Monday, April 23, 2012

Blog 29: Mom Was Taken, Part II

Please click here to read the first part of this blog post. 

At one point during this crisis, after Renee succeeded in getting the POA, I wrote her a letter and told her I will not come home to care for Mom.  I said I will come home to visit her, but she may as well not expect me to come back and take care of her.  I didn’t like what Renee was doing, and I felt that she was expecting us to care for Mom, while she dictated to us how to do it.  Basically, she wanted to run everything, from controlling the money, to controlling Mom and us.  She didn’t do anything before, because she said she didn’t have control, but now that she did, everything had to be done her way. 

She was telling Annie she could care for Mom, but I knew something was up with that because of the problems that had been happening.

Lynda also sent Renee an email that she was no longer going to care for Mom.  Renee basically came in and derailed everything that had been done for Mom.  Though I have to admit, since I moved, Lynda was not doing the best job as POA.  She wasn’t taking care of things in a timely manner.  Mom’s car was still in her garage, she wasn’t putting together a schedule for Mom’s care, and there were some phone calls that needed to be taken care of regarding Mom’s annuity, that she wasn’t doing.

Renee told us to not talk to each other about Mom, but to only talk to her.  We needed to talk to each other, obviously we needed support and a shoulder to cry on, and Renee was not the one to go to for that.

Renee was staying at Mom’s house the following weekend.  She had to do it, because nobody else would go over there after what she did.  She ended up leaving Mom home alone because her daughter cut her finger and she drove the three hours home. I understand it’s scary when your kids get hurt, but her daughter had her dad there with her, and it was only a small cut on her finger.  Leaving Mom alone could have been deadly.

Mom ended up taking her car out of the garage that night and drove off.  Annie went to her house and saw that she was gone!  She called my sisters and they thought Renee was with her.  Annie said Mom eventually came home, and she stayed with her that night.  Mom said that she went to the cemetery, which is a long ways away (who knows if she did) and to the store.  That was the last time Mom drove her car.  My sister Kathy ended up buying Mom’s Honda several months later, and inside the trunk were rotten groceries that she had bought that day she drove off alone.

Just two weeks after Renee met with the attorney and led him to believe Mom was well and able to make a conscious decision to appoint her POA and throw out the old one (which, by the way, we already had a statement from Mom’s doctor stating her incompetency), she did the unthinkable, and had Mom committed to the mental ward of a hospital.  She claimed she was suicidal and threatening to kill someone (probably Renee).  She didn’t take Mom to the local hospital, instead she purposely avoided her doctor, and she drove her out of town an hour away.  That hospital wouldn’t admit her.  So she drove her to another hospital even further away, and they agreed to admit her. 

She left her there for 2 1/2 weeks, and went on vacation with her family.  She never went to see her that whole time she was hospitalized.  She didn’t tell me or two other sisters about it.  We found out when we couldn’t reach Mom at home, and after three days of anxiety and wondering what was going on, the only other sister that knew, told us what she had done.  That’s how we found out. 

Renee said that said she would disclose everything to us when she got POA, but she was already showing how it was going to be.  It was getting scary. 

I spoke to Mom on the phone and she was very scared, worried, and crying.  It just broke my heart.  She didn’t understand why she was there.  She was in a lockdown part of the hospital and was not allowed phone calls or visitors after Renee found out she was talking to her daughters on the phone.  Mom was not mentally ill, she had Alzheimer’s.  I was 1,600 miles away, and I had no idea how long they were going to keep her.  I found out that Renee didn’t want them to release her until she got back from vacation because she didn’t want her going home, back into Annie’s care. 

Previous to this, Renee was telling Annie she could care for her.  She was tricking her to go along with the POA, when what she really wanted was to get Mom far away from Annie.  There was no talk about coming together as a family to discuss this.  I felt that us sisters should have been informed and been able to be a part of her decision.  Mom has five daughters.  We all love her very much and want to be a part of her life and care what happens to her.  We each had our own wishes for Mom, and we should have all been able to discuss our concerns and desires as a family.  To leave someone out and not care about their feelings, was a terrible disservice to Mom and to each other.  Mom said there’d be trouble if Renee was in charge, and she was right.

