Author Topic: The story of "Tiffany"  (Read 60975 times)


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #30 on: October 15, 2008, 10:39:17 PM »
The family reaches out

It was not so unexpected that my brother, (the one with “the” girlfriend) called me a few days ago.  I was glad to hear from him and despite my effort to try to NC the entire family, I give in to the desire to communicate with my brother, whom I love and cannot resist. After last week and the surprise accosting of Jordan to go the Fair, I was laying low, so to speak, when it came to immediately answering all incoming calls from the hometown, especially ones from my niece and father.  But when my brother called, I was excited to hear from him, although I proceeded with caution considering my theory that mom, the Great Puppetmaster, controls all around her. No one calls me without an specific duty of my mother’s bidding. He talked about his girlfriend and her relationship (or lack thereof) with our family.  He also mentioned that my grandmother’s former nurse’s aide is furious with my mother for having her terminated from my grandmother’s case and that the aide was threatening to call a governing entity (Medicaid services) about my mother’s hiring of my brother’s girlfriend (not in the least certified to work as a nurse’s aide) to work for grandmother in the aide’s place. I suppose my mother and the nurse’s aide cannot both be in my grandmother’s life.  My mother forced my grandmother to reveal to the aide’s agency that she was not making her home visits as prescribed.

My brother says that mother’s plan is to bar the former aide from my grandmother’s property as the old aide has been coming around to my grandmother’s house supposedly trying to get my grandmother to re-hire her.  Right in the middle of the conversation, my brother asks suddenly, “So is Jordan coming down this weekend? Mom wants all her granddaughters with her this weekend.”  He goes on to say that he doesn’t really plan on sending his own daughter, as he wanted to spend some time with his children when they come to town for visitation this weekend.  I say nothing about whether or not Jordan will be staying with her grandmother this weekend, though I know she will most certainly will not be staying, but I do share with my brother that Jordan is sick and just missed two days from school for a horrible cold and fever she caught sometime last weekend when she went away to the Fair.  According to Jordan, who is well aware of how a germ is spread, once she knew her cousin was recovering from a cold, Jordan told her cousin that they needed to be careful not to spread it, to which her cousin responded by allowing a pool of drool form in the corner of her mouth and letting it dribble down onto Jordan’s thigh.  When I asked Jordan what she did, she told me she said “Eww,” and wiped the drool off her own thigh.  I’m thinking she didn’t go and wash her hands and thigh immediately and for that matter, they slept together that night, so spreading germs was probably inevitable.  And to boot, they were at the Fair with all those many different germs from different regions, not hard to believe she picked up a bug there.  But the intentional drooling after being reminded to be careful: random.

My brother and I finished our conversation talking about our great aunt who hasn’t been getting adequate care from her nurse’s aide.  The aide is a former disgruntled employee who was good friends with the woman who took half of my mother’s clients in a bad business split. FYI, when my mother asked me what I thought of the aide, who did some work for me a few years ago, I told her that the aide was unreliable, flighty and would most certain disappoint her when she needed her the most.  Apparently, that was just the information she needed to hire the aide the next week.

The next day my niece calls to see if it’s true what my brother said, that Jordan is not coming to stay with Mom this weekend because she’s sick.  I say to her, “Well, Jordan is sick.” My niece responds, “Well, I guess that will be a good enough excuse for Grandma.”  This somewhat confirms my suspicion that my brother was dispatched by my mother to influence our weekend plans. Why she wouldn’t just call me and ask me herself is still beyond me; my guess is that she is reeling from my decision to opt-out of becoming her employee.

The day after that, to my great surprise, my oldest brother calls out of the blue, (or because my mother told him to).  I’m super excited to hear from him.  He leaves a message on my telephone that says, “Hey I just developed some pictures that I took of Jordan and {her cousin} from last weekend and I wanted to speak to you whenever you got the chance.”  I called him back, with some reserve, because he did happen the hot topic of the hour, Jordan.  I’m pretty sure he was prompted to call to do some reconnaissance on her, but I hadn’t heard from him in so long, I took a risk and called my beloved brother.  Talking to him was wonderful!  He’s doing so well in his recovery.  When I mentioned to him that November would be my one-year anniversary in nursing, he said that November would too be his one-year anniversary in sobriety.  I was so overjoyed to hear that he was taking his sobriety so seriously, and I let him know so.  He mentioned seeing Jordan and he told me that my husband and I were doing a great job with raising our daughter. He also shared with me that seeing Jordan with her older cousin was a trigger for him.  He said seeing them together and the way Jordan “idolized” her cousin reminded him of himself and our older male cousin, who eventually went on to facilitate his getting strung out on drugs.  He mentioned that he was not trying to perpetuate any negativity in any way, but that seeing the two of them together made him think of his own youth and the innocence he had as a child.  He’s going to two Narcotics Anonymous meetings a day and he’s taking it “one day at a time.”   Hearing him say that it all started with 90 meeting in 90 days and that one day turned into 300 some days, made my heart leap, it was so inspiring.  I’ve kind of been riding on a high (pun intended) since I spoke to my brother. I collected a “second wind” from my conversation with him and I’ve been on a roll every since, taking a proactive approach to realizing my dreams and seeing the positive in life.  I’m not so spooked by my mother and what she’s capable of either.  What will be, will be.  It’ is not my intention to be readily available to her, NC is probably the best thing for her and I, but I’m not going to be bummed about it anymore.  My outlook is upbeat and positive and I have my big bro to thank for that.


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #31 on: November 29, 2008, 04:22:06 PM »
Recent attempts at No Contact

It’s been about 6 weeks since No Contact was last re-initiated.  Mother and I have spoken twice.  I’ve spoken to my siblings several times, prompted by mother, I’m sure.  For the most part, I have been able to maintain an anxiety-free outlook on the family’s situation, as sucky as it is.  My last conversations with both mother on yesterday and my brother earlier today,  however, have me particularly agitated.  In review, my mother’s dealings with the IRS have come to somewhat of a stalemate as she and the agency she hired to help her have located a loophole that keeps the IRS from being able to move further on her case in a direct manner.  The IRS officer, in his frustration I imagine, has figured out a way to keep the proverbial “ball” rolling in this case.  He has put out a legal summons for my sister, who has, in the past, called this IRS officer on my mother’s behalf (or shall I say at my mother’s bidding), to deal with related matters.  The summons is for my sister to provide any financial information she has on the company to include many of the items he was requesting from my mother but still had not received.  This summons date is in December and I can only imagine how this request for her to appear in his office is affecting both mother and sister. 

From mother, I get the impression that she’s resting on the idea that the IRS cannot legally hold my sister responsible for anything, as she is not an officer of the company.  From sister, I get the impression that either a), she is in denial or that b), she has plotted some great revenge on my mother that could possibly include the following: 

Several weeks ago, during the first conversation with mother after about a month of No Contact, mother revealed that my sister, with newly elicited help from her 10-year old daughter, is stealing from her personal bank accounts again.  My niece was recruited by sis to look over my mother’s shoulder while she was standing at the ATM and to learn her new ATM password; mother’s had to change it three times in 2008.  My niece was also suspected of actually removing the new ATM card from mother’s purse, delivering it to her mother and then returning it to her grandmother’s purse the next day.  This makes me sad.

Speaking of sad, my sister is in a terrible funk right now and mother seems to think she is ill.  She believes that because Sis is losing weight. (She has stopped eating red meat) and is lethargic most of the time, sleeping most of the day and not answering her phone calls from mom. To mother, she must be sick, and the fact that my sister had what appeared to be a nervous breakdown the other day, screaming, crying, throwing things, only supports that fact.  My niece was so afraid during sister’s fit, she called the police.  When the police arrived and asked how they cold help my sister, she said something to the effect of , “not unless you can make the men in my life act right…” The very same guy she moved to this town to get away from is now out of jail and, he has a new baby with a woman and has decided to stay with that woman. Despite the fact that he was co-dependent and abusive and suicidal, my sister is still distraught over his decision to extinguish his candle for my her and to get serious about this new woman.  Important missing detail: this gentleman is our second cousin.

Mother: “ I’m worried about her, she doesn’t have any friends or a husband or anything. (little dig there to me for being married),  I’m worried about her.  I think she needs to be here with me. I’ve gotta get my baby girl up here. (sniffle). I kinda went off on her and told her I’m coming with a UHaul to get her…”   To this  idea, apparently, Sis was underwhelmed, less than impressed.  Her response was pathetic, and she cited my mother’s insistence upon her moving to this strange town in the first place, as a means to escape the embarrassing relationship with her own cousin. My sister said, “You made us move here and then you left us…”  sis told Mom.  From this, mother, inferred sis’ cooperation, or rather acquiescence, with the sudden move back to the hometown.  With the assumption that sis will not probably not follow the house rules, Mom’s thinking she will have an apartment all ready for sis when she moves her back home.  Mom’s words: “I want her to be comfortable, and I don’t want her to be half-sick so far away where I can’t help her…” 

Meanwhile my oldest brother, who celebrated one year clean and sober this month, his longest period of sobriety since he was 14.  He’s 44.  Mother spoke of this occasion with contempt, I’d have to say.  She didn’t seem happy or overjoyed for him.  She mentioned how nervous he was while planning his small celebration that would be held at my mother’s home and she spoke of his gathering as though it would be a nuisance to her and a disturbance to her normal Sunday evening activities.  I could not hide my excitement over his accomplishment as I promised to call him and congratulate him..  The transition from this statement was, “Now, I just have to bring your sister back home and get her better…” The implication here was that she is responsible for getting my brother better and that her work as a miracle-worker is never done.

Grand Narci

My mother’s own health was a major topic of discussion, as she has had many nagging health issues being addressed now that her Medicare has taken effect.  She’s had her insulin regulated to a point where her blood sugars are now in better control.  She’s had a laser eye surgery for some bleeding on both her retinas.  And she’s had other diagnostic tests like a colonoscopy and abdominal imaging to address her worry that there is something “going on” in her GI tract that the doctors are just not picking up on.  All the diagnostics were negative (no disease processes found).  I only mention this because in a very cavalier manner, mother reveals that she didn’t pay her Medicaid part D and they cancelled her therefore causing her to have to pay full price $117 for a 10 day supply of the insulin (formerly $20 with Part D).  She claims, “I thought they would just take it out of my social security check…” This infuriates me.  She’s so wrapped up with being fiscally responsible for each and everyone in the family but she allows her own bills to lapse, mortgage 3 months behind, Medicaid prescription benefits cancelled, 3 vehicles all 2 months behind, apartments for 2 grown adults and their children, and their utilities and incidental expenses.  And to add to all that…

Grandma, aka, Grand Narci has metastatic cancer in the liver now.  She’s not a candidate for surgery and chemotherapy would kill her at her age.  Guess who has signed up for the responsibility of grand Narci’s care until she dies? You guessed it.  Mother’s plan is to, without discussing it with the rest of the siblings, move grandmother upstairs in her home, right next to oldest brother.  I suggested to her that this might not be appreciated by her siblings and that she may want to consider opening this discussion of end of life care with them so that they are able to help in whatever ways they can, and so there won’t be deep-seated resentment later when the siblings feel shut off from being there for their mother.  I also told her that she had a responsibility as the family member who was present when the doctor told grandmother her prognosis, to share this information with the rest of the family and not to just move along with that information without considering the others, even if she does have power of attorney.  I also shared with her that liver metastasis is tough to deal with and that there will be times towards the end that mother will need support as a caregiver.  Around the clock nursing care would be ideal, I told her, as grandmother will probably become mentally altered at some point and will definitely become physically deconditioned, incontinent of her stool and urine, and difficult to feed.  God forbid she has pain that’s difficult to treat.  It’s strange because my mother was an oncology nurse many moons ago.  She said that she had forgotten the systems of the body and the way cancer affects it.  Did she really forget or is she playing me, I wonder?

Grand Narci is not getting the support she had expected from her children, (big surprise there) and is remaining quite stoic about the whole thing.  My mother has run out of people to pay to help my grandmother at her home.  The old aide that I hired for grandmother several years ago, the one who became extremely close with grandma, and at some point was rumored to have been named in grandma’s Last Will and Testament, is still hanging around despite her recent firing upon my mother’s insistence.  My theory is that in order for mother to be able to be closer to grandma in her last days, the old aide would have to be out of the picture.  This old aide, however was the only one who was able to keep grandma relatively healthy. She cooked the right foods for her and cleaned out her place regularly and dumped her bedside commode as needed. Now that the old aide was fired, the new aides were inconsistent and unreliable, generally deterred by the crazy antics of the various family members who transiently pass through grandma’s home.  Mother leaves money for the transients to buy groceries for grandmother and naturally, they buy food for themselves, usually fish sticks, French fries, and such and give grandmother the cold, hardened leftovers which usually remains uneaten at her bedside as she knows the grease will upset her belly for the remainder of the day or night.  My grandmother is now being cared for by my brother’s girlfriend who’s being paid by mother’s health care agency, and to whom grandma has recently grown fond of.

All this talk about my grandmother’s end of life care has my mother upset about her own situation, and she wanted my advice on the best way to handle her affairs.  I reminded her that two years ago, I bought the Suze Orman CD to her so that she could establish a trust and to get her affairs in order while she still had some assets to protect.  She blew it off, and took the CD and the materials to parouse although she had no real intentions of completing the process.  I believe she questioned my intentions when purchasing this packet for her.  She probably thought I was trying to line up my own wealth and I believe she failed to follow through to spite me.  Several times over the past two years I would remind her why protecting her assets was a good thing to do and she would again say she would look at the package again and then she would blow it off, again.  Needless to say, now that grandma’s Will has gone mysteriously missing, she’s re-evaluating the need to get her own affairs in order in such a way that gives her more control in her final wishes.  She asked me what I thought of her getting a reverse mortgage as well.  I chuckled within, and told myself, “don’t even take the bait…” I played dumb and told her I didn’t know what she should do.  I’m so sick and tired of giving her valuable advice only to have her do the opposite and have the whole thing blow up in everybody’s face.  It’s better to just say, “Do whatever you think is best…” and just be done with the whole matter.  Any way I look at it, she’s going to end in financial ruin and I’m pretty sure I’ll be bankrupting her estate upon her death and I expect to get zero, nothing, nada from it.

