Mom Goes to Rehab VI

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. My recording device is killer. I can’t make it any plainer. Mulva is one smart cookie for getting it for me. I would never be able to get everything from my head onto the computer in the time frame allotted to me here at TackyToo. At some point, the frustration would overwhelm a poor soul like me.

When we left off yesterday, I had just visited Mom in The Facility in preparation for her move to a long term assisted living center. On the way to the condo, I decide I have enough time to address another issue before meeting up with Jackson. I’m not usually one for diverting from a plan, but I felt this one was warranted. I decided to head to West Asheville to visit the number two witch in the coven, my aunt Edna. As always, she greets me profusely. Edna is not alone, she has in her company a young man in his early twenties named Chris Coe. Chris is the famous cleaner extraordinaire I’ve been hearing so much about. Edna has just fixed Chris a snack and he retires to the kitchen, within earshot, to eat.

I launch right into Edna, basically addressing the thirty emails a day I’m receiving that concern the condo, and not Mom’s condition. I point out that the only questions about Mom’s condition revolve around the psychiatrist’s report and “how crazy is Mom?”. Edna kind of just looks away. I try a different angle.

“Look, I know everybody is scared of Charlotte, I get it”, I start, “but this is the chance to get Mom someplace nice that will be able to take care of her right up to the end”. “What’s the problem”, I ask, “why am I getting all of this crazy crap from Charlotte?”

Edna hems and haws and mutters that they do need the garbage key so they can clean up the condo and not have to carry the garbage back home with them.

“Jesus”, I retort, “I told you I’ve already done that”. “All of the expired food, all of the expired medicines, the whole refrigerator, is clean”, I say, “Jackson and I will vacuum after we get the furniture moved and clean the bathrooms.”

“Well, I was thinking Chris could come over and clean, he’s real thorough like Grandma Lowe was”, Edna replies.

Of course my brain hears, “I’d like to throw the pool boy some work and have your Mom pay for it”. Instead, my mouth says, “Does he help you all on a regular basis?”

Edna replies that he helps her and Charlotte on a regular basis. I take the opportunity to say, “maybe he can help you get the upstairs apartment ready for rental”.

“That apartment is not going to rent furnished”, she objects, “people want to bring their own furniture to a place in that price range”. 

“Fine”, I reply, “tell perspective tenants that it will come either way, first deposit determines whether the apartment is furnished or not.” I can tell by the look in her eyes that my solution is not what they were shooting for.

“The apartment will not show as well with that furniture in it”, she goes on, “we should clean it out first.” I am completely satisfied with my solution and stick to my guns. Edna tries another avenue of attack.

“We were hoping you’d take one of the bedroom sets from the apartment for your Mom to use at Mountain View”, she states.

Ah, the use of the word, “we”, now we’ve got a conspiracy. The heat rises in my ears and in my whispering yell I respond, “I’ve just about goddamn had it with this furniture moving business. Are you all so retarded that you can’t see that the best chance for having Mom accept the move to Mountain View is if she is surrounded by her favorite things?”

Chris Coe has now moved into the room. I speculate if he is thinking of laying hands on an old man. At that point, I hope so. I keep him in the corner of my eye while I continue on with Edna.

“I don’t know what kind of bull crap you and Charlotte are conjuring up, I hope it’s all Charlotte, but in case it’s not, let me state in front of a witness, if you all don’t like what I’m doing I can have the ambulance bring her right back here to that empty apartment you want to give her the furniture from.” I continue, “if that happens, I’m done, and I suspect Jackson and Maggie will be done as well”. “If you and Charlotte want to control everything, fine, you won’t see me again until the autopsy.”

Well, Edna is gulping now like a bullfrog on a warm Summer’s night.

“No, no, no, that’s not what I’m saying at all”, she replies, “it’s just that your Mom has made promises to Charlotte, and she’s been so mean to Charlotte, and Charlotte has been so hurt by how your Mom has treated her”.

“And what, now is the time for Charlotte to be compensated?”, I continue on, “have you all lost sight of the fact that Mom is still above ground?”  “Mom nearly died, but she didn’t, and the law says you can’t inherit until she’s dead, no matter how inconvenient that is for Charlotte”.

“I just think Charlotte is so tired of being cold all Winter over there in that basement apartment, she doesn’t think that the condo should go to waste”, Edna says. Well that opens up two topics for me.

“Mom told me today that I could sell the condo if I needed the money to pay her way at Mountain View”, I say. Edna’s eyes pop open like the eyes on a “Sleepy Time” baby doll. Edna sputters for a response and I give her a second before I save her.

“I think it’s way to early to be making that decision”, I say, “we don’t know how much cognition Mom is going to regain.” I continue on, “I just want the condo to be exactly like Mom left it, if she does come back home. It’s going to be very sad for everybody if it looks like the buzzards have picked it over”.

Edna recovers a bit and says, “I keep telling Charlotte she just needs to calm down, but she just can’t, she gets so cold over there in that basement”.

“Well, she can move out if she’s so unhappy”, I say, “she should be able to afford a warm apartment in a complex some where”. “That brings me to another point, now that I’m thinking about it”, I plunge on, ” I don’t know that Charlotte can afford to live in the condo anyway.” “There’s a host of fees and assorted other things that are included in her rent here that are out of pocket at the condo”. “It would be real sad to let Charlotte move in to find out she can’t afford it”.

Edna seems confused as the dickens by this twist of the conversation, and can only respond with, “she can afford it”. 

“Well, I’d like to be sure that she can make it in the condo on her own without assistance from Mom before I’d entertain the idea of her moving in.”, I say, “Besides, we may be just speculating anyway, Mom could be back home in ninety days”.

“I think we should wait at least ninety days before making any new arrangements”, I continue, “Mom’s doctor tells me that the next ninety days will be real important in figuring out how far back Mom’s going to come.”

Lights flutter behind Edna’s eyes and she asks,” what did the doctor tell you was wrong with your Mom?”

“You mean besides the dehydration, bladder infection near death experience she had?”, I retort, “Or are you after her mental diagnosis?”

“Well, I guess I keep hearing about a psychiatrist exam and I’m curious what they said”, she continues, “Hannah always said to never let anyone evaluate her but Dr.Vinny Boomba over in Hendersonville, he’s the only psychiatrist your Mom trusts”.

It is an interesting bit of news that Mom has a psychiatrist, always thought she needed one, just never heard she was seeing one. For a person who could wax eloquently at great length describing her exploits in the bathroom, Mom was silent about mental issues. Interesting news. “What do you think is wrong?”, I ask.

“Dementia”, she says.

“Severe”, I reply, “but if her cognition comes back and she gets better physically, she may be ok for home health care at the condo”,”we just really need to get through the next ninety days to see”. Edna seems to understand.

“I need to talk about the property,”, I say.

“I don’t want to be involved anymore”, she responds.

“Will you watch it until I can get a management company to look at it?”, I ask. She says, “yes”, but then goes on to relate, yet again, the apartment is going to be hard to rent, particularly furnished. I ask if I can see what we’re talking about and we head next door to inspect the site. The apartment is two bedrooms with a spacious living room, small office, and a small kitchen and bath. I can easily see how two students at AB Tech might think $400 a month a piece was a great deal. I can also see two students needing the furniture. I sense something is out of sync, but Jesus, what wasn’t out of sync in this situation? We head back to Edna’s. I ask if Edna will be available to walk the management company through, or should I ask Maggie to step in. Edna is happy to not involve Maggie and I say fine. I relate again that the first deposit check determines whether the unit is furnished or unfurnished and Edna is reminded of something.

“Lucinda would like that front bedroom set and I’d like the daybed from the office if you’re just going to put them in storage”, she states.

“Anything else?”, I ask.

“Well, maybe”, she replies, “I haven’t asked Lauren or any of her kids if they need anything”, she replies, “they’ve all been real good about helping your Mom over the years”.

“Ok, fine”, I reply, “if you can get $800 for the apartment unfurnished, I’m happy to have relatives pick it over and give the rest to the Salvation Army.”

