Rehabilitation V

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I continue to try to read and sort through my tribulations by reading about how others have sorted through theirs. I have come to the clarity that where I once felt like my life was unique, my pain somehow distinctive, that I just “ain’t that special”. I found this quote by Chris Prentiss to be illuminative:  “At the bottom of every person’s dependency, there is always pain. Discovering the pain and healing it is an essential step in ending dependency.”

Now, it’s not like this realization has just jumped up and bit me on the hindquarters, it’s been all around the edges of my life as long as I can remember. My hours of isolation, my hours of using trained psychologists and psychiatrists to provide a sounding board for my feelings, have brought me to the conclusion that much of my pain is coming from the maternal side of my family. Knowing where the pain is coming from is important, how to stop the pain is the Holy Grail. I’ve decided that by minimizing my interactions with my Mom and her family, of which I include my sister a part, that I’ll be able to focus on how to establish a healthy day to day pattern of living.

I’ve certainly got Union County’s help in removing me from temptation. The question is, will I be sound enough when I’m released to carry on a healthy lifestyle, when a healthy lifestyle is not imposed on me? So, that’s my drill down. What are the essential elements of my existence that are necessary to keep me sane, and, what are the non-essentials that are making me insane? It’s funny, when questioned by the psychologist as to what, or who were the factors in my life that caused me discomfort, my clue came down to a physical characteristic.

As crazy as it sounds, when I start to get upset, I can feel my ears getting red. Whether this is getting mad, or deep sadness, I can feel the blood rushing to my ears. Turns out, I’m as easy to read as a stoplight. Maybe I should wear a t-shirt that says, “if you see red, it’s time to stop whatever it is you’re doing”. Silly, I know, but when you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, you’re able to analyze a lot of past issues and calmly search for the catalyst. When I flipped through the catalog of “Bud Has Run Amok”, there is a link to my parents. Since Daddy has been gone for awhile, the job of “instigator in chief” has fallen to Mom. It is the job she was born for.

Now, I know that I’m not supposed to blame my reaction on the actions of others. The old, “if Johnny jumped off of a bridge, would you jump too?”, comes in to play. That said, Johnny wasn’t my Mom. My Mom sent me to live with a man she thought was the anti-Christ when I was ten years old. My Mom reappeared in my life when it was convenient for her, and would act like nothing had ever happened. It was like there would be episodes of “Leave It To Beaver” where Barbara Billingsley was not shown. Then a few episodes later, there she’d be, the kind loving June Cleaver who’s only interest was caring for her family. My Mom was not June Cleaver, and now, I needed to turn lose of my belief that one day she would be a kind loving Mom. More importantly, I needed to turn lose of any feelings of guilt that I might conjure up for not treating Mom like she was the ideal Mother I fantasized.

Well, we’ve got two weeks of quiet, more or less. Mom is calling every few days leaving messages on my cell phone for Mulva to listen to and repeat for me. They’re all in the same vein. Mom is using her “pitiful” voice, “Bud, this your mother, I’d love to hear from you. I’m not mad at you and I hope nobody’s mad at me. I miss hearing from you, bye”

On the 3oth of April, Mulva brings me an email from the attorney:

“Your mother has signed her new power of attorney and Anna Juliette Smith will be serving as her agent.  We’ll get a copy mailed to you and your brother when it comes back from the Register of Deeds Office.

In the meantime, please forward any mail to Anna Juliette Smith’s office at 915 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28806 Attn: Anna Juliette Smith.  Thank you!”

I have officially been released of my duties, and the duties have been assigned to entities that should act responsibly. I am relieved. The other shoe drops on the next day.

Mountain Woods called Mulva to notify us that Mom was moving out, ASAP. Who knows the rhyme or reason, but apparently Mom figured out that if her new attorney was her POA, and that I had not had her committed, that she was free to go. Mountain Woods related that the plan was for Mom to move back to her condo with my sister as caretaker. Apparently there was discussion between Mom and Charlotte in front of Mountain View staff as to who would sleep in the master bedroom and who had to sleep in the guest room. Trivialities, as far as I’m concerned. The big question is, “who will kill who first?” To that end, I ask Mulva to call  Jackson and update him with the news. I ask her to invite Jackson to join in my “Dead Pool”, after claiming under 60 days for myself.

The newly minted version of the “Golden Girls” rocks along for a month without any outside interference or calls to the Asheville Police Department. At least that we hear about. Jackson touches base with Mom before going on his annual beach vacation and is left with the impression that Charlotte may be on her way back to her basement apartment. Jackson’s email leaves the impression that Mom had indicated that Jackson could visit soon and stay in the guest bedroom of the condo:

“I talked to mom today and she seems to back on script. Charlotte has not moved out and is sleeping at the condo. 
It seems to me Charlotte may have been trying for leverage. 
I am not sure why I get suckered in. I just remembered mom saying the guest room was going to be in play which won’t happen with Charlotte still in residence.” 

My response is pretty terse, but probably an indicator of the amount of separation I was gaining mentally from the situation:

“So my 60 day prediction is still in play. So you think Charlotte just threatened to move back to the hill for leverage, or that she’s been staying at the condo for leverage in establishing residency?”

My response goes unanswered, after all Jackson is on vacation. Good for him. No rest for the wicked, though. Mulva brings me a Father’s Day card from Mom filled with laudatory praise and entreaties to be in touch. I feel compared to share the news with Jackson and have Mulva send the following email:

“Mom sent me a father’s day card. Looks like a ticket to get back on the merry-go-round. I’m still nauseous from the last ride.
Mulva got contacted from the bank that their action of dropping me from a joint account (253) was a “mistake”. I had her respond that I thought their actions were illegal, but that so much crazy crap happened in Asheville that I wasn’t going to worry about it. Banker sent papers to reinstate the account and to name the accountant as POA.  I’m guessing the Golden Girls have hit a rough patch. Oh well.”

Things go really quiet for the next couple of weeks. I’m able to just work on getting my head on straight and visiting with Mulva when she visits. It seems that, “absence has made the heart go fonder”, or, maybe I’m getting a handle on being a better listener. Whatever. Mulva seems like she’s not mad anymore, and that she’s interested in giving me another chance.

“Goodbye, dammit”, seems to be just the right philosophy for dealing with all things maternal. I feel as if a great weight has been lifted from my psyche. Mentally, my Mom and her family don’t exist. We’re going to test the theory, “if you ignore something long enough, will it eventually go away?” It appears, so far, that that is the case. Mom’s phone calls have diminished to just once on the weekend. Mulva is able to pass them off as, “same old, same old”.

On the 14th of July, 2015, Union County, Georgia decides they’ve had about all of the fun they can have with Bud Lite, and I am released into a year of probation. The terms of my probation are an ankle bracelet that ties me to one hundred yards of my residence. I am required to attend AA meetings at least weekly and to make daily entries in a blog/journal. My psychologists will be reviewing my blogs and making suggestions for my improved mental health along the way. Stay clean, stay free. Sounds easy to me.





Rehabilitation IV

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I’ve been trying to read as much as I can from the philosophy aisle to see if I can gain some perspective on how and when my life took a turn that was deviant from the norm. I guess I’m looking for some collective zeitgeist to use as a starting point in getting my cart back on the road to Normaltown. I found this quote which spoke to me, and I think the truth of it applies to my situation.

Selfishness is the unwillingness to give up your soul for the rehabilitation of your future.” ― Michael Bassey Johnson

Being headstrong is a quality I’ve inherited, or was taught, by my Mom. “Seldom right, but never in doubt”, is how we used to describe it. While Mom regains her faculties, and starts wielding her scepter from the confines of Mountain View, I am learning humility in the Union County jail. We are headed in different directions if our recoveries are to be successful. I am going to have to learn to “give up my soul for the rehabilitation of my future.” This is something I am fully willing to do. I have far too much to lose if I don’t. Mom, on the other hand, thrives on conflict, revels in it, creates it, lives for it.

Mulva has come to our morning visit with the ashen look of one who has looked into the face of the Angel of Darkness. My sister Charlotte had called early in the morning, complaining about the poor care Mom was receiving at Mountain View, specifically Mom’s bad tooth. Charlotte had gone to the trouble to call Jackson’s granddaughter, Tina, at work to demand that Tina pickup Mom and get Mom’s tooth fixed. Now, the great leap of logic here is that Tina works in a dentist office as a lab technician. This is not Mom’s dentist, just a completely unrelated dentist. Charlotte apparently figures that since Tina was going to a dentist’s office anyway, she could just swing by Mountain View on her way to work, check Mom out, take her to the dentist and get the pesky tooth pulled, and then check Mom back in to Mountain View.

I don’t know what has upset Mulva the most, the talking to Charlotte, or the fact that Charlotte expected the great grandchildren to jump in and care for their great grandmother. I try to console Mulva, and she acts like the trooper that she is, but I can tell that this may be the stick that will break the camel’s back. It’s enough of a burden to have to deal with me and my shenanigans, quite another to be confronted by certified crazy on a daily basis.

As pointed out so many times before, you can’t predict crazy. I can’t predict Charlotte’s behavior. I can’t predict when Mulva will no longer be perceived as Charlotte’s confidant, and become one of Charlotte’s tormentors. It seems to be a completely untenable situation to try to be involved with getting Mom the best of care, and relying on my family to do it for me. The only solution I can come up with is try to offload the burden to responsible parties who will take on the duties for a fee.

I ask Mulva to try to setup a call with Mom’s attorney for that day at 4PM. I tell Mulva to relay the message to Jackson that I am withdrawing as Mom’s power of attorney. I will no longer be handling Mom’s finances. I can’t think of any other solution.

I call Mom’s attorney at 4Pm, and after some routing, I am talking to Helga H. Heidleberg, Esq. I basically lay out my current circumstances, and use my incarceration as the reason for my recusal. Ok, maybe it was the coward’s way out, but, it seemed to be the simplest and most direct method of removing Mulva and I from the crazy train. The attorney was patient, took notes, and seemed to take to heart my warnings about my sister Charlotte and aunt Edna. I recommended Mom’s CPA as someone who could be trusted with paying Mom’s bills. The attorney had already determined that her firm was best suited to be Mom’s power of attorney, and to handle her investments. Though I still had an interest, I did not object. If I was going to “let go”, I had to “let go”. We ended the conversation with her promise of paper work being forthcoming. I thanked her for her help, and there we were. I was done.

I told Mulva about the call at our evening visit and fashioned an email for Jackson:

I talked to Mom’s attorney today. I probably gave too much emotion, but wound up saying I thought it would be best for everyone concerned if a third party non-family member became Mom’s attorney of fact. I related the forged locksmith doc to get into the condo, the rejection of the locksmith bill after being paid by me, the $1,000 deduction from rent deposit. I related that Mom should have $1,500 in cash laying around her room, no need for Edna to send me an invoice.
I pointed out that Charlotte was severely compromised, which she apparently had figured out. She said Mom now wanted Edna to be her backup agent, but based off the incident with the locksmith and the deposit she would not recommend that. I suggested Mom’s accountant with a surety bond.
I told her I had no interest in ever dealing with my sister or aunt again and that I really just wanted to pull away from it all. She laughed when I said they can do crazy 24×7 but I still have to be productive.
She’s meeting with Mom on Monday the 6th and will update me afterwards.

Mulva reported back the next day that Jackson wanted to attend the meeting when Mom sat down with the attorney to formalize her new will, power of attorney, etc. I sent the following email via Mulva:

Hi Helga,
Thanks for talking to me yesterday. I realize I ramble a bit, it’s an emotional topic, and I do appreciate your patience in hearing out my concerns.
As it turns out, my brother Jackson will be in Asheville on Monday 04/06/2015, and would like to attend your conference with Mom. If you could pass the time along to either of us, it would be appreciated.
The info for Mom’s accountant is:
Anna Juliette Smith
AJS Accounting, Inc.
915 Patton Ave
Asheville, NC 28806
She is very nice and has helped Mom for years.
Thanks again,
As Mulva starts to leave she looks at me and says, “I have just one concern”.
I look at her quizzically, “Just one?”
“Just one for right now”, she says, “I want you to assure me that you giving up managing your Mom’s money is not going to result in her coming to live with us someday.”
“I promise”, I say,” if they steal her money, Mom will she have to go to the state home, I’m done”.
“Ok then”, she responds with a crooked little smile, “that will be the one promise I will hold you to through eternity”.

On Friday, April 3rd, a collaborative effort of Mulva and I produced the following email with attached documentation for Jackson to carry to the attorney’s meeting with him:

I’m attaching Mom’s Wells Fargo statement for you to review. Her BOA account has $11,000 in it, with $4600 due to Mountain View by the 15th. There is also 35k in Asheville Saving and Loan. These are all of the accounts I know about. You will notice we have dropped 2k in value in March. Part of that is the annuity which we assume is yours and part spending on hopefully one time things.
I told the attorney Mom needs to get the title of her van in someone else’s name and I didn’t even care if she gave it to Charlotte. Mom needs to quit paying insurance (which is due this month) and the AAA, etc. crap she subscribes to. This would eliminate her liability in case someone who was “borrowing” the van had a wreck.
She needs to get Charlotte in just one place so she can collect rent on both. She needs about $5,300 a month to cover her necessities, which she can do with a fully rented portfolio and her Social Security. This presumes no skimming by Edna or continual “gifts” to family and friends.
Once we have the final docs from the lawyer I will release any guarantees I may have given while acting as her POA and will inform those places of the new POA.
Sorry long email, but some stuff needs to be written, if you have questions let me know.
Got to go outside today!!! I love it.

Mulva brought Jackson’s response with her when she came to visit that evening:

 Not sure what I am to do other than witness the account balances if there is a turn over pow of att.
 As it goes I talked to mom at 3p for 30mins. I wanted to test the water before going. 
 Highlights were Sis was by today with a live lily. Also some cookies and candy for the staff. 
Edna gave mom a ride to 253 where she sat on the porch and petted kitties then sat on E’s porch before going to the corner restaurant. And back
Early statement was “I’d rather be dead than lay be laying here” 
How about E becomes POA and moves mom back to 253 to die. After test run for a move before HG rent due on 15 primes the subject. 
I have reservations for the three of us Sunday at comfort inn Arden  so we’ll attend the circus.  
 Mom said Charlotte will be doing Jew stuff and won’t be around over Easter. 
 I guess it won’t hurt to carry my extra recorder. 

I send the following back via Mulva to email Jackson before he left town:

Whoever is named POA and/or Bill Payer should be someone with property and be bondable. The bonding company would weed out E&C as they don’t own property and I’m guessing are not bondable. Edna has reversed mortgaged her property, so she has no equity. Charlotte doesn’t have a pot until mom is gone.
If need be I will make it clear to attorney that she has the responsibility to provide suitable candidates for both positions. No one should be in that position that we can’t sue and have the expectation that a judgement would be paid out.

The ball has definitely started rolling. Jackson had cleared his schedule to be at the meeting of the attorney and Mom at Mountain View. It’s our belief that a voice from the “sane” side of the family should be heard in the proceedings scheduled for April 4th. As things always go, the meeting was postponed. Diabolically, I’d assume that Mom got Jackson to Asheville on the premise of a meeting, and then cancelled the meeting so she could have Jackson all to herself.

On the morning of 7th of April, Helga sent the following email to Jackson:

We’re meeting at 4pm today at the assisted living facility.  Jackson—are you still in the area?


Jackson responded back with the following:

I returned Monday eve to Chattanooga and will not be available to attend today. I did speak mother Monday, face to face, about my concerns as she picks her next power of attorney.
Mostly, her choice should be bondable and have the needed skills and understanding to protect her and her interests.
She didn’t appear to understand why Bud wouldn’t continue as POA, even after she wrote him a letter of dismissal and she retained your services to formalize her current wishes as to the future of her estate.

I did my best to impress upon Mother the real value of a non-related, bondable professional in reducing or eliminating sibling squabbles.
I’m sorry I won’t be able to meet you today.
If I can be of assistance in the future let me know.

Thanks again,

Jackson Lite”

Jackson had recorded one of his conversations with Mom during his visit over the weekend. Mulva was able to bring in the recording to our Tuesday morning visit. Jackson was very direct with Mom in trying to ascertain her capabilities. Jackson’s questions went to Mom’s state of mind and her ability to defend herself against her “support team”. Jackson questioned Mom as to how the future was going to be any different if she kept repeating the past. For someone who is the epitome of the phrase “laid back”, Jackson was a bulldog when he dug into Mom and the Witches of West Asheville. The conversation lasted about thirty five minutes, and got well past the “awkward” point. The “awkward point” is when Mom tells you to “mind your own beeswax”. According to Mom’s defense, they, Mom, Charlotte and Edna, had been handling things just fine for the last thirty years or so without any help from Jackson or I. According to Mom, “they could just keep on doing what they had been doing, and they’d be fine.” “Jacskon and I should just spend all of the time we were worrying about Mom to improve our own selves.”

