Good morning, y’all. I brought the last of Mulva’s blackberry cobbler with me over to the rec room to sustain me through this next missive. I love it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I don’t know that there’s a better dessert. Mulva had to look real hard to find any blackberries this year. I keep telling you all, it’s the heat, not the humidity.
When we left off, I was beginning my last day in Asheville before returning home to an uncertain fate. I hit the ground running and was at the Buncombe County Registrar’s office at 8 AM as they opened. With very little fanfare, I became Mom’s fully ordained Power of Attorney. I lit out for the banks that I knew held accounts, and I was at the first one before the ink could dry on the POA documents.
Bank one was basically Mom’s operating account for her personal business, bank two was the rental properties. On a lark, and because I know how little Mom trusts banks, I went to two other banks just to see if Mom had any accounts there. I was fifty percent successful. Bank three had savings accounts with rights of survivorship doled out to Edna, Charlotte and Maggie. I knew there was a possibility of there being more accounts out there, but I was going to allow the U.S. Mail to update me with their whereabouts. I turned in a change of address at the Post Office to have all of Mom’s mail sent to TackyToo. I think I actually grinned. Mom’s mailing address being at TackyToo was some high quality irony. Since I was near Aunt Edna’s house, I put her next on my list.
Aunt Edna was seven ways to flustered and she just couldn’t sit still. We hadn’t gotten two or three sentences into the conversation before she brought up the garbage key. I am stupefied. I ask Edna, “what do you think is going on?”, and I have to clarify with, “do you think Mom’s going back to the condo?”,”Do you think Mom’s going to be able to take care of herself?”, “Do you think this isn’t going to happen again?”.
Edna hems and haws and sputters before coming up with what would be a logical answer, “We need to get over there and make sure the stuff in the refrigerator doesn’t spoil”, Edna says.
“Already did it”, I reply, “I cleaned out all of the refrigerator, all of the expired food, and all of the expired medicinal products.”
“Well, your Momma was asking me to bring her some Tylenol 500 because she needed it to get to sleep”, Edna says. Again, I am stupefied.
“You know you’re not supposed to bring medicines into a hospital”, I reply, “how will the hospital know what dosages to use if you guys are medicating her too?”
“You’re right, you’re right”, Edna says, “but we still need the garbage key.”
At this point I don’t know what’s going on, but something is out of plumb.
“An empty condo generates no trash”, I retort, “I think we’ve got much bigger fish to fry”. I plunge right in, “I’d like for all of us to work out a situation that takes the family component out of Mom’s care. It’s obvious that you and Charlotte are stretched beyond your means”.
“Well, Charlotte should be here for this”, Edna says.
“If Charlotte can get up here in the next ten minutes, ok, but I don’t have time to dilly dally”, I reply.
Edna calls Charlotte, who tells Edna that she hasn’t had her shower yet, and then she needs to put on her makeup. When the information is relayed to me, I respond that I don’t have time and I’ll email her my suggestions.
When Edna sits back down I ask, “What do you think is going on with Mom?”
Edna being coy again, “What do you mean?”.
“I mean what do you think is going on with Mom’s brain function?”, I say, “It’s pretty clear she has lost a lot of function since Thanksgiving.”
“Well Charlotte thinks she has the alzheimers pretty bad”, Edna responds.
I give a look of total incredulity, “What do you think”, I ask.
“I think she has dementia”, Edna answers.
My brain is going, “ding ding ding we have a winner”, but I just nod in agreement.
“Charlotte wants to know your Momma’s diagnosis, do you know it yet?”, Edna asks.
“I do, but I think if Mom wants Charlotte to know what her diagnosis is she’ll tell her. Maybe Charlotte can ask her when she goes to see her.”
“Well Charlotte’s been afraid to visit your Momma, Hanna was so mean to Charlotte the last time she saw her”.
“I don’t want to hear all of that”, I reply, “that’s why I’m trying to work on a solution that takes all of us out of caring for Mom, you can just be her sister and not her caretaker”.
“Well, praise Jesus, that’s exactly what I want to hear”. “My blood pressure has been so high I thought I was going to stroke out right here on the floor”. “Your Mom just expects more than anyone can deliver”.
