Good morning, y’all. I’ve been trying to read as much as I can from the philosophy aisle to see if I can gain some perspective on how and when my life took a turn that was deviant from the norm. I guess I’m looking for some collective zeitgeist to use as a starting point in getting my cart back on the road to Normaltown. I found this quote which spoke to me, and I think the truth of it applies to my situation.
“Selfishness is the unwillingness to give up your soul for the rehabilitation of your future.” ― Michael Bassey Johnson
Being headstrong is a quality I’ve inherited, or was taught, by my Mom. “Seldom right, but never in doubt”, is how we used to describe it. While Mom regains her faculties, and starts wielding her scepter from the confines of Mountain View, I am learning humility in the Union County jail. We are headed in different directions if our recoveries are to be successful. I am going to have to learn to “give up my soul for the rehabilitation of my future.” This is something I am fully willing to do. I have far too much to lose if I don’t. Mom, on the other hand, thrives on conflict, revels in it, creates it, lives for it.
Mulva has come to our morning visit with the ashen look of one who has looked into the face of the Angel of Darkness. My sister Charlotte had called early in the morning, complaining about the poor care Mom was receiving at Mountain View, specifically Mom’s bad tooth. Charlotte had gone to the trouble to call Jackson’s granddaughter, Tina, at work to demand that Tina pickup Mom and get Mom’s tooth fixed. Now, the great leap of logic here is that Tina works in a dentist office as a lab technician. This is not Mom’s dentist, just a completely unrelated dentist. Charlotte apparently figures that since Tina was going to a dentist’s office anyway, she could just swing by Mountain View on her way to work, check Mom out, take her to the dentist and get the pesky tooth pulled, and then check Mom back in to Mountain View.
I don’t know what has upset Mulva the most, the talking to Charlotte, or the fact that Charlotte expected the great grandchildren to jump in and care for their great grandmother. I try to console Mulva, and she acts like the trooper that she is, but I can tell that this may be the stick that will break the camel’s back. It’s enough of a burden to have to deal with me and my shenanigans, quite another to be confronted by certified crazy on a daily basis.
As pointed out so many times before, you can’t predict crazy. I can’t predict Charlotte’s behavior. I can’t predict when Mulva will no longer be perceived as Charlotte’s confidant, and become one of Charlotte’s tormentors. It seems to be a completely untenable situation to try to be involved with getting Mom the best of care, and relying on my family to do it for me. The only solution I can come up with is try to offload the burden to responsible parties who will take on the duties for a fee.
I ask Mulva to try to setup a call with Mom’s attorney for that day at 4PM. I tell Mulva to relay the message to Jackson that I am withdrawing as Mom’s power of attorney. I will no longer be handling Mom’s finances. I can’t think of any other solution.
I call Mom’s attorney at 4Pm, and after some routing, I am talking to Helga H. Heidleberg, Esq. I basically lay out my current circumstances, and use my incarceration as the reason for my recusal. Ok, maybe it was the coward’s way out, but, it seemed to be the simplest and most direct method of removing Mulva and I from the crazy train. The attorney was patient, took notes, and seemed to take to heart my warnings about my sister Charlotte and aunt Edna. I recommended Mom’s CPA as someone who could be trusted with paying Mom’s bills. The attorney had already determined that her firm was best suited to be Mom’s power of attorney, and to handle her investments. Though I still had an interest, I did not object. If I was going to “let go”, I had to “let go”. We ended the conversation with her promise of paper work being forthcoming. I thanked her for her help, and there we were. I was done.
I told Mulva about the call at our evening visit and fashioned an email for Jackson:
Mulva reported back the next day that Jackson wanted to attend the meeting when Mom sat down with the attorney to formalize her new will, power of attorney, etc. I sent the following email via Mulva:
On Friday, April 3rd, a collaborative effort of Mulva and I produced the following email with attached documentation for Jackson to carry to the attorney’s meeting with him:
Mulva brought Jackson’s response with her when she came to visit that evening:
I send the following back via Mulva to email Jackson before he left town:
The ball has definitely started rolling. Jackson had cleared his schedule to be at the meeting of the attorney and Mom at Mountain View. It’s our belief that a voice from the “sane” side of the family should be heard in the proceedings scheduled for April 4th. As things always go, the meeting was postponed. Diabolically, I’d assume that Mom got Jackson to Asheville on the premise of a meeting, and then cancelled the meeting so she could have Jackson all to herself.
On the morning of 7th of April, Helga sent the following email to Jackson:
“We’re meeting at 4pm today at the assisted living facility. Jackson—are you still in the area?
Jackson responded back with the following:
“I returned Monday eve to Chattanooga and will not be available to attend today. I did speak mother Monday, face to face, about my concerns as she picks her next power of attorney.