What a relief to have people just being honest with each other. Edna wants to reward all of her progeny with the spoils of Mom’s hard work. Maybe Edna feels that their gratitude will be her reward. Who knows? I say my goodbyes and feel like I’ve nailed down some of my issues, confirmed some of my suspicions, and opened up some new items. I head over to the condo to meet up with Jackson before our visit with Mom. I need to do at least a partial brain dump to someone with good sense before I become crippled myself. The Golden Girls suffer from some sort of symbiotic psychosis, and I am poorly equipped to unravel their ball of twine. No wonder Freud had a cocaine problem.

More later.


Mom Goes To Rehab V

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. My recording device is a life saver. The recorder lets me take a day’s worth of thinking, and about 3 days worth of typing and reduce it down into a file I can download and then clean up in my standard allotment of computer time here in the Rec room. I may run a little long with today’s entry, but since it’s Sunday, maybe no one will notice.

When we left the story yesterday, I am in Asheville, North Carolina visiting my Mom in The Facility, a rehab facility. I am on a weekend pass from the Union County jail for the purpose of moving Mom into the Mountain View assisted living facility. I’ve just finished visiting Mom and I am heading down the hill to Mountain View, which is less than two miles away.

I pull into the driveway and follow the winding blacktop to the top of the mountain where the main facility is located. It is a very country club like atmosphere with the club house in the middle and the apartments and condos arranged in a U shape around the back of the club house. I am shocked at the spectacular grounds. Everything is very well maintained, even now, in the dead of Winter. The club house faces the most gorgeous view of the mountains you can imagine with nary a trailer or shanty to diminish the view. I imagine the view from the condos must be breath taking. I enter the clubhouse and find out from the information desk that I am in the wrong spot, I should have turned off halfway up the mountain for the assisted living facility. I sneak a peek in the four star restaurant, where diners are encouraged to “dress” for dinner, before leaving. I turn around and head back down the blacktop that I assume provides an excuse for tardiness on every snow day to the employees. I turn into the assisted living parking lot and make my way to the lobby.

First impressions stay with us the longest I guess, and I am immediately struck by the quality of the furniture in use. It is not your basic industrial furniture, this is the good stuff. To my right is the community TV room where they are arranging the chairs for a showing of  “Gone With The Wind”. To my left is the reception desk, a small office and a conference room. Straight ahead is a lobby filled with Seniors who are being served coffee, tea and pastries by the help. I take a seat against the wall of the community room and wait for someone to notice a visitor. Several residents notice me and point me out to Barb, who finishes her duties and comes over to greet me. I tell her who I am and she very pleasantly tells me that that everything is a “go”. They’ve already assigned Mom her room, and even setup her mail box. She asks if I’d like to see the room, and I certainly do.

We walk down a hall on a very thick rich carpet, past walls decorated with large paintings and crown mouldings, and past alcoves set aside as game/puzzle rooms or book cases filled with books. All of the furniture is heavy, baroque, good stuff. Mom’s room is near the end of the hall on the left. The hall continues on to a glass door which I can see leads out to a patio area.

They have indeed put up a little mailbox next to Mom’s door with her name on it. The room has the same crown mouldings as the hall, but the carpet has changed to a more utilitarian version. Still very attractive, nicer than I’m used to, just not as nice as the hall. The room is about twelve by fourteen with big windows looking out onto the grounds and mountains behind. There is cable and internet already wired in, and the only thing missing is Mom’s furniture. The bathroom is large, completely handicap enabled with call buttons above the toilet and in the shower. There is a place for Mom to put her laundry and Barb explains that they come by once a day to pick up laundry, which they try to return the same day. Barb asks if Mom needs anything special that I don’t see, and, I truly can’t think of a thing.

Barb takes me back to the main lobby and we turn left to go to the dining hall. Mom will get her three squares here, or they can be delivered to her room if Mom is not feeling well. On the far side of the dining hall is a separate room with vending machines and a seating area, sort of like a sun room. To our left is an exit that leads out onto a big green space that has several raised planting beds already to go. Barb explains that everyone is encouraged to garden, and asks if Mom likes to garden. I reply that she does and I am hopeful this will be a factor in “grounding” Mom to Mountain View. We return to the lobby and the director, Suzanne, has arrived. Barb turns me over to Suzanne and we go into the conference room to fill out paperwork.

Suzanne is a young person, late 20’s I’d say, but she seemed to be totally dedicated to making Seniors feel comfortable. She asks a ton of questions and I try to walk the razor’s edge of telling the truth and not scaring them off from allowing Mom to stay there. I fill out the financials, write the check for first and last month, and gently explain that I’ll be hard to reach for a few months, but that Jackson was always available.

When Suzanne leaves the room to make a copy of everything for me, she hands me a copy of a long formal questionnaire. I’m guessing psychologists spent a lot of time on that puppy. Some of the questions were, “what did Mom like to do for fun (I didn’t say torture people), what did she do to stay busy (I didn’t say torture people), where had she traveled, what religion was she and on and on and on. I did the best I could with it. Again, I am mindful that I wanted to get Mom in here, and not be blackballed from all facilities in the Western North Carolina area. As Suzanne returned to the room I heard her tell someone that she would be right with them, and then we continued our discussion.

Suzanne was interested in placing Mom with the right people at dinner and lunch. She explained to me how important it was that Mom make friends with people that had similar backgrounds. I softly explained that Mom relied on family more than friends, but if she could come up with some people that Mom could bond with, it would be great. I broached the sad fact that Mom’s current friends, and some of her family, were only interested in Mom for her money. I explained that one relationship had gotten so bad that I had looked in to getting the person declared a predator. Suzanne acted appropriately concerned and explained how they helped the residents manage their cash, while also allowing the residents to feel independent. I told her I was impressed, and that somewhere down the road we’d setup a “house” account for Mom.

Suzanne asked about Mom’s favorite books and movies and I told her I thought it was an omen that they were showing “Gone With the Wind” in the TV room. I didn’t explain to her that I had always attributed Scarlet O’Hara’s famous quote in the movie as Mom’s personal mantra:

“As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”

Mom had always struck me as “money first” over every other consideration. I guess between her and Daddy there was sort of a balance presented to us kids, but it would have been better if they weren’t on opposite poles of the argument.

Suzanne scooped everything up for me into a neat catalog folder and I was ready to go. She confirmed that moving day was Tuesday the third. I said that I had to head back to Nunsuch, but that Jackson and his daughter would be there to handle the transition. Suzanne responded that they were ready to go today, so if that worked better for me, they were available. I thanked her, but said we’d planned on doing the furniture Saturday and Sunday. I explained that The Facility had agreed to keep her until we got the room ready. She said no problem, that they worked with The Facility all of the time, so if we needed to make any changes they would accommodate us. She asked if I had made the moving arrangements and I told her that Jackson and I were going to do the move ourselves. She offered the card of a mover that worked for them “all of the time”, if my plans changed. I thanked her and got up to leave. I stopped dead in the doorway due to a near stroke.

Sitting in the lobby guest chair, under a sparsely sprouted patch of purple hair, was my sister, Charlotte. Charlotte was dressed up like she was going to church. She is made up like Mimi from the “Drew Carey Show”. I can’t recall now if she was wearing a fur around her neck, or if her coat had a fur collar. I just remember spikey purple hair on a field of makeup set in a bed of fur.

“Hey bro”, she chimed out.

Feeling the heat rising in my ears, I did remarkably well to respond, “What are you doing here?”

“Well, I’ve been over visiting Mother and she said she was moving here, so I wanted to see what it looked like”, Charlotte purrs sweetly.

“Oh”, I respond, but my mind is thinking, you didn’t visit for long because I just left there and I didn’t see you.

“They’ve already got Mom assigned a room, maybe they can take you to see it”, I say.

I look at Barb and she picks up on the cue and offers to show Charlotte around. When they get out of ear shot I tell Suzanne that under no circumstances is she to discuss pricing with my sister. I explained to Suzanne that Charlotte was one of the people solely interested in Mom for her money and that if she thought that Mountain View might adversely effect her inheritance she’d work to confuse Mom. Suzanne assures me that they will keep everything confidential and I thank her profusely.

I leave Mountain View wondering if Charlotte knows my next destination. Have the Witches of West Asheville conjured up a vision that details my weekend plans, and, out of a desperation to maintain their coven, plotted to thwart my attempts to get Mom professional help? Currently, I’m headed to the condo to make some phone calls and await Jackson’s arrival from Chattanooga. I’ll update him on the way to our visit with Mom about Charlotte’s latest escapade. I’m sure he’ll be amused.

