Friday, March 20, 2009

this week

Where to begin?

There was the call that I placed to my father on Sunday, that was answered by his 80-year old girlfriend, Mary. The woman that Dad met last year and has been living with him since he returned from visiting us in California, last April.

I wasn't able to talk to Dad.

I haven't been able to talk to Dad for at least a month.

It seems he is always sleeping or on his way to the bathroom. Mary told me that Dad was having an off day. He has been unable to sit down or stand up on his own. He had to have a catheter installed because he was up every 30 minutes at night to use the restroom and he - nor she - were getting any sleep.

But he's doing better now.

Everything will soon be fine.

There was the call I placed to my mother on Tuesday where she made me realize that I was in denial about my father's failing health. It doesn't appear at all likely that he is going to bounce back. It's just a matter of time before he is gone. There was that instant while I stood looking at a partially packed suitcase - and it felt like someone dumped a cold bucket of water over me.

There was the suitcase that I finished packing for the business trip that would take me to Los Angeles for several days. There was the 400-mile round trip drive, that I drove by myself while my husband and four children stayed at home. There was the same song that I listened to over and over again and I cried and cried.

I mourned for my Dad, that hasn't yet left this earth.

I mourned for myself that I was so far away and helpless to do anything.

There was the phone call that I had with my sister, Janet, this afternoon. The call where she told me that she had talked to my brother, Frank, late last night. Frank had told her that something funny is going on up at my father's house. Although my sister Beth has been saying it for months, for the first time, my brother smells a rat.

Unauthorized checks are being written. Strangers are getting a hold of house keys and hiding them in the garage. When Frank tried to call my father's missing cell phone, it was answered by a contractor that had placed a bid to do work on the windows. Health care aides that are supposed to be helping take care of Dad are sleeping on the couch. When Frank dropped in to check on Dad, two of Mary's sons were hanging out in the house.

Why were they there?

Why is it that every time someone calls the house, we are happily told Dad is doing better? When in reality, Dad lies in bed for 22 hours a day completely oblivious to everything. Unable to get up. Roll over. Use the restroom. Unable to feed himself. Unable to drink without a straw. And now, he has an infection - due to the catheter.

Dad wants to be with Mary. That's what he said. That's what he told me that last summer when I was there. He told me again in January when he was put in the hospital. So what if Mary takes every last cent that Dad has? So long as Dad is happy, what does it matter? That's the primary reason Beth was driven out of the picture. That's the reason Beth's Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy were reassigned.

Because Beth wasn't willing to let Mary take complete control over my father's health care and financial decisions. Even though Beth knew what she was doing. Even though Beth has stood by my father's side through everything that he has been through. Even though she singlehandedly got him through his divorce that was finalized a year ago, yesterday. Beth didn't trust the situation. She suspected something else was up. She was resistant to give any of his financial documents back and almost everyone turned on her.

Everyone cried, "Respect Dad's wishes!"

But did Dad really wish for this?

If Dad was in a clear-state of mind, would he want to lay on a bed in his boxer shorts with his parts hanging out for all the world to see? Would he want strangers taking his house keys and stealing his cell phone? Would he want unauthorized checks written from his bank account? Would he want all of his appointments with world-renowned neurologists that he was seeing in Boston canceled? Would he want to have his medication mixed up, countless times? Or would he want to have his loyal daughter that holds a pharmacy AND law degree to be managing his medication and business affairs?

There are the plane tickets that I have on hold to fly back to Massachusetts, in April. Unfortunately, I can't go sooner because of a two-week court trial where I'll be testifying as an expert-witness and representative for my company. So I'll be in Massachusetts for my birthday. And Dad's birthday, provided he lasts that long.

God-willing, I'll make it there and back again because on my birthday, I'll be turning 38. And if my 10th grade Geometry buddy Will Brown was right, this is the year I'm due to perish in a plane crash.

There was the call I placed to Beth today that I said it doesn't matter what anyone thinks of says or does. As she was planning to do in January, she needs to go to court and have all of the documents overturned and assume immediate control of my father. She needs to be his guardian, regardless of what anyone might say. She needs to move him out of his house and in to her house. She needs to get his medication straightened out. She needs to bring in nurses, if need be. Or, she needs to move up his house - as she had been planning to do last year - before my father met Mary.

He can't be in his house alone - and that house is where he has always wanted to be.

There's this post that I'm writing that I'm sure will generate a ton of controversy from my family. But whatever the case.

Whatever it takes.

Even if toes are stomped upon and battles are waged.

This is my Dad.

And I'm not ready to lose him, yet.


  1. Oh Jen my heart aches for you. As someone who just lost her father in Dec. take my advice and do whatever it is that you need to do. Love & prayers coming your way.

  2. Jen - I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I lost my father, to cancer, within 6 weeks of his diagnosis, in 2001.

