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BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I’d like to set the tone today with a little quote from Carrie Fisher’s “Postcards From the Edge”:

Karl Marx: “Religion is the opiate of the masses.”
Carrie Fisher: “I did masses of opiates religiously.”

You see, I think most of us, when we’re in our “right” mind, know we’re probably in the spot that we deserve to be in. Right now, I’m in the Union County jail, serving my time and hoping to use this gigantic timeout to gain some insight into why Bud Lite is compelled to act a fool sometimes. I can’t blame it all, on the alcohol. I can’t blame it all on my parents, but I do feel they deserve the lion’s share. I guess as psychology methods go, I’m a nurture guy as opposed to a nature guy. I know there’s folks that are evil from the get go, and Mary and Joseph could have been their parents and it wouldn’t have made a difference in their outcome. That said, I feel they are in the very small minority, and that the majority of folks are good or bad as a reflection of how they were brought up. I’d have to see a lot of “demon seeds” to change my mind on this one. I’ve got a lot of evidence of bad parents, bad kids, good parents, good kids to counter the nature folks.

That said, as a “good kid” who occasionally does bad things, I have to learn to control my excesses. What better place to get my ying and yang in tune than the Beasley Street Spa in Blairsville? The conformity of dress, accommodations, and cuisine will help all of us residents to focus on our inner selves rather than the outer trappings of normal civilization. And, we get to meditate on our feelings without the distraction of cell phones, internet and friends and family interrupting our deep musings. Piece of cake, right?

Mulva is there for our first available visit with printed emails in hand. Since visitor’s are not allowed to bring in their cell phones, I can’t even read the emails on Mulva’s phone. She has to print them out for me to review like they were legal papers or something. My first week of crises delivered by Mulva mail included a “gas leak” at one of Mom’s apartments. There was no leak and the solution was to have all of the tenants accounts tied to a master account that could be manipulated by the “master” when the tenant moved out. Probably a good business decision, but I felt like I’d been given false information to manipulate me to a response I probably would have given if asked honestly. The next bit of news was that one of the tenants’ was moving out. That’s going to effect Mom’s cash flow a bit, but not enough to get worried. Next up, while showing the apartment to a perspective new tenant, aunt Edna pushed the lock wrong and wound up locking herself, and the other tenant, out. Fortunately, Mulva has dealt with trades folk before and was able to handle the copying of my POA and driver’s license to the Asheville locksmith without burdening aunt Edna. This incident will haunt us a little further down the road in a couple of ways.

Week two’s Mulva mail starts with one from Maggie, Jackson’s daughter. The distribution was to me and Jackson. It reads:

“Just wanted to make you both aware of a conversation that I had with Charlotte today. She had left me a message and said that I needed to call her asap and that it was urgent. So I returned her call. She proceeded to tell me #1 not to tell anyone that we talked. She asked if I had a key to the condo and I said no. Then she went on to say that Mima wanted her Bible and that she could not get it because the locks had been changed (and I denied knowledge – haha). I told her that I had already taken her Bible to her and that you had left some things for me to give her. This leads me to think that she has not visited since Tuesday or she would have known the Bible was there. She says that Mima wants some shoes and pants and she just did not know what she was going to do since she could not get things for her and would not be able to water the plants. So just keep a heads up since she is on the prowl. Thank you both for all you have done!!!!
Maggie”

Well, we no more than get out of town and Charlotte is ready to break down the door to the condo to claim her territory. I ask for permission to use a pencil and I write a response to Maggie on the back of her email.

Maggie,
So sorry you’re having to deal with Charlotte’s craziness. Mulva plans on coming up next weekend and she’ll be glad to pick up anything Mom needs.
Jackson and I are trying to stay in touch with Mom on a more regular basis to bolster her spirit and hopefully help her see more clearly why she is in the right place. I will probably have to update Suzanne at Mountain View with some of the gory details of Charlotte’s exploits.
Charlotte is trying to exercise “squatters rights” on the condo, which only exist in her mind. Charlotte thinking only Jackson and I have a key is the right way to go.
Thanks again for everything,
Bud 

Mulva being the good wife that she is, went to visit Mom the following Saturday. I had given her a list of things to carry to Mom, shoes, pants and the like. Mulva was to meet with Maggie and get Maggie’s input into what her MiMa liked to wear and would use. I also told Mulva to take as many of Mom’s house plants as she could carry and set them up for Mom at her new place. I was trying to remove as many reasons for going into the condo as possible. Mulva reported than Mom was still in her gown when she got there, which was about one in the afternoon. Mulva was as nice and positive as she could be, for as long as she could be. Mulva left Asheville at a high rate of speed, headed for home. I know the feeling well.