More later.



Mom Goes To Rehab IV

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. My recording device is an absolute life saver and it seems to be working very well. I was able to download and translate my story yesterday in about eighteen minutes. I overstepped my time by three minutes, not bad. The widow Ferguson can just hold her water. She just looks at pictures of cats on the computer, anyway.

When we left the story yesterday, I have gotten a “weekend pass” from the Union county jail to move my Mom to the Mountain View assisted living facility in Asheville, N.C. Now, we have fudged the story a little bit to the Union county folks, I won’t be there on moving day. The move is scheduled for Tuesday, February 3 and I will be returning to lockup on Sunday the 1st. My hope is that I can at least visit Mom a couple of times and provide some support to Jackson. There are a few odds and ends business wise I want to clear up if I can before returning to lockup. I’m hoping no one cares about the prevarication as long as I show back up at the appointed time. I’m assuming the time will be added to my sentence anyway, so I don’t think the county is going to get shorted any of my roadwork skills.

Mulva meets me in front of the jail at 6AM on Friday, January 30th. We get fast food for breakfast, and head back to Number Two for a quick visit while I throw some things together. A hug and a kiss goodbye, and I point the Trans Am towards Asheville. It is cold and threatening snow. Getting snowed-in in Asheville is a great concern and I don’t want to think about the implications. I am hoping for a Blitzkrieg trip and I hope we are as successful as the Germans marching into Poland. We’re going to need a lot of luck.

I arrive in Asheville and head over to the Facility to visit with Mom. Mom looks much improved from the last time I saw her in Mission Memorial. Her color is good and she can move around her room pretty well. She can go to the bathroom unassisted and that is a big check-mark for her long term care. Her cognition is better, but a long way from where she was at Thanksgiving. She does not remember me being with her at Memorial Mission, or says she doesn’t.

As I’ve pointed out, Mom is one of the great manipulators. Machiavelli trained under Mom. Mom saying something, and it being true, are just a guess. Mom’s strongly held religious beliefs allowed lying if a “greater purpose” was served. Mom was the one who determined the “greater purpose”. Years ago, Jackson and I started comparing Mom’s stories that were related to us in our weekly phone calls to her. We tried to see if we could come to a consensus on where the truth lie. She could be deathly ill to one of us and headed out the door going to Home Depot to the other. Mom’s story was molded to extract the desired result from the right audience.

So did Mom think I had just abandoned her, or was she just trying to make me feel guilty? Your guess. I looked about the room and saw lots of flowers and cards and food. I took the opportunity to ask how Mom’s appetite was, and she related that the food was pretty good. “Except when they let the Mexicans in the kitchen”. I questioned this, and Mom said at least once a week that they let Mexicans come in and cook the food, and she didn’t like it, it was too spicy. I figured it wasn’t worth pointing out that the “Mexicans” were probably cooking every day, they just served a Mexican meal once a week for variety.

I asked about her tooth and inquired as to when she was going to get it taken care of. She responded that the swelling had gone down and that it didn’t really hurt unless she ate something sweet. I asked if it was the same tooth that had bothered her at Thanksgiving and she replied that it was. I inquired as to why she didn’t got to the appointment that was scheduled for the week after Thanksgiving. She said she cancelled that one because she didn’t want to go. I asked, “why didn’t you want to go?”

In a completely unguarded moment, Mom responded, “because they’ll have to put me to sleep to take the tooth out and I’m scared I might not wake back up”. Well, hell, just when you have all of your defenses up and are able to shoulder through the maze of emotions, Mom goes and reveals a human trait. In spite of all of her, “ready to dance on those streets paved of gold”  bravadacio, Mom is scared to die. At least dying in a dentist chair. We all know her preferred method is reaching for the refrigerator door like Aunt Sudy.

I am momentarily flustered and look about the room for relief. I notice the TV is not on, which is an absolute necessity for Mom. Mom watches TV non-stop, as loud as it can go. I’m surprised she hasn’t received complaints from her condo neighbors she plays the set so loud, and all night. Maybe she has but didn’t hear them banging on her door.

Mom was recommended for a hearing aid years ago but has refused. I think her refusal is equal parts admitting she’s getting older, and a fear that she’ll be less attractive wearing a hearing aid. No amount of discussion has been able to get her to change, so we’ve all given up. You can imagine what visits are like when she wants to watch “Pawn Stars” at full volume and then has to turn it down so her visitor doesn’t have to yell over the show. I don’t think yelling has an impact though, I think Mom has been lip reading for years, or just missing what’s being said.

“Mom, you’re not watching TV”, I say.

“I can’t, it makes me dizzy”, she replies.

“Well, are you keeping up with what’s going on, are you reading the papers?”, I ask.

“No, I haven’t read a paper since going into Memorial Mission”, she says. 

I look around the room for other topics of interest. Mom breaks the silence by asking for her lotion in her bedside table drawer. I open the drawer to find the lotion, several bags of hard candy, a can of tomato soup, and a can of Vienna sausages. I hand Mom the lotion and say, “Mom, how did you get a can of soup and a can of Vienna sausages?”.

“Edna brought them to me”, she replies.

“Why, aren’t they feeding you well enough here?”, I inquire.

“I don’t know why, I guess she just was trying to be helpful”, she answers.

“Well, I can see the Vienna Sausages, maybe, they at least have a pop top”, I reply, “How did she figure you were going to get the can of soup open?”, I ask.

“I guess she didn’t”, Mom replies. “Look at how swollen my feet are”.

I am momentarily diverted from Mom’s secret cache of food to her feet, which I guess was her plan. I use the opportunity to remind Mom that walking will help her get her swelling down and that she should take every opportunity to use the physical therapy people to help her get stronger. Well this sends Mom into “pitiful mode”.

“No one wants to get better any more than I do”, Mom wails. “I just don’t like people making me do something on their time”, she continues, “I don’t want people getting me up when I don’t want to get up just so they can cross something off their ‘little chart'”.

I try to soothe her by agreeing that we all know she wants to get better and I remind her that I was the one that notified the nurses that she didn’t have to do PT if she didn’t want to. Mom calms down and gets in the last word.

“I just don’t want anyone to think I’m slacking off”, she retorts.

“No one will ever think you slacked off, Mom”, I reply.

She smiles and rearranges herself in the bed. She still has her fuschia blanket from the hospital. I’m about to comment on the blanket when the lunch people come in. They are very nice and condescending to Mom. They even ask me if I want a tray. I defer to a cup of coffee. As I watch Mom pick at her meal, I notice she is basically moving the main course around and then going after the dessert. I let her get in a couple of bites of the strawberry short cake before asking her, “I thought sweets hurt your tooth?”

Mom gives it a pause, and then replies, “Well, this isn’t too sweet”. She then gives me that look of “what are you up to?” and retorts, “When did that become your concern?”

“Well, it became my concern when you started raising hell with everybody about a tooth that you won’t get fixed”, I continue on, “you’ve got a drawer full of hard candy and you’ve passed on your main course for dessert, I’m just wondering if it still hurts”.

Pitiful Mom returns and she goes into the voice, “oh son, you can’t imagine the pain”,”at night I can just feel the poison draining down that side into my shoulder, and when I get up the next day I can’t even move my arm it’s so sore from that poison draining into it”. 

“Oh, ok”, I respond, “you do know the pain went away because of the antibiotics, right?” “You know that unless you get the tooth removed that the abscess is going to come back, right?”

Mom starts to cloud up, “Well I don’t want to talk about that now, I don’t know why you want to ruin a visit by telling me what I should and shouldn’t do”. Mom whines, “this place is full of people trying to tell me what to do every minute of the day, I don’t need my family coming in and trying to bully me around”

“I’m not trying to bully you Mom, I’m trying to get you healthy so you can take care of your self again, that’s what you want, right?’, I ask. She nods her head in agreement. We have avoided the full on waterworks for now and so I press ahead with, “Mom, I need to talk some business with you”.

Her face perks up and she says, “What?”.

“You know you need to move from here to a better situation for your condition right?”,

“Yes”, she responds.