Interspersed into the ramble of “minding your own business”, was a retelling of all the things Mom had done to make her passing “into Glory” as easy for everyone as possible. Mom even went into the burial wishes. Mom was to be cremated and her ashes spread over the graves of her Mom and Dad. I will admit, there’s not much that will close out a conversation like the description of how to dispose of your ashes. Jackson ended the conversation with something like, “well, I guess you’ve got it all covered”, and then he left. It was quite the recording, and I felt compelled to tell Jackson what a good job he had done, which I did in the following email:

“Holy crap!!!!! Perry Mason on the case. I think you did the best anyone could, I would have certainly lost it a few times in that exchange. Well done.
I think she gave good advice, go look after yourself. I think we both should take it.
I will give the lawyer a day to follow up, and then I’ll follow up if I haven’t heard from her.
Thanks again for stepping in.

Jackson’s humor had already returned, as evidenced in his response:

My grand finale.
My hands are washed. Your hands are clean.
Getting a generator for my leaf blower to use for the final wish of ash spreading at Grandma and Grandpa’s gravesites.
Stay well”

Ever the cynical son-of-a gun, I sent the following back via Mulva:

I thought Charlotte was supposed to snort the ashes ala snuff and sneeze them out over Wilton and Rose’s graves. Guess we’ll have to wait for the new will.
Again, you did fantastic, if you need an ear for decompression, give Mulva the time and I’ll try to schedule a call.

Jackson responded back that he felt he had done well with his “interview”, that it was the first time he had talked to Mom when he had, “no intent of trying to humor or cajole her”. I responded that I looked forward to feeling the weight of having to deal with crazy 24×7 off of my shoulders forever.

Mom had requested that Jackson return all of her jewelry to her that he had taken to Chattanooga for safe keeping. Seems Mom felt like she might want to start going out, and might need a piece of jewelry to brighten up her outfit. I think we all knew who wanted the jewelry back in Asheville, and it was fine. The big part of letting go, is actually letting go. I had already asked Mulva to re-box all of Mom’s financial information and to send it to the lawyer, proof of delivery requested. Mulva included a letter in the box detailing what each box contained and what items were of the highest importance. I crafted the following email to send to the lawyer:

“Hi Helga,

I hope things are going well for you. I haven’t heard anything in a while. I want to give you a head’s up that I have sent 2 boxes via UPS today to your attention at your Asheville office with all of Mom’s records and financial documents. The boxes should arrive Wednesday 04/15/2015.

I have attached here the letter that I sent you via regular mail today outlining my position.

Additionally, I will be removing my personal guarantee wherever I have given it, Mountain View for example, on my Mother’s behalf. I’m assuming you will be updating the banks with the new POA information.

I will collect mail here and send it to Mom at Mountain View until I get a better address from you to use for the change of address form for the post office.

If you have any questions, please let me know.



The letter delivered with the email appears below:

“Dear Kathleen:

I am enclosing a copy of the letter from my mother, Hannah Morrison, relieving me of my duties of looking after her and acting as her POA. It is dated March 9, 2015 and since I’ve received no further direction, I am turning over all of the records I collected from her during her illness and everything that I have accumulated since, to you for disposition.

All bills are currently up to date and I am wiling to work with any professional in helping to keep them squared away.
It is my strong opinion that neither my sister Charlotte Gordito, or my aunt Edna Poufle be given any access to my mother’s accounts.

As we discussed on the phone, Edna has placed mother in a very awkward situation by rejecting the locksmith charge for his work, even though she was reimbursed by me. Additionally, Edna had tried to re-bill me for the locksmith charge even though she had already cashed the check I sent her (copies attached, earmarked “A”) Edna has further shown how easy it is to short the rental property account by taking $1,000 from a $1,550 deposit as cash. (copies attached, earmarked ‘B’) Since one tenant pays in cash it would be very easy to not make a cash deposit.

With regard to my sister, the problems are numerous. My sister has been receiving a disability check from the state of North Carolina for some years due to an on the job incident that left her brain damaged. She has lived in my Mom’s basement for a very long time and has benefited for years from my Mom’s largess. You would think that would be a workable situation, but a few years ago my mother became afraid of my sister and, as a result, bought the condo where she resided prior to this illness. This is the condo that has the “mission critical” garbage key.

While Mom was at her worst, Charlotte represented herself as POA to the homeowners association (Email attached, earmarked ‘C”) She also represented herself as POA to The Facility to gain mother’s psych evaluation. Fortunately they called me and I denied access. Since Mom has been sick Charlotte has been far more concerned with gaining access and moving into the condo than she has been concerned with Mom’s outcome. Currently, Charlotte has two pieces of property tied up and has not paid rent this month.

While I have tried to counsel everyone to chill out and take each step 30 days at a time, Charlotte and Edna seem to have their own agenda, as if Mom had died and they were free to divide up the spoils. I even discussed Charlotte moving into the condo with Edna, provided Mom was going to be happy at Mountain View. I gave the same conditions to my aunt that I outlined in a text message to my brother Jackson. (text attached, earmarked ‘D’). I guess the conditions were not acceptable as they contracted you shortly thereafter.

While trying to locate bank accounts for Mom and in trying to get a sense of what being POA would require, I opened Mom’s safe deposit box at Wells Fargo and reviewed the items there, including Mom’s hand written will. I was trying to get a sense of what Mom wanted to be protected and given to which individuals. I was also hoping to uncover more resources to provide for Mom’s long-term care. I uncovered a list of Mom’s “antiquities” (list attached, earmarked ‘E’) and my brother and I made sure they were moved to Mom’s room at Mountain View so they would not be pilfered from an un-secure situation. Finally, my brother and I decided it would just be easier to change the lock at the condo and then there could only be two possibilities if something went missing.

Mom’s finances are such that she should have to pull less than $500 from her savings a month to live comfortably at Mountain View. If her property is fully rented (and the rents go in the bank) and she discontinues her cable service at the condo, sells her car and therefore cancels her car insurance, and then drops a horrible life insurance policy that she has, she will be in good shape. (P&L from rental property, expenses by vendor for Wells Fargo and Bank of America accounts attached, earmarked “F”). I will provide online userid and passwords to BOA and Wells Fargo via phone if requested.
I have cataloged the contents of the three boxes sent to your care via UPS in the attachment earmarked “G”.

One last reminder, the properties at 253 Scenic View Drive and at 4102 Babylon Lane must be kept in good physical condition, fully insured and taxes paid as part of the living estate agreement. Mom had let the insurance on 253 lapse because, “she didn’t have enough money to pay the premiums”.

If you have any questions to need any more documentation to support my opinions, please let me know.
Bud Lite

I guess that pretty much says it all, or at least I thought it did, until questions start coming in about where was Mom’s driver’s license and credit cards. At the time we checked Mom into Mountain View we had gone through Mom’s purse and taken out all of her credit cards, but her debit card. We also took out her driver’s license. There was no way Mom should be driving in her condition, no matter what the state of North Carolina said. We left Mom a hundred dollars in cash, and then arranged for an account for her at Mountain View. Mom was not without means if she needed to do something, we had just eliminated the possibility of Mom “losing” a credit card. Now there were questions being posed to Jackson and my voice mail about where Mom’s credit cards and driver’s license were. Jackson and Mulva go back and forth trying to figure out where the cards and the license are and I finally decide that they must have been in the boxes sent to the attorney.

Mom left a pitiful message on my recorder at home about needing her checks and her safe deposit key, and I determine that the attorney has not gone through the boxes yet. On the 13th of April, Mulva receives the following email:


Sorry for the delay—tax season gets crazy for us.  We have contacted Ms. Smith about serving as GPOA, but have not heard back yet. Your mother agrees that it would be a good solution to have a third party manage everything so that she can just enjoy her family member’s company without the stress and confusion that seems to recur now.  I’ll let you know as soon as I hear back from Ms. Smith, though I don’t expect it to be until at least Thursday due to tax season.  If you have any questions in the meantime, please let me know.


It gives me the opportunity to respond back to the attorney and reinforce a couple of points:

“Hi Helga,

I certainly understand about tax season.

I think AJS would be a good choice and I look forward to hearing from Anna.

I’ve included my brother Jackson in this email because he visited Mom last week and has updated me with his conversation with Mom. Mom seems to believe that the “squabble” is about the siblings dividing up the assets, i.e. “you’re fighting over my money”.
The “fight” has been Jackson and I trying to keep Mom’s assets intact for her continued use, not allowing others to siphon them off. As you pointed out to me, none of us knows what Mom’s long time care will entail. Making poor decisions now based on knee-jerk reactions by some could change Mom’s outcome tremendously.
If you could make that point to Mom as a “third party”, it might be helpful.

Well as the saying goes, “no good deed goes unpunished”. So, because Jackson and I tried to keep my aunt and sister from stripping Mom of her assets, we are the problem. It is good that I have resigned my post as referee and enforcer. When the dust settles, I look forward to a time that paid professionals will be charged with the task of keeping Mom from damaging herself. It can’t come quick enough.


Rehabilitation III

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I’ve been trying to catch up on my reading of things more inspirational than sensational. It can’t hurt, right? I was looking at philosophies that center around “doing the right thing”, and that led to philosophies of having the courage to “do the right thing”. I’d like to share this with you, it struck a real chord with me:

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

Now if there’s anybody on the planet that has had more opportunities to conquer his fears than Mandela, I’d like for him to stand on up. Serving twenty seven years on an island prison, where they expected you to die before being released is a tough row to hoe. I can not imagine the horrors Mandela endured, and the fears he must have felt.

For me, fear comes from a variety of sources. It’s not just the possibility of physical discomfort, in fact, that’s probably one of the more easy fears to conquer. The fears that are the hardest for me are the emotional ones. There’s a list on the internet of the thirty three most common fears, and I’m afraid, I don’t suffer from most of them. I do have a few of the fears that made the top 10, though. The fear of rejection and the fear of failure. If you fear failing in someone elses’ eyes, and you fear they will reject you, does that get bonus points for being doubly fearful?

I ramble down this path because, as we pickup the retelling of my story, living your life without fear of consequence plays a huge part in our next chapter. It is Monday, March 2nd, 2015. I have settled into a routine at the Union County Jail, not without a few bumps and scrapes. If being in jail was desirable, people would be fighting to get arrested, right?

At the other extreme, my Mom is rehabilitating at Mountain View, a wonderful retirement community on the outskirts of Asheville. If Mom wants for anything, even a cup of coffee, she presses a button around her neck. The staff at Mountain View will respond to her request immediately. The service is a little different at the Beasley Street Spa. But, it is, as it should be. We are where we are because of our actions, and that’s how life is supposed to work.

Mulva arrives for her morning visit all aflush from a phone call she has just had with Jackson. Jackson had just been notified by Louise, Mom’s next door neighbor at the condo, that Charlotte and aunt Edna had a locksmith open the door at the condo early that morning. To compound mystery to injury, Edna had emailed Mulva a request for a repayment about 10AM this morning. Attached to the email was the original bill from the locksmith when he had unlocked the apartment back in January. Either Edna was expecting to get paid twice for the apartment house problem, or, expected us to repay her for the breaching of the condo. I thought that would send the gall meter into the red, but Mulva’s next little bit of news shattered the meter. Mulva had gone online to check the bank account to check to see if Edna’s previous repayment had cleared. It had. Mulva then noticed that Edna had made a deposit of the rent checks, but had withheld a thousand dollars in cash. Mulva printed out the receipt, and it was right there for me to see. I am completely flustered.

I had counted on my aunt Edna acting as an “honest agent” in this mess, and now I’m confronted with her corruption. I know that she and Mom have battled tooth and nail for years, but I didn’t think it would come down my aunt waiting for the moment when my Mom was at her weakest to extract her revenge. Clearly my sister and aunt weren’t interested in waiting to see if Mom had carried through on all of the promises that she had given them about, “being taken care of in her will”. From their perspective it was easier to take care of themselves now, instead of waiting for the future payout. I sit quietly for most of our visit while Mulva tries to cheer me up. She even volunteers to go back to Asheville to see if she can bring any sense and decency to the matter. I appreciate the offer tremendously, but I can not ask Mulva to do any more than she is doing. I ask her to email Jackson to see if he can offer any assistance, or at least explain to Mom what is going on in her absence.

I have a raging headache and ask to go to the infirmary for some Tylenol. Tylenol always makes me sleepy so I go back to my bunk to lay down and see if the demons with jackhammers will relent. While waiting for the pain to subside, I just randomly flash on a visit I’d had to Mom’s back in the Summer. Mom was all dressed and ready to go when I knocked on her condo door, which was not the usual case. Usually we sat around visiting until the next meal time, and then went to whichever one of her favorite haunts it was appropriate for. Breakfast at IHOP, lunch at a cafeteria that was populated by the living dead, and dinner at The Corner Market. These three eateries were Mom’s comfort zone, and any departure from these places created more aggravation than the inevitable stomach upset caused by the cafeteria. If I had known then what I know now about dementia, I would have recognized the symptom. As it was, I just found that it was easier to “get along” if I “went along”. No reason to give Mom anything else to get worked up about.

On this particular visit, Mom was already worked up and ready to deliver justice to those who had wronged her. First, we would start with aunt Edna, who had that week cut Mom’s peonies down. The only reason given to me was “spite”. There was no answer to the question, “what does Edna have to feel spiteful for?” In Mom’s opinion, we just needed to confront her and let her know, “in no uncertain terms” that her behavior was not going to be tolerated. Turns out the visit is a “threefer”, because in addition to the destroyed peonies, we were going to recover Mom’s “Ninjy” stove that Edna had stolen. Mom had searched her condo high and low and could not find her “Ninjy” stove, Edna must have taken it. I remember we were arguing that logic when we knocked on Edna’s door.

A fond visit of aunt and nephew was shattered by Mom’s accusation regarding peonies, “Ninjy” stoves and grass cutting. The lawn service was an issue because Mom presumed that Edna had gotten a good deal from someone at her church to cut her grass, but had not offered the same deal to Mom. Edna explained that the church person was cutting her lawn as a “blessing” and since Mom refused to go to church anymore, she couldn’t expect church folk to provide her with a service that a commercial company should be doing. I certainly couldn’t argue with that logic. Edna offered to give Mom her own “Ninjy” stove, but steadfastly denied taking Mom’s. Mom refused the offer and we headed back out onto the porch.

Even from the porch you could see that Mom’s grass was in desperate need of cutting, so I asked if there was anyone else she could call. Mom replied that the “boy” that used to cut it was still around, but he didn’t edge her flower beds like she liked. I suggested Mom call him and I’d talk to him. Instead of being handed the phone, Mom told the “boy” that we were at the property and he needed to meet us there ASAP. Mom hung up and I asked her what he said. Mom replied he’d be there as soon as he could, and thirty minutes later, there he was. A nice looking black man in his early twenties, who it turned out was studying horticulture at AB Tech.

Well, Mom bounded off the porch like she’d been shot out of a cannon, belying her eighty seven years. Her opening statement was to introduce me as the man that he would be answering to when Mom was “dancing on those streets of gold”. I shook his hand and tried to take the situation down a notch by telling David that I looked forward to working with him. I followed around with them making notes of what was important to Mom, and then David started to work. I convinced Mom we didn’t really need to stay to watch the whole operation, and that we could go get lunch now. A concern for me missing a meal seemed to override her concern for finely edged flower beds, and we headed to the cafeteria of the living dead.

In remembering this incident, there were several signs for me to pick up on, I just didn’t. It is sad to say that every visit to my Mom’s for as long as I can remember was predicated on a quick departure, and burying everything that happened during the visit as deep in my memory as I could. This visit was no different. Get the heck out, and try to forget everything as quick as you can. Now we were dealing with not heeding the warnings.

The headache went away before Mulva’s evening visit, and we were able to just visit with our stuff for the most part. She did tell me that she had emailed Jackson to see if he could follow up with Mom on some of the issues, or just step in and take charge. She had not heard back yet. Mulva showed me pictures of our grandson Trey, and I was doubly mad at myself for missing this part of his life. I went to sleep telling myself that this time I really was going to change. In the words of Danny Glover, “I’m getting too old for this crap”.

Well, next morning Mulva brought Jackson’s reply. Jackson had been talking to Mom on the phone two or three times a day, and she was all over the place. She’d be happy where she was, thankful for what her sons had done for her, and five minutes later be mad because we had “railroaded” her into this place. Jackson going to Asheville to act as an emissary for good judgement was going to have to wait for a while. Jackson was planning a “sanity” hike up into the Appalachians to get some fresh air back into his brain. He was going to be gone starting on Friday the 6th and coming back on Sunday the 8th. So there we were. I was hopeful that my niece Maggie and her kids could keep Mom amused until Jackson was back in phone range. I’d try to call as often as I could, conditions permitting.

It would be great to suggest to the crew at Mountain View that they should just medicate Mom to the point of drooling, but I guess there’s probably some ethical and moral issues at play. I’m sure Mountain View is as tired of Mom, Edna and Charlotte’s shenanigans as we are. To be truthful, the fact that the coven has decided to get a lawyer involved has been unnerving to me. Though there are no “changes” in evidence, the fact that Mom allowed Charlotte and Edna to convince her that she was being abused by me is totally depressing. Let’s face it, I don’t need help with being depressed. I’ve already got a heaping plateful of depression already. Making Mom anxious about her freedom or her finances is unconscionable in my opinion, but then I’ve never been a member of the coven, so I don’t know what the moral and ethical boundaries are. I just know that Jackson, Maggie and I stepped in when Mom’s “caretakers” were refusing to answer her calls, and saved Mom from dying. In spite of all of us having our own lives, our own issues, our own “Crosses to Bear”, we’ve worked together to provide Mom with the very best of care. In fact, an almost country club level of care. That should be enough. To constantly be fighting off crazy from every angle is too much. I am really wrestling with this issue. I’d like to think that I’ve conquered my issues of abandonment, but I haven’t. I’d like to think that I don’t worry about what others think and say about me, but I do. I am the middle child of a broken family. We take up whole chapters in psychology books.