The dysfunctional matriarch

My mother has recruited the younger of my two older brothers to feel sorry for grandma on her behalf.  Brother called me yesterday after a long stimulating conversation with mother, he repeated verbatim to me every single word I spoke to my mother the day before about what she could expect with grandmother’s disease. He asked if I could again share with him the disease process and things he could do to help grandma feel better.  I tried to remain as dispassionate as possible because honestly, with my history with my grandmother (her last words to me one year ago were, “I hate you.”), I was having a difficult time not saying something mean or disrespectful to my brother about his precious grandmother.  But after he starts regurgitating all of these judgmental theories that my mother’s siblings are horrible deadbeats, I can’t hold back. I tell him, “Don’t do that. Don’t judge the others for how they respond to grandmother’s impending death.   You don’t know what the nuances of their relationships were and believe me, despite her current sad, frail, status, grandma is no angel.”  She’s lucky that our mother wants to even attempt to care for her in her last days, grandmother certainly didn’t care for mother in her first days, giving her up to be raised by other family members while she moved on with her life with another man and children.  My brother quietly agreed.  I feel bad for him because his seizure disorder affects his memory and he has to be reminded of events that have occurred from time to time.  He revealed to me then, that his girlfriend during one of her visits to help my grandmother was accosted by one of the nieces who told her the sordid tale of her incestual molestation by one my grandmother’s beloved grandsons and how grandmother, the family’s matriarch, turned a blind eye and deaf ear and did nothing while her sons and grandson’s abused the children of the family over the years.  Grandmother is famous for loving and doting on the men of the family beyond explanation while destroying the self-esteem of all of the females, pitting sister against sister and grand-daughter against grand-daughter. It’s obvious and pervasive and the women of the family resent her for it.
I encouraged my brother not to forget to take care of himself throughout all this.  He finished the conversation with, “I’m glad I talked to you, you always get me to thinking…” I tell him I love him and we get off the phone.”  I’m mentally exhausted.


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #32 on: December 18, 2008, 05:05:55 PM »
A visit home

My mother called last week and told me that she had some “Christmas money” for my daughter and she wondered if she should mail it.  She claimed she lost my address.  And after fumbling her words a bit, she thought she might send it via my father but she knew how I didn’t like for him to just pop by unannounced so…. Translation…. “I would like for you to come for a visit but I don’t know how to simply ask so I need you to see what I’m implying with innuendo…

I give in and tell her I’ll look at my work schedule and call her when I can come there.  Two days later, I show up to her home, and what is the very first thing I see on a purple sticky note attached to the side of the CPU tower atop her home office desk (at which she sits daily particularly during her telephone conversations)? I see my address in bold letters on the only sticky note seen anywhere on the desk. Always the manipulator, white lies don’t count in her world. 

She awkwardly handed me three crisp one hundred dollar bills almost immediately upon my arrival with the explanation that she was only giving Christmas gifts to two of her grandchildren this year, my Jordan and my sister’s 10 year old.  My brother’s have three children each, all of whom would be grateful for the least little inkling of a thought of a present, I’m sure.  So gee thanks mom, I get to accept this disproportionate gift for my child with all the pre-loaded guilt and uncomfortable emotions attached like a bow.  I thought to suggest she divide the entire $600.00 she was going to give to my and my sister’s kids among all eight of the grandkids, but that kind of thing ALWAYS blows up in my face.  So I’ve learned with her, no good deed goes unpunished and to just grin and bear it if you don’t want a drawn out fiasco.  There would be enough of those before the evening was through.  As soon as she handed over the cash to me, she ripped in…

The younger of my two older brothers needs to find a new house, according to her.  The house was recently headed for foreclosure during the same time the home in which mother lives was going into foreclosure and she was overwhelmed with the stress of it all.  My brother feels the Alzheimer’s aunt should be the one to have to go and find a new place, however ironically it was her disability and retirement income that got them out of this last foreclosure situation.  My brother’s having a difficult time seeing that he needs to find somewhere to live because the tap is running dry and there will soon be no house in which to live.  He is an exemplar of the art of denial.

My brother’s young children are all coming for their weekend the day after Christmas and according to mother, he’s going to have to access “spillover gifts” provided by his girlfriend (the mother of 11 children who has approached various help agencies about donating gifts to her family and who has according to mother, hit the jackpot with all the toys she’s expecting). Maybe mom’s trying to test and see if the girlfriend has what it takes to provide for my brother’s needs thus freeing her from the responsibility and worry of being his provider.

The business’ walls are closing in…

Since the IRS has figured out a way to continue garnishments of both her government contract agency and the associated bank account to which the checks are direct deposited, mother is attempting to fast-track the transfer off the clients in the failing office to an unaffected branch.   The part of the company losing the clients is the part that my sister was promised.

The agency responsible for approving transfers is giving mother one road-block after another in getting all the transfers completed.  According to mother they have provided her a lot of “petty and unfounded” reasons for rejecting her requests and having her re-submit paperwork in order to get approvals to bill them. More stringent policies and accountability procedures are also hampering her ability to have a smooth transfer and that has her frustrated because pending approvals reduce her income while the bills are steadily piling.  I’m not sure how’s she has not already sunk under the weight of her payroll which she says is now at 10K/week with taxes and she’s only bringing in 8K/week.  During her harangue, she slipped and mentioned that she is now getting a “little behind” on the payroll taxes for the company to which she is transferring the clients.  She’s robbing Peter to pay Paul, per se.

I asked her whatever happened to the tax representatives who promised to help her out of this situation.  She said all they kept telling her was to sell her house and take the equity to make the IRS an offer and compromise for less than the 100K that’s accrued.  So she’s out with them, they’ve wasted her time, not worth another thought or word.  I wonder how much the final tally was before she realized this, my guess: $10-15K.

And on top of that…

My sister’s stealing is at an all time high. She is taking checks, uses her daughter to access the ATM card and takes $300 or more at a time. After an incident where my mother tried to recover the money from sis’s payroll check by docking her pay $300, my sister called the accountant behind my mother’s back and used her previously assigned authority to not only reverse the docking of the $300.00, but to additionally give herself a  $5 an hour raise. To boot, she had the accountant draw up a separate check to cover not the business office’s but her own apartment’s back rent. When Mom asked why she was doing this to her, why she was stealing from her, sister claimed that what she was doing was not stealing.  She gave her reasons.  Being moved from city to city at my mother’s whims, having to move her daughter from school to school and having to be responsible for the business were primary reasons for her need to access money this way.

This now has Mom thinking that sis is stealing for drugs or is in some kind of trouble.  When she offers this to sister, sister promptly enters a huge screaming rage that shuts down the entire conversation.  Like mother, like daughter, it seems.

When I ask about the IRS tax summons and if sister responded or not, she said sister called the officer on the morning of the meeting, citing car trouble 15 minutes before the scheduled appointment.  The IRS officer, the same one garnishing the accounts, gave her an hour to fax her job description to his office.  At this time, sis called mom, after several days of sis’s refusing to take any calls from her for help in the matter because she, of course, had no formal job description and needed to create it in 45 minutes in order to avoid further prosecution.  Mother obliged grateful that sis finally called.

Oldest brother speaks out…

During the visit to my mom, I got a chance to see my brother, T.  He was preparing to leave for a Narcotics Anonymous meeting for which he prepares the coffee.  I went in the kitchen to chat with him before he left, I was not going to allow my entire time to be monopolized by my mother, even though she thinks she paid for it.  Normally when someone visits, she holes up in her bedroom which keeps things all about her. She doesn’t come out into the common areas where we can all enjoy one another’s company.  My going out to the kitchen to see T made her have to come out of her dungeon and communicate with her family.  However, this is how she chose to spend this moment:

Mother: While I have you both here, I need your advice.  T, never wants to say anything when we talk, but I need both your input about what I should do about all these problems I have. I want to know step-by-step what you think I should do.

T: (who never wants to say anything) You mean advice about the elephant in the room?

Me: (through unintentional laughter) What Elephant in the Room?  (I had a vision of about 4 or 5 large goofy-looking elephants crammed into my mother’s great room and eat-in kitchen)

T and Mother at the same time: T: [Sister] is stealing…Mom: She’s doing drugs…

T: Well, I don’t think there’s any evidence to support anything other than she is displaying addictive and compulsive behavior.  If she was doing drugs thing I believe I, of all people, would know…

Mom: Well, I think the way she’s sleeping all the time, not eating, looking sick, and spending all this money while not paying her bills.  She must be doing something wrong. And, I know for a fact that she was using marijuana with that boyfriend who went to jail.  She told me herself! (becoming increasingly edgier) …so I know that she’s capable of doing drugs.

Me: (not wanting to touch this with a 10 foot pole) Well, T, what do you think should happen next?

T: (to mom) If you don’t want to have her steal anymore than just STOP supporting her lifestyle.

Mom: What do you mean stop? Stop what? Stop enabling? I told her I would prosecute her the next time she takes a check. Do you want me to throw her in jail, T? (she crescendos into a 5 minute Nrage. I zone out.  I come back around when she says), …What? step by step, should I do?

T: (calmly, soberly) Attach consequences to her actions and stick to it…

Mom: Okay, I won’t talk about it to y’all anymore.


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #33 on: January 14, 2009, 10:24:23 AM »
Grandma’s death show

I received a call from mom one week ago. It was 715 am and she wanted to know if I had to work that day or not.  I told her I had worked the evening before and that I was off until the next day and she immediately started in on a 30 minute complaint session about her sister with whom she was locked in constant battle over every detail of my dying grandmother’s care and wishes.  My grandmother, after a week-long hospitalization where her Code Status was changed to Do Not Resuscitate/Do Not Intubate wherein no heroic measures were to be taken to sustain her heartbeat her brain activity if her heart spontaneously stopped.  Upon granting this status, which my mother and sister agreed upon after the physician said there was nothing else they could do for grandmother, the hospital discharged my grandmother to my mother’s home with a hospice nurse and health care aides to turn and clean her. This was to be my mother’s last show of devotion to her mother, to give her a dignified, well-attended death.  According to my mother, my aunt disagreed with her on every turn.  For instance, who will be in charge of picking up my  grandmother’s youngest son from the airport now that the hospice nurse has deemed my grandmother “hours” from death.  Gather the family, this is it.

Uncle C, Who’s going to pick him up from airport? My aunt wanted to know why I hadn’t stopped by to see grandmother yet and why couldn’t I just get Uncle C and bring him since I lived closest to the airport.  My mother and aunt argued over the fact that I had not performed up to snuff in this bizarre death-of-the-matriarch ritual and it was this bickering that resulted in my mother’s razzled early-morning call.  Mom, who didn’t want to leave grandma’s side, asked me to bring Uncle C and myself to pay respects.  I, put on the spot, agreed to get him and visit for a while. 

At my mother’s house, my grandmother was lying in a hospital bed, with noticeable agonal abdominal breathing, Kaussmal’s respirations, often associated with the final hours of dying. Her eyes were set in the death glare, the glazed over stare that seems to see through you. Her bald head with tufts of gray hair was exposed, I was expecting to see her in her wig, she would have wanted her wig, I thought.  She was wearing my mother’s cotton pajama top as a gown, my mother was standing by, eyes near tears, and doting on her dying mother.

When Uncle C walked in to see her, he spoke, “Hey, ma” and she turned her head towards his voice, something, per mother, she hadn’t been doing during the last 48 hours.

After letting them have their time together, I was summoned to grandma’s bedside, I identified myself and I took her hand. Before I could think of something appropriate to say, I said I Love you.  There were tears in her eyes (probably residual from my uncle’s, her favorite son’s, arrival). 

Mom reacted to the new change in grandma’s behavior by grabbing me into a bear hug and proceeded into whimpering cry, very dramatic, quite awkward for me internally, but externally, I exhibited the behavior that has become second nature to me as a nurse.  I rubbed her back in small circles and didn’t pull back until she seemed to let go.  It felt like a full minute and a half, an eternity.  It was not comfortable.

People began to stroll in over the course of the evening.  I sat in the room with grandma for a while observing her breathing patterns, and watching my mother attend to her mother’s death.  She gave her liquid morphine round the clock every three hours.  Apparently Grandma spit out the medication for the first time on this evening.  “Why did she do that?” my mother wondered out loud. Mother was looking to me for an answer at every turn.  I said, with a hunch of the shoulders, “maybe she doesn’t want to take it this time, maybe she wants to be more alert for her new company.”  My mother put a towel under grandma’s chin and administered the morphine on schedule. “She needs it for her pain.”  Again, I hunched my shoulders.  This is her show.   

I’ve heard so much about you…

I had an opportunity to meet my brother’s girlfriend in person.  This is the girlfriend who has 11 children, and has been one of my grandmother’s healthcare workers for the past several months.  She was hired by my mother to change my grandmothers soiled sheets and garments.  She was dressed in a scrub suit and she sat attentively by my grandmother’s side. I’m not sure if this was a “Can’t beat ‘em join ‘em” or a “Keep your enemy closer,” or a “Can’t we all just get along” situation, but my mother, who once despised this young lady, has joined forces in the care of the family.   When she and I met, I gave her a hug.  She said, “I’ve heard so much about you, all good, and you’re so cute” and I returned, “I’ve heard a lot about you, too and it looks like you’re taking good care of my brother.”  She says, with a smile, “He’s like a baby, I tell you.”  I smile back and look at my brother who’s wearing the most sheepish grin.  I can tell he’s happy we finally met.  If the occasion were less solemn I would have liked to yuck it up with her a bit.  My brother was getting a kick out of it.  I also met my oldest brother’s girlfriend, who greeted me with the same, “I’ve heard so much about you.  To which I returned the same as before, “It looks like you’re taking good care of my brother.”  She replies, “Well, I love him too.”  She seems sweet and attentive.  She said she liked my felt hat, an oversized floppy number that covered my face and hair for the most part, probably symbolic of the guarded manner in which I was approaching this scenario, now that I think about it.

My brother’s girlfriends both seemed awkward around my mother, who during the entire time I was getting acquainted with the two ladies, was either screaming orders at my sister, (oh yeah, she made an unexpected appearance) or she was standing vigil at my mother’s side wiping her forehead, touching her hand and completing the image of what one does at her dying mother’s bedside. Yes, I felt a farce, unexplainable, but there.  The vibe I felt coming from that direction was one of heightened theatrics. Drama. 

After a while I was summoned by my mother to assist my brother’s girlfriend, grandmother’s caretaker, with changing her soiled bed pads and gown.  My mother said, in a joke, let me see what your nursing skills are like.  I softly harrumphed and said, “Well, I would get the assistance of the care partner if I had one available to me and let her take the lead on that. My brother’s girlfriend then smiles and said, “Yeah, because we’re the ones who do this work, not the nurses.”  I leave it at that and start gathering supplies needed…  While I’m cleaning my grandmother’s perineal area with a warm washcloth, she gives me a look of terrified fear.  She seemed very frightened.  I re-oriented her the way I would a mentally altered patient who has cancer spread to the brain or liver which can reduce patients to an Alzhiemer’s like dementia wherein the person is driven by primal instincts with language, vision, and fine motor ability giving over to a hazy half blind awareness with only the use of grunts and large energy-stealing body movements to show purposeful intention.  I tell her what we’re doing, that we’re giving her privacy and a towel for warmth and that we would be done.  The frightened look remained.  I think maybe it’s the large floppy hat that disguises my face, maybe she imagines I am not human at all, maybe I’m a monster or a demon whose come to collect her soul.  She seems to see me and she seems to be afraid.