Mulva had managed to make visiting hours after her return home and had put as happy a face on everything as she could. I would have brought her a Snickers bar from the commissary as a thank you, but we’re not allowed to take food into the visiting area. Mulva just had to accept my profound thanks for making the trip. We parted thinking the worst was over and that things would settle down now that Mom had her Bible, her blue loafers and her plants. Oh, ye of too much faith. I used Mulvamail to send the following email to my niece to update her with Mulva’s visit:

Maggie,
Since Mulva heard predictions of 3-5 inches of snow in Asheville for Sunday, she decided to head back to sunny Nunsuch. Based on Mom’s lack of participation, I’m not sure that visiting tomorrow would have yielded more positive results.
To dispel rumors that a lack of access was creating a problem, Mulva took all of Mom’s plants, a plant stand, her black loafers, a warm robe, her boom box and cds, and the wing chair from the condo to Mom. Those are all of the items that I’ve heard about that Mom urgently needed. If Mulva had found the pink laxative pills Charlotte was looking for she would not have brought them as you are not supposed to bring in outside medications.

Maggie, if you or yours want any of the furniture from the upstairs at the apartment, please make your claim known. I am leaning towards letting everything that E & C don’t want to go to Salvation Army. That way I don’t pay a mover and $100 a month storage fee.
There is a rumor being circulated that Mom’s care is costing 10-12,000 a month. I’m sure this is one of the things that Charlotte alluded to that you “just needed to trust her on”. The rumor is wildly false. With Mom’s Social Security and a full building, we have Mountain View covered. If we need to take a couple of hundred from savings a month, we can still keep Mom there for another 50 years. Mulva reinforced this again to Mom when she visited and Mom seemed fine.
Thanks again for all of your help, I really appreciate it.
Bud

Life being random and all, there’s an infinite number of ways this whole scenario could go. Receiving an “emergency” phone call from my sister after light’s out the same day as Mulva’s visit, was not one of the things I would have predicted. I guess Charlotte had to wait for her Sabbath to be over before going back into Apocalypse mode.

Under the guise of my “Mother was dying”, Charlotte got the jailers to bring me to the phone so she could verbalize her concerns. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to get your point across to a crazy person on the phone while trying to keep up the pretense that you’re talking about your Mother’s imminent demise, but it ain’t easy. I was fortunate to end the conversation without any loss in privileges and returned to my cell to dream about wild horses. The next morning I wrote down an abbreviated version for Mulva to share with Jackson:

Charlotte is extremely hurt she doesn’t have key. Wants to have Mom’s diagnosis, I told her if Mom told me to share it I would. Worked up about bedroom suit, told her it was just like we left it.

I shared two thoughts with C, how wonderful was it that the other night that Mom couldn’t sleep she was able to push the button around her neck and a nurse came down and gave her an Ambien and she got a good night’s sleep. Quite different from calling C and saying she thought she’d had a stroke and could someone come spend the night with her, and no one coming.

I told C our choice of facility was completely confirmed when the dietitian came in and asked whether Mom would like the steak or the cordon bleu for dinner. Mom then proceeded to ask what the dessert choices were, opting for a piece of pastry.

MiniMa is a mean crazy, delusional version of Mom at the same age. As Mulva says, we just need to talk to her like she’s a retarded 5 year old.
BTW, I probably burned Mulva’s last visit to Asheville yesterday. She doesn’t do crazy well. Probably fears the future.

Mulva returned with Jackson’s response during her evening visit.

So it is hard to have a day without…
As for Asheville, Mulva is correct sir. 
Charlotte hasn’t fully exploded, yet.

While lying on my cot in my cell, I strain to see if I could come up with another way to “skin the cat”. It’s clear my sister is not visiting my Mom in the new place. I guess it’s easier for her to demonize the place if she doesn’t see folks treating Mom nice. From Charlotte’s perspective, she can sit in her basement and make up any crazy conspiracy theory that pops into her pointed little head and force everyone around her to act on it as if her theory is real. Like Mom’s cell phone and breast cancer. I guess in Charlotte’s world you’re not crazy if you can get someone else to agree with you. It doesn’t matter if that other person is a homeless street preacher, if they agree with Charlotte, Charlotte is vindicated. I decide to see if I can outflank my sister by going through my aunt Edna.