When Mom was released, they put her in Renee’s care.  Renee brought her home to stay with her and her family until she got things in order.  She was planning her next move, and we found out about it when we received papers in the mail.  All of us received a Petition for Guardianship and Conservatorship in the mail from an attorney.  We didn’t see it coming and I felt like I got hit in the stomach with a baseball bat.  That was the whole reason why she had Mom committed.  It was so they would say she needs a legal guardian.

A court date was set and I decided to object and I submitted a letter to the courts.  It stopped her for three months and it was set for another hearing.  My other sisters were not onboard with what she was doing, either.

During that three months, Renee was successful in getting two of the four sisters to go to court with her and testify on her behalf.  Somehow she got Lynda on board with her.  Lynda was the one she swooped in on and took the POA away from, and Lynda said she would never forgive her for it.  But Renee was good at manipulating and working her angles to get what she wanted, and knowing that Lynda could be easily persuaded because I was no longer living in town, she took advantage of her vulnerabilites.  She said the right things, and she succeeded in getting Kathy to go along with her, too.  Had I lived there still, Annie, Kathy, Lynda and I would have stopped this legal proceeding.  But I couldn’t really do anything since I moved and now lived 1,600 miles away.  What credit would the courts give me when I lived out of state?  My sister Annie stood all alone.  And she didn’t stand a chance.  Annie, Renee and I are the strongest ones in the family.  Kathy and Lynda will go along with whomever promises things will be easier for them, and as long as they don’t have to worry anymore.

The second court hearing was three months later, and I remained silent.  I decided to just let Renee have it.  I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars of my money, fighting my sister in the court system, when Renee was spending Mom’s money seeking the guardianship.  I would have been spending Mom’s hard earned money if I would have dragged it out in court.  I’ve seen those types of situations from working as a legal secretary, and it could go on for years, and I did not want my family to be subjected to that.  I bowed out of the legal battle.

Renee made promises to us that I was hoping she would keep.  So far, she hadn't.  But I still had hopes that things would work out. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Blog 28: Mom Was Taken