Mom’s latest great idea
After demanding the caregiver not to leave my grandmother’s bedside, my mother calls me to her bedroom to discuss some things on her mind.  She wants to vent, I can tell.  She’s lying on her bed with her CPAP mask over her nose.  She’s speaking in a low voice despite the hiss and hum of the CPAP machine.  So I have to come in close to hear. Typical Nstuff.  I can’t bring myself to sit on her bed.  This, too would be uncomfortable. I feel the need for boundaries.

She says my aunt is driving her crazy.  That she’s going nuts having to host all these people in her home.  That her sister was on her way with a ton of people, my cousins and such.  For the most part, they would all be in various versions of inebriation, with substance abuse being my family’s main stress coping mechanism.  I hear this and pretty much know I’m ready to wrap up this visit and prepare to leave.  Besides, although it seemed as if every breath my grandmother was taking would be her last, it also seemed as if she could go on breathing like that all night.  My mother admitted that grandmother was more alert than she had been in several days.  At the hospital, we call that “rallying,” when the patient makes one final burst of activity and alertness before succumbing and giving over to the process.

While Mom is rambling, I begin to think to myself, when she dies, if I have the day off from work, maybe I’ll slip in for the funeral, a little late so that I don’t have to be with the family procession. Then, I hear my mother, who has started in on her financial woes; the IRS guy is cornering in on her and has told her she better sell everything and shut down her business because if she doesn’t he’s going to see to it that she never gets another government contract, ever. I hear her mutter something about wanting to establish a bank account in Jordan’s name.  I hear her name and I think to myself, for a second, that Mom really must be feeling sentimental and wants to make some big time adjustments in her ways. An account for Jordan, what a great idea! That fantasy bubble is quickly popped in two short sentences when she clarifies that she wants to start an account for HERSELF in Jordan’s name and have a bank card on that account for which she can withdraw and deposit money.  (the needle scratches across the record player. here) Is she serious?  Now, it’s time to go.

Grandma runs the show

I check my voicemail the next morning, later that evening, the next day and the next evening.  No word about grandmother. I think she could not possibly breathe the full death-rattle for much longer than a few hours when I last saw her.  I began to think maybe she died and verbalized her wishes that she didn’t want me at her funeral.  I thought maybe they just forgot to call me.  Then I think, maybe she’s fighting and hanging on.  Maybe she wants to bear witness to her own death show.  Hearing is the last sense to go and my mother’s home has such acoustics that you can hear a mouse fart in a room on the other side of the house.  There were so many people and conversations going, I’m thinking, my grandmother, she who loves to sit and listen to your drunken tales of woe, didn’t want to miss this the last complete gathering of the descendants of her matriarchal reign.  I believe she may have been re-energized by the arrival of her youngest child who moved far away years ago.  My mother kept saying “…you two are the last two to arrive, the only two who hadn’t come to see her.”

Earlier in the evening, I felt the need to be cordial and to behave with respect, despite my grandmother’s extremely low opinion of me, but at this point in the evening, I have to tell my mother that I would not have been there if Uncle C didn’t need the ride from the airport to her home.  She ignored this declaration, but my oldest brother who was standing by at the time, reached in for a hug and said, “Thanks for rising above the drama and stopping by.”  And I assure him that I love him but that I’m probably going to disappear again for a while.


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2009, 06:58:17 PM »

Three days after she only had three “hours” left to live, grandmother died

Me: “Did you talk to grandmother re: her arrangements and her wishes for the funeral and her property and such?”

Mom: “No, not really.  She doesn’t care about certain things.  She trusts me to do whatever I think is best.  She gives over to me the responsibility to do the right thing.  Even Uncle C and Uncle I give over to me to do the right thing.  But my sister, she seems to disagree with every decision I make.”

Out of the blue, my aunt stated to her her siblings over grandmother’s dying body: “Mother knows I loved her and I know she loves me, but I don’t know about SOME  PEOPLE..” (sharp cut of the eyes towards my mother)   To this, my mother took offense.  She believed my aunt was singling her out as not having loved their mother and was possibly alluding to the fact that maybe their mother didn’t really ever love my mother.

Mom: “What is that supposed to mean?!!   I’ve been by her side 24 hours a day for the last seven days, holding her hands and caring for her.  If she ever felt any doubt, a long time ago, then she now knows that I love her.” 

To further convince herself, my mother told a story of how, weeks ago, when my grandmother’s decline was becoming more apparent, my aunt, in a heated reaction to my mother about a decision she made in my grandmother’s home, said aloud to those present, “Why does she have to be so bossy? She doesn’t live here.  Who made her the one in charge? Why does she do those things?”  At that time, grandmother, still talking but quite ill, said aloud to my aunt, “She does these things because she loves me.”  My mother promises that others heard her say that.

My father: “She must have loved you.  She signed the Power of Attorney forms, not once, but twice.  Remember when you lost it and needed it for something recently and she signed a new one for you? She wouldn’t do that if she didn’t love you.”

My mother and aunt spent a lot of time arguing over where the funeral would be held, who would officiate, which wig would she wear, her old black one or if it will be a more “realistic” one with some gray in it?  They were arguing over the day and time of the funeral, they were arguing over everything.  My mother finally said, “My sister’s just being mean to me.” Over the past years, I’ve been able to ignore her and cut her off from my life. But now that mother’s become the focus, I can’t avoid her.   When this is over, I don’t ever have to talk to her again.

Me: “So where will the funeral be?  Will everyone be able to be there?”

Mom: “The funeral’s at {the church of grandma’s youth}. Ike, (grandmother’s oldest son), will be just out of his knee replacement surgery and all hopped up on pain pills like crazy, and Uncle C, (the uncle I picked up from the airport), who hasn’t been around for two days out running behind God knows what.. (to me:) Are you going to come?.”

Me: “If I can get someone to switch my shifts at work.” 

She then begins to go over the obituary details, calling out loud the questions on the funeral director’s questionnaire, “Name, Date of Birth, Date of Death, Birthplace, Occupation, Church, place of death… “Where should I say?”  she asked me.  I say, “daughter’s home, or family member’s home,” to which she quickly clarifies, “Of course, daughter’s home.”  I can hear pride in her voice.  She goes over the list of grandkids, great grandkids, and great-great grandkids.  She talks of photos for the program and obituary and birth and death certificates.  She mentions the cost for the memorial programme/bulliten and the optional slideshow and in my mind, the cash register begins to ring.  I ask her if she’s already “talked turkey” with the undertaker and she says that that will be in the morning.  She says she will probably just cover all the costs of the funeral and later get repaid from the sale of grandmother’s home.  “I’m Power of Attorney and I know what’s best.”

Listening to this, I can only think of her current overwhelming financial problems and I remind her that funerals can be very expensive, an average of $8-10, 000. I also remind her that Power of Attorney does not extend past death and that at this point the Executor of the Will and the Benefactors of her insurance policies played more of a decision-making role   I also pondered aloud whether or not the house would truly be sold as this was where my aunt and cousin lived with grandmother.  My mother uttered something to the effect that she knew what grandmother wanted on this issue.  I don’t believe she wanted the house to be sold from under her daughter and grandson, but mother didn’t admit this.

I asked, “What about insurance policies?” My mother said that her sister had a couple of policies on their mother and that grandmother had several on herself.  I mentioned to my mother that the policies could be used to cover the cost of the funeral and that she could divvy the remaining expenses amongst the other siblings, giving them an opportunity to participate in this way.  She quieted and so did I.  After a marked silence, she broke it with, “Yeah, I give up.  I should have gotten insurance policies on her, myself, and I should have found her lost wills.  I started to do this stuff earlier, but I allowed myself to get distracted with her care. 

The hospice nurse kept saying to my mother how strong grandmother’s will was.  I spoke up in agreement acknowledging that she really hung on towards the end living another three days after the nurse said she was within a few hours of her death.  My mother cut me off in a controlled rage with a sharp-toned, “Why? Why did she do that?”  Again, I’m supposed to have all the answers.

I say, “I don’t know, Mom. Maybe, she needed that time for herself. To prepare herself.”

My mother said, “ Yeah, I don’t think she felt sure of her salvation.  I think she may have been unsure of where she stood with God.” 

She tried to describe a strange thing that happened the day before she died. When she was dying, she was getting morphine once an hour and she had been struggling, pulling, breathing with accessory muscles, with pain in her sides.  Grandmother raised her body up in the bed and she said aloud, {Daughter} come here {Daughter,| come here!  My mother runs into the room and says, “{Grandmother’s first name}, I’m right here.”  Grandmother then said, “Good,” and relaxed.  My mother came in close to grandmother’s face to better hear her and grandmother said, “I… I…I… (and then collapsed in exhaustion and remained ‘out of it’ for the rest of the day.  My mother took that demonstrative act to mean that grandmother was trying to say I love you. “I think she was saying that I did good.”

I say, “At the hospital, we would, at this point, advise the family to reassure the patient that everything would be alright that they needn’t worry about the children and grandchildren, and such…”

My mother cut me off.  “Yes, that’s what the hospice nurse said,” And I did that.  I was telling her that everything was going to be okay with everyone here and that she can rest in knowing that we will all be okay when she snapped at me in a short, abrupt, way that chilled me to the bone, She looked to me and said with clarity, “I know.” I believed she knew that we would be okay, but that she was worried about herself.  “I stopped telling her that it was going to be okay after that,” said Mom.

On another occasion grandmother was said to have spoken prophecy on my brother and father and this cost her a lot of energy.  She said to my father that he had to “do better” and that my brother needed to go back to church because she wanted to see him in Heaven.  She really let him ‘have it’ and rebuked him for running with ‘the devil.’  My mother said about the fervor-filled declaration, it was “strong and unique. She gave her opinion withholding nothing.”

Mom complained about the way Uncle C did not spend enough time with their mother.  After arriving in town, he spent 48 hours away from the house where his mother lay dying, the house where he was supposed to be lodging.  My mother judged him for needing to drink alcohol and questioned whether or not he was using illicit substances in addition to alcohol given his present company, his cocaine-abusing nephew.

Mom complained about the way my aunt brought her teacher friends by to see the death show.and “marched them through her house” as if it were her own.  She was upset by the fact that they ignored my mother and went outside in the yard and talked for a while after visiting inside the home. My mother felt her sister never did anything to actually care for their mother only paraded her friends for the entire family to see.  And aunt said aloud to her friends that mother would be more alert to visit with them but that my mother was was doping their mother, keeping her “drugged up.”

My mother was obsessed with my aunt.

My mother: “So what should I say? I want whatever needs to be done in this process to be done and I don’t want others to go off with insurance and WILL assets and they never did anything to deserve it.”  She trails off in silence.  Then, “I’m not going to play boss anymore.  I think I’ve done enough. I took her places, I bought her home, I got Uncle C here, I was with her for seven days 24 hours a day.  I just wanted my mother to know that I did what was expected of me.  And I have the confidence that she knew and let me know that I did good.  I’m going to have to give up the fight.” 

Then began her trip down memory lane.  She recalled the period of time when her mother left her abusive alcoholic, husband.  Grandmother was very sick and all the children were little; she couldn’t handle the care of the children two of whom were also very sick.  My  aunt (now deceased), the oldest of all the children, born out of wedlock when my grandmother was 16, helped with the care of the little ones.  My mother, the next oldest, born to a second man when grandmother was 18, lived with my grandmother’s parents until they died when my mother was 15 years old.  The three youngest children, two boys and a girl, were all born to the abusive alcoholic the first man my grandmother married. At the time, my mother went to live with her mother for the first time since she was a baby, when she was sent away to be raised by her grandmother.  The abusive father beat both my mother and grandmother while my oldest aunt and the three young children were spared.  My grandmother, extremely sick, left the husband and took the children with her.  Eventually, the husband’s family convinced my grandmother to allow them to take the youngest children until she got better.  Well, she got better and came for the children and the family wouldn’t allow them to go.  They said that the children were safe with them and that my grandmother was an unclean, unfit mother.  My grandmother had to go to court to regain custody of her children. 

Mom (after this hour-long emotionally, exhausting conversation) : Oh, and did I tell you about the IRS guy?

Me: (with a quiet sigh,) No, what?

Mom: “As my mother lay dying and the house full of people, the IRS man came knocking at the door.  Your sister almost let him in when your father asked him to stay on the porch while someone came to get me.  By the time I came to the door, he was coming inside and looking around the foyer.  Can you believe he came about a $57.00 bill for unpaid payroll taxes on {the last surviving contracted business to which all the clients in the failing business are being transferred}?” 

Me: $57.00?

Mom: “Yeah.  They are becoming aggressive.  He’s not even the officer assigned to this business’ payroll taxes account.  I think the reason he showed up at my house is because I only give a Post Office Box address on my tax forms and it’s a sole proprietorship so my home address is fair game.  I told the IRS officer I have a representative for this type of thing who will be dealing with him and he kept saying I had 30 days to appeal.  I think he wants to buy time while he becomes the collection officer on record for this case.

Me: Wow.

Mom: Just before grandma took her final breaths, Mom went online and made the $57.00 remaining balance on the payroll tax account for the last vestige of her once massive business.

Oh, and she slipped in there right at the end that my aunt, her newest nemesis is now staying upstairs in the room next to Uncle C, and my oldest brother, whose just trying to go to his AA meetings everyday and maintain his sobriety through all this mess. Power to you, brother, more power to you. 


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #35 on: February 13, 2009, 03:21:20 PM »

My sister’s ten-year old daughter is now living with my mother. She began at her new school a week ago.  A few weeks before, my niece called my mother from the small town where she lives with her mother, frustrated with her life, her school, her mother.  The last time I saw my niece, around the time of my grandmother’s death, she was showing me bite marks and scratches on her arms.  She inferred that her mother (my sister) can be a little too rough when they play.  I grew up with my sister, I had flashbacks of a large, frustrated, mean-faced tomboy who enjoyed rough physical contact whether you wanted it or not. I think I knew what my niece was talking about and I felt sad for her.

My mother: “So I offered her the chance to live with me. Your sister thought about it and she didn’t resist it.  I guess she doesn’t need {niece} as much as I do here.”

And that’s how my niece came to live with her grandmother. As a side note, I would like to say that this disturbs me greatly, both my sister’s poor parenting and my mother’s need to have a child around for physical labor and assistance. In a way, I believe my mother is trying to re-play history, having been raised during her formative years, by her own grandmother, a strict, stoic woman. 

A few nights ago, my niece couldn’t get in touch with my sister, who wouldn’t answer her cell phone. My niece went berserk, according to my mother. My niece was most concerned because she and her mother spoke each night before going to sleep and each morning upon arising when they were not together and this was atypical of her, apparently.