I send the following email to Edna via Mulva:

I’m not adverse to Charlotte moving into the condo under the right conditions:
1. Mom has decided to live out her days at Mountain View.
2. I can get at least $1,000 swing in income/expenses ($500 rent from Charlotte, she pays the HOA fees ($225), Utilities and cable($250) and insurance($125). That $1000 plus will get us over the top in paying for Mom’s stay and make the demands on Mom’s savings minimal.
3. Charlotte pays for her move and cleans the basement apartment spotlessly and makes it tenant ready.
4. All items promised to others are removed from the condo prior to Charlotte’s move in.
 Bud
Now in my mind, I think I’m being very pragmatic. If moving Charlotte into the condo is going to stop the constant battle between us, it’s a good thing. Nobody on my side of the family has the bandwidth to deal with crazy 24*7. The big issue is whether Mom is going to be happy at Mountain View. My thinking says that Edna and Charlotte can influence that thinking a lot more than I can. Putting a carrot in front of Charlotte to induce her to want Mom in Mountain View, seems like a good plan to me. Incorporating Edna as part of the solution just seems like a no-brainer. By putting the real costs in front of Charlotte I feel like I’m giving her the opportunity to say, “yes, I can handle that, or, no, I really can’t afford it, rent it to someone else”. I’m counting on aunt Edna to be the arbiter of sane here. With Mom in Mountain View and Charlotte at the condo, Edna could be living the retirement she has always dreamed of. Her daily chore of refereeing the crazies would go away. She’d be free to chase the pool boy around the house until they both collapsed from exhaustion. Silly me.
Week three of my stay at the Beasley Street Spa begins with Mulva delivering the weekends emails. First off the bat, Aunt Edna is concerned about getting paid back for the charge to her credit card for the locksmith. I tell Mulva to cut her a check from our account and send Edna an email that the check was on the way. Next email from Edna was about renting the empty apartment:
“The lady who is going to see apt today is friend and in that professional circle.  She has dog but it has a good reputation.  Her present room mate said it causes no problems. I priced at $850 with heat furnished.  the Jan gas bill for Cory was about $65. I think and that is heating water for entire house.
If this is not agreeable let me know before this PM. I am planning to hold till 3-1 for her because these people stay with us.  Her work is making prosthesis for medical use.
Key man is going to come and correct key that doesn’t work this PM.
When Mulva comes back up I will give you info so you don’t have to write me check just transfer money.”

Well, I have to admit that’s about the best news you can get out Asheville. If all of the apartments are rented, it allows us to just break even on the condo to pay for Mom’s stay at Mountain View. I wouldn’t mind making a little money off of my sister if we can work a deal for the condo, but if not, we’re still not taking any of Mom’s savings to provide Mom with the absolute best of care. I write as happy a response on the back of the printed email as I can for Mulva to relay to my aunt Edna:

Excellent news on all fronts. Mulva has turned in the “Landlord” paperwork to the gas company, it had not been done previously, electric company was already done, though. $850 should be an excellent price, is this furnished or unfurnished? We’ll set up a mover if they want it unfurnished. Mulva will get your routing info when she’s there. It should make paying you back for your expenses a lot easier.
 Thanks a lot for everything.
 Bud
At the evening visit, Mulva was back with my aunt Edna’s response:
Unfurnished, she had to put visit off until Thurs pm. I had Lauren and Chris to help me clear out most of things in kitchen. Only thing holding up is Lucinda has not been able to come and get mattress, It can be left there until she can come and get it, her dept was closed and they haven’t sent her severance pay as yet. She will have to hire van to move it. Everything else can be stored except I want the twin frame in small room. Everything else can go. I tried to see if there was anything else Hannah needed at this time and there wasn’t. I took pictures of coverlets so you Mom can see if she wants one over there.
My response was short and sweet and I wrote it on the back of the email for Mulva to deliver:
 
Get it rented and we’ll get it moved :~)
Thanks again for all of your help.
Bud
I am happy to ignore the cannibalization of the apartment by Edna and her progeny if we can get the building full of tenants. Clearly I’m in a disadvantaged situation here. I need Edna’s help on the ground in Asheville in keeping things going while I’m “out of pocket’. On the home front, I am quietly dealing with the fact that Mulva’s visit to Asheville had completely weirded her out. In fact, Mulva was left with the opinion that, “it could all burn to the ground” and she wouldn’t, “spit on it to save it”. Now, don’t get the wrong impression, I do not think any the less of Mulva for her opinion. I’ve felt the same way a hundred times or more. It’s just that while I’m sitting in the big time-out chair, I am going to need a strong coalition of folks to work together to keep Mom in the best spot for her. I feel like one of those Chinese acrobats that juggles pins while balancing on a ball. If the Chinese acrobat weighed 300 pounds, that is.

Thursday night’s visit brought this update from Edna:

I showed to 2 people today. One loved it but needs roommate and will try to get one. The other wants smaller apt so she want have to share with anyone.

Lucinda still hasn’t received her money after a month, so if Maggie could let her get mattress and springs out of storage when she can rent truck and come get it, you can get it all moved out. I only want the twin mattress and frame. I can have Lowe get it down from there for me. I think I have the few things your Mom wanted me to put in sewing room for her.
The crafts and things she wants Maggie to have.
I have a young man who can wash windows and vacuum after things are out. I have not been able to get things moving as I wanted. Sorry it took so long for me to give up.
If this girl doesn’t fine roommate you can go ahead and turn it over to a property management company.