I went back home again in July and had a wonderful 10-day visit with Mom.  Sure, there were the usual upsets and problems related to her dementia, but all in all it was a good visit.  At times she seemed to like my boyfriend more than me.  They bonded really well together.  But when I left on July 25, 2010, I did not know that Mom would soon be taken away.  That would be the last time I would ever see my mom in her home, rocking in her rocking chair, sleeping in her bed, working with me in her yard, and sitting on the back patio on those hot summer days with a cold drink.  The last time I would see all of her things, her photographs hanging on the walls, her furniture, her prized knick-knacks and numerous gifts we had given her over the years that she proudly displayed on her table tops and book shelves, her cluttered space that we called home, everything that I had seen and known for all of my life since I was 8 years old.  It would all be sold, thrown out, given away or taken by somebody else.   
If I would have known, what would I have done differently?  I don’t know.  Maybe I wouldn’t have left, maybe I would have stayed and lingered a bit longer, and given her a tighter, longer hug.  Maybe I would have taken pictures of everything, or taken what I wanted to keep. I don’t know.  It would have been a long heartfelt, emotional day, the day I walked out of our family home and said goodbye...if I would have known.
Here’s what happened...
My sister Annie was staying with Mom most of the time, and she had called a locksmith to open the giant safe Mom had in her closet. Inside, she found a new Last Will and Testament, and a new Durable Power of Attorney for healthcare decisions, where Mom had changed the names from me and Lynda, to Kathy, Annie and Renee for healthcare decisions. She had changed all of this just a couple of years ago, and she told us she had a new will done but she never disclosed any of her wishes to us and kept it a secret.  We didn’t know for sure if Mom actually did that.  At the time, there were obvious signs that something was wrong with Mom then.  But every time we would ask her about it, she would hush us up.
The new Last Will and Testament had Lynda and I as Executor of her estate, which is what her previous will had stated.  There was not a new power of attorney drafted to appoint who was in charge of legal and financial affairs.  Therefore, the original one should have stood.  We assumed Mom changed the medical POA to allow the other sisters to have something to be in charge of, so that all of her daughters would have some level of responsibility and feel of equal importance.  Lynda and I as Executors, and Renee, Kathy and Annie as medical POA’s.  
Annie called Renee and she rushed into town and the two of them had a secret meeting.  Then Renee went to an attorney and had him draft papers to appoint her Power of Attorney.  I question the attorney’s ethics to do that, knowing someone is suffering with dementia, and clearly not able to make an important decision like that.  I worked in law for years, and we could have reversed this...but we didn’t.  Huge mistake.  Mom wasn’t even able to dial the phone or remember when she last ate, let alone make such a drastic change from what she originally wanted.  Renee told us about this afterwards and said that the attorney spoke to Mom and thought she was of sound mind and able to change her mind and appoint Renee to be in charge, therefore throwing out the former POA that Mom had made several years before she was stricken with Alzheimer’s. 
I remember speaking to her on the phone and I told her, how can you say Mom is well, when you’ve been trying to get Lynda to have her placed in a nursing home?  She said the attorney thought she was mentally with it.  I couldn’t believe what she was doing.  She was manipulating, to gain control. 
On the same day that Renee went to the attorney, she also went to the bank and said that she was now in charge as the POA and she opened a new account and had Mom’s money transferred over.  She also called the Post Office and had Mom’s mail delivered back to her house.  She told Annie she was putting her in charge of handling Mom’s mail and making sure she gave Renee the bills.  She told Annie she was going to let her care for Mom and she was going to pay her.  All along, she was fooling Annie, just so she would go along with her and not stop her from getting POA.  
Renee told Lynda and me about it afterwards.  We were completely taken aback by the whole situation.  Lynda was very upset because she felt like Renee pulled the rug out from under her and didn’t even discuss anything with her until after the fact.  Renee also told Lynda that from now on she is the new contact person for Mom’s doctors.  That was the icing on the cake for Lynda.  Lynda worked with the neurologists, they knew her personally, and they frequently spoke with Lynda regarding Mom’s illness.  And now Mom’s neurologist could no longer discuss Mom’s disease with Lynda, even though she worked beside them everyday.    