“You know you’re moving to Mountain View, right”,

“Yes” she responds, “you know I looked at their condos when I bought my condo”, she continues, “I just thought it might be a little far for Edna and Charlotte to travel, but I love the area.”

“That’s great, Mom, I didn’t know you had looked there, I’ve heard it’s beautiful”. I plunge ahead, “I’ve looked at your finances and I have just one suggestion, you need to rent the upstairs apartment that you’ve been holding out for “family visitors”.

She looks a little perplexed, but responds, “I guess that wouldn’t be that close to Mountain View for folks coming to visit me, so ok”. “What else?”, she asks.

“That’s the big one”, I reply, “you’ve done a really good job of securing yourself financially, and if we add the rent from that apartment to what’s already coming in, you’ll have Mountain View covered plus some leftover”.

Then, out of the blue, Mom gives me the stunner, “you can sell the condo if you need to”.

I’ve never broached the topic of selling the condo with Mom because selling the condo would be the end of  Mom’s independence. “We’re not there yet”, I respond, “let’s get you moved into Mountain View and continue working on your rehabilitation and see how things go.”

Mom looks kind of quizzical and responds, “Well I just wanted you to know it’s ok if you need to, there’s no point in keeping the lights on in two places if you don’t have to”.

I reply that I’ll keep that option in my back pocket and start making moves to head out. I tell Mom that Jackson and I will try to come back by later and I leave her with a big grin on her face.

More tomorrow.


Mom Goes To Rehab III

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. My recording device seems to be working very well and I was able to download and translate my story yesterday in my alloted fifteen minute time slot. There are a few issues with the software not speaking “Southern”, but according to the package, it will get smarter as time goes on. I hope I do too.

When we left off yesterday, I’m in my first week of serving time, Mom’s in her third week of rehab, and everybody else is fretting about us. Mulva comes to see me every day and brings me the latest emails from my idiot sister Charlotte. The folks at the jail allow me to write my responses on a legal pad for Mulva so she can respond back to the tribe in Asheville. From the tone of the emails, Mom is just being herself and the “Golden Girls” are trying to figure out their best position in the new reality. The new reality is that Mom is being controlled rather than her controlling everybody.

I forgot to mention before, that when I got all of Mom’s financial stuff back to TackyToo, it took me three solid days of going through the trash bags of records to get them sorted. Three full 40 gallon trash bags reduced down to one average pendaflex file box. Those files were sorted by payee, and chronologically for everything Mom had of consequence. I did have a second box filled with blank checks. Mom had literally thousands of checks. I guess she had a fear of running out of checks before she ran out of money. Most of us have the reverse phobia.

Anyway, while I was getting Mom’s finances in order, I set up bill pay for her monthly items and setup a transfer from her rental account to her everyday account to keep it funded. Mom had some bizarre charges on her debit card and her Walmart card that looked out of the ordinary to me. I also happened to notice that the only people who got Christmas checks were Edna, Charlotte and Lucinda. The signatures looked legitimate enough, so I let it go. It did look like Mom was buying groceries for more than one person, and maybe that’s ok. It did establish in my mind an ongoing dependency that Charlotte and Edna had for Mom’s cash.

Since Jackson had taken Mom’s purse and hidden all of Mom’s credit cards, and I had confiscated all of Mom’s checks and bank information, we felt like we had covered the bases in case someone was trying to take advantage of Mom. We certainly knew Ann Wallace was a bad apple. I was now starting to think there might be more suspects. Emails like the following one from Charlotte could be construed a multiple of ways:

I had the thought just before or right after I spoke with Maggie yesterday about where Mother’s purse is, that perhaps, rather than wanting her Driver’s License for ID in “case there is a tornado out there so someone could identify her” that may have been a ploy to get some money so she could call at taxi cab to come get her. I am going to have to start screening her phone calls and letting them roll over to my voice mail.  So many of them are very pitiful and tear at my heart strings.

This email had been entitled “Mom’s mental health”, don’t know why. Following along behind was this email:

Do you know at this time who has keys to the condo?  I do, since my name is on the Original Deed. Mother told Maggie to make keys the morning just before Mother went to the doctor and then to Mission on Dec. 31. Edna told me she does not have keys. So, do you? Jackson? or who else might have keys that you can think of?
Yes, we may get some ice or snow.

Charlotte seems to be solidifying something, but I don’t know what. I had found in Mom’s information where she had made a living trust of the condo for Charlotte when Mom passed. What this means is, that the condo is Charlotte’s when Mom goes, but not until then. It also means that the condo can be used like any of Mom’s other assets, to take care of Mom. So where the interest in keys comes from, I’m not sure.

Meantime, Jackson is working like a bear to get Mom setup to go into Mountain View. Jackson took over for me with the social worker in Asheville and explained that we were trying to transition Mom to Mountain View. The rational was simple, Mom couldn’t take care of herself, one of Mom’s “caretakers” was 80 herself with high blood pressure, and the other caretaker was bat sh*t crazy, and had the papers to prove it. Jackson nor I were interested in taking Mom in, so, managed care seemed like a no-brainer.

Imagine my surprise when Mulva told me about a voicemail Mom left on my phone. I crafted the following email to update the tribe:

I currently have a voice mail from Mom that she wants me to be guardian and that she wants to go to Mountain View. I don’t know what happened, and I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Hopefully Jackson can get the paper work done without too much more drama.Thanks everyone for hanging in there. The light at the end of the tunnel might not be a train after all.


So it seems like we’re all on the same page. Mom wants to stop being a burden on her sister and daughter, her sister wants to live out her days in peace, and her daughter wants to throw off the yoke of oppression and become the beautiful butterfly she was meant to be.


How does Mother even know about Mountain View when the other day when I was visiting her she asked me where The Facility is located and how to get there.  I explained how to drive to it past where you turn to go to Maggie’s house.
I think this is somehow the work of Ann Wallace!

So it seems like we’re not all on the same page. As previously explained, The Facility can only hold Mom for thirty days for physical rehab, after that, to stay, Mom has to be diagnosed to be basically in a vegetative state. She is not in a vegetative state, as evidenced by her measuring out grief to everyone on an hourly basis. It seems that Charlotte has decided she can “manage Mom’s case” and she fires back:

It seems to me that Mountain View requires more independent living than she is capable of at this time. Remember, Edna, you told her if she couldn’t do her exercises, then she was not strong enough to go back to the condo and live alone.

As it turns out Edna is very opinionated about where Mom lands. Charlotte had forwarded me an email from Edna that responded to my suggestion that Mom needed to go into managed care. “Oh, no, don’t do that, they’ll keep her alive forever”, was what the email said.

I thought caretakers were supposed to try to keep their charges alive. Imagine my surprise. Well, Jackson is working like a bulldog to get paper work squared away and I am offering my soul and everything else to the Georgia Court System to be allowed to help transition my Mom over the weekend. I finally get permission. I can help Jackson move furniture on the 31st of January. I give Mulva an update to be shared with everyone with all the particulars:

Mountain View  is a very nice assisted living facility about 1.5 miles from The Facility. They have the ability to care for Mom from now until the end. There is a full time nurse that will be able to ensure that Mom gets her meds properly. They do 3 meals a day, even in her room if she doesn’t feel like going to the dining room. The grounds are gorgeous and they have raised beds so Mom can garden if she wishes.
This is a VERY GOOD THING, if Mom buys into it. Let’s please not fractionalize now and give her the ability to manipulate and bully her way back to making decisions for herself. She’s just not able at this time to make good decisions.
Mom is being released from the Facility on Tuesday, February 3 to go to Mountain View.  Jackson has this all arranged – she cannot continue to stay where she is.  Jackson and I plan to move a few pieces of bedroom furniture to Mountain View on Sunday.  

I would like to know if you are in agreement with my plan.  I feel like this plan will work for everyone if we all are in agreement. I am convinced that Mom cannot care for herself.  I cannot and will not manage her care from here if she moves back to her condo. Please let me know tonight if you are in support of the plan that I have outlined above. 