Mostly, her choice should be bondable and have the needed skills and understanding to protect her and her interests.
She didn’t appear to understand why Bud wouldn’t continue as POA, even after she wrote him a letter of dismissal and she retained your services to formalize her current wishes as to the future of her estate.
I did my best to impress upon Mother the real value of a non-related, bondable professional in reducing or eliminating sibling squabbles.
I’m sorry I won’t be able to meet you today.
If I can be of assistance in the future let me know.
Jackson had recorded one of his conversations with Mom during his visit over the weekend. Mulva was able to bring in the recording to our Tuesday morning visit. Jackson was very direct with Mom in trying to ascertain her capabilities. Jackson’s questions went to Mom’s state of mind and her ability to defend herself against her “support team”. Jackson questioned Mom as to how the future was going to be any different if she kept repeating the past. For someone who is the epitome of the phrase “laid back”, Jackson was a bulldog when he dug into Mom and the Witches of West Asheville. The conversation lasted about thirty five minutes, and got well past the “awkward” point. The “awkward point” is when Mom tells you to “mind your own beeswax”. According to Mom’s defense, they, Mom, Charlotte and Edna, had been handling things just fine for the last thirty years or so without any help from Jackson or I. According to Mom, “they could just keep on doing what they had been doing, and they’d be fine.” “Jacskon and I should just spend all of the time we were worrying about Mom to improve our own selves.”
Interspersed into the ramble of “minding your own business”, was a retelling of all the things Mom had done to make her passing “into Glory” as easy for everyone as possible. Mom even went into the burial wishes. Mom was to be cremated and her ashes spread over the graves of her Mom and Dad. I will admit, there’s not much that will close out a conversation like the description of how to dispose of your ashes. Jackson ended the conversation with something like, “well, I guess you’ve got it all covered”, and then he left. It was quite the recording, and I felt compelled to tell Jackson what a good job he had done, which I did in the following email:
Jackson’s humor had already returned, as evidenced in his response:
My grand finale.
My hands are washed. Your hands are clean.
Getting a generator for my leaf blower to use for the final wish of ash spreading at Grandma and Grandpa’s gravesites.
Ever the cynical son-of-a gun, I sent the following back via Mulva:
“I thought Charlotte was supposed to snort the ashes ala snuff and sneeze them out over Wilton and Rose’s graves. Guess we’ll have to wait for the new will.
Again, you did fantastic, if you need an ear for decompression, give Mulva the time and I’ll try to schedule a call.
Jackson responded back that he felt he had done well with his “interview”, that it was the first time he had talked to Mom when he had, “no intent of trying to humor or cajole her”. I responded that I looked forward to feeling the weight of having to deal with crazy 24×7 off of my shoulders forever.
Mom had requested that Jackson return all of her jewelry to her that he had taken to Chattanooga for safe keeping. Seems Mom felt like she might want to start going out, and might need a piece of jewelry to brighten up her outfit. I think we all knew who wanted the jewelry back in Asheville, and it was fine. The big part of letting go, is actually letting go. I had already asked Mulva to re-box all of Mom’s financial information and to send it to the lawyer, proof of delivery requested. Mulva included a letter in the box detailing what each box contained and what items were of the highest importance. I crafted the following email to send to the lawyer:
I hope things are going well for you. I haven’t heard anything in a while. I want to give you a head’s up that I have sent 2 boxes via UPS today to your attention at your Asheville office with all of Mom’s records and financial documents. The boxes should arrive Wednesday 04/15/2015.
I have attached here the letter that I sent you via regular mail today outlining my position.
Additionally, I will be removing my personal guarantee wherever I have given it, Mountain View for example, on my Mother’s behalf. I’m assuming you will be updating the banks with the new POA information.
I will collect mail here and send it to Mom at Mountain View until I get a better address from you to use for the change of address form for the post office.
If you have any questions, please let me know.
The letter delivered with the email appears below:
I am enclosing a copy of the letter from my mother, Hannah Morrison, relieving me of my duties of looking after her and acting as her POA. It is dated March 9, 2015 and since I’ve received no further direction, I am turning over all of the records I collected from her during her illness and everything that I have accumulated since, to you for disposition.
All bills are currently up to date and I am wiling to work with any professional in helping to keep them squared away.
It is my strong opinion that neither my sister Charlotte Gordito, or my aunt Edna Poufle be given any access to my mother’s accounts.
As we discussed on the phone, Edna has placed mother in a very awkward situation by rejecting the locksmith charge for his work, even though she was reimbursed by me. Additionally, Edna had tried to re-bill me for the locksmith charge even though she had already cashed the check I sent her (copies attached, earmarked “A”) Edna has further shown how easy it is to short the rental property account by taking $1,000 from a $1,550 deposit as cash. (copies attached, earmarked ‘B’) Since one tenant pays in cash it would be very easy to not make a cash deposit.
