Good morning, y’all. I’ve been trying to catch up on my reading of things more inspirational than sensational. It can’t hurt, right? I was looking at philosophies that center around “doing the right thing”, and that led to philosophies of having the courage to “do the right thing”. I’d like to share this with you, it struck a real chord with me:
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela
Now if there’s anybody on the planet that has had more opportunities to conquer his fears than Mandela, I’d like for him to stand on up. Serving twenty seven years on an island prison, where they expected you to die before being released is a tough row to hoe. I can not imagine the horrors Mandela endured, and the fears he must have felt.
For me, fear comes from a variety of sources. It’s not just the possibility of physical discomfort, in fact, that’s probably one of the more easy fears to conquer. The fears that are the hardest for me are the emotional ones. There’s a list on the internet of the thirty three most common fears, and I’m afraid, I don’t suffer from most of them. I do have a few of the fears that made the top 10, though. The fear of rejection and the fear of failure. If you fear failing in someone elses’ eyes, and you fear they will reject you, does that get bonus points for being doubly fearful?
I ramble down this path because, as we pickup the retelling of my story, living your life without fear of consequence plays a huge part in our next chapter. It is Monday, March 2nd, 2015. I have settled into a routine at the Union County Jail, not without a few bumps and scrapes. If being in jail was desirable, people would be fighting to get arrested, right?
At the other extreme, my Mom is rehabilitating at Mountain View, a wonderful retirement community on the outskirts of Asheville. If Mom wants for anything, even a cup of coffee, she presses a button around her neck. The staff at Mountain View will respond to her request immediately. The service is a little different at the Beasley Street Spa. But, it is, as it should be. We are where we are because of our actions, and that’s how life is supposed to work.
Mulva arrives for her morning visit all aflush from a phone call she has just had with Jackson. Jackson had just been notified by Louise, Mom’s next door neighbor at the condo, that Charlotte and aunt Edna had a locksmith open the door at the condo early that morning. To compound mystery to injury, Edna had emailed Mulva a request for a repayment about 10AM this morning. Attached to the email was the original bill from the locksmith when he had unlocked the apartment back in January. Either Edna was expecting to get paid twice for the apartment house problem, or, expected us to repay her for the breaching of the condo. I thought that would send the gall meter into the red, but Mulva’s next little bit of news shattered the meter. Mulva had gone online to check the bank account to check to see if Edna’s previous repayment had cleared. It had. Mulva then noticed that Edna had made a deposit of the rent checks, but had withheld a thousand dollars in cash. Mulva printed out the receipt, and it was right there for me to see. I am completely flustered.
I had counted on my aunt Edna acting as an “honest agent” in this mess, and now I’m confronted with her corruption. I know that she and Mom have battled tooth and nail for years, but I didn’t think it would come down my aunt waiting for the moment when my Mom was at her weakest to extract her revenge. Clearly my sister and aunt weren’t interested in waiting to see if Mom had carried through on all of the promises that she had given them about, “being taken care of in her will”. From their perspective it was easier to take care of themselves now, instead of waiting for the future payout. I sit quietly for most of our visit while Mulva tries to cheer me up. She even volunteers to go back to Asheville to see if she can bring any sense and decency to the matter. I appreciate the offer tremendously, but I can not ask Mulva to do any more than she is doing. I ask her to email Jackson to see if he can offer any assistance, or at least explain to Mom what is going on in her absence.
I have a raging headache and ask to go to the infirmary for some Tylenol. Tylenol always makes me sleepy so I go back to my bunk to lay down and see if the demons with jackhammers will relent. While waiting for the pain to subside, I just randomly flash on a visit I’d had to Mom’s back in the Summer. Mom was all dressed and ready to go when I knocked on her condo door, which was not the usual case. Usually we sat around visiting until the next meal time, and then went to whichever one of her favorite haunts it was appropriate for. Breakfast at IHOP, lunch at a cafeteria that was populated by the living dead, and dinner at The Corner Market. These three eateries were Mom’s comfort zone, and any departure from these places created more aggravation than the inevitable stomach upset caused by the cafeteria. If I had known then what I know now about dementia, I would have recognized the symptom. As it was, I just found that it was easier to “get along” if I “went along”. No reason to give Mom anything else to get worked up about.