My mother: “We started to call police, I don’t know, to knock on the door or something, until I thought to have your brother, text her telling her to call.”
This obviously worked and my sister, who was dead-set on not taking any incoming calls from my mother, agreed to answer calls from her daughter at any time of the day no matter what.  My sister is still angry over some thing my mother considers yet unspoken and a great mystery.  My guess is that my mother has been a great disappointment to my sister over the last several years in that she promised her this wonderful life of success if she only does exactly what she’s told to do in her life.  The repeated broken promises and last minute changes and bait-and-switch dealings have probably left my sister exhausted and angry.  Her way of dealing with it now is to try to ignore my mother’s calls for help and to try to relinquish all her former duties to include office manager, errand-runner, bill payer, medical claims billing, etc.  She made an appearance a week ago, per my mother, to do some medical claims back-pay reconciliation billing (about $5000 worth) and when my mother went to check the account re: the deposit of the funds, she found that the billing was not done correctly and needed to be re-submitted.  And as was the course, sister was nowhere to be found for that. 

My mother jumps haphazardly to the next topic: “I’m going through a lot with my mother’s death. Everyone is just going on with life as if everything is OK, but I’ve been really having a hard time with it.  Not so much for her sake, it’s bringing up my own issues. It’s like I’m going through a depression or something.  It’s not her, It’s me, it’s a brush with immortality… (Freudian slip, I suppose-my words not hers), I mean, mortality.  I look at the way everybody acted and I think of myself and how everyone is going to be when the time comes for me to die.  Watching her go through those phases so quickly in the last seven days like that.  They said at the funeral that she died peacefully.  They lied.  She struggled. I’m relating her experiences to me, to my own stuff.  And oh, I’ve made up my mind and decided to sell the house…”

She goes on to say that she will be talking to realtors today.  She said that she had just put the church property up for sale the week before and that yesterday, a FOR SALE sign was placed in front of the house in which my brother lives with my father and the Alzheimer’s aunt.  My mother says she’d been calling the IRS officer in follow-up after a very FINAL looking document came giving her 60 days (ending date, March 2, 2009) to submit a final proposal before they were going to proceed with “taking her house.”

My mother was in the process of submitting a proposal for $2000.00/month and the house going on the market; when the house is sold, the proceeds should cover the remaining tax debt ($150,000 or more). The realtor, once onboard, will write up the contract and fax it to the IRS guy as proof of intent.


The last time I spoke with my mother, she was hell-bent on suing the IRS guy for showing up at her home while her mother lay dying to harass her about a $57.00 late tax bill.  According to mother, she was sure some kind of violation had been committed and her friends’ son, a lawyer, could find a way to stall the debt collection process by holding things up in court.  She figured it was surely a conflict of interest that this one officer was now working on a second case involving another one of her businesses.  When she tried to sell it to me, I responded, “Well, I guess you could try it.”

In a very calm tone, (a little too calm, I have to say), she reveals that in follow-up to the lawsuit she had planned for this officer who was violating her rights:   “I came to the conclusion that the IRS guy who showed up at my door when grandma was dying is an altogether 2nd guy.  Because I had hired those tax representatives and have never actually met with these people before, I never knew what they looked like.  He claims that he’s going to become more aggressive with his debt collection. It looks like a previous agreement we made back in July of 2008 was forfeited because I was not keeping up with scheduled payments.  He said that I should have closed this business a long time ago and that because it’s a sole proprietorship, he was going to come after me personally for whatever he could get.  He was not nice about it.”

(After a quiet pause, she begins to blame my sister again). I tried to get your sister to take everything into her name so that I could make a fresh start with my name, but she wouldn’t take it as hers.  She didn’t want to take on the responsibility even though I was going to tell her exactly what she needed in order to keep the business going.  She just wouldn’t talk to me, wouldn’t help me, wouldn’t do anything.”

So basically the office from which all the clients were transferred, because the first IRS guy was submitting garnishments and levying the bank accounts, was now under attack by a second IRS guy. A bank levy last week left an account at a -$2000.00 balance and bills and interest statements are continually rolling in and piling up.

Mother: “The guy has access to my account activity.  If he doesn’t get this agreement going, I can’t function, but I still need to finish paying last quarter in full in order to get the agreement, That’s $2500 I have to pay from my account before they submit another garnishment on the account thus taking the money before I can have the tax payment come out. I’m going to give 30 days notice to the old satellite office’s landlord (from where the clients were transferred) and will forward the mailbox to my church up here.
I have to store some furniture and hopefully the sale of my house will cover what expenses are left after the IRS bills are covered.” 


I don’t say this but I’m thinking…  Wow, how responsible of her.  And, so calm.  What gives? The wait is over. This is what gives:

One of my grandfather’s many girlfriends, Mary, calls my mother from out of the blue, around the time of my grandmother’s death.  She lives in Atlanta, but keeps in touch with her hometown through ‘the grapevine’ and had heard about my mother’s loss. The old girlfriend, turns out was not that old, only a year older than my mother when she was a teenager dating my grandfather in the late 1950s. She called with condolences. She also called with an offer. She invited my mother to come and live in Atlanta, saying she would help her setup and find a place and start a life there.

Mom:  “At 66, she’s ‘fast.’ She’s taking anatomy and physiology classes and trying to get into a 2 year RN program. And her dream is of having a home health care agency like I had.  I told her I’ve had enough of that.  I only want to do Theology when I come there.  Maybe teach some classes at a Bible College or something like that.  I think my allergies will be better there. I think I’ll let the WHOLE THING go and just start over.”

Internally, I’m flabbergasted.  Externally, I’m as silent as I have been for the entire conversation.  My mother again abruptly rips into my sister.

Mom: “Your sister has to move out of her apartment by Feb 28, I’ve already given notice there.  She hasn’t called to talk about it.  She has said nothing about where she’s going or what she’s going to do. And I’m planning on giving her that apt down there.  But she just hasn’t called to say anything about it.  And the offices will be cleared out, so she will have no reason to be down there in {the small town my mother forced them to relocate to when she was running away from drama a couple of years back}. Hopefully I can get something out of all this and move to Georgia. Hopefully I have a few thousand dollars left to float me until social service starts in March. I may just become a consultant for Mary and get a few dollars for helping her with her nursing business. I could be the RN or be the consultant whatever she needed, do some assessments for her or whatever. (under her breath) No more responsibilities. I’m definitely going down there soon to look around and see if I’d like it. I’ll send for my furniture later. So I’m getting ready to leave, yup. I’m getting ready to give up the business. I just couldn’t find anybody to try to take over the business. I thought about putting everything in your brother’s name {the younger of the two who has seizures and the girlfriend with many children}, but…

(she became incoherent here, I could not understand what she was trying to say here; my guess is because she was spouting bullcrap and could think of no logical reason why she could put the businesses and real estate in the name of someone who was on disability and other government assistance programs.)


She then went on about my father and how at some point he said he would take over the church building and the apartments associated with it, but she decided against this because “things were not working out when it came to him and me. And I’m ready to have a separation. It’s stress when I’m with him.  But down in GA, it turns out, I’m finding out that I know more and more people there.  Mary heard about my mother, so she gets the news. And if something happens to me, she can let somebody here know. Mary sent me a lot of pictures of her house inside and out.  So I think I’m going down in March.  My friend, whose friend has a condominium there, is driving me there next month. Your sister says she’s not coming back here to live so...  I guess it’s always bad news when you call me, huh.”

Me: “Not all bad, I guess.  Looks like you’re going to settle your tax stuff and that should make you feel good in the long run.”

Mom: (with a slight acknowledgement towards my comment, a high pitched “Hmmm”, I believe), I tried to ask your sister to help me help her.  Like coming to help me pack, like helping me with the realtor, like helping me pay bills, and such. But she won’t answer the phone. She came to town to get her W-2 paperwork, but that’s it. She hasn’t said what she’s going to do or where she’s going to live. Your father wants to move everybody into a four-bedroom apartment in {an adjacent county} for $1000 a month.  They can all contribute to rent and {my niece} can stay in the school she just came to. And your brother is still running around with ‘that girl’ even with the FOR SALE sign in the front yard…”

(An abrupt update on my brother who continues to embarrass my mother with his girlfriend, The Mother of Many.) The 18-year old daughter of my brother’s girlfriend showed up suddenly and unexpectedly to live in the cramped apartment they call home several weeks ago.  Surprise, surprise, no one saw this coming but somehow a baby was born.  So there are now 9 children in the one bedroom apartment, “drinking and fighting,” as mother puts it.  My brother’s goes to his own home, (well, it won’t be his own home for long if it sells) at night because he can’t take it anymore.  His girlfriend harasses him when she’s drunk cussing and screaming, per my mother.  Recently, she had a “little money” from somewhere and in a drunken plea, she explained to my mother that she was going to give her “few dollars” so her kids could have somewhere to stay.

My mother: “I’ll give her a few days, but then, I’m calling the Health Dept. and let them do whatever they decide to do, condemn the house or whatever… (under her breath) no more responsibilities.


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #36 on: June 23, 2009, 09:45:40 PM »
Sister “Sucks”

“Ann,” my oldest brother’s new lady friend, “sucks,” per my sister. It’s because she provided commentary on a statement my sister made about jeans my sister’s 11 year-old daughter was thinking of wearing. “Don’t hate…” said Ann jokingly implying that tight jeans are great and that her own frequent wearing of them should be celebrated not discouraged.

The younger of our older brothers also“sucks” because he’s considering going to {his girlfriend’s new town} to live with her leaving behind his own three children. “He seems to have a lot of ‘pent up anger’” according my sister. He had an altercation with one of our male cousins who, when he said something disrespectful about brother’s girlfriend. Brother put cousin in a chokehold and pressed a broken beer bottle up to his neck. Brother’s pretty angry.

Oh, and younger-of-the-two-brothers’ girlfriend “sucks,” because “she’s a drunk…”

I “suck” because I’m our parents’ ‘gold standard’ child. (my sister’s words).

My sister’s sorority “sucks” because they are upset and disappointed with her. They think maybe she’s not ‘mentally stable.’ (their words).

My sister’s daughter, the 11 year old, “sucks” because she’s “crazy”

Me: “What do you mean crazy?”
Her: “I mean the stuff she thinks of.  It’s crazy…”

I ask no questions. Scared to, actually. Silence. And then we get to meat of the matter with my sister…

She even speaks with a little pride about her current predicament.

“I’m having a baby…”

She’s pregnant and unsure of who the baby’s father is.  Ex #1, her daughter’s father, is a convict. He is not suspected to be a potential father, however, he has suggested, in no delicate manner, an abortion or a visit to see him in the Regional Correctional Facility where he would stomp the baby out of her belly in person.  He’s not pleased to say the least.

She speaks with contempt about this Ex’s, son’s mother, with whom she had had a verbal conflict recently. They were arguing over visitation between their children who are half siblings. There was “discussion” on their being allowed to have a relationship with one another in the future. This “discussion” led to a heated debate with yelling and cussing.  The woman died several days later of a heart attack at the age of 37.  It was said that she had been a smoker and was experiencing a good deal of stress around the time she died. My sister told me this without one intonation of change in her voice. She went on…

Ex #2, possible unborn baby’s father no.1 is soon to be an ex-husband, or so my sister hopes. Yes, he is a married man, clueless about possible father no. 1 and who brings her ice cream, his favorite flavor, not hers, to her apartment on occasion.  He has no real intentions of leaving his wife, according to my sister, but he’s not too terribly upset about the prospect of a baby.

Ex. # 3, possible unborn baby’s father no. 2, is an ex-convict… And did I mention that he is possibly our second cousin? DNA tests have not been performed to confirm or deny whether or not this 26- year old man, who has always believed that our 48-year old first cousin was his father, is indeed related. Ex #2’s current girlfriend just gave birth to their three month old child, and Ex #2 also believes my sister should have an abortion.

That “sucks.”

« Last Edit: June 23, 2009, 10:00:08 PM by jordanspeeps »


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #37 on: June 23, 2009, 09:47:08 PM »
Big Brother Working the Steps

Life is good for my oldest brother. He is having visits and reconciling with his sons (per the Steps)

Even some of his ex wives and girlfriends are flirting with him per my sister.

But his heart belongs to his new love, Ann, also an addict-in-recovery who has a heart-of-gold and a temper that could bring a house down. He loves and fears her at the same time.

My brother is clean, sober, healthcare-seeking, exercising, dieting, having dental work done, etc.

Because of the nature of his crimes, not barrier crimes, his recovery/treatment agency was able to help him restore his caregiver certificate and license with the State Board of Nursing. They’ve lined him up with a possible job in rehab therapy when…

My mom: “… but he decided to start off working with me. That answers an awesome prayer for me.  ‘You can do coordination work for the business.’ I called the landlord back and told them that we would stay longer and not end our lease as I had told him the month before.  I think I’m going to try to hold on to your sister’s part of the business a little longer and let your brother work along with her to help save it and bring it back… Besides, she isn’t doing anything to help save it, anyway.  She doesn’t communicate well with people the way he does.  He can help by giving me some breathing time and taking away some of the stress.  Maybe I can get something out of this.”

Me: “Mom there are no guarantees.  I think that he should consider the other job as well.  It will help give him an appreciation and a work ethic.  I also consider the potential for resentment on sis’s behalf for having her brother come in and potentially take charge of a situation she was once responsible for. Something that was promised to her to do with as she wished. “

Mom: “well the only reason I would want to hang on is because I’ve got this plan.  I want to get whatever I can from this business.  I’m hustling with this.  I cannot pay the rent anymore.  I need them to work to pay the bills.  If your sister really wanted to make money and be off unemployment, she would get off of it and get paid for what she does.  Bottom line: when I get the taxes squared away, I’m not going to worry about the business anymore.”

« Last Edit: June 23, 2009, 10:00:37 PM by jordanspeeps »


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #38 on: June 23, 2009, 09:48:19 PM »

My mother’s financial fallout has necessitated in each of her “children” a complete review of their current living status and a complete overhaul, particularly in those who are still extremely dependent on mother for daily living.  The younger of the two brother’s, D, is living in one of my mother’s rental properties (one that currently has a large FOR SALE sign in front of it). And he is the de facto live-in caregiver for our great aunt with Alzhiemer’s, who along with my father who occasionally stays the night, all live in this home and need to find alternate living arrangements once the house is sold.  Besides the incredible stress of caring for an 87 year old woman who curses like a sailor, smears feces on the wall to let you know her incontinence brief is soiled, and wanders whenever given the opportunity, my brother is under great pressure to move in with his girlfriend, who after being forced out by my mother, recently moved to a city an hour away to her own mother’s hometown.  

My brother’s dilemma is that he does not wish to be so far from his own children, however he realizes that now is the time for him to make a decision about his living arrangements.  His girlfriend has, in no subtle fashion, put a significant amount of pressure on him to come and have a life with her and her children.  Several of the older teenagers have remained behind, homeless, near where Brother lives.  They occasionally come to him for a little help with money or a place to take a bath, or help with court appearances, etc.  In a sense, he is already doing what his girlfriend is begging him to do, help her care for her children, however, she wants him there with her to help with the youngest of the children while she attempts to go to classes in hopes of getting a job as a health caregiver. Brother doesn’t appreciate his girlfriend’s tone of voice when she requests his presence.  She’s been using guilt trips and verbal assaults to his manhood in order to spur him into action. He mentions that she likes the drink. That her older kid’s have disclosed to him that they don’t respect her.  All of her teenagers stayed behind and didn’t move to the new town because they didn’t want to just up and leave without any certainty as to what type of life they would have. They would rather stay where they have relationships and be homeless than to trust their mother to provide for them.  This adds to my brother’s dilemma.