The next few days are quiet and the visits between Mulva and I are very constructive. I’d also say that my daily talks with the psychologist are also rewarding. My psychologist is a very nice young woman in her early thirties. Each time I sit down with her I wonder what in the world could drag a young person into this line of work. I’m hoping it is some sort of apprenticeship that everyone in the field has to go through. You know, before you get to make big bucks diagnosing Buffy’s anorexia, you have to work with people who you’d never see once you start your own practice. I take full advantage of the sessions, Lord knows I’ve got no real world opportunity to get this kind of care. I am amused when the psychologist suggests we do a few tests.

Turns out they weren’t pictures of ink blots that resemble moths mating. These were real IQ tests. According to the test results, I’m special. In a good way. The psychologist is more than amused with the scores. Amused to the point that I’m afraid I’m going to get some sort of Al Capone evil genius label that will doom me to further incarceration. Fortunately, it is just the opposite. The psychologist hits on the idea that I see the world differently from most folks, and when folks don’t respond the way that I think they should, I get worked up. To alleviate the built up frustrations, I self medicate. Which of course leads to a new set of problems to be frustrated about. The psychologist suggests I start writing down my frustrations, even go so far as to arguing both sides of the problem with myself on paper. Crazy as it sounds, it helps. I mean, writing stuff down is a lot like talking to yourself, but you do get to express to someone who understands you, what’s bothering you. Taking the other side in my writing helps me get perspective on what those who frustrate me might be thinking. It is a study in empathy, which it seems I am sorely lacking in.

Arguing with my self sounds like some bad, made for TV movie about schizophrenia. I don’t have schizophrenia, and the psychologist told both of my personalities so. Ha. Ha. I do have a list of issues though, and we are hopeful that the proper venting of these issues will lead to a more normalized lifestyle for me and my loved ones. As sobriety takes hold, and the continued input from the psychologist makes inroads into helping me sort myself out, the outside world does not go away. Even with the topsy-turvy environment of the Union County Jail as a comparison, there are things on the outside that are even crazier. For example, take this email that Mulva brought on her morning visit on Saturday, March 7th. The email is from Charlotte and the subject is “A Smart Solution”. She gets right in to it:

“There are 3 installed on this house, on the side where my bedroom is, and another 3 installed only about 15 feet away on the garage apartment next to me, and not far from my bedroom. 

I have dealt with horrible, stabbing, out-of-nowhere pain, even waking me at night, ever since I moved back to Asheville.  I called Duke Power and found out that the “Smart Meters” or ‘Digital Meters’  (as the power companies like to call them) were installed here April 7, 2006.  I moved back here in early May, 2005.”

The email goes on with a bunch of links to some company that sells Smart Meter blockers and testimonials from people whose brains have been saved by the advertised product. Charlotte’s type font keeps getting bigger and bolder and there is no explanation for the rant. I have to presume that Charlotte is justifying her breaking into the condo as a result of needing to move because her brain is being penetrated by Smart Meter technology. Arguing the other side, maybe she is not saying she broke into the condo because she needs to move. Maybe she’s claiming non compos mentis in the break-in by virtue of the Smart Meters. Either way, the email is the perfect example of how you can be doodling along, thinking you’re doing better, and the reality of a dysfunctional family member snaps you back.  I ask Mulva to send the simple message, “What are you talking about” to Charlotte. Since it is her “Sabbath”, I figured the email would wait in her queue for a couple of days. I was wrong.  Mulva brought Charlotte’s response with her at our evening visit. 

I have been freaking out because mother keeps her cell phone in her BRA and she has a Pituitary Tumor, which I now think was probably caused by all the radiation emitted from her cell phone and the other radiation emitting devices that she has had around her in her home.

I have made a DVD with videos featuring Medical Doctors talking about all the dangers of “Smart Meters,” cell phones; cell towers, etc. and if you would like a copy, email me.

Please see the attachment.
Listed below the “See attachment” was some Doctor’s information.I presume he was an expert in helping people with a radio wave phobia separate themselves from their cash.

I ask Mulva to send a nice “how are you?” email to Jackson on Sunday night to see if he is back and well rested. While I am gaining insight into my issues, and I genuinely feel like I’m making progress, every email, phone call, update from someone, is like tearing the scab off of the wound. The pick, pick, picking is frustrating me no end. The confinement of the Union County Jail is actually a blessing in that regard. Otherwise, I’d probably be driving up to Asheville and ripping the meters off the wall of the apartment that Charlotte rents and then delivering the line, “How do you like it now? Absolutely no power of any kind to scramble what’s left of your brain!” 

On Monday morning, March the 9th, Mulva returns with Jackson’s response: 

“We did fine, except for slogging through total of 10mi snowy trails.
The low temp was 31, but the winds (10+mph) over the snow got very old.
Good outing but a pain walking on the slushy snow.
Hope you are gaining energy and able to rest between battles.”  

It is the last line that I am hoping to parlay into a respite for a while away from the madness. The fact that my Mom has engaged an attorney to deal with me has upset me terribly. I know that it is upsetting me, I can feel it deeply in the pit of my being. I am so far unable to resolve it and “be ok” with it. We’ve all had to excuse someone else’s behavior at one time or another with excuses along the lines of, “he’s just drunk, or “she’s just crazy”, but I’m finding that I’m not able to come up with a line that fits this situation. Depending on the level of cognition we assign to Mom, she is too befuddled to know what’s going on, or she is the great manipulator extracting justice as only she can. If the second assumption is correct, then I am firmly in Mom’s sights for retribution. I have wronged her by putting her in a retirement home. Forget the fact that it is a five star retirement home. The fact that I have denied Mom the opportunity to die reaching for her refrigerator door, like “Aunt Sudy did”, is the only thing Mom will focus on until the condition is righted or she determines I have suffered a sufficient amount. I’m trying to determine what the downside is to telling the whole bunch to go to hell. So far, I’m not seeing much downside.

The next couple of days go quietly and I take as much advantage of the counseling services available. The big question I wrestle with is the potential guilt feelings from turning my back on Asheville and letting the collective lunatics sort themselves out. It is the easy path, and I guess I am suspicious of easy. On Saturday the 14th, Mulva brings a recap of a phone conversation that Jackson has had with Mom. Jackson is real smart, and he has figured out how to record the conversation, which he then sent as a file to Mulva. Mulva listened to the conversation and typed out the high spots for me.

1. Mom was renting the condo to Charlotte, with an eye for Mom returning to the guest bedroom. 

2. Mom’s attorney was redoing all wills and powers of attorney, giving Power of Attorney to the lawyer. 

3. Mom was turning her finances over to her tax lady.

All of this came about in a conversation precipitated by Jackson calling to see if Mom had gotten her jewelry back ok. One of Mom’s “urgent needs” was to take possession of the jewelry that Jackson had taken home with him for safe keeping. Mom was convinced that the jewelry had been plundered, and she wanted it back. Jackson was happy to oblige, and was just following up on the delivery when Mom dumped her plan for the future on him. Mom was convinced that the “children” were fighting amongst each other for Mom’s possessions, and that I was being too controlling. Fighting Charlotte to keep her from taking possession of Mom’s home and everything else, is now being portrayed as being too controlling.

Well, as it turns out, I’m in a situation that is begging for me to admit that I am powerless and that I need the power of a higher entity to run my life. It sounds like a good time to embrace at least a few of the principles, like not worrying about stuff I can’t control. Also, I should take a personal inventory, and ask myself the big question. Can I finish out the rest of my life without the loving embrace of my Mom, sister  and aunt?

I think I’m ready, and when Mulva comes in Monday morning with the news that aunt Edna has rented the last of the apartments, I know that Mom’s finances are secure. At least, her income exceeds her expenses. Now, if Mom decides to start writing checks to Edna and Charlotte for $500 for picking up her laundry, the plan will fall apart, but otherwise, Mom can stay at Mountain View until the 2nd Coming, and she’s covered.

Mulva has also brought a card from Mom, thanking me for my help. Nothing else, no explanation for what I know is going on in the background, just a thank you for my help. I scribble a note for Mulva to email to Jackson with my permission to add to it as Mulva would see fit. Basically, I’m done. I am completely unable to resolve the hurt I feel in my Mom’s retaining of an attorney to protect herself, and others, from me. A moment when I truly feel like I was acting nobly, treating someone as I would want to be treated, was not only not appreciated, it was a cause for litigation. I chose to not play the game anymore, and I’m informing the other members of my team.




Rehabilitation II

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. Since I’m getting a lot more reading time in, I thought I’d share a little quote with you today that fits my situation really well:

I didn’t want to wake up. I was having a much better time asleep. And that’s really sad. It was almost like a reverse nightmare, like when you wake up from a nightmare you’re so relieved. I woke up into a nightmare.” ― Ned Vizzini, It’s Kind of a Funny Story

Now, I’ve always been one to be able to sleep deeply, once I get to sleep. Sometimes I can’t free my mind enough to get to sleep, and that’s a problem. Once I do get to sleep, I just turn my subconscious loose to heal all of the weird events of the day. It’s true, sometimes unresolved issues from years ago will work their way into my REM time. For the most part, though, I stay in the now. There are times when I wake up and remember dreams with extraordinary clarity. I don’t know why that’s occasionally and not all of the time. I’m not one of those Astral Projection folks, but I do think the brain is probably more powerful than we give it credit for. I guess my interpretation is that without all of the sensory overload we get when we’re awake, that the sleeping brain has the ability to think harder on our issues. I know that many times when I’m being called to wake up, I’m not done resolving something in my dream state. Wanting to finish the dream before returning to reality is how I relate to Vizzini’s quote. It is not necessarily that my world is a nightmare. Even though, right now, it would be hard to tell the difference.

Let me set the time for this retelling of my story. It is Monday, February 24, 2015. We are in week four of our dual confinement, with Mom in Mountain View and me in the Union County jail. I presume that Mom is having a much easier time of it than I am. She does have her own private shower and doesn’t have to buy her showers shoes from the commissary. Twelve dollars for a pair of flip flops? Spa prices prevail here at the Beasley Street Spa. I just wish I could work more on my tan while I’m here. Three hours a week in the yard is really driving home the meaning of the word incarcerated.

I have arranged to participate in a conference call with Mountain View on Tuesday, February 24th. The phone card costs me $42 for 60 minutes, but they assure me it will work on the outside if I have any credit left.

I call into Mountain View at the appointed time and am greeted with the friendly voices of the Mountain View staff. My brother Jackson is joined into the call and we shout hellos to each other. In attendance are Mom’s Doctor, Dietitian, and Nurse. Suzanne, the director, leads the “Wellness Meeting” and has each of the participants report on Mom’s progress. The Doctor reports that Mom is sleeping better, and her cognition has improved, but she is still very confused at times. The Doctor’s assessment is that Mom should stay put, at least for another thirty days to see what, if any, improvement develops. The Dietitian reports that Mom has a good appetite and that their only concern is that she is refusing to take her meals in the cafeteria with the rest of the guests. Mom is physically able to make the walk to the cafeteria, she just chooses to isolate herself from everyone else. The Nurse reports that their biggest concern with Mom’s well being is her bad tooth. I find out that Mountain View had scheduled an appointment with Mom’s personal Dentist for the previous Friday to have the tooth extracted. At the appointed time, Mom refused to go. “Wild horses” would not have been able to drag her to the appointment.

Jackson and I are asked if we have any questions before Suzanne releases the other folks back to their regular jobs. I jump in and ask how we can force Mom to get the tooth taken care of. Suzanne replies that they plan on bringing Mom into the meeting after we’ve gotten all other discussions out of the way so that Jackson and I can confront Mom directly. Since the Doctor was still in the room, I threw out the suggestion that a little anti-anxiety medication might be in order before the next Dentist appointment. The Doctor agreed, but reminded me that they would have to work closely with the Dentist to make sure not to over medicate. We all agreed, and Jackson and I were left alone with Suzanne on the phone.

Suzanne started off by asking if we had had any discussion with our aunt Edna in the last day or so. We both reply, no. Suzanne goes on to report that Edna had brought some papers to the main desk the night before, and had asked for a couple of folks to come to Mom’s room to witness Mom’s signature on a document.

“What document?”, I ask.

“A paper authorizing a locksmith to change the lock on some property your Mom has”, was Suzanne’s reply.

“What did you all do?”, I ask.

“We told her we NEVER get involved in providing witnesses or signatures or anything of that nature.”, Suzanne replied.

“What did she do then?”, I ask.

“Well, that’s what I need to talk to you all about”, Suzanne replies, “your aunt just started hollering that we were ‘abusing’ your Mom, and that we were making your Mom do things she didn’t want to do, and wouldn’t even help her out with some simple legal things”. “Your aunt was actually crying and yelling in a loud voice all the way back to your Mom’s room that she was going to get a lawyer and sue all of us.”

“Holy crap”, I reply, “I am so sorry, what did you all do?”

“Well, she left a few minutes later, and the night nurse went down to check on your Mom, to see if she was ok”, Suzanne continued, “and your Mom seemed mildly upset, but nothing like your aunt.”

“I am so sorry, that whole bunch is ‘volatile'”, I reply. “You’re not going to kick Mom out are you?”, I ask.

“No, no, nothing like that, we just might need to restrict your aunt’s visits”, Suzanne replies.

“Well, thanks”, I say, “again, I apologize”.

“That’s ok”, she says, “I just wanted you all to be aware of what’s happened before we call your Mom in.”

“Thanks again”, I say, “I’m real sorry she acted out that way”.

I hear Suzanne tell someone to go get Mrs. Morris and bring her to the conference room. Jackson and I chit chat for about a minute and a half before the courier comes back and announces that Mrs. Morris can’t come right now because, “she’s talking to her lawyer”.  I can imagine that Jackson and Suzanne’s jaws have dropped as far as mine at the news. We clarify that Mom’s lawyer is on site, and not on the phone, before Suzanne excuses herself to “go find out what’s going on”. We say our goodbyes and I return to my cell to ponder the most recent developments. In case I haven’t said it before, let me shout it to the rooftops now, it’s impossible to predict crazy.

My evening visit with Mulva is focused around an email from Suzanne at Mountain View. Suzanne had talked to Mom’s lawyer and it turns out that the lawyer was not there to sue Mountain View. Good news, for Mountain View. The lawyer did divulge that she was there to review some “family” matters and that she, the lawyer, would be contacting everyone in the next few days with more information. Mulva and I kicked around the endless possibilities of what the “family” matters would be that the lawyer was going to try to resolve after one conversation with Mom, but, maybe I am to critical.

My morning visit with Mulva on Wednesday, February 25th, is spent discussing an email sent from Mom’s new attorney, Helga Heidleberg, Esq. Ms. Heidleberg is an associate at the firm of Wiley, Cheatum and Howe, with offices in Asheville, Hendersonville, and Charlotte. From Mulva’s Google search, Mulva was able to determine that the firm covers Western North Carolina, offering services specializing in estate planning and elder law. Cynical me is saying that the elder law gets you into where the real money is, estate planning, but that’s just me being cynical, I guess. The email invites me to call at my convenience, and lists numbers at a variety of offices. I tell Mulva I will follow up this afternoon after I put more time on my phone card, and we go on to discuss our lives until the visit is over.

Let me just say here and now, that I know it’s not easy for Mulva to drive the forty or so miles back and forth twice a day to visit a sorry son of gun such as myself. I hope that constantly carrying the “postcards from the edge”, which is what we have cryptically labeled emails from my family, does not overshadow the fact that Mulva and I have our own issues to discuss. We need to work on Mulva and Bud, and then add in Bud Jr, and Melody before tackling the problems of the rest of the world. Right now, the Lite’s need some breathing room. I guess this is probably true in every family that has an elder that is slipping off into oblivion and unable to care for themselves. All focus goes on the elder because we figure the rest of us have enough time left to sort it out. I guess that’s true, I sure hope that’s true.

I queue up in line for the phone, and to my utter amazement, get Ms. Heidleberg on my first call. I introduce myself and ask if she is representing my Mom, and if so, in what matter. You see, Bud’s not only watched a lot of court TV, he’s been the star in some of them. Ms. Heidleberg sounds nice enough, and she tells me that she is in the preliminary stages of a relationship with my Mom. I ask how she came to find my Mom, expecting to expose some sort of ambulance chaser that went from room to room in retirement villages. I was totally unprepared for the kick in the crotch that followed. Seems my aunt Edna and my sister Charlotte had called the firm seeking help for an abused elder. Preliminary questions and responses dictated an immediate meeting to address everyone’s concerns. A meeting was scheduled for that same day at 1PM. When Ms. Heidleberg asked where my Mom was, since she was the client, Edna and Charlotte hemmed and hawed and said Mom had gotten sick and couldn’t come. Ms. Heidleberg explained to Edna and Charlotte that she could not be hired on behalf of someone else unless they had her Power of Attorney. Apparently the wheels fell off of the cart at that point. Edna and Charlotte called Mom on her cell and got Mom to agree to meet with Ms. Heidleberg later in the day. Ms. Heidleberg was the mystery lawyer Mom was meeting with during the “wellness meeting”.

