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.)