With regard to my sister, the problems are numerous. My sister has been receiving a disability check from the state of North Carolina for some years due to an on the job incident that left her brain damaged. She has lived in my Mom’s basement for a very long time and has benefited for years from my Mom’s largess. You would think that would be a workable situation, but a few years ago my mother became afraid of my sister and, as a result, bought the condo where she resided prior to this illness. This is the condo that has the “mission critical” garbage key.
While Mom was at her worst, Charlotte represented herself as POA to the homeowners association (Email attached, earmarked ‘C”) She also represented herself as POA to The Facility to gain mother’s psych evaluation. Fortunately they called me and I denied access. Since Mom has been sick Charlotte has been far more concerned with gaining access and moving into the condo than she has been concerned with Mom’s outcome. Currently, Charlotte has two pieces of property tied up and has not paid rent this month.
While I have tried to counsel everyone to chill out and take each step 30 days at a time, Charlotte and Edna seem to have their own agenda, as if Mom had died and they were free to divide up the spoils. I even discussed Charlotte moving into the condo with Edna, provided Mom was going to be happy at Mountain View. I gave the same conditions to my aunt that I outlined in a text message to my brother Jackson. (text attached, earmarked ‘D’). I guess the conditions were not acceptable as they contracted you shortly thereafter.
While trying to locate bank accounts for Mom and in trying to get a sense of what being POA would require, I opened Mom’s safe deposit box at Wells Fargo and reviewed the items there, including Mom’s hand written will. I was trying to get a sense of what Mom wanted to be protected and given to which individuals. I was also hoping to uncover more resources to provide for Mom’s long-term care. I uncovered a list of Mom’s “antiquities” (list attached, earmarked ‘E’) and my brother and I made sure they were moved to Mom’s room at Mountain View so they would not be pilfered from an un-secure situation. Finally, my brother and I decided it would just be easier to change the lock at the condo and then there could only be two possibilities if something went missing.
Mom’s finances are such that she should have to pull less than $500 from her savings a month to live comfortably at Mountain View. If her property is fully rented (and the rents go in the bank) and she discontinues her cable service at the condo, sells her car and therefore cancels her car insurance, and then drops a horrible life insurance policy that she has, she will be in good shape. (P&L from rental property, expenses by vendor for Wells Fargo and Bank of America accounts attached, earmarked “F”). I will provide online userid and passwords to BOA and Wells Fargo via phone if requested.
I have cataloged the contents of the three boxes sent to your care via UPS in the attachment earmarked “G”.
One last reminder, the properties at 253 Scenic View Drive and at 4102 Babylon Lane must be kept in good physical condition, fully insured and taxes paid as part of the living estate agreement. Mom had let the insurance on 253 lapse because, “she didn’t have enough money to pay the premiums”.
If you have any questions to need any more documentation to support my opinions, please let me know.
I guess that pretty much says it all, or at least I thought it did, until questions start coming in about where was Mom’s driver’s license and credit cards. At the time we checked Mom into Mountain View we had gone through Mom’s purse and taken out all of her credit cards, but her debit card. We also took out her driver’s license. There was no way Mom should be driving in her condition, no matter what the state of North Carolina said. We left Mom a hundred dollars in cash, and then arranged for an account for her at Mountain View. Mom was not without means if she needed to do something, we had just eliminated the possibility of Mom “losing” a credit card. Now there were questions being posed to Jackson and my voice mail about where Mom’s credit cards and driver’s license were. Jackson and Mulva go back and forth trying to figure out where the cards and the license are and I finally decide that they must have been in the boxes sent to the attorney.
Mom left a pitiful message on my recorder at home about needing her checks and her safe deposit key, and I determine that the attorney has not gone through the boxes yet. On the 13th of April, Mulva receives the following email:
Sorry for the delay—tax season gets crazy for us. We have contacted Ms. Smith about serving as GPOA, but have not heard back yet. Your mother agrees that it would be a good solution to have a third party manage everything so that she can just enjoy her family member’s company without the stress and confusion that seems to recur now. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear back from Ms. Smith, though I don’t expect it to be until at least Thursday due to tax season. If you have any questions in the meantime, please let me know.
It gives me the opportunity to respond back to the attorney and reinforce a couple of points:
I certainly understand about tax season.
I think AJS would be a good choice and I look forward to hearing from Anna.
Well as the saying goes, “no good deed goes unpunished”. So, because Jackson and I tried to keep my aunt and sister from stripping Mom of her assets, we are the problem. It is good that I have resigned my post as referee and enforcer. When the dust settles, I look forward to a time that paid professionals will be charged with the task of keeping Mom from damaging herself. It can’t come quick enough.