I think my first response was “Jesus H. Christ”. I asked the attorney if Mom looked abused, or if she looked like she wasn’t being cared for properly. Ms. Heidleberg replied that Mom, looked fine, and seemed to have a very good command of her faculties for a person of her age. I took the opportunity to tell Ms. Heidleberg of Mom’s training with the elderly and how skillful Mom was in cheating the traditional tests given for dementia. I asked again if Mom looked like she wasn’t being cared for properly, and Ms. Heidleberg replied no, in fact that she knew Mountain View to be one of the finest facilities for the elderly in the area.

I think my next response was, “then what’s the problem?” Ms. Heidleberg then went on to relate that there was concern that Mom was being treated unfairly and that people were just running roughshod all over her in pursuit of their own gains. When I asked if Mom felt like she was being treated unfairly, Ms. Heidleberg responded that Mom had some concerns about some things. Well, my ears are getting red hot, and that’s never a good sign. It is particularly not a good condition to be experiencing in my current situation. I decide the only way I can release the heat is to direct it at the young attorney, and I let her have the History of Charlotte with both barrels.

I explained that when Mom had originally gotten sick and told Charlotte that she thought she was having a stroke, Mom asked Charlotte is she could come spend the night with her. I then related that Charlotte begged off because it was Charlotte’s Sabbath, and that Charlotte told Mom that if she thought she was having a stroke Mom should call an ambulance. I told the young barrister tales of Charlotte’s many years of success while living in her mother’s basement. I told the attorney of Charlotte’s many accomplishments, like being determined to be permanently brain damaged by the State of North Carolina and being awarded a disability. I related our most recent battles to keep Mom’s condo safe and secure and to protect the heirlooms that Mom wanted to pass down. At this point, Ms. Heidleberg interrupted to say that the condo was one of the burning issues. I caught my breath and asked if Mom was concerned about her condo, and Ms. Heidleberg said, no, that Mom was just upset because her children were fighting over her things. Ms. Heidleberg related that Mom had started crying when she talked about how sad it made her that she had worked all of her life to leave something behind, and now her children were fighting like wild dogs over their inheritance.

Well, this elicited the second, “Jesus H. Christ”. I spent the balance on my phone card explaining to Ms. Heidleberg that Jackson and I had gone to extraordinary measures to protect Mom’s valuables, from carrying her most prized possessions to Mountain View, to changing the locks on the condo to ensure that the other valuables wouldn’t walk off.  I recounted my efforts in protecting Mom’s bank cards and bank accounts. Ms. Heidleberg interrupted again to say that Mom was also concerned that she felt like she didn’t have control over her own money, and that depressed her because she didn’t ever want to “get to that state”. In rebuttal, I pointed out that I had left Mom with a hundred dollars in cash, a debit card, and the ability to open a “bank account” with the office at Mountain View. I pointed out that Mom was not getting dressed in the mornings, and had expressed no desire to anyone that she wanted to go anywhere, even on the little day trips that Mountain View offered.

The line behind me was getting rather restless and I knew that just because I had enough money to hog the phone, it wasn’t the prudent thing to do. I summarized my conversation to Ms. Heidleberg by saying, “If Mom is your client, your duty is to her. That means you have to protect her from predators. Predators that have been living virtually rent free for decades, that now want to move into Mom’s condo for free. Predators that are used to getting four to five hundred dollars a month in cash for making a couple of grocery trips, that are now missing that income. Predators that are ready to take possession of everything Mom owns, even though Mom is very much alive”. I ended with, “I trust you will live up to your fiduciary duty”.

To her credit, Ms. Heidleberg took it all in and said that if she and Mom did indeed sign an agreement, that she would look out for her client’s best interests. I responded, “that’s all I want”, and we hung up. The line behind me gave me a look of “what the hell, dude?”, but at least I didn’t feel like I was going to get shanked in the shower. I said something like, “lawyers, right?”, and most everyone grunted in acknowledgement.

I fashioned the following email for Mulva to send to Jackson after her next visit:

I called the attorney and she says that basically Mom wants to update directives, will, etc. but from what I was told, not much will change except the order of people. For example, Mulva dropped to bottom of health care directive with Maggie at top followed by Edna. The lawyer made it sound like Mom was very complimentary of what we had done for her and that she was planning on living out her days at Mountain View.

I once remarked to Mom that we should stop letting the tail(Charlotte) wag the dog. What I didn’t understand is that Charlotte is the alpha dog in that pack. So funny how I feel like she is a gnat, but Mom and Edna live in fear of her.
On to the next crisis.
Mulva brought  in two emails on her next visit, the first is from Jackson:

Bet mom wasn’t under oath for the “stay at Mountain View” part. Me still at back up POA, you know I don’t add so well these days. You’re still on the hook then.
There is much to learn from our Twisted Sister but it would be a dance on the dark side.
Stay Kool  

The next is from Maggie, Jackson’s daughter:

Just thought I’d give you a heads up….Tina went to see mima yesterday and she told her that she had given charlotte permission to hire a locksmith to change the locks. And she told her that it was charlotte’s condo….so who knows what is going on.  Just wanted you to know.

So the walls have been breached, so’s to speak. My response to Maggie reveals the bitterness I feel about the activities of the “coven”: 

It might be time to let Charlotte manage moms care – thanks for the heads up

Mulva brings Maggie’s response on her next visit:

I hear ya. Well I went by a little while ago and she was talking about not wanting the condo to be empty and that she thought charlotte should move in and she can still go back if she wants or move back to empty apartment. So who knows?

No one knows, which is kind of the point, no one competent is making decisions. At least decisions that aren’t been reversed by those that have been declared legally incompetent. As painful as calling your Momma from jail is, I had to do it. It was awkward, it was humbling and generally “not fun”. The email I had Mulva send to Jackson and Maggie summarized the conversation pretty well:

Crisis possibly averted. Mom’s going to tell Charlotte to cool her jets until mom has had time to determine her needs at Mountain View. Mom kind of woke up when I asked her if Charlotte was going to inherit before mom died. I asked if I could get the same deal.
Thanks everyone

Mulva brought  in two emails on her next visit, the first is from Maggie:

Well today she was back to letting her move in. Rollercoaster! 

The next is from Jackson:

Mom called yesterday and was worried that she didn’t have enough cash to pay her upcoming dentist appointment  on Monday – I told her that was why we left her a credit card – she could run out of cash or checks, but she’d never run out of credit card. She seemed to understand – but we may need to reinforce. The credit card is safer than a check book. She has stated that she was ok there- of course this was while they were bringing back her laundry and asking if they could put it up for her. At this point Charlotte seems to be the biggest problem, as always I guess.

The next few days are quiet and Mulva and I had some time to work on “us” during her visits. There are a billion other places that I would rather be, but, all things considered, this may be the best for me right now. Running off to Asheville half cocked every time someone in the Crazy Coven did something insane would not be good for my sobriety, and that has to be my primary focus. Got to keep my eyes, on the prize.

About a week after my conversation with Mom’s attorney, Mulva brings in an email from Mom’s attorney, Helga Heidleberg. I had explained to Ms. Heidelberg in our phone conversation that I really needed for her to outline our phone conversation in detail, and also to explain the terms of her proposed relationship. The attorney did a pretty good job of getting in all of the pertinent details in this email:


We were first contacted by your sister, who called on your mother’s behalf. Your mother was going to meet with me at our office in Asheville on Tuesday. However, she wasn’t feeling well so your sister and aunt came and briefly called your mother while at our office. I explained to them that your mother was my client and that I would have to meet with her alone in-person, and my legal assistant contacted your mother directly to set up yesterday’s appointment at Mountain View. Your aunt and sister only relayed some of your mother’s concerns and were not making specific requests about who should be your mother’s agent and in what order. They mostly discussed access to the condo, the mailbox key and garbage key, spending money for your mother, etc. When I met with your mother, she was very clear that she wanted you to continue on as her agent but did echo the matters that you and I discussed yesterday (access to some spending money, some sort of regular accounting process, etc.).

I also discussed fees with your mother yesterday. I charge on an hourly basis of $240 per hour and our paralegals (who are used to perform services whenever possible) charge between $90 per hour and $130 per hour depending on experience. I explained to your mother than I anticipate her final bill will be no more than $1,000. You are welcome to go ahead and pay an advance deposit if you’d like. However, I do not require it. I usually bill for estate planning matters after the drafting is done and the documents are finalized and signed.

Thank you and please let me know if you have any additional questions.


Helga H. Heidleberg, Attorney

It never hurts to “have it in writing” as they say. Now I have written confirmation that my aunt and sister contacted a lawyer under the guise of protecting Mom from the abuse of denying my aunt and sister access to the garbage key. There was no attempt to take Mom to the attorney appointment, in fact, Mom had not chosen to change out of her pajamas that day. Mom was completely unawares of the appointment, it was just my sister bending the laws of society to fit her desires. For what it was worth, I now have a written record of it.

Jackson sends word via Mulva that Mom had gone off on a jag in his daily phone call about not having any money. Seems that Mom thinks that the worst thing that can happen to a person is to have someone else looking out for their finances. Mom seems to think that having someone pay her bills for her is an indication of her helplessness, and she “never wanted to lose control of my money to where I couldn’t even buy a bag of candy if I wanted to”. Jackson directed Mom to the five twenties in her purse, and asked her if she still had her debit card. Mom was not convinced that she could buy a bag of candy for a hundred dollars, apparently, and kept pressing the issue. I told Mulva to tell Jackson that I would open an account with Mountain View and that Mom could withdraw whatever amount of money, she, or anyone else thought was appropriate. I fashioned the following email for Mulva to send to Mountain View:

Hey Suzanne,
I talked to the lawyer and it sounds like some updates, nothing major. It also sounds like she’s happy at Mountain View, so if we can keep the other crazies happy, it will be smooth sailing.
She did mention that she wanted quick access to cash, so maybe we should setup her “commissary” account. She still has her debit card if she goes out to lunch, or THE DENTIST. :~)
Speaking of money, when do I receive this month’s bill?
Thanks for all of your help,

Mulva brought Suzanne’s response on her next visit:

Hi Bud,

That sounds like good news all the way around.
I will ask Laura, our member services coordinator to open a trust account for your mother.  You, your mother, or any other family members may deposit and withdraw funds during business hours Monday through Friday.
Paul, our accounting director, mailed statements yesterday so you should be getting a bill in the next few days.  If you don’t have it by mid-week next week let me know and I can scan you a copy.
The only thing we have yet to cover is rescheduling the dental appointment.  I will try to catch up with your mother today about this.

Thank you,

I ask Mulva to send Suzanne an email clarifying that “anybody in the world is free to make deposits into Mom’s commissary account, but that only Mom could make withdrawals.” Suzanne responds back that she has got the message and that they will setup the account accordingly. Mountain View has been nothing but professional and helpful with a very difficult situation.

We are coming to the end of our joint first month of incarceration, er, rehabilitation. The month of February is about to close. There is snow on the ground, and I don’t miss having to perform my custodial duties in the cold and snow. I do miss the opportunity to do them if I wanted to. In the words of Tony Baretta, “Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time.”



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!!!!

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.

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,

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:

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.

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.
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.
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.
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,


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.


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,


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.



Mom Goes To Rehab XI

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I’m going to start this retelling with a little quote:
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
–  Marcus Aurelius  

It’s good to “count one’s blessings” each day, it offsets the messages we get from Father Time reminding us that we are not as young as we used to be. In fact, I counted my blessings about 7AM on the morning, of February 1, 2015, and determined I wasn’t too much worse for the wear. It is moving day. Today, we are to bring about the move of my Mom from the rehab hospital, The Facility, to the long term care facility, Mountain View. The furniture has been moved, the money has been paid, and we are just awaiting a call from The Facility that the ambulance has arrived and that transport has begun. My brother Jackson and I are lounging about the living room of Mom’s condo, waiting for the morning coffee to take effect. Lord knows how I would hate to face  the tribulations that we have encountered without being fully caffeinated. Without coffee, it would be like, World 3, Me 0, and I’m not good at coming from behind.

Transport is supposed to take place about 11AM and Jackson and I are just scatter shooting the odd little moments of the last couple of days. We are killing time, complimenting ourselves on changing the locks. We are still trying to weigh the information we received from Mom’s neighbor Louise the day before. I have always been convinced my sister Charlotte means harm, and Jackson is always the level headed objective observer. I don’t think Jackson is agnostic on the issue this time. I am trying to plumb the depths of Charlotte’s psyche, trying to give rationale to her behavior by virtue of her age, her fouled up life, her “certified brain damage”. Even if I allow Charlotte’s rationalizing that “Mom is mean to her”, it is still hard to come up with something that excuses the bad deeds. Charlotte is pathological, and fits all of the criteria for a sociopath. How much of that DNA is shared amongst the siblings is of concern to us all. It’s kind of hard to run from genealogy.

I used to joke about me and Jackson being raised by wolves until I saw a National Geographic special on wolves. Turns out, wolves are really good parents and are very protective of their young. I quit using that analogy out of respect to the wolves. Like Daddy used to say, “you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your family”. Crude but true. The best you can do is isolate yourself to avoid confrontations and keep visits to a minimum. Christmas and Thanksgiving can be two visits a year too many in some years.

In the midst of our lighthearted reflections,  Jackson’s phone rings. It is Mom. Christ on a crutch, what could Mom be calling about at 8AM? I can only hear Jackson’s side and he is working very hard to sooth Mom. Jackson reassures Mom that she is moving to Mountain View because she “needs to get her strength back”, before coming back to the condo. He relates once again that The Facility can only keep her for thirty days and that she doesn’t have to stay at Mountain View any longer than is necessary for her to get back on her feet. The conversation goes on for a painful five minutes with Mom boohooing loudly during most of it. Jackson let me listen for a second on his cell, my ear to his ear, for part of it. It was brutal. As hardened as my heart is towards my Mom, listening to her cry hysterically was soul crushing. What the hell happened to the happy mood Mom had about “graduating” from one facility to another on her path to wellness? I have to wait for Jackson to hang up before I get the details.

Charlotte had called Mom at the crack of dawn and just teed off on Mom. Charlotte raged about how selfish Mom was for moving into a swanky place that she didn’t need to be moving into. According to Charlotte’s diatribe, Mom was going to be spending all of Charlotte’s inheritance in the process. Charlotte continued her rant by using Mom’s own words against her. As long as I can remember, Mom has dangled the carrot of her estate in front of anyone who could possibly be influenced. Mom would wax about how she she had “worked hard all her life, saved, and done without” so that she could leave something behind for her heirs. Now, Charlotte was using Mom’s words against her in the most cruel fashion. Charlotte had raged endlessly to Mom about how Mom would, “spend every dollar she had”,”living the lifestyle of a queen”, while “leaving nothing”, for the poor people who had been so devoted to her. Like I said, Charlotte’s a sociopath. I’ll save you the Google search in case you don’t trust my unbiased evaluation. The key traits of sociopaths are:

  • A disregard for laws and social mores
  • A disregard for the rights of others
  • A failure to feel remorse or guilt
  • A tendency to display violent behavior

Charlotte had upset Mom to the point that Mom just wanted to come back to the condo and die in her bed, “if anyone didn’t want her anymore”. The open invitation to take Mom back home with us was left on the table by Jackson and I. My stepdad, George, used to use this peculiar phrase when he wanted to convey the most unimaginable pain he could conjure up. He used to say, “that would like being in Hell with your back broke”. Well, having Mom come live with you would be so, so much worse than being in Hell with your back broke.

While Jackson caught his breath, I called the Facility and was transferred to the nurse’s station. In the midst of my explaining the dilemma, the nurse interrupted me to tell me they were already aware of Mom’s distress. The food service person had found Mom hysterical when delivering breakfast. The nurses had been down to talk to her and Mom had calmed down some. I explained Mom hadn’t calmed down too much since she was calling my brother and begging to just be brought home to die. The nurse responded, “oh”, and I continued on. “I’m going to need you to give Mom something for her anxiety”, I say.

“Well, she’s already taking Ambien and I’m not sure what else we can give her”, the nurse responds.

“Look”, I say, “she’s going to be leaving in a few hours, and I’d like for her to be as calm and peaceful during the move as possible”. “I can’t do anything about what my sister has done, but I can see to it that Mom will get moved peacefully with your help.” “Is there anything else you can give her, some sort of anti-anxiety”, I implore.

“We’ll take care of it”, the nurse answers.

“And will you call me back when the ambulance arrives for transport?”, I ask.

“Sure”, she responds. I thank her and hang up. I am torn between going to my sister’s place and wrecking havoc or just breaking furniture in Mom’s condo. I am eventually persuaded to do neither. Many times in life, I find, doing nothing is the right answer.