In an earlier conversation with my mother, she spoke of brother being under pressure by his girlfriend to move away.

My brother’s language sounds like: “ I’m tired… It’s a headache…Mom expects… girlfriend expects… baby mother expects… I feel pulled in many directions... I feel trapped…I want to be driving again... I need parents help to get started…I wanna do what’s right, but I’m like what’s for me... It’s like I can’t have a life b/c I have 3 babies.

He talked about needing to get his car out of the dusty garage, having an inspection, getting the registration, taxes, and insurance and that it would cost $300.00 to do that. It was $90/month for the cell phone and the rest of his monthly income is “change” he uses to buy soap and “help” his girlfriend. “All my little money is gone by the 15th,” he opined.

About Aunt E., the live-in maternal great-aunt with Alzheimer’s, our Nmom says to my brother, “This is an unfortunate family tragedy…”

“But I’m the only one who cares for her!”  says brother,  “Dad lives with us but he won’t help out with Aunt E nor will he help me get my transportation back in order because he’s too busy “helping”  Mom with all her “stuff,”
Just then, Mary, Aunt E’s daughter breaks through at this point in the conversation. According to my brother, Mary has just been diagnosed with a disease that will probably take her life.  She was calling (to everyone’s surprise) to just “check in: on her mother, something she hadn’t done in months, maybe never.  My brother told her “Call back later, I’ll get her to the phone…” and returned to me on the waiting phone line.

He continues, “Aunt E says, ‘F*#k You’ when you say Good Morning to her. Why do I have to take care of her if I’m going to go through all this? And yeah, she’s my Great Aunt but this is beyond that!   Mom doesn’t want her to go to a nursing home, she says it ‘would be like putting one foot in the grave. nI couldn’t take it anymore; I needed a break.  So I went to visit my girlfriend in her new place for a few days.   While I was gone, apparently there were issues with Aunt E’s care.”

The agency aide took Aunt E home with her when no one, namely, my father, came to relieve her once her shift was completed.  No big surprise, Aunt E began to wander in this strange town 50 miles from her own hometown.  She wandered near a large off-the-road ditch and was found by the police who brought her home to my mother, her primary caregiver on record, and aide agency owner responsible for the aide’s behavior, more’s the pity.

My brother: “So when this stuff happened. I didn’t come home right away. They called me while I’m visiting my girlfriend to come home to care for Aunt E immediately. I didn’t come straightaway.  So mom’s pissed.  Dad’s pissed. I’m pissed because they expect me to take such good care of her.  But she’s terribly foul-mouthed and bitingly mean at times. It irritates me and I just can’t stand it. Some days I can but, when I am home, Dad leaves the house.  If I came home, he would be gone right away, and I would have her 24/7.  She knocks on my door late at night. And we have to bolt the doors and stack things in front of them to keep her inside the house. I won’t be miserable like this. [His baby’s mother] keeps getting on my nerves.  I’m frustrated and unhappy with myself.  I gotta go ahead and do what it is I’m gonna do.  I’m going to file paperwork with social services, get a one bedroom of my own.  Get my car fixed.  I’m tired I want to live my life.  I’m in the house, trapped because I’m being responsible, taking care of our Alzheimer’s aunt, and not driving because of my seizures. In the meantime, all my “car stuff” expired. I’m stuck. “

“She (his children’s mother) told me I’m an unfit father. She’s getting money from my check.  I’m getting my kids when I can. The reason I’m not getting my kids the way I’m supposed to be is because I’m not driving. I was having seizures back-to-back and I was not going to risk my kids’ and my own life. I tried to explain this to her and she said I was selfish.  ‘K [his twin son] is slow or something,’ his children’s mother keeps saying.  

Brother: “He’s four and not potty trained.  He’s still in pull-ups.  He needs to stop wearing pull-ups in the house.  Take him to the toilet every few hours!  I did it 2 weeks ago and he went potty into the toilet for me. I can’t afford pull-ups!  I used the bathroom and he stood there and peed, he peed all over the place and I needed to wipe everything down afterward but he did it. And I didn’t put pull ups on him all weekend.”  My brother is tired from his rant… He abruptly changes the subject to something our mother said to him during their heated conversation about him being away when Aunt E nearly fell in the ditch.

“I see that you can go all the way down to see {his girlfriend} but you can’t come over a few miles to visit with me once in a while.”  

Brother: “Who am I going to get to give me a ride over to your house? Out of respect I haven’t been asking [cousins, godforsaken, ungrateful, and selfish-per mother] because I know you don’t even like to have them over to your house…”

To me, he continues ”I’m the last one to beg her for money out of all of mom’s children.  And that’s how it is.  I don’t go to her for help unless I really, really need it, so I don’t know why she won’t help me get my car paperwork taken care of. “

[A staccato break in the ambient sounds indicate another party on the other line of the telephone]. “This is {my brother’s children’s mother} calling now!  She wants to know if I’m going to get the kids tomorrow. “ He is beginning to sound overwhelmed. He continues,  “I’ve got to come home tomorrow. And I’ve got to calm mom down.

Me: Calm Mom down?

Him: “Because the home aide cannot be the caregiver anymore now due to the negligence investigation… Now Mom needs me to come home to care for Aunt E until she gets a new aide started in the home. Mom’s upset because I wouldn’t come back right away even though they offered to come and pick me up from my girlfriend’s house.  It’s my duty to be there because I get to live in the house that my mother pays for.”

Me: “Sounds like you are at a crossroads.”

Him: “Yeah, I’m at a crossroads and it’s mostly concerning Mom.  People call me a Mama’s boy but there are certain things she expects of me.  And now, I’m doing things she didn’t expect me to do. I’m not trying to be held down…” My brother’s mind is clearly on multiple but similar factors as, without warning, he meanders into the topic of his children and their mother. “…and I love “my three” up there in {where his children live}. And I think I threatened the children’s mother.  It was completely out of my character.  I became really angry when she said she would not allow me to see the children if I moved away… I told her if she ever said anything like that again, I would come to {where she and his children live} and do something to her… I didn’t say what I would do but I was so angry I think she got the picture.

Me: You can’t do that…

Him: I know.  I wasn’t myself. I’m not myself.  (This violence towards women theme would rear its ugly head again)

My brother ended our conversation telling me about a disturbing dream he had about the Prince from Africa. My brother and the Prince were in a room.  There were 3 or 4 guys in the room. Dr. Prince shunned my brother and asked one of the other men for a cigarette.  Dr. Prince started smoking and brother woke up suddenly.

Later that month:

Brother called with tightness in his voice, distraught-sounding with rubber-band tension in his vocal cords.  He was crying a low growling cry intense and attention grabbing. “Brother!” I was worried, “what’s wrong, are you okay?”  He could not articulate what was wrong particularly, he said in a jumble, “I need help, sister.  You got a room for me?  I know I can go to God… I need therapy.  I need some anger control classes… There are times when I think I may be violent…”

I ask: towards whom?

Brother: “Aunt E.  It’s her monthly income that’s covering the mortgage in our house.  But she says things… And I’m sick, too and I have to have my anti-seizure meds.  And I have the sleep apnea so I don’t get a good night’s sleep even with my CPAP machine.  So you have two people with diagnoses… living in that house.  Somebody’s gonna lose… Some or both of us have impulse control problems. It’s crazy”

Me: “Well, where’s Dad?

Brother: “He’s gone constantly and he refuses to help me out by taking me to the bank  or DMV or the social security office so that I can follow up on the child support for the children.  I can’t even get him to take me to get some new underwear.  He’s always gone and when he’s there he doesn’t see all the changes Aunt E goes through in a typical day.”  

She has transient moments of clarity where it’s hard to know if she’s in the present or not, but she certainly seems alert and oriented to herself and her surroundings.  

“I can’t tell if she’s playing or going in and out of her right mind.  She’s laughing one minute and then nasty, disrespectful the next. I feel she’s laughing at me and ridiculing me.”

Me: “You feel you are the one bearing the brunt of her abuse?”
Brother: “Dad gets in his car and he leaves all day long.  If I had my car I would leave her all day long, too…” This thought leads him to the reason he called crying.  “We just had a family me about Aunt E; about what we are going to do with her.  I told them that I needed to find another place.  I also told Mom I thought that I was going to lay my hands on Aunt E. and land up in jail on an impulsive reaction.”

Me: “You told her that?”

Brother: “The other day, I called Dad and I said, ‘If you don’t come here right now and get me, I’m going to jail.  I need to go.  I need to pack my bags.  You need to come home, now.”

Me: (quietly crying with muted phone where brother cannot hear me. I have to think later about why I am crying at this place in the conversation. I collect myself as he continues.)

Brother: “I went up to Grandma’s house and took a nap on the floor.  I get so now I don’t care where I lay my head.  I don’t care if they kick me out of my house.  I don’t want to hurt Aunt E.  And I ‘m so disgusted with Dad!  He needs to stop trying to minister with everyone when you got chaos in your home, your own bed.  

Me: “What do you mean?”

Brother: “He needs to clean out his own closet, before he tried to solve other people’s problems. Why you gonna leave your house on fire running to someone else’s house to mind their business.:

Me: (quietly laughing with muted phone where brother cannot hear me. I get what he’s saying but I’m also loving how he’s butchering these clichés.”

Brother: “He’s trying to look good.  To show off.”

Me: “For whom?”

Him: “I don’t know but it’s somebody.  But when I try to share stuff and explain things he doesn’t try to understand.  I say I cannot stay with Aunt E because I cannot take it, physically and mentally, the nagging, harassment, yelling, screaming, cursing, we gone argue and fight and the police will be involved.  So I’m having a conversation with myself.  David, they don’t care about you.  I have no key to my house.  They changed the locks when I went out of town the last time. When a man doesn’t have a key to the house he doesn’t live there, right sister?”

Me: “ I suppose so…”

Brother: “And I got a woman, begging to me to come to [her new city] and start a life with her.  And I don’t want to do it.  And I know it’s not right…”

Me: “What’s not right?”

Him: “It’s something spiritual and there’s something about her personality I cannot take.  She’s been hurt so much that she treats me like the old men in her life.  She talks to me really badly. She’s automatically disrespectful.  I ask her ‘does she know me?’ If she knew me she would know I like to be respected as an individual.  I liked to be talked to a certain way and I hate to be talked to the way she comes off at me sometimes.  If you want respect, you give it.  You can’t just say whatever’s on your mind.  You gotta hold your tongue.  Think before you speak. ‘You have to be careful,’ I tell her.  If I don’t take her anywhere, she cries that I don’t take her anywhere.  The reason is that she doesn’t know how to hold her tongue and talk like a lady. She’s quick to go off talking about an individual’s sex life.  Someone else’s sex life...” My brother sounds disgusted. “I’ll just have asked a simple question about the waitress. “
“She wants me to marry her but I’m not ready for that.  I wanted to get myself straight spiritually and financially.  She’s going to school and her kids are acting up.  Things happen for a reason.  If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.  I’ve got my own three children I’m responsible for.  I’ve also got to take care of myself, physically and mentally, so I can be here to care for the children.”

I finished this conversation promising to come by and visit my brother on the next week to see what I could do to help him secure a new place…  He thanked me profusely and said he would line up a few appointments for the next Tuesday.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2009, 10:00:59 PM by jordanspeeps »


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #39 on: August 12, 2009, 07:34:38 PM »
Mom of late

Most of this entry is transcribed verbatim from shorthand taken during telephone conversations with my NMom.  I find it easier to to record and relay our conversations in this way; it both, blocks emotional damage (by taking dictation dissociatively ) and more accurately, re-produces the sentiments (albeit absolutely insane at times), of our conversations.

The telephone conversation began with Jordan (my little one, now 9) and my mother talking (this is rare). She (J) played the violin aloud and my mother gushed audibly. She made J promise to come for the summer at some point and stay overnight for a visit.  Mother also promised to take to Jordan to the mall to buy things just as soon as she “got her money together.”

Then to me: “Hey, have you heard of the new incentive programs from Obama?  [My sister] heard that some girls in her neighborhood were going back to school on these incentive programs?  Have you heard about that?”  To this I truthfully state that I’m not sure how the new single parent education programs work. I assume she’s asking this for my sister’s benefit.  I quietly wait to see where she’s going with this line of questioning. Then…

Mom: “How’s work going?”

Me: “I’m about ready to move on,..” I hear myself say. I continue, “I’m getting to a place where I’m feeling some physical burnout and it’s time for either a break or a change of environment…”  I hear the little voice in my head, you know, intuition, warning me, “Be easy there, Tiffany…” I shut up quickly before I give away any more.

Mom: (all too eager to pick up where I leave off), “I can relate. I starting thinking like that after nursing for many years. That’s when I decided to get my Nurse Practitioner’s degree and then go into business for myself.  I want to see you do more, Tiffany, maybe get your Master’s in Nursing, or maybe something in writing, or maybe something with teaching.”  The voice inside is saying, ‘she’s reaching… she doesn’t know you are in a PhD program already, she’s going on the hodgepodge of data she’s serruptitiously and passively heard over the past few years.’  I tell myself, ‘She’s your mom, she knows you well enough to be able to guess your next move…don’t give up the goods, too soon. She’ll use your good news to manipulate you in some way.’ I throw out a bone.

Me: “I got a teaching award at work for my work with some nursing students in [local community college] and [university] and for work on the unit education council.”

Her: “Oh, really, they’re hiring RNs at [local community college]?”then quickly, “That’s great, Tiffany!  So you can teach, huh?”

Me: “Well,…”

Her: “I was just hoping you could do something that used your writing, maybe a master’s in writing, of course you should go to school somewhere close so you don’t have to move all the way to [city, in which my PhD program’s campus resides].

Does this witch have a crystal ball, I wonder?

Doesn’t [local Medical College and Nursing School] have a Master’s program?  I would like to see you doing something with writing.  You have that way with words.  It’s really a gift.  You are just a natural.  Your command of words is a gift….

ALARM BELLS ring in my head!!!   ALERT ALERT ALERT: my brain is telling me.  From what I know about my mother: A gushing of compliments normally precedes a significantly selfish and narcissistic act on her part.  What is it this time? Will I be verbally reprimanded, will my self-esteem be attacked, maybe my character or morals, maybe she’s got a grand manipulative scheme up her sleeves and needs my assistance to accomplish her controlling goals, maybe she’s setting me up for something… whatever the case, her words of praise are coming off like fingernails scraping across a chalkboard…  I cut off the flattery as she is just starting to go on about how my love for the sciences and for studying and reading is another reason why…

“Yeah, mom, I guess I’ll decide what I’m going to do next at some point this summer…”

Her: “I can see that once you make a decision, you’ll do well.  You’ll do well.  You’ll probably become a workaholic. (nervous laugh) and with slight disappointment almost, she says,  “Yeah, man I really see you coming up great.”