Well, like my Daddy Bocephus used to say, “it’s impossible to make a plan foolproof, because fools are so ingenious”. Here comes the proof:

Why have you stopped communicating with me?
You have not returned my phone message or sent me any emails.
Edna sent me an email or what you had emailed to her and her response.
I don’t have any issues or concerns about your moving Mother to Mountain View, but I am wondering which bedroom furniture you are planning to move there for her to use there.The guest bedroom furniture in the condo is mine, and has it has been mine for many years. Mother asked for me to let her use it to decorate the guest room in the condo, and I said she could. She has also told me, Edna, and she said also she had told you on the telephone that she was decorating the condo so that when she dies, all I will have to do is “bring in my clothes and a toothbrush. I am wondering if you all plan to move the bedroom furniture, etc. from upstairs in the rental house to decorate for her over at Mountain View. Please reply to this email.

I dictated a nice response for Mulva to email, ignoring the fact that Charlotte has never had two sticks to strike a match to, and that all of her claims of ownership are moot until Mom passes. Here comes Charlotte’s three responses, minutes apart:

It think it is safe to say that we all love Mother, and we all want what is best for her, even if she does not agree with what we think is good for her at this time in her life.
I think it is also safe to say that we are all very tired and worried if we have done enough, or could have done differently and could have helped her more or better, even while she sometimes continued to resist our best, loving, caring intentions for her.I hope that Mother will somehow be able to understand that I am nearing 72 and Edna is nearing 80.  We have really, really tried to help Mother during her various surgeries, very bad sick spells, and hospitalizations.  But, we have to also be realistic and realize that neither Edna or I have anyone really close by to care for us if we get down and can’t get back up to speed. So, we need to do all we can to try to stay positive and encouraging, not only to Mother, but to one another as well. None of us needs to get sick now from all the stress.


Email two:

Make sure Jackson doesn’t remove my furniture in the guest bedroom.  Mother asked for it from me to decorate the guest bedroom. It has been mine for many years. Edna and I can take Mother items she wants from the condo once she is re-settled at Mountain View. I see no point in moving and moving again, and again and again, as we have experienced here.

Email three:

Please ask Jackson if you speak with him today for the garbage can key. It is really needed by us. Edna and I have had to bring garbage from the condo back over here to put in the garbage. Having the key for The Clusters garbage can would really help us.

So just a little disconnect from reality, particularly speaking with Jackson about the elusive garbage key. Again, an empty condo generates no trash in my mind, so were did this transported trash come from? The biggest disconnect though, is the assumption we would take the guest bedroom furniture to Mountain View instead of Mom’s bedroom furniture. Even to the most brain dead, it should be obvious that if we wanted Mom to “feel at home” in her new home, having her own bedroom furniture was key.

There is clearly a plan afoot and apparently Jackson and I only play minor roles in it.

The plan unfolds tomorrow, same time same channel.


Mom Goes To Rehab II

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Ain’t technology wonderful? I got my story about Mom in Rehab loaded yesterday at lunch time and then did the cleanup before doing my story about Bruce Jenner last night. I think it’s a system that could work. I can certainly talk faster than I can type. Mulva says I can talk faster than I think.

Anyway here goes, it is January 13, 2015, and Mom is almost two weeks into rehab. Mom has decided she’s not going to let the trained medical people do what’s best for her. Apparently, someone told Mom they would probably have to put her to sleep to pull the troublesome tooth, and that sent Mom into a whirlwind. As I am preparing my defense for my upcoming trial I get the following email from Charlotte:

Lucinda Weezle just called Edna and said that Bud had called The Facility and told them that Mother does not have to do anything she does not want to do. And so Mother has decided to stay there now according to what Edna just called and told me.

Is that true, Bud? Did you call The Facility and tell them that Mother does not have to do anything that she does not want to do?

None of the Lowe family realizes how seriously mentally ill Mother is.They are in denial about her mental condition.

Also, Mother called Lucinda this morning, and Lucinda was going to come to Asheville and evidently take Mother out of The Facility and get home health care set up for Mother.

When I found that out, I told Lucinda, NO, that you and Jackson have Power of Attorney, and she does not have the legal right to do anything but go visit Mother.

The number of people trying to exert their own self interest is astounding to me. Lucinda is Edna’s daughter, how she got embroiled in the mess is anybody’s guess. Mom had called me and complained about being poked and prodded, she wanted to go home, etc. and I calmed her down by telling her I would get her out of P.T. that day. I didn’t see the harm. I responded to Charlotte as kindly as I could:

Was Lucinda listening to my conversation? How does she know about a conversation I had less than an hour ago?

It would be great if we could get everyone on the same page and pulling in the same direction. I called Mom to see what her status was and she told me of her toothache and how it hurt down in her shoulder, etc. She complained of them trying to get her to PT, and, of course, reinforced the fact that no-one wanted to get well more than she did. I asked if that was the only thing bothering her, and she said yes, that she liked the place, but didn’t want to be pushed and pulled into doing something she didn’t want. I told her I would call the nurses station and get them to lay off the PT until Mom was feeling better. She said “oh thank you, then I’ll stay”.

So everyone, we’re not dealing with her body, or her tooth, we’re dealing with her inability to make good decisions for herself. Until she can prove that competency, we will need to make decisions for her. I am waiting for the psych evaluation to see if it’s what I need to get a court order. I bought us some time. She can’t go home, and none of us will take her in, so let’s keep her somewhere safe while we work out the next move.

BTW, if we are disseminating information outside the immediate family (those listed above) we need to be very careful that we paint a truthful picture of the situation and reinforce the fact that everyone (those listed above) are trying to make Mom safe and secure and have only her best interests at heart.

Now, that we had turned away Lucinda, the question becomes how do we remove the other thorn from our side, Ann Wallace? According to Charlotte, Ann Wallace was arriving early every morning at the Facility offering to give Mom a ride home. I guess since Ann had not found the promissory note that she had given Mom in any of Mom’s belongings, Ann felt like she needed to search Mom’s condo. Without the paper, it was just Ann’s word against a crazy woman. Her motivation was quite clear, but what to do about it?

I had been in touch with the Buncombe County people about guardianship and had called an Asheville lawyer to see if there was any real point in using a lawyer to go before the judge. I got the half hour free advice from Ms. Alice Smotes, Esq. and when we got to the $5,000 retainer, I figured I had all of the info I needed. The kicker of the conversation, for me, was when she told me that in North Carolina someone can be determined incompetent and still be able to move assets from one person to another just by recognizing the property and the person.

Let me elaborate here, a person who has been determined to be bat sh*t crazy by Judge A, could come back before Judge A and transfer property to a new heir by identifying a picture of the property and a picture of the new heir. Now, I am completely baffled by the incongruity of determining a person incapable of making financial decisions for themselves, but able to transfer an asset that a trusted heir might be counting on for the care of the elder. And, possibly transfer the property to an heir who might gamble it away. How does a Judge say, you’re crazy about everything except this one thing? I saw the fine work of a legislature that determined the attorneys for both parties would do well at the expense of the inheritance. I decided to leave the lawyers out of it. We’d either get done what we needed to do by following our own moral compass, or we were screwed. I did find out that there is a legal term in elder law that applies to Ann Wallace, predator.

I called the facility and explained to the command chain that I saw Ann Wallace as a predator and that we’d like the facility to make it as uncomfortable for her as possible. They agreed to do what they could. I alerted the family to reinforce to Mom that Ann Wallace was not a positive influence and that Mom should work her program to gain her strength and independence. Meantime we are trying to locate Mom’s next stop.

The Facility can only keep Mom for thirty days without Mom being determined as being permanently damaged. When I say permanently damaged, I mean being placed in a wheel chair and then positioned to face the sunlight. Mom wasn’t there yet. Through multiple phone calls, and in person interviews by my niece Maggie, we located the perfect spot for Mom’s long term care.

Mountain View was first rate in every way, pricey but manageable. Between Mom’s Social Security and rental income we could cover her new digs without touching her savings. Mom could be as active or as inactive as she was going to become and Mountain View was capable of handling the transitions. Mom wouldn’t have to move again.

As it turns out, I’m getting new digs. I move into the Union County jail and start doing my time. On my third day inside, Mulva brings me the following email from Charlotte:

Mother just called me and asked to me take care of her day and night at the condo when she gets out of Rehab.

I said we need to take it one day at a time and see what they say at the Rehab.

I did not want to get her upset and have her going over the edge again. I told her I would do whatever I can to help her.