Jackson has gone to that sad place where we wind up sometimes when we find our age has nothing to do with our emotions. Being sixty doesn’t stop your heart from breaking when your Mom is crying, begging hysterically to just be allowed to come home and die alone. Most times Mom’s histrionics can be played off through humor and diversion, this time was different. Dear sister Charlotte had shaken Mom to her core, and Mom was genuine in her pursuit to preserve Charlotte’s inheritance by coming home to the condo to die.

I try to engage Jackson to see if I can pick him up. “So, would it be better to call the Fire Department for an emergency inspection of Charlotte’s doomsday cache, or just built a fire under it like we did when we were kids?” I ask.

Jackson grins at the memory of the hardest simultaneous whipping we had ever gotten. We were about 10 and 7 and forced out into the cold, zero degree weather “to play” by our Mom, who was busy fixing lunch in the boarding house. Well, it was colder than a polar bear’s butt, and there’s just not a lot of playing you can do with it that cold and no snow on the ground. Taking matters into my own hands, we crawled under the crawlspace of the boardinghouse where I built a roaring fire to keep us warm. I did a very, very good job of it, and when the folks in the boardinghouse started smelling smoke it started the investigation. The investigation eventually found Jackson and I, toasty in our retreat. While one of the tenants put out our fire, we were drug out into the open with Mom splitting licks of the belt between us.  As I recall the licks were unevenly distributed, about three for me to one for Jackson, which was probably about fair. It took a long time to live that one down.

I am glad to see that the memory of our pyromaniac past has made Jackson smile and I push forward. “So, what do you think, fireman or fire”, I ask.

“I guess I’m thinking we could leave the tub running in the apartment upstairs and it will be as damaging and less traceable back to us”, Jackson replies. So there it is, the survival instinct has taken over and the use of cynical humor is used as a shield against those who would do us harm.

“You’re right”, I agree, “and probably the fire department would get called too, so Charlotte’s cache of sterno, kerosene and other combustibles will be unearthed.” We grin at each other, laughing at a plan we’ll never put in place, but proud of ourselves for being “bad boys”. 

A glance out the kitchen windows reveals a steady snow and I start to panic. I rush back to the TV to try to get a sense of what Mother Nature is going to throw in the path of our attempt at getting Mom moved. The TV weather drone reports that the city is going on Winter Storm Alert starting about 4PM and that accumulations of up two feet can be expected. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, can we not catch a break? If the prognosticator is correct, I need to have my butt across the mountain by 4PM. I guess that fits with my plan for turning myself back in the Union County jail, it just adds an element of urgency not there before.

It’s 11AM, and snowing to beat the band. I’m thinking that if this is not the winter storm they’re warning us about, it will certainly do until the other one gets here. “Hey, how about we go get lunch and then head to Mountain View to wait for Mom?”, I ask Jackson.

“I could eat”, Jackson says in his best attempt at a Jewish voice.

“Good”, I reply, “let’s square this place away and make like a camel turd and hit the dusty trail”.

Jackson gives me the polite laughter he’s given me since he was seven and first heard the joke. We pack up, hide the all important garbage key in plain sight, and put Mom’s other keys in a less obvious spot. We leave the condo and head up the hill to the confluence of Highways 40 and 240. We pull into the McDonalds parking lot with about 2 inches of snow on the ground and more falling. Jackson’s F150 might be a little light in the rear end for maneuvering in the slick stuff, but I am comfortable that my Trans Am will stay stable. Mickey D’s never disappoints, either in the food, staff and clientele. Within 30 minutes we are tanked up and ready to face whatever monsters we will meet at the halls of Mountain View.

As we head down the hill headed towards I26, it stops snowing. Honest to God, in the space of about a quarter of a mile it goes from snow to sunny day. I don’t know if I’m a believer in signs or not. If there is some entity in charge, and if that entity had a split second of its time to spare on me, then I would certainly have said that was the moment. It is as clear as a bell for as far as I can see ahead of me. All of the way to Blairsville, if I could see that far. I am feeling sort of anointed at this point, and my spirits have done a 180. I hope Jackson’s have done the same.

We arrive at Mountain View and check in at the front desk. Suzanne, the director, and Barb, Suzanne’s assistant, are both working. I feel comforted that the “A” team is on duty. It is nearing the lunch hour for Mountain View and the residents are milling about the dining hall ready for their lunch. It is disturbing to see the less mobile members of the crowd, but comforting to see the majority of the group. Will Mom fit in? Physically, for sure, mentally, probably not. We’re able to make this transition to Mountain View because of Mom’s diminished capacity. As Jackson and I joke about it, “Elvis has left the building”. If Mom’s lights turn back on, if “Elvis returns to the building”, then Elvis is going to want to know why in the hell he’s not at Graceland. If Mom regains herself, we will have to face her wrath. It is a double edged sword; do you want the easily controlled, but addled Mom, or the batsh*t crazy, “I’ll take care of myself” Mom?  I wish the menu was ala carte, but it’s not.

We head down to Mom’s room and await her arrival. We are watching TV when Barb calls my cell phone to announce that Mom is checking herself in. I ask if we should come down, and Barb replies that they’ve gotten everything under control, and will be down in a few minutes. I give Jackson the heads up and we sit like two little school boys waiting for the teacher to return to the room. In about five minutes the door is bumped open by the wheelchair wheeling Mom to her new home. Mom’s got an IV running and her color is bad. The rings under her eyes give evidence that she has been doing a lot of crying. Her hair is disheveled and she is carrying a large brown paper bag in her lap. Mom’s lap is covered by the infamous fuchsia blanket.

I take the paper bag from Mom to help out while the staff gets Mom positioned to being placed in bed. The staff maneuvers Mom around to get her IV hanging just right and to position her where her call button is in her hand. Out of curiosity I look in the brown paper bag and find Mom’s food cache from The Facility. Two cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, one can of Vienna Sausages, and about a thousand hard candies of varying types and descriptions. Mom’s “survival bag”, as put together by Aunt Edna, served as reinforcement to me that we were doing the right thing.

The nurses were explaining to Mom that if she wanted anything, “a cup of coffee, anything”, all Mom had to do was push her call button and there would be somebody right there. Mom managed a weak, “Oh, ok”. I’m not sure that Mom was processing the situation. The nurses at The Facility had apparently understood exactly what I meant when I asked for an anti-anxiety. Mom did not appear to be anxious. Jackson and I were asked to leave the room while the Doctor performed a brief physical and we both took the opportunity to phone home.

My message was simple. “The eagle has landed”. Mulva was concerned about my mental state, and I told her I was ok, and, I really think I was. I told her I’d be leaving by 4PM and related that I planned on getting across the mountain before the storm struck. We might even have a moment for a bite to eat before I turned myself in.

The doctor left, and Jackson and I went back in Mom’s room to hear the nurse ask Mom questions about her medical history. Mom seemed to slip in and out of the moment during the questions. I don’t know whether it was the medications, or Mom just being coy with her answers. At one point I had to interrupt the nurse to explain to Mom that the nurse was asking about Mom’s continence. I think I rather gracefully rephrased the question to Mom as, “they want to know about your plumbing Mom, do you have any leaks?” Ok, not my best moment, but we were all under a lot of stress. Mom did understand my question though, and reported that she occasionally had problems at night. The nurse responded that they would be sure Mom had a full supply of Depends.

The nurse pointed out all of the features of the room and stressed again to Mom that if there was anything she needed, just press the call button. Mom responded that she believed she did want a cup of coffee and the nursing assistant took off down the hall to retrieve it. With the coffee delivered, the nurses left. Jackson and I were left with Mom, alone, in her room, at a long term care facility, surrounded by her favorite things. At least, I still counted Jackson and myself among Mom’s favorite things.

Mom was propped up on her bed and was fighting consciousness. I questioned whether she was fighting for, or fighting against, being awake. Eventually the coffee, or her desire to be the star of her own show brought her back around. When kitchen services came through at about 12:45, Mom was engaged enough to hear that she had the choice of three meat entrees along with about a dozen side dishes. While Mom declared that she could eat no sweets, “just didn’t have a sweet tooth at all”, she jumped on the blackberry cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert. I have to admit, Jackson and I were breaking our arms patting ourselves on the back, albeit telepathically.

Mom’s color was returning to her face and she was surveying the room, a little at a time. She’d notice one of her favorite things and smile and mentioned the item, “Oh, you brought my Coret, and you’ve put it in the perfect spot. I can wake up in the morning and it will be the first thing I see”. “That was so thoughtful of you boys”.

“Well Mom”, Jackson said, “we wanted you to be surrounded by your favorite things while you get better”.

“And, you don’t have to worry about where they are”, I chimed in.

Mom was now conscious enough to give me a look of disapproval. “I wasn’t worried, were you boys worried?”, she asked.

“Yeah Mom, we were, are”, I responded. “There’s been so much back-biting and allegations going on that we just thought the easiest thing to do was to change the locks on the condo and try to bring everything you really love here, where it will be safe”.

“What do you mean, who’s accusing who?”, Mom’s sitting up straight now.

“Charlotte and Edna have been accusing Maggie of trying to take advantage of you, even carrying tales to your neighbor, Louise”, I say.

“Oh my Lord, why on earth did they even involve her?”, Mom asks as more color returns to her face, “there’s no reason for them to ever say anything about the baby”.

Mom has reverted back to the time when she referred to Maggie as the “baby”, and I don’t know what else to do but to try to clear up the story. I relate that Jackson and I had run into Louise a couple of times while we were coming and going from the condo, and that Louise had always asked how Mom was doing. I parse the story down to the fact that Louise had said that Charlotte and Edna had referred to Maggie as, “The Golden Child”, and they seemed generally dismissive of Maggie. I relate to Mom that I have a couple of hundred emails, a few dozen text messages and several voice mails, detailing from Charlotte the importance of keeping Maggie from the condo.

“It was kind of ironic to me Mom, ’cause if Maggie hadn’t had access to the condo, you’d be dead now”, I respond, “I don’t know what’s going on in Charlotte’s brain, but she is making the rest of us nuts.”

“That’s why we changed the locks, Mom”, Jackson jumps in, “only Bud and I have a key, so if something goes missing, you know who to blame”. Jackson gives his patented, guaranteed to disarm grin, and continues on. “We figured bringing your most valuable stuff here would enable you to keep your eyes on things until you’re back on your feet”.

Mom exhales and her posture relaxes a bit, “that sounds like good thinking, boys, I just can’t take all of this confusion right now”.”When I hear that my children are fighting over their inheritance, well, it’s just more than I can bear. I tell you boys, I just don’t want to go on.”

I feel the heat in my ears, so I know I’m in dangerous territory, but I can’t hold it in. “Goddammit, Mom, the only one fighting over your inheritance is Charlotte. Jackson and I are trying to help you keep your things. We’re still hopeful that you’ll recover enough to go back to your condo if you want to, but it’s ok if you stay here, if you’re happy here”, I answer.

Mom sits back up, “that’s something I wanted to ask you about, how I can afford this beautiful place?”, she asks, “This place must cost a pretty penny”.

“It’s not that bad Mom, I was very surprised. All we have to do is rent that top apartment you’ve been saving for ‘out of town guests’. If we rent that apartment, and just maintain your condo, you won’t have to go into savings at all”, I continue, “If we get pressed, we can rent the condo and be way ahead of the game.”

“Well, I don’t want to have to be living so tight I don’t even feel like I can buy myself a bag of candy if I want to”, Mom replies, “even if everything is supposed to be taken care of here”.

So, with a little flash, we realize that Mom is fully conscious and returning to herself. I get up and head over to the built ins on the wall that is the exterior wall to the bathroom.

“Look, Mom”, I say, “there are two lock boxes here. One is for your meds, and one you can keep cash and jewelry in”. “I’ve got a hundred dollars in twenties I’m going to leave in your box, and we’ll bring you more as you need it”. “The front office has a ‘house account’ that you can use as well where we can deposit larger amounts, if the need arises”. “Remember, there’s absolutely no tipping here, so you really shouldn’t need cash”.

“But what about if I want to go to the movie, or take Edna our for lunch, or something”, Mom retorts.

“Well, then you’ve got this”, I say as I waive Mom’s debit card at her, “I’m putting it right here next to your cash”. “I’m pretty sure we’ve got this covered to where all you need to do is to do your physical therapy and regain your strength”.

Mom seems less than convinced, which is another indicator she is returning to normal. Now, I’m not saying Mom’s normal would be normal for other folks, it’s just what we’ve come to expect from Mom, as normal.

Mom looks around the room and looks at Jackson and smiles. “You know, I’m proud of you boys, you’ve overcome a lot to be the fine men you’ve become, and I’m proud of you”.

Ok, let’s walk over to that Mason jar labeled, “Real Uncomfortable” and see if we can twist the lid off that sucker. Apparently Jackson and I immediately displayed our feelings in our faces. Mom came right back to it, hoping to clarify her remarks, or reinforce her position.

“No, now, listen to me”, she begins, “I knew that you boys going to live with your Daddy was going to be rough on you, but you have to admit, it taught you how to take care of yourselves. Even when things fell apart with your Daddy and you went to live on the farm with your grandparents, I knew they’d take care of you, and that you would be all right.”

Mom continues on, “And Bud, look what a fine job you did of taking care of Jackson, you should be proud of how well he turned out”.

Well, now I know what waterboarding feels like, and it wasn’t at the hands of the VC, it was at the hands of my Mom. I am gasping for air and trying to give the enlightened portion of my brain the opportunity to overtake the portion of my brain that has been taken over by the rage I feel for my Mother.

Jackson speaks first, “I’m always amazed that you can rationalize your lack of desire to be our parent, even when you knew the option was horrible, to be a part of some sort of master plan to make us tougher. Why didn’t you just take us down to the Marine Corps recruiting office and sign us up if the goal was to make us tough?” Jackson then answers his own question, “Oh, yeah, that’s right, I was just six, even the Marines knew I was too young to be on my own.”

“But you weren’t on your own son, Bud was there to look out for you, and I knew that when your Daddy failed that he’d take you to the Lites, and that you’d be safe there”, Mom replies.

Mom looks hurt by Jackson’s words and I can’t compose myself well enough to respond. The fact that we are discussing the crucible that fired Jackson and my failed attempts at having “normal” lives, while Jackson and I are exercising every precaution and care to provide Mom with as safe of an environment as possible, was overwhelming.

I can’t talk. We sit for a while in a standoff and finally I regain my voice well enough to announce my departure. I tell Mom that I will be out on the road for a while, tending to the vending machine business, and will be out of pocket. I reinforce to her that if she needs anything, anything at all, to call Mulva or Jackson. I promise to call as I’m able. Jackson walks out with me and we hug at my car. I don’t think we said anything, maybe, “love you, bro”, but then I was gone. I watched Jackson walk stoop shouldered back into the devil’s den.

I related earlier that I don’t know if I believe in signs, and that surely if I did, I’d be aghast at the great giver of signs having the time to waste a second on me. As I pulled on to I26 headed for home, “Motherless Child” by Richie Haves came on the radio. How could it be that this iconic anthem of my generation would be queued up at the same time that I am heading for home after confirming once again, I was a motherless child?

The trip back home is uneventful and I pull into Number Two at TackyToo to pick up my date for the evening. Mulva and I head into Blairsville and stop at the Waffle House for dinner. I am in desperate need of an All Star Special with a pecan waffle and biscuits and gravy on the side. This will be my last opportunity to order ala carte for a while and I want to take advantage of it. No point in counting calories or cholesterol now. Bud’s going all in.

Dinner chatter is just that, we chat, nothing heavy, nothing too specific. I leave out the part of the day where Mom reaffirmed her parental skills. Some bones will always be best left buried. I do tell Mulva to just forward Mom’s calls to voicemail if they become too frequent. I’m unsure of the Union County jail’s phone policy right now, so I really can’t offer Mulva any support with Mom. I just tell her to lean on Jackson for whatever help she needs with Mom. I’m sure our kids will be there for Mulva for everything else she needs. They’re good kids, in spite of the trials and tribulations their daddy befell upon them.

We drive the short distance to the jail and park in front of the building. With a hug and an “I love you”, I leave the car running while I walk inside. In what should be an overwhelming emotional experience, I am relatively calm. I guess that’s Mom’s parenting coming through. I prefer to think that it’s more a result of the fact that as I came through the doors, I’ve been hearing “He’s in the jailhouse now” by the Soggy Bottom Boys on a loop in my brain. Well, that settles it for me, “In the Life and Times of Bud Lite” the leading role will be played by George Clooney. 

And so, by 6:15PM Eastern Standard Time, Bud Lite and his Momma are incarcerated in their residences for the required amount of time, whatever that turns out to be. 



Mom Goes To Rehab X

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I have reflected last night and this morning about telling the personal details of my family dynamics. I know I have to talk about the things that hurt me, things that get locked behind mental doors, because, well, it’s court ordered. I get some relief from the telling, and certainly going back and re-reading, but I just wonder how universal my experience is. Could there be any family out there as screwed up as mine?

