Good morning, y’all. I’ve experienced my first real glitch with my recorder. Seems like something in yesterday’s download did something with the memory, or the tape can’t be used again or some technological kerfuffle that would require a person with a higher education to resolve. Unfortunately, there are no people with the necessary skill set available, so I’ll just have to muddle through.
When we left our story yesterday, Jackson and I have met with Mom at The Facility and confirmed our plan for Saturday. We’ve gotten her permission for the move, and confirmed with her that her list of “Antiquities” should be brought from the condo to her new residence at Mountain View. Jackson has slept above the covers in Mom’s bed while I attempt to grab a few winks on sister Charlotte’s prized possession, the guest bedroom bed. Rock hard is too soft a description for that bed. Why it has become such a big deal that we not move it is beyond me, but then, I’m not crazy.
We start stirring about 7AM and we both grab showers to remove the final cobwebs from our eyes. I make the coffee good and strong. It’s going to be a long day. We are sitting in the kitchen enjoying our first cup when we hear a faint knock at the door. We look at each other quizzically as Jackson gets up to see if anyone is at the door. Just as he reaches to open the door, the door bursts open with Charlotte and Edna bursting through like a SWAT team on the TV show “Cops”. The tension and energy in the air is so strong I expect to see St. Elmo’s fire at any second. Direct questions of “what are you doing here”, “why didn’t you wait until we answered the door”, “what the hell is your problem” are met with the nervous giddy responses of “checking to see what you’re moving”, “we didn’t know you were here, it’s my right, I’ve got a key, my name is on the original deed”, “I went by to see Mom and she wanted me to bring her some things”.
Jackson and I are bobbing like two row boats that have been caught in the wake of an aircraft carrier. I respond, “you didn’t see Mom yesterday, you went to the nurses’ station, but you didn’t see Mom”.
“Well, it was another time, and she wanted me to bring her her makeup and something else, what was the other thing, Edna?”, Charlotte replies. Edna is standing to the side in the foyer with her head down in embarrassment. Apparently, what started as a great idea from the gifted mind of Charlotte has turned into a true calamity. Their bare desires to covet Mom’s holdings have been exposed in the almost light of the new day. Who knows when the idea to bullrush the condo was hatched, but it is clear now to Edna that boundaries have been crossed, social and familial. Edna tries to grab her voice from where it has become stuck in her throat.
“Stationery, your Mom needs stationery”, Edna chokes out.
“Oh yeah, stationery”, Charlotte responds. Charlotte shoves a 40 gallon trash bag at Edna and continues, “you get her stationery and I’ll get her makeup”. Charlotte blasts at full steam towards Mom’s bedroom with Jackson in close tow. Edna and I can hear them snapping back and forth as they go down the hall. Edna moves into the kitchen where she opens the the gigantic trash bag with great flourish to place the single box of personalized stationery Mom keeps on her dinette table, into the bottom of the bag. It is just Edna and I in the kitchen and she looks everywhere but at me. “Why are you here, why are you doing this?”, I ask.
Edna musters her courage before responding, “we just wanted to help out, your Mom seems so pitiful, we wanted to bring her some things to make her feel better”.
“Anything you couldn’t have told us about so we could have added it to the move?”, I ask.
She doesn’t respond to my question, but instead moves to the refrigerator door where she opens the door looking for rotting food. She finds a dozen bottles of sports drinks, the sight of which seems to befuddle her further.
“I told you I cleaned out everything weeks ago”, I tell her, “including her five pound sugar licks.” Turns, out when sugar is opened it will gather moisture and turns as solid as a salt lick. I had thrown out a couple of those during my cleanup. Edna goes to the pantry. I explain to her again that I had cleaned out all of the expired food.
“Well, we shouldn’t let all of this good food go to waste”, she opines.
“It won’t be going to waste if Mom comes back home”, I reply. Edna suppresses the urge to empty the contents of the pantry into her garbage bag and starts bouncing from one foot to the other. We can hear Jackson and Charlotte getting closer and I hear Jackson’s voice say “one million dollars, let it go” And then, there we all are, standing in the kitchen of Mom’s condo.
I look Charlotte squarely in the eye and ask, “How broken are you?”, “I am at complete loss as to what’s going on with you and there is nothing I can grab in my life experience that would explain your behavior to me.” I go on,”I have heard about this stupid bedroom furniture so much I want to throw up and the crazy, I mean CRAZY, thing about it is, you can’t seem to understand that taking Mom’s furniture is the most logical thing to do if we want her to feel at home at the new place”. “I mean seriously, you all, can you not see that if this is going to work, that Mom needs to feel at home?”.