I just called Edna and told her, and she said to tell Mother that Maggie will make arrangements for Mother.

A girlfriend of mine in Georgia is taking care of her Mother day and night, and her Mother recently fell and had a big goose egg on her head.  That is what can happen even if you do your best to care for someone who is not steady on their feet.

How many more days does she have left there at Rehab?  When did she enter there?


I’m in jail and my sister is pre-explaining the knot she’s going to put on Mom’s head. Can it get any worse?

Tune in tomorrow to see.


Mom Goes To Rehab

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. There is nothing in life as important as a good helpmate, and I’m doubly blessed with Mulva. She has watched while I struggle with the words and she knows how hard it is for me to type out my thoughts. She bought me this recording device that I can tell my stories into. Then there is software that will listen to my words and type them into the computer for me. Ain’t science wonderful? I expect I’ll have to teach it to speak Southern, but, I should be able to get a story in during lunch time. I’m trying to get caught up on Mom’s situation. Any typos from here on in, blame the software.

When we left the story, it is Friday, January 2, 2015 and I have returned back home from Asheville, just in time to call my bail bondsman. If any of you have seen “Dog The Bounty Hunter”, think Dog with less teeth and less hair, and more Beth, if you know what I mean. Anyway,  we’re good and he gives me my plan for the fifteenth. I check in with Jackson and he tells me that we are “a go” for transfer to the rehab facility on Saturday, weather permitting. The hospital will give Mom some “anti-anxiety” medication to make the transition easier, and Jackson will follow along behind. I tell Jackson how happy I am that he is there, and that I’m hoping everyone can “get over themselves” for a little while and just do what was right for Mom.

Jackson is not so sure, he relates a string of emails he’s received from Charlotte, and he thinks when push comes to shove, Charlotte will throw a monkey wrench into the plans. My only response is, “you break it, you buy it”. In my mind, Mom’s current caregivers have the opportunity to step aside and allow professional people to take care of Mom. If they can’t see the sense in that, or have other compelling issues ($$$$$), that prevent them from letting go, then I’m done. I wish Jackson “God speed” and ask him to call me when “the eagle has landed”.

I go looking through my emails, “just lookin’ for trouble” as Daddy used to say. I find this little gem from Charlotte:

Good morning, Bud!
Thank you so very much for this update.
I agree with this plan outlined below.
I am not being a martyr now in saying my truth that the way Mother ripped into me the morning of Dec. 31 with the worst look of pure hatred on her face and in her eyes, was the stake through my heart after all the years of abuse from her, since I was six years old and telling me “Sometimes I wish you had never been hatched.”
As long as she is not mentally stable, I fear she will continue to lash out at me just she even sees my face.  I have not done anything wrong to deserve her abuse. I hope both Jackson and you can understand my wanting to stay away from her.
I am grateful to both Jackson and you for all you have done and are doing now.  I trust both of you, and I know you both will do all you can to help Mother and do the right thing about the safekeeping and cataloging items in the condo, etc. That is a brilliant idea. Thank you!
I have been trying to fight off a cold.  I am scheduled to have a Sleep Sunday Monday night at the Sleep Center here.
My crazy phones are still acting up and I have only been able to get a princess phone to work here.
Thanks so much for everything!
Charlotte must have been in her “best” mind when she wrote that one, or there’s a ghost writer somewhere. I scrolled down my email list a little further, and found the following poignant message from Charlotte, addressed to every living family member we have. The message was in about a 72 point type. Charlotte was convinced we all read our emails one letter at a time:
Mother told me years ago she had a bike wreck and had head injury when she was 15.  She told me she was unconscious for hours, at least 8 hours, as best I can remember.
She said she could not raise her arm(s) and Grandpa Lowe had to brush her hair.  I think he may have given her one of those “Dutch Boy Haircuts” so she could better manage her hair. They thought if you hit your head, you weren’t hurt.
Edna would probably remember more of the details of Mother’s bike wreck and head injury.
A head injury and unconsciousness is the beginning of many issues.
Dare I point out that Charlotte’s diagnosis is coming seventy four years after the incident? Fortunately, Jackson had already addressed the issue, the first line being the killer:
No reply desired
The cat scan at hospital revealed no brain traumas current or past.
It was George that fell off the wagon.

The message was sent to the same mail list and I hoped it would be the last word on the topic.

Charlotte stays out of email diagnosis for about a week before she returns with this stunner, addressed to me, entitled, “Mother Has A Lump”:

I am back in the loop since I have had a little rest.  I was at Rehab yesterday and found it interesting that neither you or Jackson had me listed as a family member on Mother’s information.  Did you forget I am a family member of Mother’s?
Anyhow, I was out at Rehab yesterday to visit Mother.  I have never seen her feet so swollen.  She was weak and wanting to rest.  I took her more soft blanket and clothes Edna had washed for her.
She has complained about a tooth ache for some time now.  I am worried about an abscessed tooth, which we all know can travel to the brain and kill a person.  
I asked the Social worker and she told me they were giving Mother an antibiotic before they send her out to a dentist. I think Mother needs to go to a Dentist NOW and be x-rayd to see if she has an abscess and needs to get that tooth pulled.
I think the important thing to point out here is that Mom went in the hospital on December 31, 2014 and Charlotte did not visit her until January 12, 2015. Now, Charlotte was involved mind you, hourly emails about the “garbage key”, twice a day mailings about the condo association fees being due, and once a day character assassinations of her niece Maggie. Charlotte hated Maggie because Maggie was the “daughter Mom never had”. I think at one time, Mom had left everything to Maggie. I found evidence that Mom had had a partial change of heart with regard to Maggie, though.
In Maggie’s defense, as we get older our own families take over our priorities, and Maggie was unable to jump as often, or as high, as Mom wanted, after Maggie had children of her own. Mom started restructuring her will based on “years of service”, “how much Mom had helped the individual in life”, “how well the grandchildren turned out”, and other nebulous criteria. In short, Charlotte was getting crap, and she knew Maggie was going to fare better when the will was read.  Nothing brings a family together like the reading of a will. 
To address the charge, “that neither you or Jackson had me listed as a family member on Mother’s information“, it’s just not true. We did not list Charlotte as a person who could get, or discuss Mom’s diagnosis. Mom might be marching to a different tune right now, but I was sure that Mom didn’t want her diagnosis blasted out to all living family members as her “bicycle accident ” had been. Like birds migrating South for the Winter, I was sure that the portion of Mom’s brain that didn’t want Charlotte “managing my case” was burned indelibly into her DNA. Mom would never forgive anyone who turned her personal chart over to Charlotte.
The “lump” Mom complained about was a bad tooth she had mentioned to me at Thanksgiving. She had assured me then that she already had a dentist appointment and that Edna was going to take her and wait for her. I figured it was going to be taken care of, I was wrong. I called the Rehab facility and discussed the situation with Mom’s nurse. The nurse told me that they had already started Mom on antibiotics and they were scheduling an appointment with Mom’s dentist for the earliest possible opening. Good deal, enough said.
We are two weeks into rehab and Mom is getting stronger it appears, but is still unable to follow a straight line of questions. I will be going to court in two days, and I certainly have some questions that I will need to answer.



Mom Took Sick VII

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Me and Mulva watched an old movie last night, “Silkwood”, which was real good. It had a real funny joke in it about Indian (Native American) naming conventions for their children. The “Silkwood” joke was much funnier than the one Daddy used to tell about “Falling Rocks”. There would have been hell to pay if Daddy had told the “Silkwood” joke, so I guess the right thing was done all around.

When we left off our story, I am flying through the night, and I mean literally flying. I am leaving Asheville headed for home. I glanced at the speedometer and it was to the North of 95 mph. My astute observational skills realized getting locked up in North Carolina would just be the icing on the cake. I dialed it back to 65 and tried to control the molten cauldron of lava that was my brain.

Fortunately for all, Jackson was on the scene. He had met up with his daughter Mattie, made the transfer of the keys, including the all important garbage key, and visited a while with Mom before she drifted off. Jackson reported Mom’s repeated reference to her fuchsia blanket had diminished to about every third sentence. Jackson had explained to Mom they were going to take her to a rehab facility the next day and that she would be there to get her strength back. At first Mom related that she was happy to stay at Memorial Mission, that they were taking good care of her. Jackson explained that the hospital needed the bed for really sick people and that Mom was well enough to where she could go to a hospital that would build her up to the point of caring for herself again. Mom bought it. To clarify, that was everyone’s best wish, that Mom be able to care for herself and be happy doing it. Daddy would say the odds of that happening were about as good as hitting a hard four, but we hold out hope.

