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.