I nod in agreement, “That’s my point”, I say, “I don’t know when Memorial Mission is going to kick Mom out, her vitals are coming back quickly. I just want us to have a soft spot for her to land when they kick her out”, I continue, “She needs full time care, and hiring a full time professional will run through her savings in a couple of years”.
“Well, Charlotte and I were thinking we knew someone who could stay part of the day with her at a reasonable rate”, Edna says.
“What about when Mom needs to go to the bathroom and the helper is not there, is Mom just supposed to hold it until the next shift?”, I finish with,”It will have to be a licensed person to administer drugs, so that kind of puts you in a different salary range”.
Edna nods in agreement.
“Will you help with the rentals until I can find someone to manage them?”, I ask.
“For a while”, she responds, “but I’d like to just be done with all of it”.
“I’ll try to find someone ASAP”, I say. We hug and I head off to the hospital and my next battle.
I arrive at Mom’s room to a flurry of activity. Ann Wallace has Mom concerned about the whereabouts of Mom’s purse. Mom’s upset in that “old people whiny” kind of way, and I reassure her by reaching under the sink and showing her her purse. Crisis averted. Ann Wallace starts into her hundred most helpful suggestions for getting Mom back to her condo, and I let her have her lead until she tells Mom she’ll pick her up tomorrow and give her a ride home. I said something like, “Mom’s been very sick, she nearly died, she needs to stay here as long as she needs to, to get well. We don’t need to be rushing her treatment, we want her to have a good outcome”. The very nice words were delivered with a laser like glare that left no doubt my real message was, “get out of here now”. Not being quite as stupid as she looked, Ann left shortly thereafter.
I chatted with Mom, who was still completely obsessed with her fuchsia colored blanket. I tried to keep things positive and light. I asked Mom if she wanted me to pay her bills for her while she was sick and she said yes. I told her I would give her purse and keys to Maggie so she could give them to Jackson when he came in. “Jackson is coming in?”, she asked with a big grin on her face. “He is”, I replied. She sat with a grin on her face until it was time for the nurse to take her to the bathroom. After the bathroom break the doctor came in and listened to Mom complain about being swollen, bloated and bruised. The doctor handled Mom with great patience and servility.
I followed the doctor into the hall and asked, “What’s next?”. The doctor described a course of action that not only freed up the bed of someone who was physically recovering, but ensured the fact that Mom would not be released into the wild until she was ready. The doctor was going to recommend a thirty day stay in a rehab hospital where Mom would be in a hospital setting, real doctors and nurses, but also focused on getting her physically fit for the next step. No one knew what the next step after the rehab hospital might be, but it was sure that whatever that step that was, it would be easier if Mom could handle going to the bathroom by herself.
I got the name of the facility from the doctor, who added that Medicare would pay for all of it. Good luck for a change. The doctor was proposing a transfer for the next day and I told her that my brother Jackson was coming in and would handle the move. I thanked her profusely and headed to the cafeteria to call Jackson and get a bite to eat. I called Jackson and gave him the basic plan of attack.
I’m going out to see the rehab facility and make myself known in case they need any POA decisions made. I’ll meet up with Mattie who lives out that way and give her the keys to the condo and van. Jackson and Mattie are meeting for supper to catch up and to coordinate their plans for Mom’s care in the future. Jackson is coming in from Chattanooga, so the timing should work out to where he can pop in on Mom during evening visiting hours after meeting up with Mattie. I head back upstairs to visit for an hour or so before saying my goodbyes. I minimized my problems and tell her I’ll be back to see her as soon as I can. I tell her Jackson is on the way and the grin returns to her face.
I head out for the rehab facility which is on the way home. It is a new building set out in the middle of pastures, very serene. Everything looks first rate, I introduce myself to the director and give multiple phone numbers for contact information. Everything looks in order and I point the Trans Am towards Nunsuch. I turn the radio up to drown out the voices in my head. Just as I hit Hwy 64 a tune comes on WNCW radio, “When You Get To Asheville”, by Edie Brickell and Steve Martin. Yeah, Steve Martin the “wild and crazy guy” and Edie Brickell of the New Bohemians and the current Mrs. Paul Simon. Now the cosmos is screwing with me. I get across the hills before dark and I start seeing haints in the rear view mirror.