Me: “What do you mean when you say work-a-holic?”

Her: “I can see you doing more than you need to do when you do things and really getting into it.  Like in school you worked day and night trying to make it personal…”

I am startled to hear her say this as she NEVER seemed to notice and definitely NEVER mentioned even noticing before today.  She’s working a number over on on me because my feelings are bubbling up and I’m confused and completely vulnerable and without emotional armor. She’s touching on some of the core reason’s I overachieve and never feel satisfied in my accomplishments.  I believe she’s always known this and I get angry thinking, ‘How dare she do this, now?”

Her: “Sorry I’m rambling, It’s just that you are so intelligent and I can relate to you and it’s different.  You’re deep.”

I want to barf, but I change the subject and talk about my work and the cause for emotional burnout on the oncology unit and the way we nurses relate to one another and the multitude of complications with cancer, and the unexpected deaths and the blessed privilege we nurses have to be in such a sacred space in another human’s life. I go off on a wistful departure.  Eventually, she interjects.

Her: “I’m relating now to my own mother’s death from the perspective of a daughter and  it took a month for me to change from seeing death from my mother’s perspective. It was very rough for me… I was an oncology nurse, too and it sounds like I did a lot of what you did.  Of course, I was a Nurse Practitioner in a Clinic, so I wasn’t shoveling poop like you, I was more or less, doing assessments and giving chemotherapy. But I can relate to going into something that gives you satisfaction.  Go ahead and live because life is not promised.  You have to work in what pleases you.  Your sister was talking about having more of an appreciation for parenting now that she’s expecting twins…”

(the silence here is to pause for what I call ‘shock-check:’ for Mom to see if my jaw is dropped open or otherwise ajar). My mouth remains closed, this time, as I happened to have heard this piece of gossip about the twins in an earlier conversation with my sister.

Mom:  “Your sister is trying to find herself and is looking at her past and planning for her future.  She’s beginning to think that some of the parenting decisions I made were because that was the best way to do it; I was doing what was best for the family.  In between those times, you run into moments of frustration.  I would get up and make a move that was not always the right move.  It was out of anxiety. Like when I thought the IRS was coming to padlock everything, I moved all the furniture out of the house into storage so they wouldn’t take everything in the house.”

“But, now, I’ve moved on to another phase.  I’m going to clean up all my old furniture and sell it and let it go and bring my nice furniture back into the house.  I’ve got a really nice cherry dinette set that I pulled out, I’m thinking of putting in the big Yard Sale they have here where I live.  And I’ve been lugging this Queen Anne set around… Your oldest brother’s girlfriend has taken over living in the apartment where your younger brother’s girlfriend lived before she moved to another city.”

“[Oldest brother’s new girl, Ann] was living with her own mother and they had an issue, I’m not going to say what she said the issue is, but…” and she pauses…

Woooo, I think.  Why’d she bother to say that? Am I supposed to prod her to tell me anyway?  I don’t. But I do make a mental note for later.  Either “the issue” is something huge or something minor that she’s making seem huge as to establish the semblance of a special or unique relationship between the two of them. Either way, I don’t prod. It would make me look like I made her tell me some awful gossip about my brother’s lady. Mom continues.

Mom: “But because of the ‘issue’ with her mother, she asked me if she could rent the house under short notice and without a down payment.  So I let her have it.  She put in new windows, new doors, new carpets and painted in there.  All on her own!  It looks great! She put tile on the kitchen floor and it is really something.  Your brother is working and still living with me.  They’ve got a handyman whose helping out with the repairs at no extra cost to me.”

As an aside she noted that this handyman looks like he still “messes with a little dope” but quickly adds, “it’s working out well. I don’t care what he’s doing, really. [Oldest brother] is going to be staying with me and he’s helping me now, but I know he’s going to be there with her a lot or at least until they are married.  They’re going to start paying rent at some point and Ann said she wouldn’t mind having the cherry set, so I’m going to give it to her.”

Silence. She pauses to give me time to protest the giving of such furniture to a newcomer.  I don’t have a houseful of furniture, but I do remain silent.

Then Mom goes, systematically, into the other events of her life to include her own home repairs, her return to the church of my childhood, her young adulthood. She has a lot of old, unresolved drama there. She declares that she has decided to, instead of trying to be a clergy-member per se, she was going to be called Teacher.  She would hold seminars and workshops on various subjects and would do this via online, live group, and local church programs.  Her plan was to remain in her home, complete an application to get a “reduced house note, ”and to take her home off the market.  Besides, she told the realtor she would give her 90 days and it’s been 90 days.  Not one single person looked at the house. (Big surprise, given the market).

Mom announced that my sister would be coming back up from her remote city to live closer to my mother.  “She’s lonely,” declares my mother. “She’s excited about the last months of the pregnancy with twins and she expecting that they’ll be premature. So I’m going to get her a 3 bedroom rental or apt so that my grand-daughter can have some privacy and the twins can be together, and I can stay overnight with her when she needs me to.”

Mother goes on to say that the children and my sister could not live with her in her home because she didn’t have the immediate funds needed to “fix up” the backyard with a fence around the man-made pond.  She figured the same for Aunt E. whose living arrangement status is also in question and who also wanders constantly. And here is where she quickly mentions, “We are having a problem with your brother and the Aunt E situation.” She pauses for a moment and a convoluted story begins to evolve. It begins this way…

Mom: “Your Aunt E, (84 years old), she gets up and down the steps better than me, and I am not able to take care of her, I need pain medication just to climb the stairs. (Mom’s 64).  So I can’t take care of her even with nursing aides coming in all day 8am-8pm. Even if I could hire someone else to sit with her…  But when you sit and think about it Aunt E can actually bring resources IN to the household…unfortunately no one wants to be in the household with her.”

“Your brother doesn’t want to be responsible for taking care of her.  And he’s kind of taking it out on her. He’s not so much upset at her. It’s his other issues, but she causes him to go over the edge with his anger and aggression.  And as for Aunt E, she’s very fond of your brother, but she’s forgetful.  She’s not good with new people, she knows [my 21 year old female first cousin] and [a 23 year old female friend of the family].  She gets along with them.  They are both working a 9-hour day, 7 days a week (as aides/sitters for Aunt E and employees of my mother’s nurse’s aide agency).  I can also get additional billable care-giving hours through my agency for weekend respite care.”

“But your brother had a ‘fit’ the other day and went off on your father and your father had to go over and sit with Aunt E.  I believe your brother was agitated because he was hungry and no one had brought him anything to eat for a while.  He’s hungry… I asked him to come over to my house to vacuum, maybe scrub my shower, pick up when I drop things in my closet and can’t reach, get my clothes for me.  I told him I would pay him what I pay [indigent cousin who cleans house very well for a small fee] he can have some extra money to have something to eat, maybe get some cable. Otherwise, your oldest brother and Ann keep the rest of my house clean. But anyway, [younger brother] can come and visit me on Wednesday evenings because that’s the day I was planning on meditating.  He and I could talk a little bit and catch up when he visits.”

“So we talked about him getting paid to come and help me, I also gave him $100 for keeping an eye on Aunt E. a few times recently when his aides didn’t show up.  He came by to clean the first day, but I told him that he would have to come back the next day to really earn the money I was paying him.  Do you know what he did what his money? Tiffany?  He paid [the 21 year old female first cousin] to take him down to see his girlfriend where he stayed for a few nights.  I figured, OK, he didn’t tell me.  I called him, he didn’t say where he was.  That’s his choice.  When he came back he had no money, no food stamps, he didn’t tell anybody.  And there was no food for Aunt E. because your brother ate all of the rest of her food, I suppose.”

“If we keep Aunt E., a significant amount of her income can go back into the house, you see.  I’ve been trying to tell your brother that income from billing care hours for her and income from her monthly check can help make his living a lot more comfortable if he just listened to me. He can do some of the respite hours and between him and his father they can split a shift…  So, anyway, I called a meeting… How do we want to handle the Aunt E. situation?   

Me: “What do you mean the Aunt E. situation?”

Mom: “I can sit with her when your brother cannot and we will use the billable agency hours.  I can use the profit from billing the hours to complete repairs on her home and have someone there with her at all times.  When I said that to [brother], he just ran out upset and… He just burst out with all of his ‘issues.’”  There is another abrupt change of subject at this point in the conversation. 

Mom: “Your Aunt E. dresses herself, feeds herself and goes into the bathroom by herself.  She wets her incontinence briefs but she pulls it off and puts in the trash, (she gives a small chuckle here).  She goes to the bathroom on a bedside commode and the ‘girl’ comes and bathes her, er’ I mean, comes and assists her with washing up…the real problem with Aunt E. is that she has a slight blood pressure issue and of course, her memory…one of the ‘girls” [she means the 21-year old cousin/niece she hired through the agency to be one of the healthcare providers for Aunt E.] claims E. scratched her.  ‘What do mean scratched you, she ‘s not combative?’ The ‘girl’ said Aunt E needed a bath and that she was trying to get her to take a bath, but you mustn’t pull on her and yank her and agitate her.  Sometimes the ‘girls’ do it too much and she cusses at them…”

Mom: “But today, I ‘m sitting with her and when she just wants some water, she gets up.  She’s on a single level home, I just let her walk.  She takes her time and holds onto things.  Like last night I watched her for 3-4 hours… but then your brother came in and his need to watch the basketball playoffs with the TV playing loudly, the sound of the ballgame sounded like the city sounds of Baltimore to Aunt E., who became extremely agitated.  But in a moment of clarity, she (Aunt E) asked me (Mother) ‘Who’s paying the rent?’ to which I told her ‘I’m paying the rent out of your money.’ She seemed relieved and thanked me for being her Power of Attorney and making it so she didn’t have to worry about her bills…And this is what I’m trying to teach the ‘girls,’ that if Aunt E. keeps asking the same question over again to keep saying re-assuring things and she’ll come around.  Aunt E. has a pleasant laugh and she’s not combative or mean.”

Uncomfortable but necessary silence on my part… That was a particularly long diatribe particularly chock-full of innuendo and inflammatory language.

 After realizing I’m not going to bail her out with a question or interesting statement Mom:  “…but I see why Aunt E. would get on your brother’s nerves.  Last week I let them bring her over here during the evening while your brother went over grandma’s house [now inhabited by about seven squatting family members] to watch the playoff games while lying on their filthy floor. During the family meeting, [Oldest brother] said he would take his turn watching Aunt E.  Today and tomorrow, I have her and I am going to pay [friend-of-the-family-gossipmonger and housekeeper extraordinaire] to watch her for me.”

Mom: “Everybody’s on their own wavelength right now, and even I’m getting on people’s nerves…


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #40 on: November 24, 2009, 12:48:14 AM »
Just Perfect…

Via telephone conversations with Nmom, (they happen every one or two weeks now, particularly when I’m’ on the hour-long drive to the university campus where I’m pursuing my graduate degree), she and I have been communicating.

She’s particularly “proud” of my academic accomplishment, “more than proud,” she says she told a minister from the church.  “It’s the feeling that you’re children are doing MORE than you ever could.”  She has more than once intimated that “yours is the degree I SHOULD have gotten not the PhD in Theology."  She’s trying to convince me that I have achieved more than she ever did because of her limitations and lack of access that I now have. I am amused by this comment, given my many challenges, particularly those challenges crafted by her. I cannot in good faith respond to her flattery with anything other than contempt.

…I suppose this has something to do with why I still stay in touch with her when I had every reason to have completely cut her off a long time ago. 

What is it with me? Why can’t I just leave her alone.  Why do I feel it necessary to weigh in on my life with her?

In a conversation with her about how my school is going, we began a conversation about this health care concept I’m developing.   She made me promise to call her often to share with her what I was learning and what my experiences were like and she seemed honestly intrigued by the types of projects on which I was working.  I began to break down the concept in layman’s terms and as I did, she, like the textbook N she is, likened the concept to her own health and began to  EXPLAIN to me how my concept could be viewed with her as the case study.  Part of me appreciated her willingness to understand where I was going with the idea, but another strong part of me said, “Uh, oh, she’s too into this.”

Anyway, we finished the conversation in the typical way of late: I hurried, off the phone while trying to rush to catch the parking lot shuttle to campus.

Two days later, (another Uh, oh), she calls, I ignore the call.  Two days after that, she calls again.  I ignore the call, but I check the voicemail.  She says, “Please call, I have to tell you something.”  It takes two additional days to brace myself, and I return the call during the typical time on my way to campus.

She is excited.  She speaks of a conversation between herself and my childhood pastor, (she recently returned to the aforementioned cult-like church where her and my dad neglected, I mean, raised us four children). I vowed never to return to that church when I went away to college at 18. This, before me, was never done.  Women, if they went to college, went to the one university in the hometown, where they often “backslid” into sin and somehow ex-communicated themselves based upon living a “loose lifestyle” which generally consisted of wearing jeans, makeup, and pierced earrings.  Boyfriends and babies of naturally followed. What whores!

My vow never to return to the scene of the crime was called into question several times, particularly by my father who insisted that I come back on various occasions when he would be a main speaker/preacher during a church event.  I would ask him if there was any other way for me to appease him as I really never wanted to ever go back to that place.  He would say, ‘you just need to get over that period of your life,’ “That period” he’s referring to consisted of sexual abuse, pre-teen pregnancy, constant undermining, evil hurtful gossip and backstabbing, and persecution for being different, all before I was 17.

After a decade of declining my Dad’s invitations, my mother, who recently rejoined the membership, because, per her, she’s “getting old and is in need of somewhere to settle down”

The important thing she had to tell me: My childhood, her now-pastor, would like to offer me open forum to come and discuss my health care platform with the people of the church in some kind of gathering.  “You can pick the date. He’ll probably let you do it during a [regional] meeting!”

She’s clearly impressed by the pastor’s carte blanche invitation and could never see how this, the new potential source of her narcissistic supply, would be anything other than the bees knees to me.

She excitedly says, “Well, you think about it and maybe we’ll plan for something in December when you’re on break.  I could help you enroll people in your study, and you could use me as your case study…”

Perfect. Just Perfect.


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #41 on: January 11, 2010, 10:49:22 AM »
Broken Promises

NMom: Mood: Hopeful, happy, excited, post-depression

She’s been unable to sell the house, however, the Internal Revenue Service has ‘slowed down’ on sending the collection and lien notices, and since there are no lookers for the house despite two whole months of being on the market, Mom’s seeing this as a sign that God may mean for her to keep the house and take it off the market. And maybe the IRS will lay off.

