (their artwork and handmade gifts they’ve given me over the years; family photos; and the like.) And a few things handed down to me from my ancestors–dresses from my mother, grandmothers and a great-grandmother; costume jewelry from my mother and grandmothers; a book about Paris from my grandpa; a table and chairs from a grandmother; a white trunk that traveled from England and carted the entirety of my great-great grandmother, Mary Ann Quinn’s, worldly possessions to Utah in the 1800s; and various family stories, all of which I appreciate because “Family stories make the most valuable heirlooms.” (Unknown)
In case anyone is wondering how I ended up with ANYTHING, you’re not alone. The day my former husband revealed his crimes to me, March 18, 2009, and told me federal authorities had frozen our bank accounts and our assets, that we were losing everything, I envisioned that, literally, to be the case. In my mind I saw giant government semi trucks, with dark tinted windows, pulling up to my home and removing everything from it, including my clothes, my shoes, furniture, jewelry, my treasures (like a painting my deceased mother painted), etc… In fact, terrible as this may be, one of the things I did that day before I went to bed to not sleep was go to my closet and remove the tags from a pair of jeans I hadn’t worn yet–hoping that if my jeans couldn’t be returned to the store, maybe the government would let me keep them! (I just knew I’d never have money to make a single purchase again in my entire life.)
But I was wrong. Just one more thing I’ve learned from my unexpected life.
In an asset seizure (resulting from a Ponzi scheme, anyway, I don’t know if all asset seizure are the same or different), they let you keep your clothes and your shoes. They allow you to keep your family heirlooms. They even allowed me to keep a lot of my furniture so I could establish my little family in a home in a new place. They were good to my kids. They let them keep their clothes and shoes, bicycles and even allowed me to keep their outdoor playset–but they took their pedal cars, dirt bikes and ATVs, my 16-year-old’s Mini Cooper and other things that were fun but luxury items, non-essential to basic living needs. So contrary to what I envisioned in those first moments of March 18, 2009, it wasn’t quite as dire as losing every single thing I had ever owned, touched or possessed with nothing but a cardboard box to use for clothing AND shelter. (I was shocked and imagined the worst, that day, what can I say?)
It’s very nice that they do that, that they allowed us to keep the basics we would need to live, but I also learned in 2009 that they actually HAVE to do that. They told me they had to, “there are laws in place to protect the innocent,” although sometimes I felt like somehow those laws weren’t enacted on my behalf because there were MANY things that did not work out for me, truth be told. Color me able to relate to the investment scheme victims in that regard, as well, I guess!
I learned they can’t seize something that wasn’t paid for with “ill gotten gains”–as they referred to everything I owned that had been purchased by Ponzi scheme proceeds. So I got to keep anything not paid for with those funds. Like things purchased prior to the date the Ponzi scheme began.
Edgar Watson Howe said, ”Everyone has something ancestral, even if it is nothing more than a disease.” That’s true even in my case, former family member of a criminal, with most of her possessions tainted by crime. If I had something my parents had given me, that I’d inherited, I got to keep that stuff too.
They let you keep gifts, as long as those gifts weren’t given to you by the criminal (in my case, that meant not only did I lose everything of material value I thought I had but also most of the gifts my husband had given to me over the almost two decades we were married!)
However, when you’ve been married 20 years, and to a man who was perpetrating a Ponzi scheme unbeknownst to you, that doesn’t leave much. Most everything, including money, ends up mingled together–which means you lose it when the Feds swoop in and seize all of the valuable assets. But I did end up with a a few things. In particular, my piano (used, from the 1950s, but a good one) and a violin. (MY violin. I’d had it since 1982 and I had it–through the 2009 drama, media coverage, scrutiny of neighbors and others, the asset seizure, my divorce, my move to Utah, my Utah flood and my new life.)
I had my violin until last week, that is.
It was a nice bit of irony, actually. One of my few material possessions of value, my violin, left my possession the same week everything of value from my former life got auctioned off to the highest bidder. And I didn’t even plan it that way.
“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” (E.B. White)
The coincidences in an unexpected life.