When Lynda told Mom’s doctor about the situation he was very displeased with Renee.  He felt like she was a swooper, by butting in and trying to take over when Lynda was already taking care of things.  And the way Renee spoke to the doctor, she was not well received because of the way she spoke to him.  
We could have fought Renee on it. But she played the part well in the beginning. She played the part well in the sense that she said that is what Mom wanted, and she told us how she was going to proceed forward and include everyone in her decisions.  She told the rest of us that she would have full disclosure.  She said she will post all of Mom’s receipts for everything she bought, including groceries, bills, and medical expenses, etc.  She said she will be transparent and let us know everything that was going on.  However, she did not keep her word.
I knew in my heart that’s not what Mom wanted.  The words resonated in my head of what Mom told me that day she had her first will and POA’s drawn up when she was healthy and well.  She was happy to have me in charge, with Lynda as the alternate.  She always told me I was very responsible, and being the oldest she felt good that I would make the right decisions on her behalf.  She also told me that there was no way she wanted Renee to be in charge of anything.  She said there would be trouble and she wouldn’t be fair.  She said it over and over, and to this day, I feel so guilty that I didn’t stop Renee.  I knew what my mom wanted when she was well.  I felt like I failed her for moving and putting Lynda in charge because she isn’t as strong as me.  According to Renee, Lynda didn’t move fast enough in getting Mom placed in a home.  I think she was really happy that I moved and put Lynda in charge, because I really believe that Renee saw Lynda as the weakest link in the family and she went in for the kill. 
Renee wanted Mom placed in a nursing home, yet she took her to an attorney to have a legal document drafted to put her in charge, pretending to the attorney that Mom was well and of sound mind.  She manipulated the situation the moment she arrived in town, by telling Mom she was going to fix everything, and telling Annie that she was doing a good job and she was on her side, when previous to this, she was telling us Annie is toxic to Mom.  She not only worked the system to her advantage, but she tricked her mom, and she tricked her sisters, to get what she wanted. 
Mom and Renee always had a strained relationship.  Of course she loved her daughter very much, but Renee had a way of upsetting Mom, and they often clashed. Mom would frequently hang up the phone on her or tell her not to stay at her house when she came into town.  It was sad to see it happen, but that’s the way it was, on occasion, throughout the years.  I used to feel sorry for Renee when she would cry out to me that Mom didn’t want her to come into town, or when Mom would tell me she just had an upsetting conversation with Renee and she hung up on her.  Mom would make her leave early, or Mom would cancel her trips to go and visit her.   I understood what was going on because the rest of us girls also had those types of upsetting conversations with Renee.  She just has her own way of communicating that sometimes comes across as controlling and bullying, often making others feel diminished.  It didn’t used to be a big problem though because she was our sister and we loved her regardless, and we were usually able to get over whatever happened.  We just learned to accept her for the way she was.  Because as much as she was that, she also had some great qualities.  
When Renee did what she did, Lynda said she didn’t want anything to do with her.  She avoided her and avoided her phone calls and emails, because she felt completely violated and so hurt.  Renee said she did it to help Lynda.  But we all know the real reasons why she did it, she wanted control.
Two weeks after Renee took Mom to the attorney and he declared she was of sound mind and able to make a conscious decision to change her previous power of attorney, she did the unthinkable....continued on next post. 
(I just want to say that this post was very difficult to write.  I mulled it over for days. It’s hard for me to talk about my sisters in a bad light.  I don’t want to.  I just need to tell the story the way it happened.  Bringing up these things that have caused so much anger, hurt and resentment has pretty much taken a toll on me this whole week.  I love all of my sisters, and I want everyone to know that.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Blog 27: Communication Among Sisters Should Have Been Easy