Anyway, when we left our story, it is Saturday, January 31st, 2015, and Jackson and I have decided to try to move up the timetable of Mom’s move to Mountain View. The lunacy expressed by my sister and aunt has rocked our security and caused us to evaluate whether the whole enterprise is worth it. I’m headed back to jail, something I will need all of my resources to manage. Jackson has been living a quiet productive life in Chattanooga. He can easily say, “screw this crazy bunch of witches”, and go back to being a well respected member of his community. I remember the truism our Daddy would spout when things would get too distasteful, even for him. I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” Well, there was no doubt we were wrestling with pigs, the question was how dirty we were willing to get in trying to do the right thing.

There are a few factors that compel me to keep trying. First and foremost, I don’t want to leave my Mom unattended with my sister. Don’t be confused into thinking this is out of some great feeling of love and devotion for my mother. It’s not. When I look at my Mom I see a bitter mean old woman, who, despite her “deep” religious beliefs, continues to work very hard at maintaining good health. The one exception being that she refuses to drink enough water because it makes her go to the bathroom. Other than the water thing, Mom is physically sound. In spite of all of her talk about being ready to dance on those “streets paved with gold”, she works very hard to stay in this life. That’s actually an admirable trait, I think. The fact that mentally she doesn’t understand the importance of water points out the depths of her dementia. Now, I’m talking the dementia pre hospitalization. Mom’s near death experience has left her completely befuddled, and in the need of constant care. In Mom’s current state, I don’t know that if Charlotte handed Mom a bottle of strychnine with a skull and crossbones on it, that Mom would not take a drink. I don’t want to have my sister and aunt be tried for murder. Taking away the opportunity by checking Mom into Mountain View, lessens the risk.

The second big factor is a soul searching that I have done that is probably tainted by my advanced age. My step daddy George used to say, “There’s only two types of people in this world, the caught and the uncaught”. Which is to say, we’re all sinners. I may not ever be able to forgive or forget all of the things my Mom has done, but I think I should be able to rise above it and do “what’s right” for her. Lord knows, I’ve done wrong with my own family and I hope at the time that I can’t handle my business anymore, that my kids will do the right thing. It’s like I told Bud Jr., I don’t need anything fancy, just a bed, a bathroom and a TV with a sports channel. If you can’t afford the sports channel, just let me watch the snow on the TV and tell me the game is in Green Bay, I’ll be ok. Doing the right thing for Mom is putting her somewhere safe with hot meals, medical staff, and the opportunity to regain whatever facilities she can in a positive environment. I will confess, it’s also easy to do “what’s right” for Mom, when it’s Mom’s money.

I start by calling Mountain View to see if we can advance the schedule. I connect to Barb, the assistant director, who then transfers my call to Suzanne, the director. Suzanne repeats that Mom’s room was available from the time they put her name on the mailbox outside of her door. I explain that conditions have changed a little and that we would like to advance the move to Sunday, the first of February. Suzanne assures me that moving the furniture today will be fine. Suzanne tells me that they work all of the time with The Facility and they can be ready for Mom’s arrival on ten minutes notice. I ask for the name and phone number of the movers that they use and ask for assurances again that there will be no problems with us disturbing the other tenants by a mid-day move. Suzanne is nothing but the nicest person you could ask for in a tough situation, and she assures me again that we are fine. I thank her and hang up to call the mover Suzanne recommended.

The mover is a bit more difficult, and I wonder during the negotiations if Jackson and I shouldn’t go back to plan A and do the move ourselves. Unfortunately, Jackson has headed to Home Depot to pick up some items, so I’m not able to get his immediate input. After back and forth, I decide to use the tried and true method of throwing more money at the problem. For about two and a half times the normal rate, the mover will use their “small truck” and grab his brother and do the move. Since we’ve basically got just one bedroom’s stuff to move, the mover figures they can make the move and still get back in time to watch the Carolina basketball game on TV, which was their original plan. I give him directions to the condo and the mover tells me that he and his brother will arrive in an hour or so. I thank him and ask if a check will be ok, and he says yes.

I hang up and call Jackson to let him know the plans. Jackson is in his idea of heaven on earth, Home Depot.

“Hey”, I say. “Hey”, responds Jackson, and before I can start talking, Jackson continues on, “I was thinking, we should change the locks at the condo”.

“Uuuhhh”, is my first response, and my brain tries to calculate the risk – rewards from such a bold move. “What are your thinking”, I ask while trying to give myself some more time to think.

“I’m thinking I don’t want to sleep in that condo again knowing that Charlotte can just slip in at any moment and kill us in our sleep, that’s what I’m thinking”, Jackson answers.

“Well, you’re right I say, do we need to call a locksmith or can you handle it?”, I ask.

“I got it”, he replies, “they’ve got kits here that will even allow me to change the key again myself, if it ever comes to that”.

“Ok, you’re the boss where that stuff is concerned”, I say, “how long will it be before you’re back here?”

“I’ve just got to check out and then it’ll be about ten minutes”, he says.

“Can you pick up some Chik Fil A on the way back?”, I ask, “I think we’re going to have a long afternoon” “Sure”, he replies, and we hang up.

I look up the number of The Facility and give them a call. I am fortunate that this is the weekend that their director is on call, and they transfer me to her. I ask if there will be any problems in getting Mom moved on Sunday, and she begins to hem and haw. I explain the need to get Mom moved before my sister or anyone else can do any more damage to Mom. The director tells me that I will have to pay the ambulance service an up charge due to the Sunday work, and I agree. I tell her I’m happy to pay for Mom’s room through Tuesday as originally planned, but she tells me this won’t be necessary. I thank her profusely and tell her if there are any issues at all to please call. I repeat my cell number for her again. She assures me they’ve handled the move many times before, but if there are any problems they’ll let me know. I thank her again and hang up.

I look about the condo and start deciding what goes. I start in the bedroom and start measuring furniture. I’ve got a scale drawing of Mom’s room that Mountain View provided, those people think of everything. Now I just need to arrange the room on the scale drawing to see how much of “home” we can recreate at the new place. It’s looking pretty good. We’ve got enough space for Mom’s whole bedroom plus her big white leather Barcalounger that is her favorite nap spot. We are also able to add another wing chair for guests and a hall table to add a little sophistication with her favorite reclaimed oil lamp. I’ve just finished the layout when Jackson arrives with lunch and locks.

We sit at the kitchen table and enjoy the best fast food meal in America. I show Jackson the design I’ve come up with for Mom’s new situation. Jackson shows me the front door lock and deadbolt he has purchased to replace Mom’s existing units. I go over with Jackson the new revised plan “A” and we discuss which of Mom’s “antiquities” should make the move with us. I am feeling better about the security of the condo, but I still worry that if Charlotte gets a wild hair that she’ll break into the condo and steal what she wants. We decide to take as many of the “antiquities” with us as we can fit on the walls and find space for. It seems like the safest choice, in addition to giving the Mom the opportunity to see her favorite things and not worry about their status. We start taking things off the walls and I make the executive decision that “Wooden Moses” is not coming with us. I hate that piece and if someone wants to steal it, well God love them. We get the “antiquities” all in one spot and start taking apart the bed. Just then, there’s a knock at the door and both Jackson and I jump as if fired from a cannon.

It is the mover and his brother. Well, it takes the mover about fifteen minutes to pack up everything I point out. Jackson and I will move the “antiquities” in Mom’s van to ensure there are no problems. Jackson has started work on the lock replacement and we tell the movers we’ll be about fifteen minutes behind them. I pack the “antiquities” in Mom’s van while he changes the locks. Jackson keys the deadbolt to the main lock and then keys the extra key for me. After multiple tests of all keys and locks, we put a “new house key” on Mom’s key ring and put the key ring back in its hiding place. We jump in the van and head for Mountain View. The van starts right up, which is good. Putting some miles on it today and tomorrow will help keep the battery charged. The sky is dark, it is windy cold, and we hear on the radio that it could start snowing tonight. We speculate as to whether the ambulance service will come out in the snow to deliver Mom from The Facility to Mountain View. I wisecrack that they should, “after all, it’s mostly downhill”. We arrive at Mountain View and drive to the side of the parking lot where the furniture truck is parked.

The movers are using a side entrance that accesses the patio at the end of that wing of the building. Turns out, Mom’s room is the third door on the right using this entrance, so it is very easy to maneuver. The guys are making their last load as we arrive and we walk in with them to check out the situation. Final placement and bed setup are part of the move, so I use my diagram to direct the positioning of the furniture. Fifteen minutes later, Mom’s bank account is lighter by five hundred dollars, and Jackson and I bid the movers a fond adieu. Five hundred dollars an hour is my lawyer’s fee rate, of course my lawyer doesn’t come with a truck, or work on Saturday on two hours notice. I guess the move was a bargain after all. Jackson and I start hanging and placing Mom’s favorite things. We get the bed made and put towels in the bathroom. This is one tricked out bathroom, by the way. Handle bars everywhere with a “help me” call button in the shower and one next to the toilet.

Mom’s room has two lock boxes in it. One for Mom’s medicines and one for Mom’s valuables. I joke that Mom shouldn’t be given the key to either one, but I know she’ll be given the key to her valuables box. We hope to minimize the amount of cash that Mom keeps on hand. The Mountain View office has patient accounts setup like a commissary. We’ve agreed to get Mom an account once we figure out what her needs are. For the time being, we are leaving Mom one hundred dollars in twenties and a debit card. Mountain View has a very strict “no tipping” policy, and I’m sure Mom will be amenable to that policy. It will be more difficult for her to not want to buy gas for everyone that comes to visit her. We’ll just have to replenish the twenties when they run out. If Mom decides to attend any of the outings provided for by Mountain View, she’ll have her debit card. A lot of Mountain View’s outings are free, so Mom won’t even need her debit card, just hop on the bus.

Jackson is fiddling with the “help me” button at Mom’s bed, which he finally decides can be tied to Mom’s head board directly above her head. That way she’ll just reach up and know it’s there.  I fiddle with the TV and cable box until I get it working and then set the control on the night stand next to the bed. It looks like the only thing we’re missing is a patient. We survey the room one last time and lock up. We go down to the office and make sure that everything is still a “go” and to leave Jackson’s contact information. I explain to Suzanne in round about terms that I will be largely unavailable for the next few months, but that Jackson will be on call. I tell Suzanne that Mulva will always know how to get in touch with me, so if there is something financial or of an immediate nature, call Mulva first. We shake hands all around and Jackson and I head back to the condo.

It has gotten colder in the short while that we were inside Mountain View and the skies have gotten that greyer shade they take on right before a big snow. I’m now concerned that of all the things that could go wrong, it will be Mother Nature that will derail our plans. While I’m worrying myself over the weather a bolt of lightning strikes inside my brain.

“We need to pay Aunt Edna and Charlotte a visit”, I say to Jackson. The look he gave me was priceless, somewhere between, “are you out of your flipping mind?” and “let me out of this car right now”. To his credit he responded, “What?”

I explain my thought process. We can go over and let them know that they’re not the only ones capable of surprise attacks, and, by re-stimulating their neural cortices, we will possibly derail any plans they may have made for tomorrow morning. Jackson is beyond dubious, but I am driving.

We arrive at Edna’s house and make a lot of noise stomping around on her porch before knocking on the door. The look of shock and fear on her face was the look I was going for. Edna invited us in and asked if we would like coffee. I responded, “yes”, and she takes “the pool boy”, Chris Coe in the kitchen with her. After a few minutes they return and everyone sits around looking nervously at one another. I decide to give Aunt Edna about ninety percent of the truth, and tell her that Jackson and I have moved Mom’s stuff into Mountain View. I am very particular about telling her that we have moved Mom’s “antiquities” and that we have gone the extra mile by changing the locks on the condo. Well, I couldn’t have gotten a more stunned look out of Edna if I’d used one of those air gun bolt shooters like in “No Country For Old Men”. Edna went slack jawed, and I left her there for a while before continuing.

“Jackson and I are the powers of attorney for Mom, and we are responsible for making sure that Mom’s stuff is safe until the end, whenever that comes”. I continue, “this morning’s little episode pointed out to us how vulnerable Mom’s things are.” “If Jackson and I are the only ones with keys, we don’t have to look very far if something goes missing”.

Edna has gone from slack jawed to a stammer and manages to articulate, “but what if your Mom needs some clothes, or something from the condo?”

“Jackson will be coming over every weekend for a while, and if something else comes up before then we’ll work it out”, I reply, “Mom is not going to need for anything while she’s at Mountain View”.

“Well, what about carrying the trash out of the condo, we still need the garbage key”, Edna sputters.

I look from Edna to “pool boy” and in my most condescending voice I say, “Some folks don’t understand how an unoccupied house doesn’t generate trash, I’m counting on you to somehow get this point across.” “The condo is currently clean, Jackson and I will carry any garbage we make out with us before we leave.” “The condo will be sealed clean and there shouldn’t be any need for anyone else to have a key except for the Home Owners Association in case of fire or water leak, which we will take care of before leaving town”. “Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Pool boy looks back and forth between all of the faces before responding, “Yeah, I think I’ve got it”.

“Good”, I reply. “Now, Edna, you’ve agreed to continue managing the apartments until we get a proper management company, right?” Edna manages a weak, “yes”.

“Good”, I say, “and we’ve agreed that the apartment will be leased furnished or unfurnished, based on the needs of whoever gives us the first deposit check, right?”

Edna perks up, “but it will rent better unfurnished”, she says.

“But we’ve agreed to let the money do the talking, right?”,”first check determines what we do with the furniture, right?”, I respond. “Yes”, she responds.

“Good”, I reply, “and if the first deposit wants it unfurnished you are free to gift anything in the apartment to whatever relative you want to, ok?”. 

“Ok”, she replies, “but there’s just a few things we want”. Edna starts to list the items she has earmarked for herself and her family and I cut her short. “Take what you want and have The Salvation Army pick up the rest, ok?”, I say. Edna sighs and seems to give up the point.

“Ok, we need to touch base with Charlotte on a few items before we clear out, so I guess we’ll head down there.”, I say as we get up and head for the door.

“It’s Charlotte’s Sabbath”, Edna replies, “I doubt she’ll come to the door”.

“Oh really”, I say, “she didn’t seem to have any trouble opening a door this morning, or operating a mechanical device, if we’re going to be religion specific.” “We’ll go down and give her an opportunity to be hospitable.”, I say as we move off of the porch and head towards the driveway that leads to Charlotte’s apartment. About halfway down the driveway Jackson visibly shivers as if he had been struck by a cold wind. “You ok?”, I ask.

“Yeah, I just got a chill”, he says.

“Maybe it was a haint”, I reply, half joking. Jackson gives a wry grin and we march up on Charlotte’s porch and bang on the door. While waiting for a response, I read all of the notes that Charlotte has left to all of the major delivery services, including the U.S. Mail. It is clear that Charlotte has a very clear rule set as to how her deliveries are handled, and has gone to the trouble to copy the specific law(s) that covered her type of disability and why she was due special attention. It’s a nice touch that Charlotte has laminated her “rules for delivery” to protect them from the weather.

Jackson and I, however, are not protected from the weather, and we can see that Charlotte is not coming to the door. I’m guessing Aunt Edna gave her the head’s up. I take as good a peak into Charlotte’s apartment as the window in the door allows, and I see several lamps standing on top of a book shelf in Charlotte’s living room. They are not in use, the shades are off so they can be stored closer together. I recognize two of them as two oriental vases Mom had brought home from her China trip. Mom had them made into lamps so she could be reminded daily of her trip. Now the lamps were stacked on Charlotte’s bookcase, standing watch over Charlotte’s multitudinous guides for survival when the dollar collapses.

It is clear that Charlotte works best when the element of surprise is on her side. It is clear she is not coming out, no matter how loudly we knock, so we leave. “You ok?”, I ask as we head across the river back towards Mom’s condo.

“Yeah, surprisingly, so.”, Jackson replies, “I’m getting hungry , though”.

“Me too”, I reply, “let’s go back to the condo and clean up and then we can go to Fishbone’s for dinner, on Mom.”

“Suits me”, Jackson says. We cover the rest of the distance in silence. We pull into Mom’s parking space and just as we start to climb the steps to Mom’s condo, Mom’s neighbor, Louise, pokes her head out of her condo and says, “hey”.

“Hey” we respond, and it’s clear she wants to talk, so we walk over to her condo. Louise is a very nice lady, I’m guessing mid-seventies, and seems to have both oars in the water and rowing in the right direction.

“How’s your Momma?”, she asks in a slightly Northern accent.

“Better”, I respond.

“Will she be coming back home?”, Louise asks.

“I can’t say”, I answer, “she’s made lots of improvements where she is, but she’s not where she can take care of herself yet, even with a little help from the outside”.

Louise seems to bite her lip a little bit before responding, “have you considered who might be helping her if she does come back home?”

I’m now concerned that Louise is going to start telling me about some sister-in-law or church member she knows that take care of the elderly. Before I can shuffle an answer that is polite but non-committal, Louise continues.

“I don’t know what you know about what happened with your Mom before she went into the hospital, but I don’t think your sister or your Mom’s sister need to be caring for her anymore”, she says.

Well, now she’s got my curiosity up. “What do you mean?”, I ask.