On this particular visit, Mom was already worked up and ready to deliver justice to those who had wronged her. First, we would start with aunt Edna, who had that week cut Mom’s peonies down. The only reason given to me was “spite”. There was no answer to the question, “what does Edna have to feel spiteful for?” In Mom’s opinion, we just needed to confront her and let her know, “in no uncertain terms” that her behavior was not going to be tolerated. Turns out the visit is a “threefer”, because in addition to the destroyed peonies, we were going to recover Mom’s “Ninjy” stove that Edna had stolen. Mom had searched her condo high and low and could not find her “Ninjy” stove, Edna must have taken it. I remember we were arguing that logic when we knocked on Edna’s door.
A fond visit of aunt and nephew was shattered by Mom’s accusation regarding peonies, “Ninjy” stoves and grass cutting. The lawn service was an issue because Mom presumed that Edna had gotten a good deal from someone at her church to cut her grass, but had not offered the same deal to Mom. Edna explained that the church person was cutting her lawn as a “blessing” and since Mom refused to go to church anymore, she couldn’t expect church folk to provide her with a service that a commercial company should be doing. I certainly couldn’t argue with that logic. Edna offered to give Mom her own “Ninjy” stove, but steadfastly denied taking Mom’s. Mom refused the offer and we headed back out onto the porch.
Even from the porch you could see that Mom’s grass was in desperate need of cutting, so I asked if there was anyone else she could call. Mom replied that the “boy” that used to cut it was still around, but he didn’t edge her flower beds like she liked. I suggested Mom call him and I’d talk to him. Instead of being handed the phone, Mom told the “boy” that we were at the property and he needed to meet us there ASAP. Mom hung up and I asked her what he said. Mom replied he’d be there as soon as he could, and thirty minutes later, there he was. A nice looking black man in his early twenties, who it turned out was studying horticulture at AB Tech.
Well, Mom bounded off the porch like she’d been shot out of a cannon, belying her eighty seven years. Her opening statement was to introduce me as the man that he would be answering to when Mom was “dancing on those streets of gold”. I shook his hand and tried to take the situation down a notch by telling David that I looked forward to working with him. I followed around with them making notes of what was important to Mom, and then David started to work. I convinced Mom we didn’t really need to stay to watch the whole operation, and that we could go get lunch now. A concern for me missing a meal seemed to override her concern for finely edged flower beds, and we headed to the cafeteria of the living dead.
In remembering this incident, there were several signs for me to pick up on, I just didn’t. It is sad to say that every visit to my Mom’s for as long as I can remember was predicated on a quick departure, and burying everything that happened during the visit as deep in my memory as I could. This visit was no different. Get the heck out, and try to forget everything as quick as you can. Now we were dealing with not heeding the warnings.
The headache went away before Mulva’s evening visit, and we were able to just visit with our stuff for the most part. She did tell me that she had emailed Jackson to see if he could follow up with Mom on some of the issues, or just step in and take charge. She had not heard back yet. Mulva showed me pictures of our grandson Trey, and I was doubly mad at myself for missing this part of his life. I went to sleep telling myself that this time I really was going to change. In the words of Danny Glover, “I’m getting too old for this crap”.
Well, next morning Mulva brought Jackson’s reply. Jackson had been talking to Mom on the phone two or three times a day, and she was all over the place. She’d be happy where she was, thankful for what her sons had done for her, and five minutes later be mad because we had “railroaded” her into this place. Jackson going to Asheville to act as an emissary for good judgement was going to have to wait for a while. Jackson was planning a “sanity” hike up into the Appalachians to get some fresh air back into his brain. He was going to be gone starting on Friday the 6th and coming back on Sunday the 8th. So there we were. I was hopeful that my niece Maggie and her kids could keep Mom amused until Jackson was back in phone range. I’d try to call as often as I could, conditions permitting.
It would be great to suggest to the crew at Mountain View that they should just medicate Mom to the point of drooling, but I guess there’s probably some ethical and moral issues at play. I’m sure Mountain View is as tired of Mom, Edna and Charlotte’s shenanigans as we are. To be truthful, the fact that the coven has decided to get a lawyer involved has been unnerving to me. Though there are no “changes” in evidence, the fact that Mom allowed Charlotte and Edna to convince her that she was being abused by me is totally depressing. Let’s face it, I don’t need help with being depressed. I’ve already got a heaping plateful of depression already. Making Mom anxious about her freedom or her finances is unconscionable in my opinion, but then I’ve never been a member of the coven, so I don’t know what the moral and ethical boundaries are. I just know that Jackson, Maggie and I stepped in when Mom’s “caretakers” were refusing to answer her calls, and saved Mom from dying. In spite of all of us having our own lives, our own issues, our own “Crosses to Bear”, we’ve worked together to provide Mom with the very best of care. In fact, an almost country club level of care. That should be enough. To constantly be fighting off crazy from every angle is too much. I am really wrestling with this issue. I’d like to think that I’ve conquered my issues of abandonment, but I haven’t. I’d like to think that I don’t worry about what others think and say about me, but I do. I am the middle child of a broken family. We take up whole chapters in psychology books.