As I mentioned before, I couldn’t get everyone to put together a schedule of when they would be available to stay with mom.  I figured with four sisters, they should be able to come up with something workable.  But if it wasn’t going to happen when I was there, I guess it wasn’t going to happen when I wasn’t there either. 
Annie was the one who was with our mom the most.  She typically stayed with her Monday night through Friday morning.  Someone else needed to be with Mom Friday morning to Monday evening.  That was where the problem was.  Lynda and Kathy couldn’t be there on Fridays and Mondays because of work, and a lot of the weekends they were arguing over whose turn it was to stay with Mom.  Lynda would take off work to be with Mom sometimes on those work days, but what Lynda needed to do was to hire outside help to cover those days.  She didn’t.  And Renee would come into town about once a month for a day or two, so they really needed to get a schedule together and hire a live-in or a helper to make it work.  
Not only was the schedule for Mom’s care not working, but there were problems with Mom’s money again.  If you refer to Blog 12:  The Firestorm Begins, I wrote about the issues with Mom’s money.  She had money in her house, hidden in a box under her bed.  I don’t want to tell the whole story over again, so that’s why I would like my readers to please refer to that blog post to understand what happened. 
When we realized $8,000 of Mom’s money disappeared from her house, I told Lynda to take the money before all of it disappeared. She opened an account and put the money in the bank. The account had mine, Lynda’s and Mom’s name on it in the beginning.  This caused Mom to worry about her money....again.  She wanted it in her control, and she wanted it in her house.  Kathy pretended she didn’t know anything about the money when Mom would ask her.  She was always neutral.  When Mom asked me, I said her money is safe in the bank, in her name, and nobody is going to spend it.  I tried to convince her that keeping that much money in the house was only going to entice a robber to come in and steal it, like what happened to her neighbor a few years back.   A neighbor was robbed and severely beaten and Mom always used to say he should have never kept his money in his house.  Renee didn’t offer any support after the way Mom and Annie reacted when Renee had the money.   She pretty much just said, ‘well, you guys made me return the money’, rather than trying to work on solving the problem. 
Lynda also had Mom’s mail going to a P.O. Box instead of her house because it was getting lost, bills were not getting paid, etc.  She would still get junk mail but she asked where her bills were and Annie called the post office and they told her the mail was being delivered to a PO address, and the request was made by Lynda.  That caused a big blow up, too.  
Annie went along with Mom in her reaction to her money being taken out of the house and put into a bank account, and demanded Lynda return the money.  Annie fueled Mom’s fire instead of trying to calm her down.  She told Mom she would take her to the courthouse to file papers and call the police to press charges.  Which is exactly what Annie told Mom when Renee had the money.  This was totally unnecessary, but Annie strongly felt that Mom should be in control of her own money and keep it in her house if she wanted to.  She accused the rest of us that we were stressing Mom out by taking away her rights.  She encouraged Mom's despair by allowing her to have ill feelings towards her daughters and letting Mom believe that she was the only one who loved her.  Annie did that because she wanted to have Mom stay on her good side.  She could not handle it when Mom got mad at her and if Mom would have turned on her like she did the rest of us, she would have been gone.  It was her way of coping with the situation, right or wrong, she handled things the only way she thought she could survive as Mom's caregiver.
Everyone had such strong feelings and everyone handled those feelings in their own way.  Annie is very sweet and caring and was really good with Mom, but she didn’t know how to control her anger if she felt wronged, so she would say mean things and yell and scream over the phone and then hang up.
Lynda would get hate phone calls at work and at home and she felt like Mom and Annie didn’t love her anymore.  She couldn’t understand why they were after her like this because she felt like she was doing the right thing and she had the support of the rest of us.  The thing is, she knew why Mom was reacting that way, she had Alzheimer’s.  And Annie didn’t know how to handle it.  Annie always reacted to Mom’s reactions and sometimes she just didn’t know how to say the right things.  Annie’s belief was that Mom should have her money with her, in the box, under the bed.  If that made Mom happy, that’s where it should be.  Looking back, maybe she was right.
Lynda’s feelings were hurt so bad by the mean phone calls and attacks from Mom when she was at her house, that she took the money out of the bank and put it in Mom’s mailbox one day after being threatened by Annie.  She didn’t even want to face them.  This put Mom’s money at great risk of being stolen because the money wasn’t found until hours later.  This caused Renee to be mad that Lynda would put all of that money in the mailbox.  Lynda was just so hurt that Annie and Mom kept calling her and demanding that she return the money, or else.  After that, Lynda stayed away from Mom’s house for awhile, and wouldn’t answer the phone if Mom or Annie called.  Annie got mad that Lynda wouldn’t come to help out anymore.  It took some time, but eventually she came back.  
Communicate, if we had all of this to do over again, that is what we needed to do. I’ve said that all along.  That is where we failed our mom.  That is where we failed each other.  Mom didn't understand how her world was changing.  And we were all trying to hang on to what we had left of Mom.  Communication among sisters should have been easy, but, when Alzheimer’s made it’s ugly appearance, it was the hardest thing we had ever faced.  Mom couldn’t make proper decisions and us girls couldn’t either.  That’s sad.  We could not agree on what was best regarding mom.  So decisions were made without consulting everyone, which caused hard feelings, which caused more bad decisions, which caused us to separate as a family, which is what Mom would have never wanted to see happen.  She always had great pride in her daughters and said that we stick together no matter what.  And we did, at one time.   