“Well, the day before your daughter took her to the hospital, your sister and your aunt were coming and going from the condo carrying those big trash bags, and I though it looked real curious and I stuck my head out to ask if Hannah was ok, and if there was anything I could do to help.” “Well, your Aunt just looked at me and threw up her hands and said, “that’s it, I’m done with her, if she wants to commit suicide, I’m not going to stop her”. Louise continued on, “I just tell you that’s the coldest chill in my heart I think I’ve ever felt”.

Well, now I’m slack jawed. Jackson is first to respond, “Maggie is my daughter, that was my daughter who helped get Mom to the hospital”.

“Oh, ok, I didn’t know, your aunt and sister just refer to her all of the time as the “Golden Girl”, so I just don’t ask too many questions.”, Louise says. “I just thought you boys would want to know what was going on here, in case you didn’t know.”

“Thanks, we appreciate it”, I respond, “I don’t know if Mom is going to recover well enough to come back, or if she does, if she will want to, life’s pretty sweet at Mountain View”.

“Oh, is that where she’s going?”, Louise asks, “that’s real nice, a little pricey, but real nice”. “It’s real sweet of you boys looking out for your Mom so well”.

Well, I’ve got to get inside to a shower before the guilt gets any thicker. I start walking to Mom’s condo, and it occurs to me that I should tell Louise about the lock situation.

“We don’t want to involve you in anything”, I say, “but we’ve changed the locks to protect  Mom’s belongings.” I continue on, “the only people who will have keys are me, Jackson and the homeowner’s association. If Mom is desperate for something from the condo, we’ll overnight Maggie a key to use.” 

“Do you want me to do anything, do you think your sister will try to break into the condo?”, Louise asks. 

“I don’t know what to think any more”, I say, “I guess just do what you would normally do if you hear somebody breaking into a neighbor’s place”. “She can’t legally get a locksmith to open the door, but legal doesn’t get in her way anymore, so I guess we’ll just hope for the best”. I finish the conversation with, “If you could call Jackson if you do see that they’ve gained entry, that would be really great”.

We say goodbyes and Jackson and I use the new key on the new lock to gain entrance to the condo. Showering simultaneously doesn’t strain the condo’s hot water system too much and we change for dinner. We are headed to Fishbone’s, a nice place to spend my last night of freedom. The meal is excellent and I have a full and almost happy feeling when we get back to the condo. I call Mulva, and give her an, “oh so abbreviated” version of the day’s events. Mulva is appropriately sympathetic and I count my lucky stars again for having found such a wonderful woman.

Counting stars is a great way to go to sleep, and Jackson and I head off to our respective perches. Jackson has decided to camp out on the floor in Mom’s bedroom using the bedroll and pad he uses when hiking the Trail. Short straw has me drawing the bed of nails in the guest room. Tonight I will have no trouble falling to sleep.



Mom Goes to Rehab IX

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. You know how you can get a song stuck in your head and not get it to leave? I’ve got one this morning, “Stagger Lee”, by Lloyd Price. “The night was dark, and the moon was yellow, and the rain came pouring down”. A real oldie about a murder, can’t imagine why it’s stuck in my head.

When we left our story, it is Saturday, January 31st, 2015, the day Jackson and I plan to move Mom’s furniture to the assisted living facility, Mountain View. We’ve just had our brains removed, dropped into a high speed blender and pureed. My sister Charlotte, and my aunt Edna have just executed a search and destroy mission on Mom’s condo with the precision of the tunnel rats of the Viet Nam era. I have followed Charlotte and Edna back to the parking lot to see if they are actually going to leave or return with weapons. They leave and I return to the “safe” confines of the condo.

“What the hell was that?”, Jackson calls out as I come back in the door. He is standing at the double windows of the kitchen, which I imagine he chose for their strategic advantage.

“Honest to God”, I don’t know”, I reply, “this goes way beyond anything I thought was possible”. “They must have been planning this since my visit to Edna yesterday”, “I’m sorry, man, I had no idea Charlotte was this bad”.

“It’s ok, it’s not your fault”, he responds, “I just had no idea that they were this amped up about the move.”

“It’s not just the move”, I reply, “it’s probably three or four things, not the least of which is whatever is going on with that ‘Blackberry Root Extract'”

“What was Charlotte looking for?”, I ask.

“I can’t say that she was actually ‘looking for’ anything, I don’t think she was actually cognizant enough to discriminate”, Jackson relies, “She just walked over to Mom’s dressing table and used her arm to sweep everything on the top into her garbage bag”. “Then she went over to her chest of drawers and started opening and shutting drawers, saying she needed to get Mom some more comfortable clothes to wear, but she didn’t take anything”. “She started opening Mom’s shoe boxes saying that Mom wanted her blue loafers, and I just picked them up from the floor and said, “these?” and she threw them in the bag”. “She really freaked out when she got to the dresser and found that it was empty”.

The dresser was where Mom kept all of her financial information, checks and credit cards. I had cleaned it out on my first pass through back on New Year’s day. I kind of chuckled at that, and responded, “I wondered when it would get to that”. “Did she go through the medicine cabinet”, I ask.

“Yeah, and she started poking around underneath, grabbing all of Mom’s diapers and shoved them in the bag”.”I kept telling her that Mountain View provided all of that stuff and she wouldn’t be allowed to bring it in, but she wasn’t listening”.

“Well, maybe Charlotte and Edna can make good use of the diapers”, I smile, “what was the deal where you told Charlotte, ‘a million dollars’?”, I ask.

“She kept asking me how much Mountain View was costing, she kept saying, ‘come on bro, you can tell me'”, Jackson continues, “I told her I didn’t know how much it costs until I finally told her ‘a million dollars a day, and I’m happy to pay it if it keeps mom safe'”. “I kept asking her, ‘why are you here’, ‘what the hell are you all doing?’, but she never answered.””She just kept running around like a ferret on speed until she ran out of steam”, Jackson says, “I guess that was about the time we came back down the hall and ran into you and Edna in the kitchen”.”What was Edna after?”, he asks.

“Everything apparently”, I reply, “She went through the refrigerator and started to empty the pantry and cabinets until I stopped her”. “If I was being magnanimous I would say that she wasn’t going to take everything and divide it up with Charlotte, you know, that maybe she was just going to keep bringing Mom gifts of canned goods like she did with the can of tomato soup and Vienna sausages, using Mom’s canned goods instead of her own”. I wait a second, “but I’m not feeling very magnanimous right now. I think they were here to loot and pillage and basically mark their territory.” “Charlotte was clearly looking for the cash Mom likes to hide around the house.”, “Searching the dresser tells me that she was looking for Mom’s checks and credit cards, or anything else she thinks she can convert to her use”. “The search of the medicine cabinet and bathroom was probably for the bottle of ‘Blackberry Root Extract’ with her finger prints on it, which I have safely stored at my house”.

I pour another cup of coffee and move to the living room where we can sit more comfortably. “I know I have history with Charlotte that prejudices all of my thoughts about her”, I begin, “but I think there’s a lot more here than meets the eye, and God knows there’s plenty that meets the eye”. 

“How do you mean?”, Jackson asks.

“I mean, I think that the Witches of West Asheville took a vote around Christmas and decided on new leadership, starting with the new year”. “I think the lack of response to Mom’s requests for help, the fact that Charlotte was trying to dose Mom with a diuretic when they knew she had a bladder and urinary tract infection, point to the fact that Charlotte had determined she was spending her last Christmas in the basement.” “All of this craziness points out to me that Charlotte mentally has Mom in the ground, even though she’s not.” “Even Edna is having a hard time getting Charlotte to realize that she can’t inherit until Mom has been declared, not insane, not incompetent, but dead.” “I think all of this business about worrying about a psychiatrist is a result of Charlotte thinking that if Mom is mentally dead, it’s the same as physically dead, and therefore, she inherits.”

I’m on a roll and I continue on,  “I know, maybe I’m crazy for stringing the pieces together like that, but I really think that’s what’s going on.” “I think Edna is a pawn and is hopeful that Mom has either taken care of her in the will, as I’m sure Mom has promised many times, or she hopes that there will be enough crumbs left on the table to satisfy her.” “With Charlotte in the condo and Mom at Mountain View, Edna’s life improves 200 percent, so it behooves her to just go with the flow”.

“Until today, I would have said you were exaggerating the facts”, Jackson says, “I’m not sure anymore.” “There’s a level of crazy with Charlotte we haven’t seen before.”  “Maybe the tin hats aren’t keeping out the radio waves anymore.”, he jokes.

I had a good laugh and felt some of the tension go from my shoulders. Jackson is referring to a situation that happened the year before when we had all gathered for Mom’s birthday. Prior to our arrival, Charlotte had sent out a blast email to all living family members in 52 point type font, i.e, you can only see about two letters at a time on your email, outlining the dangers of radio waves from cell phone towers. Honest to God, in this carefully thought out email, with footnotes and documentation attached, Charlotte enlightened all of us less informed to the dangers of having our brains microwaved. As usual, I forwarded the email to my “Charlotte folder”, where it would reside along with the other conspiracy, “miracle cure”, “buy gold”, missives she had sent in the past. This email took on further significance because she followed her “Post All” with a follow up to Jackson and I detailing the fact that she thought the radio waves were giving Mom breast cancer. Charlotte’s logic was, that since Mom liked to keep her cell phone in her bra, “don’t ask, because if you do, you’ll be told that Mom has never lost her cell phone like some others have”, that Mom was drawing those microwaves from the cell towers straight to her breast.

Well, Jackson and I had a good laugh about the email behind the scenes, but the topic was not finished. When we arrived to pick up Charlotte to take her to Mom’s party she was not waiting in front as promised. We got out of the car so Mom could show us where Edna had cut down Mom’s peonies, but not her own. (another story for another time) After being detailed the story and being walked to each crime scene, Charlotte still hadn’t arrived. Mom whipped out her cell phone to see what the hold up with “Miss Priss”, was. Well, about the time of a ring and a hello, we see Charlotte’s flame colored hair coming up the driveway from the side entrance to the basement. Mom hangs up and starts to return her cell phone to its resting place at about the time that Charlotte joined the group. Well, Charlotte lights into Mom like Mom’s a red-headed step child. Charlotte rages about the dangers of the invisible waves, etc., etc. and Jackson and I look at each other thanking the Gods that we had not brought our wives to this one. Jackson decides to jump in to the fray, as I try to get everyone in the car so we can make our reservation.

Jackson gives Charlotte her head for a few minutes before fashioning his noose. Jackson agrees with everything that Charlotte says until she starts to lose steam and then he begins to slide the noose a little tighter. “You know, there’s just nothing an individual can do against these big companies, except to try to protect themselves”, Jackson begins, “you know we’re not going to reverse technological advances, particularly when they’re making so much money from them”. “What needs to happen is for the individual to protect themselves against the microwaves”, Jackson continues.

“That’s what I keep telling Mother”, Charlotte says, “but she won’t listen”.

“If only there was some material that stopped the microwaves effects”, Jackson opines.

Charlotte is all ears, “Yes, yes”, she says encouraged by Jackson’s interest. After all, he’s the handy member of the family.

“What stops microwaves”, Jackson muses, ” I know, tin foil, that’s why you can’t use it in a microwave, it reflects the radio waves”. “Charlotte, when we get back I’ll make you a hat of tin foil, that way we’ll at least keep your brain safe from penetration”, “You’ll have to make the protection for the other parts of your body, but I’ll take care of the hat”.

I watch in the rear-view mirror as Charlotte’s face goes from the excitement that she’s found an acolyte to the realization that she’s been played the fool. Her face goes to full pout, and it is apparent she will be silent for the rest of Mom’s birthday celebration. Mom seems happy though, and is clearly pleased to have Charlotte off her back for a little while. As we get out of the car at the restaurant, I give Jackson a big grin and he grins back. It’s always the quiet ones that surprise you.

Remembering the story lightens the mood a little, but doesn’t change the fact that what we thought was going to be a hard day has become harder for a different set of reasons.

“What do you think we should do?”, Jackson asks.

“I’m going to make some calls”, I reply, “I’m not at all comfortable with what happened here today for a host of reasons.” “I think Charlotte’s crazy enough to shoot us as intruders and try to tell the police that she can do it because her name is on ‘the original deed'”.

Jackson raises an eyebrow at my exaggeration.

“I know, I’m paranoid”, I reply, “but she has tried to kill me twice before, I don’t put anything past her when she’s in a rage”. “What do you think about moving the timetable up?”, I ask, “what if we can catch Charlotte and Edna off guard like they did to us and get Mom in place before anybody knows what’s up?”

“Works for me”, Jackson replies, “I am totally freaked out, and I don’t ever want to face the possibility of having today being repeated”.

“Ok, cool, let me start making some calls”, I say. I start looking through my “Mom” folder for contact numbers and begin “Operation Move Mom”, afresh.




Mom Goes to Rehab VIII

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I’ve experienced my first real glitch with my recorder. Seems like something in yesterday’s download did something with the memory, or the tape can’t be used again or some technological kerfuffle that would require a person with a higher education to resolve. Unfortunately, there are no people with the necessary skill set available, so I’ll just have to muddle through.

When we left our story yesterday, Jackson and I have met with Mom at The Facility and confirmed our plan for Saturday. We’ve gotten her permission for the move, and confirmed with her that her list of “Antiquities” should be brought from the condo to her new residence at Mountain View. Jackson has slept above the covers in Mom’s bed while I attempt to grab a few winks on sister Charlotte’s prized possession, the guest bedroom bed. Rock hard is too soft a description for that bed. Why it has become such a big deal that we not move it is beyond me, but then, I’m not crazy.

We start stirring about 7AM and we both grab showers to remove the final cobwebs from our eyes. I make the coffee good and strong. It’s going to be a long day. We are sitting in the kitchen enjoying our first cup when we hear a faint knock at the door. We look at each other quizzically as Jackson gets up to see if anyone is at the door. Just as he reaches to open the door, the door bursts open with Charlotte and Edna bursting through like a SWAT team on the TV show “Cops”. The tension and energy in the air is so strong I expect to see St. Elmo’s fire at any second. Direct questions of “what are you doing here”, “why didn’t you wait until we answered the door”, “what the hell is your problem” are met with the nervous giddy responses of “checking to see what you’re moving”, “we didn’t know you were here, it’s my right, I’ve got a key, my name is on the original deed”, “I went by to see Mom and she wanted me to bring her some things”.

Jackson and I are bobbing like two row boats that have been caught in the wake of an aircraft carrier. I respond, “you didn’t see Mom yesterday, you went to the nurses’ station, but you didn’t see Mom”.

“Well, it was another time, and she wanted me to bring her her makeup and something else, what was the other thing, Edna?”, Charlotte replies. Edna is standing to the side in the foyer with her head down in embarrassment. Apparently, what started as a great idea from the gifted mind of Charlotte has turned into a true calamity. Their bare desires to covet Mom’s holdings have been exposed in the almost light of the new day. Who knows when the idea to bullrush the condo was hatched, but it is clear now to Edna that boundaries have been crossed, social and familial. Edna tries to grab her voice from where it has become stuck in her throat.

“Stationery, your Mom needs stationery”, Edna chokes out.

“Oh yeah, stationery”, Charlotte responds. Charlotte shoves a 40 gallon trash bag at Edna and continues, “you get her stationery and I’ll get her makeup”. Charlotte blasts at full steam towards Mom’s bedroom with Jackson in close tow. Edna and I can hear them snapping back and forth as they go down the hall. Edna moves into the kitchen where she opens the the gigantic trash bag with great flourish to place the single box of personalized stationery Mom keeps on her dinette table, into the bottom of the bag. It is just Edna and I in the kitchen and she looks everywhere but at me. “Why are you here, why are you doing this?”, I ask.

Edna musters her courage before responding, “we just wanted to help out, your Mom seems so pitiful, we wanted to bring her some things to make her feel better”.

“Anything you couldn’t have told us about so we could have added it to the move?”, I ask.

She doesn’t respond to my question, but instead moves to the refrigerator door where she opens the door looking for rotting food. She finds a dozen bottles of sports drinks, the sight of which seems to befuddle her further.

“I told you I cleaned out everything weeks ago”, I tell her, “including her five pound sugar licks.” Turns, out when sugar is opened it will gather moisture and turns as solid as a salt lick. I had thrown out a couple of those during my cleanup. Edna goes to the pantry. I explain to her again that I had cleaned out all of the expired food.

“Well, we shouldn’t let all of this good food go to waste”, she opines.

“It won’t be going to waste if Mom comes back home”, I reply. Edna suppresses the urge to empty the contents of the pantry into her garbage bag and starts bouncing from one foot to the other. We can hear Jackson and Charlotte getting closer and I hear Jackson’s voice say “one million dollars, let it go” And then, there we all are, standing in the kitchen of Mom’s condo.

I look Charlotte squarely in the eye and ask, “How broken are you?”, “I am at complete loss as to what’s going on with you and there is nothing I can grab in my life experience that would explain your behavior to me.” I go on,”I have heard about this stupid bedroom furniture so much I want to throw up and the crazy, I mean CRAZY, thing about it is, you can’t seem to understand that taking Mom’s furniture is the most logical thing to do if we want her to feel at home at the new place”. “I mean seriously, you all, can you not see that if this is going to work, that Mom needs to feel at home?”.