The next few days are quiet and the visits between Mulva and I are very constructive. I’d also say that my daily talks with the psychologist are also rewarding. My psychologist is a very nice young woman in her early thirties. Each time I sit down with her I wonder what in the world could drag a young person into this line of work. I’m hoping it is some sort of apprenticeship that everyone in the field has to go through. You know, before you get to make big bucks diagnosing Buffy’s anorexia, you have to work with people who you’d never see once you start your own practice. I take full advantage of the sessions, Lord knows I’ve got no real world opportunity to get this kind of care. I am amused when the psychologist suggests we do a few tests.
Turns out they weren’t pictures of ink blots that resemble moths mating. These were real IQ tests. According to the test results, I’m special. In a good way. The psychologist is more than amused with the scores. Amused to the point that I’m afraid I’m going to get some sort of Al Capone evil genius label that will doom me to further incarceration. Fortunately, it is just the opposite. The psychologist hits on the idea that I see the world differently from most folks, and when folks don’t respond the way that I think they should, I get worked up. To alleviate the built up frustrations, I self medicate. Which of course leads to a new set of problems to be frustrated about. The psychologist suggests I start writing down my frustrations, even go so far as to arguing both sides of the problem with myself on paper. Crazy as it sounds, it helps. I mean, writing stuff down is a lot like talking to yourself, but you do get to express to someone who understands you, what’s bothering you. Taking the other side in my writing helps me get perspective on what those who frustrate me might be thinking. It is a study in empathy, which it seems I am sorely lacking in.
Arguing with my self sounds like some bad, made for TV movie about schizophrenia. I don’t have schizophrenia, and the psychologist told both of my personalities so. Ha. Ha. I do have a list of issues though, and we are hopeful that the proper venting of these issues will lead to a more normalized lifestyle for me and my loved ones. As sobriety takes hold, and the continued input from the psychologist makes inroads into helping me sort myself out, the outside world does not go away. Even with the topsy-turvy environment of the Union County Jail as a comparison, there are things on the outside that are even crazier. For example, take this email that Mulva brought on her morning visit on Saturday, March 7th. The email is from Charlotte and the subject is “A Smart Solution”. She gets right in to it:
“There are 3 installed on this house, on the side where my bedroom is, and another 3 installed only about 15 feet away on the garage apartment next to me, and not far from my bedroom.
I have dealt with horrible, stabbing, out-of-nowhere pain, even waking me at night, ever since I moved back to Asheville. I called Duke Power and found out that the “Smart Meters” or ‘Digital Meters’ (as the power companies like to call them) were installed here April 7, 2006. I moved back here in early May, 2005.”
The email goes on with a bunch of links to some company that sells Smart Meter blockers and testimonials from people whose brains have been saved by the advertised product. Charlotte’s type font keeps getting bigger and bolder and there is no explanation for the rant. I have to presume that Charlotte is justifying her breaking into the condo as a result of needing to move because her brain is being penetrated by Smart Meter technology. Arguing the other side, maybe she is not saying she broke into the condo because she needs to move. Maybe she’s claiming non compos mentis in the break-in by virtue of the Smart Meters. Either way, the email is the perfect example of how you can be doodling along, thinking you’re doing better, and the reality of a dysfunctional family member snaps you back. I ask Mulva to send the simple message, “What are you talking about” to Charlotte. Since it is her “Sabbath”, I figured the email would wait in her queue for a couple of days. I was wrong. Mulva brought Charlotte’s response with her at our evening visit.
I have been freaking out because mother keeps her cell phone in her BRA and she has a Pituitary Tumor, which I now think was probably caused by all the radiation emitted from her cell phone and the other radiation emitting devices that she has had around her in her home.
I have made a DVD with videos featuring Medical Doctors talking about all the dangers of “Smart Meters,” cell phones; cell towers, etc. and if you would like a copy, email me.
Please see the attachment.
Listed below the “See attachment” was some Doctor’s information.I presume he was an expert in helping people with a radio wave phobia separate themselves from their cash.