At this point, I’m going to interrupt the narration a bit to fill in a little more background about Jackson, I realize I skimped quite a bit on his profile page.

Jackson can do anything, I mean literally, anything. He played bass guitar and electric flute in a rock and roll band that opened for many of the big names back in the 70’s. He trained as an electrician, but he can do anything that needs to be done in the construction of a house. He owns a couple of hundred acres of land that back up to a national forest. The land had an old log cabin on it that Jackson took completely apart and re-chinked himself. The interior is a comfy modern getaway for folks who come to visit. Jackson has worked in stained glass, etched glass and other mediums to satisfy that artistic spirit that resides within him. He even does his own auto repair in his big old garage that houses his music studio on the second floor. He is truly a Renaissance man. Jackson is an outlier in our family, and I needed to point that out before going further. I suspect his success in life is directly proportional to the amount of time spent under Mom’s wing. He had the least.

To continue on with the main feature, I’m using the drive back home to clear my head and to catalog the events of the last three days. I’m making mental notes of calls I have to make, starting with my bail bondsman. I’m trying to piece together the events that transpired between Thanksgiving when Mom was ok, and New Years when she was near death. The actions of my sister and aunt are undecipherable. Charlotte did not visit Mom in the hospital while I was there. Maybe she sent the crazy Ann Wallace as her surrogate, who knows?

Finally, I roll into the driveway of TackyToo, and Mulva seems happy to see me. We visit for a while, and I tell Mulva I need to send an email to everyone while it’s still fresh in my mind. Driving always helps me cut through the clutter, and I wanted to get my thoughts down before I slept. I send the following email to Jackson, Edna, Charlotte and Maggie:

First thanks to everyone for their support in getting us to this point.
I thought I’d write down a few observations with some goals for the transition of Mom’s care so that hopefully we can present a united front to her and put her in a situation that doesn’t place an undue burden on any family member while providing mom with a comfortable and safe environment.
First off, Mom was very near death, probably one or two days away without intervention. She is still very weak and her dementia is very strong even though her vitals have come back very well. She is currently too weak physically to take care of herself without full time care – 24X7. Mentally, I don’t think she’s got a shot at looking out for herself. The doctor is aware of her dementia and believes she needs a stay in a physical rehabilitation facility until she can handle basic functions by herself physically. If all goes as according to plan, this should occur Monday. Maggie will be able to chose from three or four facilities and it will be paid for by medicare.
All of us have worked very hard to honor Mom’s wishes to die in her own space, with Charlotte and Edna bearing the lion’s share of the load and the abuse that comes with it. I think this is the opportunity to get her in some place that will take care of her medications and hopefully make her feel more secure of her surroundings.
After Mom gets her strength back in the rehab facility, we will have to make the next decision, which I believe involves a full time care facility. A full time private duty nurse (someone who can MAKE Mom take her medications) will be extraordinarily expensive and will deplete Mom’s savings pretty quickly.
My opinion is that a “friend of a friend, who knows someone who use to care for an elderly person” is out of the question. In addition to the 24X7 coverage issue, that friend of a friend might not have Mom’s best interest at heart and here I will give this Ann Wallace person as an example. I won’t recount my encounter with her here, Edna and Jackson know what happened.
I feel that involving grandchildren or great grandchildren as care takers is ludicrous.
So the bullet points are:
1. No drama, everyone positive about getting Mom healthy and strong again, no martyrdom needed by anyone.
2. Transition Mom to a physical rehab facility, Jackson and Maggie will handle this
3. Evaluate her mental state and determine if she can live independently on any level.
I will be working on Mom’s finances until I get them squared away, I’ve had her mail forwarded to here. I’ll pay her outstanding bills today.
Jackson will be taking Mom’s jewelry back with him to Chattanooga for safe keeping and will catalog it and Mom’s brick a brack. My take is that the brick a brack has little value other than sentimental, but to be fair to everyone Jackson will catalog it and other items in the condo.
Best to all,


As I lay down to sleep the Grateful Dead’s song is rumbling in my brain. “What a long strange trip it’s been”.


Mom Took Sick VI

BudLiteGood 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.

More later.


Mom Took Sick V

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I couldn’t sleep last night so I got up early to get some more of this off my mind. You know how it is when your mind is just racing but you’re not coming up with anything constructive? It ‘s kind of like roller skating on Vaseline.

To resume my story, it is New Year’s Day 2015 and I am stuck in a little corner of Hell called Asheville, N.C. I am looking for supper in a town that has clearly closed for the day as evidenced by all of the dark store fronts. I finally spot a Chinese joint named, “Pu Pu Hot Pot”. Well, “any port in a storm” as Daddy used to say. It wasn’t bad, as far as “Pu Pu” goes, and I headed back to Mom’s condo to try to plot my next moves. I needed to be extra effective in the time left to me. I called Mulva and Jackson and discussed Mom’s complete loss of cognition. I told them of Mom’s new official diagnosis. Jackson reminds me that I have Mom’s Power of Attorney and that I need to gather up all of her paperwork so I can begin paying her bills for her. Mulva reminds me that I need to clean out the refrigerator and shelves and get rid of anything that might spoil.

Turns out Mom hoards garbage sacks, as well as toilet paper, and I find enough to do the job. I’ve never seen so many cans of Hormel Smoked Baked Beans, some of them eight years old. I fill the trunk and all of the seats of Mom’s van with expired or spoiled food. I haven’t even hit the medicine cabinet yet. I can barely enter Mom’s bathroom and maintain focus. The “cleaning up” that Charlotte and Edna were so hot to take care of apparently didn’t include the toilet and surrounding floors and walls.

I focus on the medicine cabinet and under the sink. My efforts come up with things going back to 1957. The bottle of Castor Oil I find might have been the same one Mom threatened me and Jackson with when we were kids. Well, I make executive decisions about what was necessary should Mom come back home, and throw the rest in a bag and shove it into the van. It’s a short drive to the dumpster and I accomplish the dual goals of keeping Mom’s battery from dying and keeping the neighbors from calling the police over a “funny smell”.

Next I start on Mom’s paper work. Mom had a very interesting filing system. She would devote a dresser drawer to a year. Anything in a year would go in a drawer, not by payee, not by date, not even by tax implications, if it was 2010, it went in this drawer. I decided to bag it the same way. I figured I had plenty of time to sort it out properly when I got back to Nunsuch. Each drawer had about two dozen self addressed envelopes to the Shepherd’s Chapel in Arkansas. God only knows how much Mom had contributed to these guys over the years, but it was sure that the Shepherds wanted to make it easy for Mom to send more. I debated offering to sell the envelopes back to them for a “postage only” deal, and then threw them away. Screw ’em.

I moved to Mom’s kitchen table where she kept her current stuff and started trying to parse through the most relevant and time sensitive items. Charlotte’s incessant texts were now being split between the garbage key and Mom’s condo association dues being due. I could, “give Louise, Mom’s neighbor, a check, she’s on the condo board”, as Charlotte entreated. Or I could, “set the whole damn thing on fire if you don’t quit bugging me”, I thought, but I am trying to be “the adult in the room”.

I continue sorting through the flotsam and jetsam that an 88 year old considers important. While sorting, I find three steno pads filled with Mom’s writing that catch my eye. Upon further inspection, I find that the pages are filled with exact conversations that Mom and I have had in our weekly Saturday phone calls. I could not have been more stunned if you’d smacked me in the forehead with a ball peen hammer. On these steno pads were scripts that Mom had written out to be able to handle her end of the conversation. Mom wanted to be able to come up with topical items to interject when it was her turn to talk. I am overwhelmed. I call Jackson back with the news. My brother commiserates with me about the fact that “Elvis had left building” a lot further back than we thought.

