Last week I spent half a day at the gym, which I do quite frequently as I still have over 100 lbs to lose. My phone is shut off when this happens, as phones aren't allowed there. I was in the locker room changing and I turned the phone on to find it deluged with voice and text messages from various cousins:
"Go to our mom's NOW she's not answering the phone."
"She called me at work and hung up and now she's not answering."
"Been trying to call her for 4 hours, please hurry over there!"
"Where are you? you need to check on our mom NOW!"
I was SO ANGRY. I immediately texted everyone back saying "I was at the gym for 5 hours, I need to eat. I'll go over in an hour."
The "been trying for 4 hours" cousin sent back a really passive-aggressive message, "well I have work in an hour but I'll have to blow it off to check on her THANKS you take care of YOURSELF." My point is, you were calling her for 4 hours and then waiting around for me to answer your angry text messages, you had over 5 hours to drive the half hour to her house and check on her yourself. SHE IS NOT MY PROBLEM.
Turns out Alzheimer's Aunt had accidentally shut off her phone ringer. No one apologized for ranting on my voice mail or text messages. I pointed out to them that I don't have a key to AA's house. So if I go there and the door's locked and she doesn't answer, what am I supposed to do? Call the cops? They'll break down the door, see the hoard and call in Adult Protective Services. I think that's a wonderful idea. My cousins don't agree. Their solution? Here's a key. (groan)
A few days later, Alzheimer's Aunt found some paid bills. We went over there to deal with sorting them. None of them were marked paid or had any notes. (When I pay my bills, I write the date paid, I circle or write the amount I sent, and if I write a check I note the check number. Isn't that how it's done?) She had bills from 2010, 2011, 2012 and back in the 200x's all mixed together. She kept reply envelopes and blow-in ads. She kept 3 years of newsletters from AARP and AAA. Really? When I tried to throw them out she lost her mind. Remember, she can't READ (so she claims) but she's saving old newsletters?
I tried to talk to her about going through her books. She has thousands. (She can't read. Always keep that in mind.) She said she wouldn't go through them until December (why?!) (Update: it's now the end of January and she hasn't reorganized any books, but she has purchased many more.) She spent tens of thousands of dollars stocking up on books for her retirement and now she won't let them go even though she can't read them. She claims to have no money and that she can't pay her bills now that her golden handshake ran out. (Her pension and SS together [when it starts] are about 3x what my mom makes on SS and with her part time job, BTW.)
As we were sorting in the sweltering hot, stinky house, Alzheimer's Aunt got a phone call from her daughter-in-law. We who were WORKING there kept asking her things,
"do you have a stapler?"
"Do you still use this credit card?"
"Do you have any sticky notes?"
"is this still your car insurance company?"
and her response was to impatiently wave us away: "I'm on the phone" talking loudly about absolutely NOTHING important.
Finally I got so angry I just went to sit outside in the breeze. She got off the phone and I could hear her whining (yes, whining) to my cousins about me so I stayed away.
So, in case you are wondering, I am "mean" and a "bully" and I "order" her around. I want to "throw all the books in the garbage." I "pressure" her to clean her house and sell her car.
I pointed out, mildly, that I am trying to HELP her. But my cousins said Alzheimer's Aunt went into "poor me" mode (her common theme) and that she said "no one wants to help her" and I almost LOST IT. I'm TRYING to HELP HER but she thinks I'm a BULLY. So exactly why should I bother anymore? She's not my mother. She has her own kids. But oh, wait, her kids work and I live closest to her and I don't work (no matter that I'm writing 5 books and learning to speak Spanish, none of that counts) so I'm the designated punching bag.
Friday is the big family meeting with the lawyer. I scheduled it but I plan on excusing myself. Alzheimer's Aunt is not going to name me for her POA, for her medical conservatorship, or as a beneficiary of her will or life insurance, why should I waste my time sitting through the meeting? Anything I say will be discounted because I'm not her child and because I'm a nasty bully.
I'm also beginning to be deeply suspicious of the whole "I'm blind" thing. To reiterate, she lost her reading glasses and therefore went to the eye doctor to get new ones--not because she was having any unusual problems with her eyes. The eye doctor examined her eyes as he usually does and saw that she had cataracts that needed treatment. She walked out of the office saying "I'm blind, I can't see, I can't read." That seems awfully psychosomatic to me. It's progressed to "I can't find anything because I can't see" (I'm helpless, I'm a victim). Her mental confusion is real (what store is this? What bank has my accounts?) but I think the whole blindness thing is a big fat fake to get attention. So I'm a horrible person to think so. It's either that or magically her visual cortex broke down when the eye doc said "you have cataracts."
I'm just so tired, physically and mentally. When my cell phone rings with a call or chimes with a text, I feel dread. I used to feel excitement: I have a friend! Someone wants to talk to me! Now I think, "Oh god, what manufactured 4-alarm fire are my cousins panicking about now? She didn't answer the phone again?"
I'm going on vacation next month. For a glorious week, no cell phone and no internet. Don't call me, I don't want to know.
After the whole "she's not answering the phone" panic of last week, when my cousin talked to me to say Alzheimer's Aunt was fine, she just shut off her phone, he reiterated that the terror is that they'll find her dead in the hoard. He asked me about my dad and if I ever wished he died sooner. I told him the truth. The time my dad ran away and said he was going to walk in front of a truck--I wish I'd let him. The time he got attacked by the cat who cut an artery and he was spurting, bleeding to death and I saved him--I wish I hadn't. My cousin was quiet for a while and then he said, "Maybe it will be better if we find her dead in her hoard."
Living with Bob and "Al"
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