Charlotte starts in again, “well it’s my furniture and I loaned it to Mom and I didn’t want anything to happen to it”.
“And the four hundred times I’ve assured you that we never even considered using the furniture haven’t assured you yet and you felt the need to drag Edna over here to back you up?” “Tell you what”, I continue, “Mom has to leave The Facility, that is a given”. “If you’re not happy with my plan to put Mom somewhere that she might be happy and might get better, we can bring her back here and you guys can start your dance all over again”. “Einstein said that one definition of crazy was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, this is your Einstein moment Charlotte, do you want me to bring her back here?”, I ask.
Edna responds, “Oh no, no, no, I can’t take it anymore. I’ve just got my blood pressure back down. I’ve already told Hannah no matter what happens that I can’t go on like before.”
I look at Charlotte, “Well?”, I ask.
Charlotte turns her head from my gaze but responds, “No, I support what you’re trying to do.”
“OK”, I say, “Let’s let this be the end of this”. “We don’t know if Mom is coming back here in ninety days or not”, I continue, “so let’s restrain ourselves from pillaging until we have some sense of her recovery, ok?”
Charlotte attempts to seize the moment and responds, “Is that what the psychiatrist says, that she’ll be better in ninety days?”, she asks.
“It’s possible”, I say, “it seems like there’s a lot of unknowns when dealing with elders”. “Regardless of whether Mom is going to finish her days at Mountain View or come back here, I don’t want the condo stripped down to the paint on the walls”. “As Power of Attorney for Mom, I am charged with the responsibility of protecting Mom’s assets, and I’ll have no problem having the estate sue anyone to recover any damages done to the estate”. “You do believe me, don’t you?”, I ask.
Charlotte sighs a soft “yes”, and it is like all of the air has been let out of her tires.
I want her to leave with something to think about, so I ask,”What’s this blackberry root extract Mom keeps babbling about?”,”She keeps telling me that she was so sick and all Charlotte could do was keep trying to force feed her this stuff she called blackberry root extract”. Charlotte looks like the cat that couldn’t get to the sandbox in time, and she is mentally searching for an answer that will cover up her mess.
“It’s an herbal remedy”, she replies, ” it’s all homeopathic, and since Mom doesn’t want to go to the doctor I thought we could try that”.
“Try it for what?”, I ask.
“For her bladder infection”, Charlotte responds, “she just seemed to be having so much pain from her bladder infection that I asked my chiropractor what he thought and he suggested the blackberry root extract”.
“Hmmmm”, I load up, “so we’ve got an 88 year old woman with a history of bladder problems that occur because she refuses to drink water, because drinking water makes her go to the bathroom, who won’t go to her own doctor, so you take the advice of a fellow that couldn’t get into medical school, is that what I’m hearing?”, “Sound like a bunch of people prescribing medicine without a license.”
“Oh no, it’s not a medicine”, Charlotte replies,” it’s herbal”.
“I’m confused, because it’s “herbal” you didn’t think it would have the same effect as a real medicine, or you thought you could give her medicine without a prescription because it was herbal?”, “Which is it?”, I ask.
Edna’s bouncing from foot to foot has now become so pronounced it looks like she may start doing jumping jacks. Maybe she’s taking blackberry root extract, who knows, but she is definitely ready to bid her adieu. She grabs Charlotte’s arm and says, “Let’s go, they’ve got a lot of work to do”, and pulls Charlotte to the door.
I give them one last parting shot, “I expect 100 percent cooperation from you guys or you’re going to wind back up where you were”, “Let’s work together to do something nice for Mom and, who knows, maybe Mom will decide that she can enjoy you all as sister and daughter as opposed to caretakers.” I follow them out onto the little porch of the condo.
Edna calls back over her shoulder as they go down the steps, “that’s what I want, I’m looking forward to it”. Charlotte is mute.
Curiosity compels me to see where they parked to launch their attack and I watch as they walk 100 yards or so down to the end of the cul de sac to where Charlotte’s car awaits. I am struck by the reality that a botched background check could result in my sister obtaining a weapon and all of the bullets she would need to right all of the injustices and indignities that she thinks have been perpetrated on her. Clearly, not being able to convince her that we didn’t want to use the damn bedroom suite was high on her list today. I am struck by a chill and it is not just the near freezing temperature. In a lifetime of weird and out of the ordinary, this is a milestone. I head back inside to discuss the new developments with Jackson.