    The only advice I can give, is that work can find a way around you not being there, or find someone else, or SOMETHING, that if you have to go, you need to go. There is nothing that will replace your father knowing (if not acknowledging) what you are doing. Please. GO.

    Even if just for 1 weekend or 2 days or whatever. GO AND TRY. PLEASE.

  3. (((Jen))) I really can't even begin to imagine what you and your family are going through. I do hope for you dad's sake (and yours) that it is able to be straightened out. I'll be sending lots of prayers your way from TX. You're a tough gal, I have no doubt that you'll do everything you can to help make sure your dad really is getting what he needs and deserves. (((HUGS))) Kahla

  4. Good luck to you and my best wishes for your dad. Aging parents is a tough thing to deal with and people try to take advantage of these situations all the time. Follow your instincts. If something smells fishy, it usually is.

  5. I completely agree with you. (((((((((hugs))))))))))))))

  6. (((Jen))). My heart goes out to you, and your Dad.

  7. My prayers are with you and your family today.

  8. My heart is heavy for you and for your father who clearly deserves more than this.

  9. What a hard situation to say it lightly I hope whatever happens feels right in the end. Please don't put off going if you don't see him you will forever feel guilty.

  10. I read your blog everyday. I never comment. Sorry about that.
    But today I was compelled to comment.

    I'm so sorry. That has to be so so hard. Your love for your dad is evident. I think your instinct that smells a rat is correct. I hope you and your siblings are able to help him... Hugs to you. Keep us updated. I'm praying for him and you and hoping for the best.

  11. I read your blog everyday. I never comment. Sorry about that.
    But today I was compelled to comment.

    I'm so sorry. That has to be so so hard. Your love for your dad is evident. I think your instinct that smells a rat is correct. I hope you and your siblings are able to help him... Hugs to you. Keep us updated. I'm praying for him and you and hoping for the best.

  12. Jen- you need to send Beth in like an attack dog. Mary sounds like a black widow. Get over there Jen and get that woman out of the house. Get Beth to court. I'd hire a detective and see if "Mary" has done this before. You never know!!!! Mary might not even be her real name.

  13. Thinking of you and praying for you here. We are wishing you the best, as you go through a very difficult time.
    Lots of love,
    P.S. Great picture at the end of your post. Your daughters look just like you do in that picture.

  14. Great picture Jen. I remember that boat very well. Call if you need anything while you are here.


  15. Jen,
    I am so sorry you are going through this. It hurts and I hurt for you. Long story, but we went through a similar instance with my Dad a few years ago and found out some of the info a bit too late. Do whatever you have to do to remedy the situation NOW.

    You have my email & number from before - call me. My DH will help if he can, access the situation, etc...

  16. One of many cuzzins'3/21/09, 3:50 PM

    Hey Kid,

    It's such a messy situation. Alot can be said, but I'll just leave it with I'm sorry for all of you.

    I hope you can all find some sense of peace with one another during this difficult time. This is one of those times in life when a family needs to put their individual interests aside and come together as a united force.

    I wish you all the best and my heartfelt prayers.


  17. I have started and deleted about 10 different comments to you. I've decided that only you can know what you need to do. Prayers to you, your Dad and your family.
    ((((hugs)))) from me.

  18. What a terrible situation. And unfortunately it seems that this is not uncommon. It's happened in our family too. Your dad should be in Beth's care. There is no doubt about that. I hope that you are able to spend some time with him soon.

  19. Oh Jen! I hope you are able to get out there ASAP. I'm with the other comment --- hire a PI and see what's up.

  20. This happens A LOT in Florida where my stepmom lives. I'd be bringing Mary up on charges as well. People like that make me sick.

  21. Fight for your dad, because he can't fight for himself.
    Get a good lawyer and throw Mary and her sons out on their sorry asses.
    Its not about the money. Its about giving your father respect and dignity in the twilight of his days.
    Prayers and hugs to you, Jen.
    Linda (Chicago)

  22. Don't know how I missed this post!

    So sorry to hear about this mess. What a worry!

    Beth has an enormous heart, and although it's so hard on everyone I hope all can pull together and make the best of this situation.

    Sounds like a tough one on all sides. Don't let him go...

    Big hugs. Love, Marg.

  23. Jen,

    My heart broke as I read this post. and then, I thought...HOLY COW...she is a BRAVE WOMAN! That takes guts...going against "the easy way". Good for you!

    I hope you can get back to see your Dad sooner...rather than later. Even still...I'm praying that your Dad stays strong until you can visit!

    I'm proud to call you a "friend" (even if it's only in my mind!)

    - Amy

  24. Sending you and your family good vibes.

    Hey, if you are lucky, it'll be a water landing and all will be well.

    Tracy B