NSister is pregnant and needs to move back to house with mother but enjoys her independence and is not looking forward to moving back.  She does send her daughter to mother’s house occasionally to help her with chores and be another presence in the house so Mom isn’t all alone, particularly when oldest live-in brother is spending quality time with his GF or at his AA meetings. Anyway, Sister would rather live in the house in which younger brother lives, an older family home. Dad stood in a very long line to apply for Section 8 subsidy housing for sister, where he was told, the applicant needs to be here in person, herself,  and that Dad could not come in and sign her up for an apartment. So in missing that deadline, she missed her opportunities for independent housing and will be living with  NMom, something Mom isn’t altogether upset about since she wants to be actively involved in helping with the twin babies.

Neice,breaks into conversation with a question for mom… Mother shoos her out of the room, quickly saying “I’m on the phone, not now…”

Oldest Brother, in recovery, living in mom’s house upstairs. His desire was to who stay in house with NMom and not to move right in with his, also in recovery, girlfriend who managed to finagle one of mother’s rental properties,  (one placed in Sister’s name to help facilitate the sale of the property). He expressed feeling the strong need to consider alternate housing if pregnant sister was coming to live in Nmom’s house with neice, both notorious for having filthy living habits and nasty, attention-seeking behaviors. Oldest Brother, like Sister would ideally like to live in the house where  Younger Brother lives,  who’s been promised the ownership of the house despite the fact that after house had been paid for, a new mortgage was taken out recently by NMom which has caused it to convert from an asset back to a liability. Despite Older Brother’s worry about co-habitating with Sister and Neice, he is exited about having another chance at the family business and he is anxious to do well and succeed in both his sobriety and the promises he made to family about his dedication to recovery.

Dad and Mom are supposed to re-marry in July at the pastor’s house as a public declaration to the old church (yes, the blessed cult of my  joyous youth) that they are a reunited front.  Mom, newly rejoined the church, because she now feels physically debilitated to the point that she can’t “get away” into a better situation.  In this situation, she’s able to “teach” but not “preach” (women are not allowed to be ministers in this organization) other women in an all women setting, which suits her at times, but innervates her as well.  She feels her rejoining is a “win” for Dad because it’s his lifelong wish to have his wife and family back together as one unit wherein he can show the church members how great a leader of his family he is.  Per my mother, and brothers, Dad just wants to “look good” in front of everyone, so that he can be in line to one day inherent the church from his beloved Pastor.  A thought, Mom believes is delusion since the Pastor has 5 sons, 4 of whom are ministers and themselves, already locked in competition with one another for rights to the church their father built.  My father has still found a way to draw the ire of all the brothers as a group, helping them form a unified front against in at least one thing, him. With my mother’s return to the church, for the sake of husband/gender parity, my father has been asked to speak at more and more preaching engagements now that Mom is being asked to teach at various women’s events.  With this, my father feels, now more than ever, that he is in line for the pastorship, if the pastor, 84, were to retire or die.  He’s putting pressure on mother to remarry him soon and to study the ways of the pastor’s wife, as mother will need to be like her in order for this to work as he desires.  According to mother, this is submissive, shy, with no control.

Mom: He’s asking me to forget all of my ‘understanding’.  All of what I know! If God hadn’t placed this thorn in my side, this illness, I wouldn’t have come back to this church in the first place!

Younger Brother is depressed because he, too wants to live in the house where he’s lived for the past 10 years. He reminded my Mom that she said she would put the property in his name several times before. Mom told him: Well then, get out there and fix it up and I’ll put your name on it!  Brother: well it costs money to fix it and I need some money to do repairs.  Mom: Just look at your older brother’s girlfriend.  She fixed up the rental really nice and now she can live in it! (the rental in my sister’s name).  This rental is also a sore spot for younger brother whose former girlfriend just moved out of (after being evicted by Nmom) the same rental, with seven of her eleven children, and went back to her hometown to live with her mother 2 hours away.  Younger Brother has been told, by mother that he can have the house in which he resides, (the one coveted by oldest brother and sister) if he would just, get this: begin to take more responsibility with the daily care of the Alzheimer’s aunt who was now being haphazardly cared for by agency aides (my mother’s agency, mind you).  She proposed that he could get some of the payroll funds generated by billing State Medicaid home health aide hours.  My brother is not a licensed aide.

Per mom, once they (Younger Brother and my father, who also lives in the house with YB along with Alzheimer’s aunt E), got satellite cable in all the rooms, they pay no attention to Aunt E. and she’s basically the one paying for the cable since income from her SSI and from billing Medicaid for personal care and respite hours are the primary source of income to the home.  They complain because Aunt E. gets up and then sits back down repeatedly.  She paces back and forth to the back rooms and she’s always talking about going to work . She thinks she back in Maryland in the 60s.  In a desire to get a break from Aunt E and to work on his broken relationship with mother o’eleven, Younger brother “snuck away” to his GF’s hometown, leaving Aunt E with the day aide from mother’s agency (Note here: This very aide was an employee of mine when I ran the business for a couple of years.  She was one of the few employees I could not get to follow the policies on showing up to work on time and reporting her time properly. I had to terminate her after repeated disappointments with my clients. Mother, uncharacteristically, came to me before hiring her and asked if she should give her a chance.  I, vehemently discouraged my mother from hiring this girl for this job, not as much for the aforementioned reasons, but because, additionally, this girl would be a liaison between my mother’s business and a former office manager, who, angrily broke off from my mother and formed her own home care agency, taking half of my mother’s clientele with her.  The anger was the result of repeated promises made by mother to give this woman training and credentials and raises and opportunities for her family that remained unfulfilled over the years.  Well, Mom decided to hire this employee, despite my strong warnings, anyway). 

Once this particular aide realized that my Younger Brother, who had just “snuck away” to be with his GF would not be returning that day to relieve her of her care-taking duties, she decided to take Aunt E home with her to a town about an hour away from where Aunt E lives. (this happens to be the same town where Sister lives)  Somehow, (surprise, surprise,) an agitated Aunt E. began to wander about the town and was discovered in a ditch by the Police who eventually deduced that Aunt E was under the care of the aide who left Aunt E alone, locked in a house, while the aide attend a court-ordered drunk driving DUI class of some type.  Once she realized Aunt E “got loose” she, came to the hospital to collect her, only to find that the policeman who discovered a dehydrated, delirious Aunt E in the ditch, was the same officer who arrested this aide for aforementioned DUI and who felt, the DUI-classes were too lenient a punishment given her repeated offenses. And her disgustingly flippant personal attitude at the scene of these crimes was an assault on this officer’s sensibilities.  Hereafter, the officer pressed the issue of the aide’s arrest with my mother once she’d been contacted. Mother did not want to mention to the officer that this client was in fact her own Aunt (a possible ‘red flag’ with the state Medicaid offices for conflict of interest or with Adult Protective Services for neglect). Sensing my mother’s reluctance to press charges on the aide, the officer threatened to take matters into his own hands and initiate an Adult Protective Services investigation and this ultimately led my mother to voluntarily ‘give up’ the aide to be arrested.  Once the aide was jailed, she sent messages and calls to my mother that she would take her down with her and that the only reason she had her Aunt in her home was because she didn’t want to leave her alone in the house for the weekend with my brother gone to see his GF.  She also threatened to tell Medicaid that Aunt E was receiving care from unlicensed workers and that my mother’s entire agency deserved to be investigated for fraud.  This worried my mother, given her shady business practices over the years… 
Now she needed to find a new sitter for Aunt E. Mom:  Right now, Aunt E is money in the hand…she’s paying the mortgage and the cable and the water on Younger brother’s house and I’m not able to pay that rent all on my own these days.  So, although I know they’re sick of her and she cusses them and wanders and what not, they need to realize that she is their source of income. And they pretend she’s so bad…but they say lies to her and cuss her.  When she says, “Gimme a sandwich.” They lie to her and say, “You had a sandwich already.” And she starts cussing them.  They lock the bedrooms during the day so she won’t take a daytime nap and be able to sleep at night.  This sets her off.

Bottom line: somehow NMom has promised all three siblings rights to have property in their possession, a oft-made promise that has become more and more elusive over the years, as properties begin to fall in value and mother’s net worth begin to dwindle. Mom has also promised former employees parts of the business and other fruits of their labor that remain unkept and ignored. Mom has made promises to her debtors to her children to her employees all wrapped up in the selfish manipulative hopes of personal gain. Years of broken promises are piling up like bones at a barbeque with nothing left to show for them but resentment and disappointment…


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #42 on: February 07, 2010, 10:00:03 PM »
The Aunt E effect

Telephone conversation with NMom; mood: depressed, frustrated

Mom: “I’ve missed some services at [the old cult church Mom recently rejoined] lately.  I was asked to speak at the Women’s Day program and I said I would do it even though I was struggling with my allergies and whatnot. Your father’s also been getting some extra preaching appointments and he’s been pulling for each and everyone of us to come to his events… even when he doesn’t come to all mine. He still wants me to remarry him for the gospel’s sake, not for love.  He wants me to go to Milwaukee with him to visit his dying brother after we re-marry and then go with him to the annual church convention.  But I’ve been taking care of Aunt E. sometimes. And while your brothers and I have been rotating shifts, your father hasn’t been anywhere to be found.  He takes the time to drive to city, 50 mils away, where sister lives to get [11 year-old neice/granddaughter] to take her to his preaching events, but he’s spending NO quality time with me. “

This she opined, days before her and Dad were to remarry on the anniversary of their first wedding date.

Neice: On a recent trip to grab some toiletries from Bath & Body Works, Mom sent [11-year old neice] inside the mall alone with her debit card to grab the soap and told her she could also get a ‘cheap dress’ to wear so that she could look nice when she went along with Mom to hear her present at the Women’s Day Program at church.  Instead of one dress, [11-year old granddaughter], bought two dresses, a pair of high heel shoes and some additional toiletries for herself from Bath and Body Works.  She ran up quite a tab.  More than M had to spare, really.

NSister: was angry and depressed over the situation with her twin babies’ father considering, she wasn’t quite sure if the father was her, now incarcerated, distant cousin, with whom she was in a several years dysfunctional relationship or if it was a married man she’d been dating for the last several months.  Either way, she was upset.  It seems as though she became pregnant around the time of grandmother’s death, when she was visibly missing from the Death Show, and spending a marked amount of nights in hotels, a great bone of contention with mother who felt let down by sister during this time.

Dad: booked a preaching engagement around the same time Mom had a scheduled teaching engagement.  Dad thought his event should take priority, so he insisted that both Mom and [11 year-old granddaughter] be there to support him as he delivered his message. He recently told [11 year-old] that her mother, because she was a sinner and not saved by the Holy Spirit, would go to Hell and that if she didn’t come to church with him, she would be like her mommy.  This was incongruent with what her grandmother, NMom, told her: that if you are a good person, you go to heaven. Either way, it convinced the 11 year old, at least for now, to attend father’s event in attempts to avoid a hellish fate and it consigned her to worry deeply about her mother’s eternal damnation.

Regarding Older Brother per Mom: “I don’t know sometimes I feel like I made all the wrong moves when I raised my children.  I mean, your oldest brother is OK, now.  He makes my bed, does my food, goes to the grocery, cleans, and he is trying to fix up the house, goes to my former church building to pray and is working with the business.  But last week he said he was overwhelmed by so many responsibilities especially having to staff Aunt E’s caregiving around the clock, covering shifts himself, when no one is available.  He took an anti-anxiety pill and got some rest.  Me: that sounds healthy, to slow down, and take a mental health day…  Mom: Well, the bottom line is they all want Aunt E to go in a skilled nursing facility, a locked Alzhiemer’s unit… pause. Silence… But the house is leaking at the windows and nobody has any money to fix it.”

Regarding Younger Brother per Mom: “At another one of the rental properties the ceiling is leaking.  Someone wants to rent it, but it needs quite a few repairs.  Your [younger] brother could get $400 from me if he painted the houses.  He could get a little money to get the work he needed done on his car to get it back on the road, if he came over to my house and did some housework for me, some cleaning and painting.” Mom mocking [younger brother], “ He has no money, he wants his car back, he wants to see his kids, he can’t get around to take care of himself, nobody would give him a ride, he’s hungry. He can go pick up his kids for bi-monthly visitation, but he has to use my money for gas and groceries.  If it’s Sunday, he takes your father away from being able to help me and we need our time together.  He’s always enraged.  He says things about hurting Aunt E.  And he’s always on the verge of a seizure.

My later talk with brother re: Aunt E. His words: “When both her [Aunt E] and I haven’t had our meds, it’s a bad situation.  There are times when I think I may become very violent and think of harming her. And Dad just leaves me in here with her for days on end with no break.  And I can’t get anyone to give me a ride anywhere, not to get something to eat, or to go to DMV to get my car issues straight, or to the social security office to get my money straight, or even to get some underwear. I can’t get any support for anything.  And Aunt E., you don’t know what it’s like.  She cusses, and she’s cruel, and nasty, and even though I know she’s not in her right mind, there is but so much I can take.”

“They won’t help me get my car because they know I would just do what Dad does and leave in the morning and not come back all day.  There have been times when I’ve called Mom and them and said, “Look, you need to come right now because I feel like I’m getting ready to hurt her.  I’m going to bring harm to Aunt E.”  And I don’t have a key to the house I sleep in, (the locks were changed when brother went to visit his girlfriend who recently moved 70 miles away, for a few days, leaving the care of Aunt E. to the rest of the family), so if a man doesn’t have a key to his house, he doesn’t live there right? pause… And I’ve got a woman just begging me to move in with her and start a life with her…”


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #43 on: March 12, 2010, 03:24:17 PM »
Mood: depressed, money’s tight & there was a recent emergency room visit:

Mom: “I have some type of infection, and there is increased fluid swelling my legs and abdomen. My blood glucose levels are fluctuating wildly, I am short of breath, nauseous, and I have some chest pain… and the family is not moving fast enough!  Your father asked me, ‘What do you think they are going to do for you? All of these symptoms are associated with your Congestive Heart Failure. You know what they are going to tell you already.’  I told him it might not be the CHF, it could be a blood clot or worse! And there’s so much stuff going around. I need to go and get checked out.”
“The emergency room doctors thought I might have been non-compliant with the care recommendations they gave me and checked the microchip in my CPAP machine to see if I had been using it properly.  That’s when the physician gave me an analogy. He said my situation was like using more and more blankets to deal with a problem of there being a HUGE gaping hole in a wall of one’s house that was causing severe cold to come inside. Instead of repairing the wall (i.e. losing weight and eating the prescribed diet), they were constantly increasing the CPAP settings and medications to deal with the problem. They sent me home on the CPAP and told me to raise and lower my bed in certain ways to decrease fluid buildup in my tissues. The doctor also talked about the lack of oxygen during sleeping leading to my depression and snappiness and the weird dreams.”
  “I’m also having problems with making payroll, paying bills, the family, and all that stress. The stress is causing the gastritis to ‘act up’ and I can’t get the doctors to prescribe Nexium (Medicare doesn’t cover it). So the doctor upped my Prilosec prescription…I need to start taking on more responsibility. I need to find ways to save money and we need to rely more on family to get things done.

Me: “What do you mean?”