I am buoyed at the prospect of getting the apartment rented quickly and I write back the following response for Mulva to forward on:

Thanks a lot for showing the apartment, it is appreciated.

There is a storage unit about a mile from the apartment that would be convenient for whatever gets stored. I’ll coordinate with Maggie and get the “to be saved stuff” safe.  Once the stuff is moved we can coordinate the cleanup.

Thanks again,

Bud 

Things quieten down on the Asheville front for the balance of the weekend, and Mulva and I are able to just visit and talk about our own problems. I am in need of a lot of redemption from Mulva, and having my Mom and the crazies blow up at the same time has not helped Mulva and I gain any time in working on our issues. I say “our issues”, but clearly I am the one with issues. Fortunately, the court system has provided a psychologist for me to talk to once a week to see if we can plumb the depths of what is left of Bud’s soul to determine if the S.O.B. is salvageable. Equally important has been the medical attention in helping me get through the detox. Now that we’re in week three, my body is not rebuking me as much as before, but the world seems slightly askew. It’s kind of like your head is always slightly tilted to one side, so that world doesn’t look exactly like you remember it looking. Now, I’m not saying I’m getting some sort of Salvador Dali perspective on things, I’m just saying that things seem different than I remember them. 

Monday of week four, February 23, 2015, brings Mulva in with notes from a phone conversation she had with aunt Edna at 6:30 AM. I swear to God, I don’t know what it is with these people who get up at 5AM every morning, and why they think everyone else is up. Now I know in Mom’s mind, she thinks everybody else should be up at 5AM, it’s what “people with purpose” do. I didn’t know that aunt Edna was a “when the rooster crows” disciple. I apologize to Mulva for the wake up call and get the details of Edna’s latest lament. Apparently Edna visited Mom over the weekend and found her in her pajamas at lunch time. Adding insult to outrage, the dietitian came in while Edna was visiting to get Mom’s lunch order.

So, here was Mom, sitting in her pajamas, getting four star cuisine served in bed in the middle of the day. The news that Mom was taking all of her meals in her room did not sit well with aunt Edna. Edna declared to Mulva that the staff should wheel Mom to the lunch room, whether she wanted to mingle or not. Edna surmised that if Mom knew she was being forced to mingle for meals, that Mom would get dressed and fix herself up. According to Mulva, Edna delivered this message with a strength of conviction that Edna rarely displayed.

Seeing her sister “living the life of Riley” apparently struck a nerve within Edna and she went on to rant about how unresponsive Mountain View was being with regard to Mom’s assorted aches and pains. Of particular concern to Edna was the bad tooth that Mom needed to have removed. Edna acknowledged that Mountain View had done the right thing by giving Mom antibiotics to clear up the infection in the tooth, but they weren’t giving her anything for the pain. Edna wanted to bring Mom some Tylenol and Advil for Mom to use. Mulva promised to forward all of Edna’s concerns to me and get back with Edna as soon as possible.

I mull the situation over a while and chuckle inwardly that “a leopard doesn’t change its spots”. Even though Edna is outraged at Mom’s new queen-like status, Edna is still easily manipulated by the verbalization of Mom’s aches and pains. What’s worse, is that, even though Mom is plumped up in her bed at lunchtime being fed three meals a day in bed, she feels the need to play the “oh, woe is me” card with her sister to get sympathy. The spots on these leopards have been painted on with indelible ink.

I take a moment and write my response to Edna on the legal pad that Mulva has been allowed to bring into our visitations.

Hey,

Mulva has been receiving your receipts and you should get an echeck for $100 in your account in a few days. If not, let me know.

Mulva called and talked to Mountain View about wheeling Mom to dinner and they were concerned that Mom would lose the strength she had gained while at The Facility.They are giving Mom PT 3 times a week to help her to get back to where she was before going into the hospital. Mom was pretty spry when I went up at Thanksgiving, so hopefully she can get back to that level or better. It would be good to see Mom gardening in the raised beds this Spring at Mountain View.

Also, it’s very important that we let Mountain View handle all of Mom’s medications, even over the counter. I know you know this, but maybe you can pass it to others.

Let me know if there’s anything I need to handle.

Thanks a lot for all of your help,

Bud

The problem with communicating via emails with a person instead of a direct conversation, even if it’s by phone, is that you miss hearing the inflection in their voice when they receive your message. Face to face is even better of course. Then you can tell by a person’s face whether they took your news with good humor, or have just determined that you are the anti-Christ. I can’t say for sure how the above email was received by my aunt Edna, and, we’ll never know for sure. I can only report that what happened next over the next few days would indicate that my aunt Edna was not happy with the current arrangements, on any level, and, sure as heck didn’t take too well being preached at about the medications. Apparently, former elder care nurses get sensitive when you point out that protocols are put in place for a reason. Live and learn, live and learn.

 

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