Just like giving her Doctors the right answers to their standard “senile tests”, Mom had devised a method to make Jackson and I think that she was still “with it”. Mom’s red on yellow “Do Not Resuscitate” order glared at me from the refrigerator door and I marveled at her tenacity to “die like Aunt Sudy”. Aunt Sudy had died at age 91 while reaching for the refrigerator door, as the legend is told. “Dropped dead just like that, not a bye your leave or a peep came out of her”.

Reflection is the enemy of efficiency, so I just scooped everything up and throw it in the trunk of the Trans Am. I find one other item of interest on Mom’s kitchen table, an envelope with Ann Wallace’s name on it. In my role of almost ordained Power of Attorney, I open the envelope. Turns out it is a promissory note from Ann to Mom that is due on the first of February. The plot thickens. I spend the rest of the evening Googling addresses and maps of places I know I need to go before leaving town. I find a number for a 24 hour hot line for senior services and take a chance. I bend the ear of some poor social worker whose seniority did not allow her to be off on New Year’s Day. God bless her, she is very helpful, very patient, and gets me mentally prepared for the potential of applying for guardianship of Mom. I Google attorneys whose specialty is Elder Law and find a promising firm. I keep the attorney’s number in reserve. I don’t have a clue as to how this is going to play out tomorrow.

Rather than getting a guaranteed “bad night’s sleep” on the guest bed, I opt for the loveseat/sofa in the living room. Seinfeld is on and “George’s boys can swim”.  Tomorrow is another day.


Mom Took Sick IV

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I am absolutely tuckered out. I’ve remembered so much stuff in the last twenty four hours that a total frontal lobotomy would result in a call of no foul. Wasn’t it Tom Waits who said, “I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy?” Well, enough of that kind of thinking.

When we left our story, it is January 1, 2015, I am in Asheville in Mom’s condo on the second day of my Odyssey. I have awoken from a fitful night’s sleep on a bed that would have been used during the Inquistion to finish off the survivors of the rack and iron maiden. I have three texts from Charlotte wanting to know if I have Mom’s keys, and in particular the “garbage key”. I do not understand the focus on the garbage key, even though Mom’s situation at the condo is sort of unique.

Mom lives in a gated community overlooking the golf course. It is very, very scenic, and the community dumpster sits just outside of the gates of the community. I guess the community didn’t want garbage trucks rumbling through in the early AM breaking their solitude. The community decided to be a little self sufficient in the interest of peace and quiet, and so they came up with the “outside the walls” dumpster solution. The dumpster did require a specific key to gain entry, and this is what Charlotte is focused on for some reason.

Charlotte had brought up the garbage key the day before when we had our terse discussion of where I was shortly after my arrival. I presumed Charlotte was at the hospital, but when I called her, my question, “Where are you?” was met with, “I’m at home, where are you?”. There followed a brief discussion with me explaining my expectation that Charlotte would be where our dying Mother was. Turns out, Charlotte apparently thinks I’m coming to Asheville to see Charlotte. It was never mentioned previously that I was supposed to show up at “Hoarders R Us”.

I just do my best, “to be the adult in the room”, and ease out of the conversation as easily as possible. During this conversation she mentions Moms keys and the garbage key about three times. She whines on about how fragile she, Charlotte, is, and recounts how mean Mom has been, even when Charlotte has been trying to help her with her medicines. There is a level of self serving B.S. I can abide, and Charlotte has already pushed past her 2015 quota. 

I head on over to the hospital where I find Mom sitting up in bed talking to some elderly lady I don’t know. Mom has a blanket on her bed that is in a very distinctive fuschia color which I know must have come in from the outside. I take a seat out of the way and Mom continues listening to her friend who has identified herself as Ann Wallace. Ann probes Mom as to when Mom is going to be released, if she needs a ride back home, does Ann need to call some friends to setup home health care and so on. Mom’s best response through all of this was a weak, “I don’t know when I’ll get to go home”.

Next, Ann goes into a soliloquy that chills me to this day. She starts telling Mom about some friend that had gone to an assisted living facility and was beaten up, nearly beaten to death. If that story is not bad enough, Ann tells of another friend who was raped in a nursing home. Ann assured Mom that Mom needed none of that, “assisted living business”. Ann was sure Mom could get by fine at home with just a little help from her friends.

Well, during the rape story I had had enough. I truly didn’t know where Mom was going to wind up. I was sure that I didn’t want some crazy old crone convincing Mom that Assisted Living wasn’t the best thing for her, when it truly might be. I started asking Ann pointed questions about her credentials to make recommendations to Mom in the hopes of making her uncomfortable enough to leave. If not leave, at least shut up.

Mom’s doctor came in and crazy Ann bid us an adieu. The doctor asked Mom some questions and Mom contributed to the interview as well as she could. The doctor explained that they had to use a catheter to get a urine specimen from Mom and the results were the worst bladder infection they had ever seen. The doctor related that everyone was very surprised that Mom’s vitals had bounced back as well as they had. Mom smiled at everyone and told everyone thank you for all of the wonderful care she was receiving. The doctor offered promise of release in a couple of days and headed off on her rounds.

I spent the next few hours talking, or trying to talk to Mom. About every third sentence from Mom was about the blanket that Edna had brought her, and how pretty the blanket was. It was pretty clear to me that “Elvis had left the building”, so’s to speak. The question was whether Elvis was ever coming back. Mom had some specific short term memories; she remembered Maggie bringing her to the hospital, she remembered Charlotte trying to “dose her” with blackberry root extract, she remembered Obama was president. She didn’t know what day it was or year, 2014, or 2015, and mostly importantly, didn’t know where she was.

Mom was convinced she was on the psyche ward of Memorial Mission. When I asked her to break it down for me, she explained that she knew she was in a new part of the building and that Memorial Mission had had to add on to their facilities in the past to handle their share of the mental health issues in Buncombe county. Since her room was nice and new, and had such a wonderful view of Mt. Pisgah, Mom surmised she was on the psyche ward. I asked Mom if she knew if there was an event that led to her being placed on the psyche ward. She kind of blanked and started focusing on the blanket again.

Lunch came and I took the opportunity to go to the cafeteria and call Mulva and Jackson. It is funny when two very different people who are confronted with the same set of problems will respond in exactly the same way. After explaining Mom’s complete loss of capacity and the fact that I thought it really was time to do something different with Mom, particularly something that didn’t involve Charlotte and/or Edna, Jackson and Mulva both responded, “I don’t care where you put her as long as it’s not here”.

In truth, that’s my response too. There are situations where the elders can move in and live out their days with family, but that has never been an option with Mom. My brain was absolutely spinning over the possible outcomes of Mom’s situation. It certainly took my thoughts off of my problems. I have to get about neck deep in elder care in the 30 hours available, before I’m due back in Blairsville. I go back upstairs to Mom’s room and watch Mom fall in and out of consciousness. I take the time to start texting and emailing people who might know something about what I needed to do.

The doctor comes in to check on Mom about 4PM and is very laudatory in her praise as to how well Mom is doing. She gives Mom the promise that, with continued improvement, Mom will be able to go back home in a couple of days. I follow the doctor out into the hall and ask for a word. Did I mention earlier that the doctor looked like she had just come from cheerleader practice? Anyway, I relate the fact that Mom is as confused as she can be. Mom is not the same as before going in. I am given a stock group of answers as to why Mom should be allowed to go back home.

At this point, I relate to the doctor that Mom knows all of the answers to all of the psyche questions. Mom practices them everyday. “Do you live on your own, do you do your own housework, do you cook for yourself, how do you stay busy, yaddita yaddita”. The doctor looks perplexed, and then sees the relieving doctor coming on shift. She asks me to repeat what I’ve just said to both of them. The new doctor starts to affirm the first diagnosis when I am forced to swoop in for the clincher.

“Did you ask her where she is, I mean specifically where she is, because she tells me she’s been committed to the psyche ward”, I ask.

They tell me to wait where I am for a few minutes and they head into Mom’s room. They’re gone for about ten minutes before they come back and confirm the diagnosis of severe dementia. They add the diagnosis to Mom’s chart and we agree we will follow Mom’s mental issues more closely before we decide to let her get back behind the wheel of a car.

I go back in and visit with Mom until supper time and then I head out. I tell Mom I’ll see her tomorrow and head off into the Asheville night in search of supper on New Years Day. As it turns out, Asheville closes on New Years Day. Do make a note of that for future reference.