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Blog 26: Going Back to the Farm

I know my last post was not so fun, and definitely was not a pleasant memory, but this is a much happier one.  
On that first trip back to see Mom after I moved, and either before or after the water incident (I can’t remember which), I thought it would be nice to take Mom for a drive out to the country to see the farm where she grew up.  The farm where she was born is down a dirt road not far from town.  There are only scant remnants of the farm remaining.  The house is gone now and pretty much everything else is too.  We went there a few times throughout our childhood and young adult years when the house was still standing.  I remember one particular time going out to the farm with Mom and my sisters years ago, and Mom had so many stories she shared with us.  That was such a memorable day that I will always remember and cherish.  
We had a picture of the abandoned, fallen down house hanging on the wall in our family home for years.  I remember looking at pictures of her standing on the front porch of that house and in various pictures of her at the school house down the road.  She was such a beautiful little girl and she grew up to be a beautiful woman.  I could imagine what it must have been like in those days on the farm.  From the pictures, it looked like Mom, her siblings and friends, had a lot of fun playing together.  
Mom lived at this farm from the time she born, until the age of 11 years old.  I remember the story of the day she was born, January 30, 1936, which was the worst winter ever.  Grandma went into labor and Grandpa had to trudge through the snow to alert the doctor that the baby was coming.  By the time he returned, my mom was already born. My great aunt and her family were living on the other end of the house and she was there to assist my grandma in her delivery.  It was her first time delivering a baby.  Just think of how scary that would be! There was nobody on the other end of a cell phone telling her what to do.  Times were so different back then, babies were often delivered at home.
We left that farm and drove to another rural town where my mom and her parents and older brother and sister moved to after selling the first farm.  They moved there when Mom was in the 5th grade, and she lived there until she graduated high school.  The house is gone, and it actually burned down after my grandparents sold the farm when I was 14 years old.  A new house was built in the same spot as the original farm house.  The barns, garage and shed are still there.  
It was so weird pulling into the gravel driveway and seeing the farm.  Of course I had seen it several times over the years, but now it had special meaning because of the fact that my mom was losing her memory.  I wanted to bring some old memories back to life for Mom and give us something wonderful to talk about as we drove around that day.   I wanted to absorb as much as I could, while I still could.   
A man was on a riding lawnmower and he stopped to see who his visitors were.  I got out of the car and told him who we are.  He said we are more than welcome to take a look around the farm.  Mom didn’t seem to want to get out of the car.  She sat there and watched me walk from the barn to the pig barn, taking photos along the way.  My, did all those buildings seem so much smaller than they did when I was a child.  Everything always seemed to be so much larger when we were children.

This is the barn. 
The barn door was open and I could see inside.  I could smell the hay and the dirty smell that is so reminiscent of old barns.  I could swear I could see some of the same farm equipment inside the barn, but I knew that was impossible.  That was almost 40 years ago that the farm was sold.  I thought of those weekends my sisters and I spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, and how we would play in the barn, fetch eggs from under the chickens in the chicken coupe, watch Grandma break the chicken’s necks and kill them for dinner that night, and how we learned to milk the cows and Grandma would serve that milk for dinner that night as well.  We would complain that we wanted real milk!  She would say, “Where do you think the milk from the grocery store comes from?”  At least it  didn’t have a film across the top and no lumps!   We used to watch Grandpa feed the pigs.  I can still remember the smell of the pig food, and it actually smelled good.  Lots of other memories came flooding back. 

Here's the pig pen.
I turned to look at my mom and she was about to get out of the car.  I asked her to come out and look around.  She wanted to leave.  I didn’t know what she was feeling.  When I got back in the car I asked her what she thought of the place and she said she was glad I brought her there because she wanted to see it again.  She didn’t really volunteer much to say so I talked about the things I remembered and the stories she used to tell.  She listened intently and chimed in when she had something to add. I wondered what her mind was thinking and processing when she was quiet. 
We left the farm and drove to the cemetery where my grandparents, her mom and dad, are buried,  as well as many other relatives.  She got out of the car and couldn’t remember where their grave sites were.  She always knew exactly where they were before.  
We walked over to the graves and Mom looked down at the tombstones and read the engraved names and dates of birth and death.  She handled it very well.  She and I just stood there and we each had our moment of silence.  I said a prayer and had my little talk with Grandma and Grandpa, like I always do when we go to the cemetery, and then we walked back to the car and headed back into town.