Charlotte starts in again, “well it’s my furniture and I loaned it to Mom and I didn’t want anything to happen to it”.

“And the four hundred times I’ve assured you that we never even considered using the furniture haven’t assured you yet and you felt the need to drag Edna over here to back you up?” “Tell you what”, I continue, “Mom has to leave The Facility, that is a given”. “If you’re not happy with my plan to put Mom somewhere that she might be happy and might get better, we can bring her back here and you guys can start your dance all over again”. “Einstein said that one definition of crazy was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, this is your Einstein moment Charlotte, do you want me to bring her back here?”, I ask.

Edna responds, “Oh no, no, no, I can’t take it anymore. I’ve just got my blood pressure back down. I’ve already told Hannah no matter what happens that I can’t go on like before.”

I look at Charlotte, “Well?”, I ask.

Charlotte turns her head from my gaze but responds, “No, I support what you’re trying to do.”

“OK”, I say, “Let’s let this be the end of this”. “We don’t know if Mom is coming back here in ninety days or not”, I continue, “so let’s restrain ourselves from pillaging until we have some sense of her recovery, ok?”

Charlotte attempts to seize the moment and responds, “Is that what the psychiatrist says, that she’ll be better in ninety days?”, she asks.

“It’s possible”, I say, “it seems like there’s a lot of unknowns when dealing with elders”. “Regardless of whether Mom is going to finish her days at Mountain View or come back here, I don’t want the condo stripped down to the paint on the walls”. “As Power of Attorney for Mom, I am charged with the responsibility of protecting Mom’s assets, and I’ll have no problem having the estate sue anyone to recover any damages done to the estate”. “You do believe me, don’t you?”, I ask.

Charlotte sighs a soft “yes”, and it is like all of the air has been let out of her tires.

I want her to leave with something to think about, so I ask,”What’s this blackberry root extract Mom keeps babbling about?”,”She keeps telling me that she was so sick and all Charlotte could do was keep trying to force feed her this stuff she called blackberry root extract”. Charlotte looks like the cat that couldn’t get to the sandbox in time, and she is mentally searching for an answer that will cover up her mess.

“It’s an herbal remedy”, she replies, ” it’s all homeopathic, and since Mom doesn’t want to go to the doctor I thought we could try that”.

“Try it for what?”, I ask.

“For her bladder infection”, Charlotte responds, “she just seemed to be having so much pain from her bladder infection that I asked my chiropractor what he thought and he suggested the blackberry root extract”.

“Hmmmm”, I load up, “so we’ve got an 88 year old woman with a history of bladder problems that occur because she refuses to drink water, because drinking water makes her go to the bathroom, who won’t go to her own doctor, so you take the advice of a fellow that couldn’t get into medical school, is that what I’m hearing?”, “Sound like a bunch of people prescribing medicine without a license.”

“Oh no, it’s not a medicine”, Charlotte replies,” it’s herbal”. 

“I’m confused, because it’s “herbal” you didn’t think it would have the same effect as a real medicine, or you thought you could give her medicine without a prescription because it was herbal?”, “Which is it?”, I ask.

Edna’s bouncing from foot to foot has now become so pronounced it looks like she may start doing jumping jacks. Maybe she’s taking blackberry root extract, who knows, but she  is definitely ready to bid her adieu. She grabs Charlotte’s arm and says, “Let’s go, they’ve got a lot of work to do”, and pulls Charlotte to the door.

I give them one last parting shot, “I expect 100 percent cooperation from you guys or you’re going to wind back up where you were”, “Let’s work together to do something nice for Mom and, who knows, maybe Mom will decide that she can enjoy you all as sister and daughter as opposed to caretakers.” I follow them out onto the little porch of the condo.

Edna calls back over her shoulder as they go down the steps, “that’s what I want, I’m looking forward to it”. Charlotte is mute.

Curiosity compels me to see where they parked to launch their attack and I watch as they walk 100 yards or so down to the end of the cul de sac to where Charlotte’s car awaits. I am struck by the reality that a botched background check could result in my sister obtaining a weapon and all of the bullets she would need to right all of the injustices and indignities that she thinks have been perpetrated on her. Clearly, not being able to convince her that we didn’t want to use the damn bedroom suite was high on her list today. I am struck by a chill and it is not just the near freezing temperature. In a lifetime of weird and out of the ordinary, this is a milestone. I head back inside to discuss the new developments with Jackson.


Mom Goes to Rehab VII

BudLiteGood morning, y’all. I keep raving about the recorder, but for my situation it as much a technological advancement as Tupperware was for the housewife. I sit, walk around, lay on the sofa and just remember the events and tell them to the recorder. I just turn that recording loose here on the interwebs and there you have it. It’s magic, and I have my thoughtful wife, Mulva, to thank for it.

When we left our story, I am in Asheville to help facilitate moving Mom to an assisted living center at Mountain View. I have visited Mom and updated her condition, visited Mountain View and visited my Aunt Edna. My brain throbs as if it will explode. All of the input from my Aunt and Mom are stretching my limits. In spite of the pain, I am able to negotiate the path to Mom’s condo past the many ABC stores standing in my way. The run-in with my sister is a non stressor in one sense. You know that wherever you encounter Charlotte it’s going to be screwed up, time and place are the surprise. The encounter at Mountain View is worthy of relating to Jackson, in fact, it may be the first thing I tell him, but we knew Charlotte was going to try to shape the events to her liking. Like I said, the when and where were the unknowns.

I pull into the space at the condo and find that Jackson is already there. We hug, give each other the laugh that survivors share that eliminates the need to cry, and go inside out of the cold. The condo is still and quiet, which is refreshing. We fix a pot of coffee and I update Jackson with my visits. Jackson is particularly interested in my encounter with Charlotte and asks what possible interest she could have in inserting herself in the situation. My thoughts are that Charlotte wants to present herself as being in charge like she did when Daddy died.

When Daddy was dying he spent the last month or so in a hospice type situation here at Number Two. Charlotte moved in and promptly sent out a call to all living relatives via email for donations to Charlotte in her mission work at TackyToo. Charlotte’s emails would entreat even the most distant cousin for money to help provide Daddy with good home cooked meals. She would even give the menus and report on Daddy’s appetite when soliciting for funds. I don’t have any idea how many relatives contributed, if any, I was disgusted by the whole process. Daddy was gone within a month, and I can’t say whether Charlotte’s ministrations hastened or halted his final release. I can say that Charlotte took everything that wasn’t nailed down when she left. Daddy’s Cadillac with personalized plates moved to Asheville with Charlotte, title not included.

Charlotte had gotten herself named as executor to Daddy’s will in his final days. Jackson and I had declined, it was too much baggage for us. Charlotte took the title executor to mean “interpreter of the will”, not, “enforce what the will actually says”. I was ok with her thievery, until she starting trying to sell TackyToo. Fortunately, there is this thing called “title search” and my name popped up. At that point, Jackson and I demanded a full accounting of what Charlotte had done. The lawyer was able to stop the bleeding, and I wound up with TackyToo.

I relate this little bit of history so as to say, we know Charlotte. Unlike the frog that gives the snake a ride on his back across the pond, we know the nature of a snake is to always be a snake. We won’t be bit by this one again.

I take out a piece of paper that I had found in Mom’s stuff that was headed, “Antiquities”. I tell Jackson that this is a list of stuff that Mom thinks is important. The list also points out the relative she has earmarked to inherit the item. Charlotte and Edna are not on the list, neither are I, or Jackson. Being excluded from this list is cool with me, I truly do not appreciate Mom’s taste in art or furniture. The “Moses Coming Down the Mountain” in multi color wood that Mom secured in Israel has zero value to me. But, because it means something to Mom, I think we should plan on moving it to Mountain View. Moving the “Antiquities” to Mountain View also coincides with my view of the situation after talking to Edna. My thoughts now are that anything moved to Mountain View won’t magically disappear while Mom is there. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, Mom used to say.

Jackson and I move around the condo identifying the items to take and discuss how best to pack them. We have enough space at the new spot to actually place some additional furniture besides the bedroom suit, and we decide to take Mom’s massive leather barcalounger. Mom has spent so much time sleeping in this barcalounger that it would be hard to find anything else that would make her feel more at home. We decide that it would be best to move the dressers and chest of drawers loaded, that way we can avoid handling any of Mom’s personal stuff. If Mom has any additional requests she can get Charlotte or Edna to bring them to her. Satisfied that we have a good master plan that protects the things that Mom holds the closest to her heart, we load up in Jackson’s F150 and head over to The Facility.

On the way, chunks of my “afternoon with Edna” keep popping in my mind, and one item jumps to the forefront. Edna had related that sometimes “Mountain folk just take to their beds and die, when it was their time”. I believe this philosophy was related to me in response to my question about why had Edna and Charlotte just not called the EMT’s and let them do their job when Mom refused Edna and Charlotte’s help. Edna’s, “Mountain folk”, excuse was met with derision and I queried that if Mom had been holding a gun to her head would they have called the police? Edna had ignored the question and responded that Mom’s religious views didn’t allow her to commit suicide. My response had been, “so you were ok with allowing her to commit suicide in a long painful death covered in her own filth, because it’s what “Mountain folk” do?” Edna did not have a response. I relate this exchange to Jackson as we arrive at The Facility. Clearly, we have our work cut out for us.

We get out of the car and head in to the sign in desk. I look to see if Mom’s crazy friend Ann Wallace is on the sign in sheet and I’m relieved to find her name missing from the list. I do find a curious name, Charlotte Morris. Now Charlotte appears to have appropriated Mom’s current last name to mask herself in an air of legitimacy. I walk to the director’s office to check with her. I find they are ready for the move. I’m thinking that playing security for Mom has added an extra burden for them that they don’t normally encounter. I ask the director if she had seen my sister and she said no, but that I should check in with the nurse’s station.

Jackson and I head to the nurse’s station where we find that a woman that identified herself as Charlotte Morris, power of attorney for Hannah Morris, had been by earlier seeking Mom’s psych evaluation. Fortunately, we live in the age of computers. The nurses were able to quickly look at Mom’s records and not find anyone named Charlotte that was supposed to get access to Mom’s chart. I asked the nurse if Charlotte had visited with my Mom and they replied that she had not. So, right after I left visiting Mom, Charlotte arrives demanding to see Mom’s chart. Being denied, she heads to Mountain View rather than staying and visiting with Mom. To my knowledge she has still not visited Mom since her hospitalization.

Jackson and I find Mom sitting in her chair in her room attempting to read a book. I say attempting because I’m not at all sure she was doing anything other than giving the appearance of a normal activity. She is all smiles when she sees the both of us. We have to arrange things a bit to get everyone sitting and facing one another. Mom gets the bed, Jackson gets the chair, and I get the seat that folds out from Mom’s walker. It will be a short stay, and the seat is not the most uncomfortable element of the visit. Pleasantries are exchanged all around and Mom is like the cat that swallowed the canary. Jackson’s query to Mom regarding her physical condition is met with the news that Mom’s height is just perfect for her weight. When asked to explain, Mom related how they came in every day and took her vitals and wrote them all down in the chart. When they took her vitals today she was 5 feet 6 inches tall, which was the perfect height for her weight of 157 pounds. Jackson was unable to argue with that logic and turned his attention to Mom’s fuschia blanket.

“I see you’ve still got your pink blanket,” Jackson commented.

“Yes, Edna gave it to me, it’s real nice”, Mom responded. We waited for the loop to continue like it had at the hospital, but it didn’t.

“How’s your tooth?”, Jackson asked.

“It’s better now, but I guess I still need to go to the dentist”, Mom replies, “I guess Mountain View will have a dentist”.

I jump in, “No, actually they will use all of your doctors and dentists.” “I’ve already put everything on file for them”, “You’ll get to ride in their limo to your appointments and some one will wait for you and carry you back home”. “The only change will be your pharmacy, which they’ll use one closer to Mountain View”.

Mom reflects for a moment and says, “But South Asheville Pharmacy has all of my prescriptions.”

“You’ll be getting all new prescriptions from the Doctor at Mountain View and whatever your personal doctor wants to add to it”, I say, “that way they can be sure of what your taking and don’t misdiagnosis something because of an unknown chemical.”

There probably won’t be a better spot for opening the conversation about the events of Mom’s near death experience, so I plunge right in. “Mom, I need to fill in some of the blanks I have about when you got sick and how we all wound up here”.

Mom tries to divert,”why son, don’t you know how you got here, you’re in worse shape than I am”.

I give her her laugh and continue on, “when we talked on Saturday morning before you got sick, you didn’t complain that anything else was going on”. “When did you start feeling so bad?”, I ask.

Mom thinks for a second and replies,”That afternoon I got this terrible headache over my ear, and I thought I was having a stroke”.”I called Charlotte to see if she would come spend the night with me but her phone was off the hook”.”You know how she is, if you’re dying on the Sabbath don’t call”. While I don’t doubt Charlotte and Edna deserved a day off, I’m curious why no one could respond to the messages left on their phones until the next day.

“So no one came to check on you until Sunday?”, I ask.

“Yes, after church they came over and Edna tried to get me to eat some soup”, “Charlotte kept trying to give me this home remedy, blackberry extract, and I finally had to tell her to get that damn stuff out of my face”. “Charlotte kept picking at me and I finally just told her what Aunt Ida told her daughter-in-law”.

Oh Jesus, I think, the Aunt Ida story. It is one of the great Momisms that bear repeating. It seems that Aunt Ida was supposed to have been a full blooded Cherokee who lived with her son and his wife on a little plot of land near where the Hiwassee Dam is now constructed. As everyone knows, it is impossible to have two women in control of the same house and there was constant turmoil. One day the daughter-in-law says loud enough to be heard, “I can’t wait until you die”, and Aunt Ida responds with,”I’ll eat the goose that eats the grass on your grave and clean the knife and fork”.

I guess Aunt Ida cleared the air with that one, as apparently Mom did with Charlotte. Charlotte had not been around Mom since. I know that Mom has said many hateful things to Charlotte before, and vice versa, I’m just curious as to why this dust up was so “final”, if you will.

I push ahead, “Mom, do you know what blackberry extract does?”, I ask, and then answer for her, “it’s a diuretic”. “Can you think of why someone would want to give a diuretic to someone suffering from a severe bladder infection?” “I mean, everyone knew you had another bladder infection, right?”

“Well, I’m not sure what anybody knew and when they knew it”, she responds and starts to cloud up, “I was so happy that I had both my boys here with me at the same time and you’re using the visit to give me the third degree”.

“I’m not trying to upset you Mom, I’m just trying to figure out why everybody is acting the way they’re acting”, I continue, “Did you know Charlotte was here today trying to get access to your chart?”

“Charlotte was here today?”, Mom says,”she didn’t come see me.”

“I don’t think she wanted to see you Mom, I think she just wanted to see your chart so she could send out one of her email blasts to all of the kinfolk about how sick you are and how much they will need to contribute to Charlotte to keeping you going”, I forge ahead, “she used the name Charlotte Morris today and also with the home owners association to try to act as your power of attorney”.

“But she’s not my power of attorney, you are, backed up by Jackson”, Mom looks thoroughly confused, “why would she do that?”

“I don’t know Mom, all of her actions are crazy, even for her, and I’m afraid that Edna is so scared of her she doesn’t dare oppose her”. Mom is now fiddling with her fuschia blanket and I can see that I’ve overloaded the circuits. I change the subject by handing Mom her list of “Antiquities” and start the conversation about was this still a good list, etc. Mom complained that she couldn’t focus and I take the list back and go down it with her. Mom feels compelled to tell a story about every item and the decision making involved with matching the right heir to the item. We finally make it through the list and I assure Mom that Jackson and I are doing our best to protect Mom’s assets.

Mom asserts again that we can sell the condo and anything in it if we need to and I assure her again that we won’t need to. I relate again that she has not received a hospital bill from either Memorial Mission or The Facility, “thank you President Obama”, and that when the empty apartment is rented we will have money left over.

Mom seems relieved and then heads the cart off the path with, “You know, there was a time when folks would go to live with a relative for their final days”. Well, Jackson and I have been waiting for this shoe to drop since she went in to the hospital and Jackson is quick to respond.

“You know that’s just not possible Mom”, he says, “you need specialized medical attention that we can’t provide”, “we’re getting old ourselves and we both live out in the country away from the services you need, it just wouldn’t work out”.

I chime in with,”Mom, years ago you were farsighted enough to plan for the day when you might need care but your children might be unable to care for you, that day is here”, I continue,”I’m just really proud of how well you’ve planned for your future and how much easier it has made it for me”.

Mom breathes a sigh and says, “I guess you’re right, years ago Mountain View was my first choice”, she says, “I guess I should have bought my condo there, oh well.”

Our business concluded with the arrival of the supper tray. Hugs all around and we tell Mom we’ll see her tomorrow after the move. Jackson and I head to what we hope will be a good meal at a fish place we’ve heard about. Turns out, it is just what the doctor ordered. We stop at the Walmart on the way to the condo and buy some sports drinks and other non-perishables. A few minutes of TV preceded our calls home to our better halves. A short time later, and the brothers Lite are off to sleepy town. What a day.

More later.