June 28, 2007
Today was a day that could just about define the word "stressful."
Today was the day that Adult Protective Services was to get the court order in hand to remove my sister from my mother's care. They wanted me to be there when they took Jan away. (Hence me being in Pennsylvania. Though I've been here a day and a half, I didn't call my mother and let her know -- I was afraid she'd find some way to bully Jan into her car and take off with her. )
We had breakfast at a local restaurant, then decided to go let Bernie's mother know we were in town. We knocked on her door, got no answer. Bernie had to call her on the phone to tell her to come answer her door. When she did, she was quite surprised to find us there.
We filled her in on the situation, and she was glad to hear that Jan was going to a care facility -- she'd thought Jan should be removed some time ago when my mother told her that she tied Jan into her chair so she wouldn't roam through the house while Ma worked outside. God, I hadn't known about that. And then Mother-in-Law offered to go with us when we went to witness Jan's removal. It was perfect. While my mother still believes on a deep level that I am a child who must be dominated, she sees Bernie's mother as a friend.
While we were talking, Mom's lawyer finally returned my call. He gave us the scary news that if Mom told any agency to ignore my power of attorney, it would negate my ability to use it. He advised me to get her bills paid secretly, and set up a payment schedule for them before she could get to the bank and yank my POA.
Off we went to the bank,(in my mother's town) where the teller we spoke with turned out to be a high school classmate of mine -- one who had thought I was crazy but didn't actively dislike me. She set up an impromptu meeting for us with a trust officer to see if a trust for Mom would meet our concerns.
After yet another rendition of my woes, we set up a real appointment for next week. Then I went back to my teller friend and asked her for some checks so that I can pay for some stuff of Mom's out of her account. Before that was done, the case worker from Adult Protective Services called me and let me know she had the court order, but was waiting for one more signature before they went to get Jan.
Back to the teller again, my hands shaking. We got the checks and then, armed with my POA papers, I went to the other two banks where Mom has money squirreled away, and got account numbers and balances -- information the trust dude will need.
Then it was back up the road to the town where we're staying, to wait for more news. Bernie took me to a restaurant for a glass of wine. Just as we placed our order, the APS caseworker called and gave us a time for the intervention. We had time to finish our wine, and then went to get Bernie's mother.
We arrived at my mother's house while the caseworkers were still trying to get my sister to get out of her chair. When we came to the door, Mom didn't know who I was, or Bernie. She did, however, recognize Bernie's mother, who hasn't really changed her looks much in the past 30 years. Bernie's mother, Regina, managed to convince my mother that the specter in her doorway was me. It took about 10 full minutes before my mother believed her. Or at least until she said she did. I'm not sure she really accepted the introduction.
The caseworkers brought in four people to get Jan out. The house was hellishly hot, all closed up. Jan was freaked and refused to get out of the chair that has been her mode of existence for years and years. You have to understand that the chair (a recliner that has seen better days) has been Jan's environment except for bathroom trips, and bedtime, and meals in the kitchen. That's all. Sounds like abuse? Damn right, it is. Blame my mother's decreasing mental state. The dementia that is claiming my mother's brain doesn't want Jan moving around.
Jan refused to budge, and they called a bigass burly police officer to help. After another 20 minutes of Jan's standoff, the policeman picked her up bodily and took her out. She cried, which was pitiful and hurt my heart, but even then I noticed that she didn't cry out for her mother. She just said, "Put me down!"
I followed them to the group home where Jan will actually have 24 hour care, and no one will tie her into a chair or tell her to shut up or call her names -- dear God, how I wanted something like this for her 20 years ago. She was upset, of course. She's blind, and this is the first new environment she's been in since she broke her ankle about 5 years ago. Or was it 6? And that was just for a couple weeks.
Suddenly, from sitting in a damned reclining chair in a stiflingly hot house with a semi-deranged caregiver, Jan was transported to a bright, light house with air conditioning and people dedicated to taking care of her. She looked very young, in spite of her graying hair, like she was nine years old. "I'm scared," she said, and the caregivers surrounded her and assured her that everything would be fine. Before I left her, I took her hand and rubbed her legs and told her we'd be there soon to visit. She stopped crying at that point. I think I'll be back East to visit more often now that she's not trapped in my mother's house, sad as that is to say. Seeing her isolation (okay, let's be up front and call it abuse) was too much for me to bear. I've been trying to get her out of my mother's care since the broken ankle incident.
Once I left Jan in good hands, I went back to Mom's house. She asked the same questions over and over again: "Why did they do this? Will Jan have to stay over night? When are they going to bring her back? They're not going to ruin her, are they? I just got her settled down!"
Deep in the throes of dementia, be it Alzheimers or whatever, my mother can't really understand processes not of her own routine, and the dementia has her paranoid and quite delusional as to her own capabilities and condition. She is so incredibly emaciated that I can hardly believe she still gets around. Her arms look like broomsticks with skin and veins as upholstery.
When it was time for us to get Bernie's mother back home, I asked Mom if she was going to be okay. She said that she would be, and no, she didn't want any food for her evening meal because she wasn't hungry.
Suddenly I wasn't, either.