Mom, at her parents graves.
Our next stop was the house my grandparents bought after they sold the farm.  It was a little house in town, and one side of the yard had a row of peony bushes, still there, in full bloom.  Grandpa dug some up for me years ago and I planted them in my own yard, and every time I moved, we would dig them up and move them with us.  Mom had some in her yard too, transplanted from Grandma’s garden.  We have lots of memories of family holiday gatherings and visits with Grandma and Grandpa at their house.  I could still see Grandpa sitting on a chair in front of the garage.  He always sat there and watched the cars go by.  Grandma was usually in the kitchen preparing a meal or working in her flower garden.  She rarely sat down.  However, when we were there to visit, they stopped what they were doing and gave us all the love and attention that grandparents do.  They passed on and the house was sold many years ago. 

Peonies will always be a special flower to me.
Mom talked about our trip to the country for several days after that.  She told my sisters where we went.  I think it meant more to her than she could express.  I know it meant a lot to me, to share that afternoon of going back to her childhood, and mine, and making another memory.  A memory that she would forget someday soon.  

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blog 25: A Glass of Water and Boo!

After I moved, things were falling apart even more with my sisters.  I came back home six weeks later and I think my sisters were relieved that I was there for the next two weeks.  Things weren’t going well with them.  With me there, everyone could take a break from Mom, and each other.  
Mom was happy to see me and we had some very special and wonderful moments together during my two week visit.  I took her to Dillard’s, her favorite department store, and she quickly went over to the children’s clothing section and picked out some gifts for some of her great grandchildren. That was so sweet watching her shop and thinking about what to buy.  I guided her and helped her with the selections because she really had no idea about sizes and paid no attention to prices.  It reminded me of one of our other trips to Dillard’s, right before Christmas the year before.  Mom picked out sweaters for all of us girls.  She bought us each the same sweater, in different colors.  I will always save that sweater and treasure it because it was the last gift Mom bought for me.  I know my sisters will always treasure theirs, too.  
I was back home cooking for Mom again, taking her for drives, and just spending time sitting in the living room with her, reminiscing about our younger years.  For the most part, she was OK, but she did occasionally revert back to her old ways of wanting me to leave.  
When she would act that way it hurt my feelings.  I was there to visit her, not live with her.  I just wanted to be with my mom, but she would sometimes act like she didn’t want me there.  She was really moody.  
I slept on my make-shift bed on the floor most of the time unless she insisted I go upstairs because she wanted me out of her sight, basically.  On this one particular day, Mom was really wanting me gone.  I told her I was leaving to go back home soon and I wouldn’t see her for another six weeks, but she wanted me gone NOW.  She kept telling me if I didn’t leave she was going to call the police.  I finally just said, “Go ahead, you don’t know how to dial the number anyway!”  And she didn’t anymore.  That frustrated her.  Once in awhile she could use the phone and dial properly but that was very rare these days. She always got confused on the to dial, how to answer, how to hang up the call.  She would often call the bank or doctor’s office and proceed to talk to them when it was their automated voice system she was talking to.  
On this one particular night I went upstairs to sleep at around 11:00 pm because Mom was just being so mean to me.  She wouldn’t let me sleep on the make-shift bed on the living room floor.  I didn’t want to sleep upstairs because I didn’t trust what she might do downstairs since she was always getting up during the night to eat, take a shower or watch TV.  But at this point she didn’t even know how to turn on the TV anymore.  
Mom kept coming upstairs and turning on the bedroom light and telling me to get out of her house.  I told her to please go back downstairs and go to bed.  I told her I will leave her alone if she will just leave me alone and let me sleep.  She would go downstairs and then 10 minutes later she would come back up and yell at me again.  This went on until about 2:30 in the morning.  I couldn’t believe how she could continue that behavior for hours.  At one point she slipped on the stairs  as she was going down.  I hopped out of bed and ran to the top of the stairs and saw her standing at the bottom.  I asked her if she was ok and she said something about me not caring, and she slammed the door shut.  I went down to check on her and make sure she wasn't hurt.   