I ask Mulva to send a nice “how are you?” email to Jackson on Sunday night to see if he is back and well rested. While I am gaining insight into my issues, and I genuinely feel like I’m making progress, every email, phone call, update from someone, is like tearing the scab off of the wound. The pick, pick, picking is frustrating me no end. The confinement of the Union County Jail is actually a blessing in that regard. Otherwise, I’d probably be driving up to Asheville and ripping the meters off the wall of the apartment that Charlotte rents and then delivering the line, “How do you like it now? Absolutely no power of any kind to scramble what’s left of your brain!”
On Monday morning, March the 9th, Mulva returns with Jackson’s response:
“We did fine, except for slogging through total of 10mi snowy trails.
The low temp was 31, but the winds (10+mph) over the snow got very old.
Good outing but a pain walking on the slushy snow.
Hope you are gaining energy and able to rest between battles.”
It is the last line that I am hoping to parlay into a respite for a while away from the madness. The fact that my Mom has engaged an attorney to deal with me has upset me terribly. I know that it is upsetting me, I can feel it deeply in the pit of my being. I am so far unable to resolve it and “be ok” with it. We’ve all had to excuse someone else’s behavior at one time or another with excuses along the lines of, “he’s just drunk, or “she’s just crazy”, but I’m finding that I’m not able to come up with a line that fits this situation. Depending on the level of cognition we assign to Mom, she is too befuddled to know what’s going on, or she is the great manipulator extracting justice as only she can. If the second assumption is correct, then I am firmly in Mom’s sights for retribution. I have wronged her by putting her in a retirement home. Forget the fact that it is a five star retirement home. The fact that I have denied Mom the opportunity to die reaching for her refrigerator door, like “Aunt Sudy did”, is the only thing Mom will focus on until the condition is righted or she determines I have suffered a sufficient amount. I’m trying to determine what the downside is to telling the whole bunch to go to hell. So far, I’m not seeing much downside.
The next couple of days go quietly and I take as much advantage of the counseling services available. The big question I wrestle with is the potential guilt feelings from turning my back on Asheville and letting the collective lunatics sort themselves out. It is the easy path, and I guess I am suspicious of easy. On Saturday the 14th, Mulva brings a recap of a phone conversation that Jackson has had with Mom. Jackson is real smart, and he has figured out how to record the conversation, which he then sent as a file to Mulva. Mulva listened to the conversation and typed out the high spots for me.
1. Mom was renting the condo to Charlotte, with an eye for Mom returning to the guest bedroom.
2. Mom’s attorney was redoing all wills and powers of attorney, giving Power of Attorney to the lawyer.
3. Mom was turning her finances over to her tax lady.
All of this came about in a conversation precipitated by Jackson calling to see if Mom had gotten her jewelry back ok. One of Mom’s “urgent needs” was to take possession of the jewelry that Jackson had taken home with him for safe keeping. Mom was convinced that the jewelry had been plundered, and she wanted it back. Jackson was happy to oblige, and was just following up on the delivery when Mom dumped her plan for the future on him. Mom was convinced that the “children” were fighting amongst each other for Mom’s possessions, and that I was being too controlling. Fighting Charlotte to keep her from taking possession of Mom’s home and everything else, is now being portrayed as being too controlling.
Well, as it turns out, I’m in a situation that is begging for me to admit that I am powerless and that I need the power of a higher entity to run my life. It sounds like a good time to embrace at least a few of the principles, like not worrying about stuff I can’t control. Also, I should take a personal inventory, and ask myself the big question. Can I finish out the rest of my life without the loving embrace of my Mom, sister and aunt?
I think I’m ready, and when Mulva comes in Monday morning with the news that aunt Edna has rented the last of the apartments, I know that Mom’s finances are secure. At least, her income exceeds her expenses. Now, if Mom decides to start writing checks to Edna and Charlotte for $500 for picking up her laundry, the plan will fall apart, but otherwise, Mom can stay at Mountain View until the 2nd Coming, and she’s covered.
Mulva has also brought a card from Mom, thanking me for my help. Nothing else, no explanation for what I know is going on in the background, just a thank you for my help. I scribble a note for Mulva to email to Jackson with my permission to add to it as Mulva would see fit. Basically, I’m done. I am completely unable to resolve the hurt I feel in my Mom’s retaining of an attorney to protect herself, and others, from me. A moment when I truly feel like I was acting nobly, treating someone as I would want to be treated, was not only not appreciated, it was a cause for litigation. I chose to not play the game anymore, and I’m informing the other members of my team.