Mom: “I mean we don’t need to outsource jobs that the family members can do themselves, like washing the cars or cutting grass… (then, suddenly and in a rage) I mean these grown men aren’t even able to pay their own light bills! And your sister’s government money is about to run out soon and she’s going to need help paying for those twin babies, diapers and formula and such! And Nexium works better but costs more than Prilosec and I am having so much difficulty I need another inhaler!” (quietly, almost inaudibly,) “Your sister was not feeling well and your oldest brother had been feeling a little down earlier on, but they both feel better now, and I am the one left feeling down, way down, now.”

To me: (in a more chipper tone,) “So what are you doing? Where are you going now?”  (She can hear that I ‘m in my car)

Me: “…to a research-related meeting for school.”

Mom: “Well, it would be nice if you shared with me your experiences and what you learn about research along the way.  I mean, you don’t have to teach me what you are learning per se, just tell me about your experiences.  You know, I always wanted to do research and write on my research but my PhD program was not as rigorous as yours.  (She then goes into her long ago intended plans to conduct research on the role of “the mother” in the church and the disconnect between mothers and daughters that has evolved over the recent years.)…

Niece:She, 11 years old, was left alone with her 3- week old twins while their mother, NSister, went to visit “alleged babies’ father number #1”… during which time, mother’s ATM disappeared and money went missing from Mom’s bank account.

NSister: The babies were born before their prenatal records could be transferred to the new OB doctor.  Sister moved back into home with Mother from an apartment in a city an hour away. (With Nmother’s recent health issues and reduced income, she wanted sister nearer to her, for both their sakes). One day, after both Mom and Sister had the same disturbing dream, one in which only one of the twin babies was born and it had serious complications, Mom and sister went into high anxiety and both insisted, during the scheduled visit to the new OB doctor, that sister be admitted the hospital and evaluated.  The labor progressed very quickly and a neonatologist was called in from the Level One Trauma Center to assist.  One of the babies was born with a double-knot in the umbilical cord and the other needed mechanical assistance to breathe for several days. The babies, after coming home, had, {second cousin & suspected babies’ father #1} visit them at mother’s house outside on the front porch. Due to previous horrible encounters with my mother, he didn’t come inside to see the babies.  He had sister bring the twins out onto the font porch to inspect them.  When he was done inspecting, sister had her 11 year-old take them back in the house, while she sat out on the porch for hours.  She and niece were thought to have taken NMom’s ATM card after she “left her pocketbook sitting around.”  Mom asked [oldest brother] to get the ATM card back from Nsister.  Per mom, “They [sister and niece] just walk around not saying anything to me, eating/ordering whatever they want...”

Dad: Needless to say, the remarry date came and went. Dad, a month later, was reacting to this by being “cold and callous” per Mom, when she reported her symptoms of shortness of breath, chest pain, and swelling. Dad didn’t respond quickly enough Mom’s insistence that she be rushed to emergency.  His point of view: She already has so many thousands of dollars outstanding from previous emergency room charges and that they were not telling her anything different each time she went.  To him it was simple: settle down, reduce your stresses, lose some weight, and maintain the proper diet.

Brother, older: He’s having problems with his girlfriend because he’s been spending so much time with NMother, helping out with the business.  And he seems to be the only one who helps her. He’s been scheduling, billing, handling payroll for all the offices, basically running the business. When sister wrote some checks from a business account last week, it offset the payroll and caused the employees to have to wait and receive their paychecks on Monday instead of when they were due, the previous Friday. Brother had to troubleshoot the barrage of complaints.  He is also being asked to help Mom with household chores like cleaning, washing clothes, paying bills and collecting the ATM card from sister/niece when they steal it.  And when no one [Dad, sister, younger brother] would respond to her Emergency Room-worthy symptoms, big brother was called in to take her since the Ambulance service is such an expensive bill. Brother is beginning to 'cry uncle', saying that it’s too much being placed on his shoulders.
Mom: “Your [oldest] brother is overwhelmed. You know what I really need?  I need YOU to be the RN for the agency…Just for a little while…"


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Re: The story of "Tiffany"
« Reply #44 on: January 17, 2011, 10:03:26 AM »
“May I help you folks?” asked the hospital employee as he adjusts the drawstring on his scrub pants. 
“We’re looking for the third floor-the psyche floor.  Is this the right elevator?” I’m with my husband, and my 10 year and 6 month old daughters.
“Yes, just get on the elevator and follow the directions,” says the man who disappears around the corner.
I notice that the hospital in which I had volunteered as a teenager and pre-medical student in college, had had a cosmetic makeover since I’d last been there.  The old corn-blue vinyl design schema had been replaced by taupe and rose colored draperies and chair covers. The hospital, itself, however, had not changed much. The second floor looked abandoned with an empty nurse’s station, no patients on what looked to be a medical/surgical unit, and only a few unused stretchers and empty sharps container peppered the hallways. 
We get on the elevator and select the black Three button.  Nothing happens.  The sign indicates no children under the age of 14 on the Behavioral Unit as well as a host of other restrictions.

My husband selects the button with the telephone icon and we wait for the disembodied voice to answer.

“Yes? May I help you?”

“I’m here to see my brother, ________ __________?”

“Do you have his code?”

“It’s 3416.”

“Okay, hold one moment,” says the voice.

The elevators begin to move and the doors open.

A short, solidly built male orderly stands just outside the open elevator doors.  With hand still holding the elevator key into the stainless steel lock on the wall, he gestures towards the sign inside the elevator indicating “No children under 14. You don’t want your children up here with this bunch. There’s a waiting area in the lobby on the second floor” he says.

My husband says, “ You go ahead, I’ll wait with the kids.”

I step off the elevator to a drab, cinderblock walled unit painted white with no accent colors.  No artwork adorned the walls; and as I followed the stocky orderly down the hall towards the nurse’s station,  I notice that I’m walking between patient rooms.  Each room has two headboard-less beds, some occupied, and nothing else. The orderly nods his head towards one of the rooms on the left side indicating my brother but continuing his stride towards the nurse’s station.  I notice my brother stooping over to pick up a small Styrofoam cup from the floor.  Ice and water are spilled in front of the cup.  The orderly waves me towards him mumbling about the sign in sheet. The unit is a vapid void and my presence alone offers stimulation to both the patients and the personnel.  Thoughts from my clinical psychology rotations from nursing school jump to the forefront of my mind and I think “show your patients respect, look them in eye, don’t infantilize them” A man in a robe worn over pajamas stands in the doorway of one of the rooms, watching me as I walk up the long corridor towards him and the nurse’s station.  He smiles.  I say, “How are you?”  He responds loudly, “FINE, HOW ARE YOU?!” And laughs.

Laughing guy with pressured speech standing in a doorway with pajamas, robe, and slippers… How cliché, I think. I keep a straight face, but laugh inside. At home with the crazies, I must be.

After mentioning that visiting hours actually begin at 6:30 pm (10 minutes from now), the orderly hands the clipboard to me, then a pen, and I sign in.

Brother is thinner than when I last saw him, he’s wearing a pair of long shorts and a white turtleneck.  Walking back up the long corridor from the nurse’s station, I see him leave his room and head towards a white table just across from the elevator.  When he walks, his gait is unsteady and when he speaks his words are slurred.

“What brought you to THIS floor, brother?”

Well, A few weeks ago I had a seizure. Around that time…

Dec. 18, 2010 Dad, [OB], and Mom’s joint account

Younger Brother [[YB]] begins his account of the events of December 17, 2010, three weeks earlier, when an altercation between him and our father escalated into a family ordeal that left one brother in the emergency room and the other, eventually in the adult psyche unit of the local hospital. I just happened to have called my mother the morning after the event just as my father was bringing my oldest brother [OB] back home from a night spent in the Emergency Department.  I was placed on speakerphone and along with NMother, NFather, and recovering-addict-oldest-brother, they give a frenzied joint account of the incident.

Mom begins: “[YB] had a rage on your Dad last night, OB heard about it and he rushed over to help.  Your Dad had called me when everything was happening, so I was on the telephone when I heard the phone get thrown and the line went dead.  Aunt E (89 year old Alzheimer’s great aunt whose social security income covers the costs of living for [YB] and father, all of whom live in one of NMom’s properties) was in the house and I feared for her safety. [YB] was choking Dad, his hands around his throat!!”

Me: “Why would he do that?!” There was a silence, followed by a combined grumbling of voices, each saying something different under their collective breath.  The gist: “Same as always, [YB]’s rage comes from out of the blue.”

OB exclaims, “I don’t care about why he did it, you all can talk about that at some other time.  All I know is I [YB] knocked me over, hurt my back so bad I went to the emergency room, only to find out that I have a spiral fracture in one of the bones of my hand.  I felt like a woman, being abused.  I couldn’t get up.  He had me pinned down, he stomped on me, kicked me, all I could do was to keep kicking him in the knee, while he was blindly punching me. I’ve been in fights before, but this time, I actually feared for my life!”

Mom interrupts, “empathizing” with OB, obviously shaken from his frightening depiction: “I know how that feels! Your Dad pinned me down, when he beat me up that time. I’ll never forget it!

I assume Dad, whose voice could not be heard over the speakerphone, was still standing there.

Me: Did he seem sorry?

Dad: It always takes him several days to be repentant, then he’s crying and sobbing all over the place.

Mom: maybe, we need to have David committed…

OB: “He just kept saying 30 years! He’s got 30 years pent up in him! That for 30 years I haven’t been a good brother, or role model.  He talked about me being out there doing drugs and not being there for him.”

Dad: “You know the one good thing that came out of it?”

OB: “That nobody got hurt?!” He chuckled, but I wasn’t sure if he was being sarcastic or not.

Dad answers: “Yeah, that…but also, that he can’t just go around handling people like that.  He got it himself this time.

Me: “What do you mean?”

Dad: “That he can’t just go around putting his hands on people.  That maybe somebody’s got something for HIM, sometime.”

December 20, 2010-Mother’s account three days later:

NMom: OB and your sister want to institutionalize [YB]. And I tried to talk to them about why your brother would behave like that, but it’s just too soon for them to talk about it. They want him put in a home or something. But after talking to YB, I think your Dad needs to move on… I’m about ready to put your father out. But OB and your sister don’t agree.  [Sister] wants her Daddy to stay at the “family house,” as she calls it.  Do you consider that house “the family house?”

Me: “No, I always thought it was [YB]’s house.  That he lived in it for many years after you moved out and before Aunt E and eventually Dad moved in with him.”

NMom: “I didn’t tell you earlier, but, a week before the choking incident, [YB] began doing some work for me for pay.  Just odds and ends around the house, moving some stuff around, answering the telephone, stuff like that.  OB was trying to give [YB] some advice on how to answer the phone correctly.  OB also corrected his younger brother on some other small task that [YB] considered easy enough to handle on his own. [YB] expressed himself to his older brother, saying ‘Look, I think I can handle this, brother. Back down.’”

NMom: “During the fight between your brother and father, your father called me so that I could hear just how terribly [YB] talks to him when I’m not around.  It was pretty bad.  They were fighting about your father’s hoarding.  There was a fridge full of stuff.  The den is filled with fridges, and this was a reason why [YB] would not be able to have his three kids in his home for Christmas. [YB] was going on about the filth and telling his father exactly what was on his mind and heart.  He was really rough. Your father said to [YB], ‘You talk to ME like that?!  I’m NEVER taking you to see your children again!! And in a triumphant ‘gotcha moment,’ Dad revealed to [YB] that I’d been listening the entire time.”

NMom: “I could hear your brother coming closer and closer towards the phone before everything just cut off, it just went dead. I didn’t know what to think and I had no way to get over there myself, so I immediately called your sister to go over there and find out what was going on. Well, she wasn’t getting over there soon enough, so I called OB to go over there and intervene.  I told him it sounded like his brother was about to kill his Daddy.  When your older brother walked in, your younger brother was hovered over your father with his hands around Dad’s throat like he was about to choke him out… They want to put [YB] away in an institution.

Me: “In an institution?”

Mom: “Yes. They think we need to call the authorities so that they can come and get [YB] to take him somewhere and be observed.”

Me: “Exactly one week ago, we were talking about this very thing for [sister]. What ever became of that?” 

I was speaking of my mother’s efforts to have my Nsister, who during a conversation with NMom about how nobody cared about her, threatened suicide and harm to her twin girls, evaluated by a mental health professional. My mother, a RN of 35 years, and former supervisor of a state mental health hospital, knows the protocol for assessing threats of harm.  When she came to me for input regarding the next course of action, I asked my mother if my sister mentioned having a plan for her suicide, or if my sister seemed emotional vs. calm with resolve.  At the time, I reminded my mother of my sister’s children’s fathers, both of whom would use the threat of suicide to manipulate and control her. I urged my mother to have her evaluated by a professional because the threat is so serious, if she didn’t do something about it, she would regret it if something terrible happened to sister or the babies.

Mom, (in an increasingly irritated tone): Well, we have bigger fish to fry, now!! Plus, like you said earlier, she was probably just faking the suicide threat. She even admitted to saying it to get us to pay more attention to her. She said, ‘Mom, look at what lengths I have to go to get you to pay more attention to me.’

Quickly she returns to her story about YB. When I spoke to your brother, he told me he was trying to clean up to prepare for his kids coming over for Christmas.  He became disgusted by the state of the refrigerator and he began to get on your Dad about the mess.  Dad remained calm in demeanor at the time, but his words were reckless and mean, saying he would never see his kids, knowing that YB has seizures and cannot drive for six months at a time, depending on his Dad for a ride everywhere.  Your father’s hoard is becoming huge with multiple refrigerators in the den where YB wants to put up his Christmas tree. And the smell and mess is not sanitary for young children. And your Dad has a way of tearing you down with his mouth.  He degrades you and makes you feel small.  He praises everyone else but you.  I was never a good mother.  Other kids were perfect and he would tell me that they must be doing something right and me something wrong.  He would tell YB, he would never amount to anything.

Me: Two weeks ago, when Dad lost his job, you mentioned feeling extremely sorry for him.  Do you still feel that way, or no longer?

Mom (stuttering): I…I…I.. don’t know. I guess it’s my compassion for people in general.  When I got your father to move in with your brother he was living in a 1 room studio apartment with a turned over sofa with a blanket, a jar to pee in, and the bed… He had a smell about him.  He brushed his teeth in the kitchen sink.  One time, when he was still pasturing that church, he stayed in a hotel after he lost our old house, then he stayed in his car for a while, then he started sleeping in the back of the church.  They had to have a meeting to have him removed from the back of the church. There have been some pitiful times where he’s been like a homeless bum…
And sometimes I feel like, he’s your father!! How can I let him be homeless?!  I mean he had holes in the bottoms of his shoes and his clothes weren’t taken care of!
How can you let your children’s father be a bum on the street? It’s my compassion, I guess… But I do think your Dad needs to move away from [YB] because whatever they are going through is not good.  Dad with his problems.  Aunt E and her problems… It’s too much for your brother.