That didn't stop her though.  She continued to come up the stairs.  It got to the point that she would come into the bedroom and grab the blanket off of me and try to force me out of bed.  I thought she might try to hurt me because she was being pretty aggressive.  What if I fell asleep and didn't hear her coming?  I became scared.  Me, scared of my own Mom.  What was happening to us?  
I followed her downstairs at one point and I used the bathroom.  She sat in her rocking chair and I told her if she comes back upstairs again, she will be sorry.  I warned her and I said, “DO NOT OPEN THAT DOOR AND COME UP THOSE STAIRS AGAIN!”
I was so tired and I could see that she was, too.  I felt so sorry for her, yet I was so upset with her.  I started to doze off when I heard the door creep open and the light switch turn on downstairs, and the sound of her feet making their way up the stairs.  I mean it, I was scared of what she might do.  She was really mad at me.  She came into the bedroom, turned on the light and told me to get out of her house.  I told her I’m not leaving tonight, it’s too late to go anywhere.  After her best attempt, she huffed back down the stairs.  
Before she got a chance to come back up, I went downstairs and tried to talk to her.  She wouldn’t give up and there was nothing I could say.  I had already tried to call my sister Annie for help but couldn’t reach her.  I knew my other sisters would be asleep.  I figured I’d be up until Mom became so exhausted and would eventually fall asleep, and I went to the kitchen to pour a glass of water.  She followed me there, yelling at me to leave.  What I did, I am not proud of, but I was out of my mind, too, at that point.  I instinctively tossed the water from my glass onto her face.  It splashed all over her face and hair and down her shirt.  She blinked the water out of her eyes and spit some out of her mouth, and then she looked down at her wet shirt and with all the might she had in her she said, “You BITCH!  You got me all WET!”  

Then I walked to the living room, so upset over what I did, when I heard her in the kitchen, pouring a glass of water, and saying, "You know what I'm going to do to you?"  She came out of the kitchen holding a glass of water and walked towards me.  I couldn't believe what was happening as I ran around the dining room table.  I think she knew I could get away and the water would go everywhere, so, amazingly, she set the glass down.  
I’m sorry, if it wasn’t so sad, it’s funny.  But if it’s funny, then I’m sick.  But then, there’s more...
I raised my voice to her and I told her that I warned her if she didn’t leave me alone she would be sorry.  I said again, “Do not come up those stairs the rest of the night.”  Then I opened the door that led up the stairs and I turned around and shut it, and sat down on one of the steps and held the door shut.  I laughed and cried silently and shook my head in disbelief.  I did this to my mom, who is sick with Alzheimer’s.  What is wrong with me? I could hear Mom in her bedroom, changing her clothes and mumbling about how I got her all wet.  I heard ‘bitch’ a few times again.  
Then it got quiet.  I opened the door and saw Mom sitting in her rocking chair.  She was asleep.  But I knew that meant nothing.  She would sleep for five minutes and then bolt up and start moving.  So, I shut the door and waited.  Within 10 minutes I heard her get out of her rocker and make her way into the hallway.  She was on the other side of the door.  My heart started pounding.  I let go of the door knob.  Was she going to open it?  What would I do?  I sat on the steps and waited.
I don’t know if she hesitated, if she was thinking about it, or if she forgot what I said...but she opened the door.  Without even thinking I yelled out, “BOO!”  She jumped a few inches in the air and I never saw her eyes get so big.  I said, “I told you not to open this door!  I am shutting it now, and you are going to bed right now!”  
Yep, I lost it.  I was a bad, bad daughter.  That was the second time I lost it with Mom. The first time was the time I struggled to get the car keys out of the ignition as she sneaked out of the house and was pulling out of the driveway.  
I went back upstairs and she did not come up the rest of the night.  I should say morning, because by then, dawn was breaking.  I fell asleep and woke up a few hours later when I heard Mom moving around downstairs.  She never tried to come up there after she woke up.
I went downstairs and she seemed to have forgotten about the night.  I fixed her some breakfast and we got along fine.  However, she did remember, because she told a much different story of what happened to my sisters.  She told them I pushed her down the stairs and then I threw a bucket of water on her.  She would never bring it up to me.  My sisters didn’t believe her of course, and it would be months before I told Lynda about it, and almost two years before I would tell Annie.   When I told Lynda we both laughed, a very guilty laugh with sadness in our faces, if that makes any sense.