Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mayhem and Foolishness

I can't keep up with the mayhem and foolishness.*

When my parents went to the hospital, I changed the locks on my parents' house because a certain family member hangs around sick and dying people like a vulture. Over the weekend, my mother let her in and said relative stole about $3,000 worth of belongings out of their garage. Oh, and this person has a key to Mom's storage unit. I urged Mom to call the sheriff, but she won't. It's out of my control and therefore not something I should get upset about.

I should have taken my nephew up on his offer to act as a watchdog while the known thief was at my mother's house. But like Mom, I didn't think she'd rob her blind. Going forward, she won't be admitted to my house if she dares to show her face there. And a CPA I work with recommended some estate lawyers to draw up a new will so Mom can exclude this person from her will. (The last attorney screwed up the powers of attorney so badly I had to redo them so the credit union would accept them.)

My mother and I are getting along well while she's staying with me. (Estate sale people are preparing for a large sale at her house, and she can't be there while they're working.) But the past few weeks have seen plenty of mayhem and foolishness. I think it's what led to my getting so sick recently and I'm setting some rules for myself about what I will and won't do.

  • I'll try to stop arguing.
  • I'll offer advice, but I won't get caught up in whether it's followed. 
  • I'll keep making accommodations for my mother since she's disabled.
  • I'll do what I can without running myself ragged.
  • I'll ask my mother to do more to protect herself, e.g., don't give her credit card number to solicitors.
  • I'll keep taking care of my mother's finances, as she's asked me to do.
Some of my inspiration for taking care of myself has come from a blog I just started following: Living Stingy. It's worth a read.

*"Mayhem and foolishness" is a phrase from Niecy Nash of Clean House. You might have also seen her on Reno 911.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lawyers, Guns and Money

Mom (to a family friend): What do I have to do to get a permit to carry a gun?
Me: Should I get a bulletproof vest?
Mom: If things keep going this way.

Don't worry--Mom was just kidding. Most Americans (us included) would rather sue than shoot each other. Still, I was surprised when a lawyer representing my mother called me today. My mother wanted to delay the estate sale by a month. But the estate sale company is set to start setting up the sale on Monday, and it's too late for them to fill in two weeks with another client. I told Mom the company would suffer damages and they could sue her. So the sale is (still) on.

Meantime, I came down with a bad cold yesterday. The room has stopped spinning and I've stopped shivering in a 77-degree house, but I'm still barking like a seal.

It'll all pass.

Friday, September 5, 2014

A New, Unexpected Chapter

Readers know my father passed on Monday. For friends and family members reading this, services will be at 11 AM Tuesday at Weston Lodge, 5718 S. Rapp Street, Littleton. If you wish, gifts in Dad's memory can be made to Bonfils Blood Center (Dad was a 50-gallon blood/plasma donor).

Back at my parents' home, things are still moving fast. It's no disrespect to my father--circumstances are driving it. Mom is living there again, feeling like she made a jailbreak from the nursing home. A month and a half ago, we didn't think she'd be able to live at home anymore--she was having dialysis and was so sick she still doesn't remember even going to the hospital. Yesterday, we went clothes shopping because she lost a lot of weight and needs something to wear to Dad's funeral. Today, when I mentioned (for the 20th time) that the estate sale people were going to start setting up the sale in a few weeks, she balked. (I'd set it up when I didn't think my parents were going to be back.) The signed contract, the expense of living in her house, and other hard, cold facts got me yelled at. I worried that if she didn't have a sale soon, she never would--and she'd never move. The house is too much for her to take care of and even with help, I can't do it for her. I tried this year. The estate sale people said they'd have to use part of the yard to set up--apt to be a muddy mess when it's much past early October in Denver.

They say that in a negotiation, you have to give something to get something. I showed Mom photos of a condo for sale near my house and other amenities, hoping she'd sell the house and stuff if she had somewhere else to go. It's a beautiful place, well designed for a senior. Mom was so pleased with the condo that she already wants to move there. It's something I tried to get my parents to do for years: move to a smaller, manageable place close to my house--which is close to public transportation, a senior center, a hospital and a gazillion doctors. Mom could go to Walgreens and the Country Buffet every day. She likes the idea of continuing to own her own home. If she ever has to take out Medicaid, she won't have to leave it. Talking about it, she was the happiest I've seen her in a long time.

If she wants to buy the place, the next step is...having that sale. (Even if she doesn't want to buy the condo, she'll end up going to some other condo, in which case the next step is...having that sale.) So the sale is on.

Want to buy some 60s or 70s furniture or collectibles? CDs? Vintage patterns? Power tools? Furniture? A house in the suburbs of Denver? It's got to go.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Tale of Two Parents

Let me tell you about my parents: same age, same socioeconomic background, same race, and up until a few years ago, same diet.

From there, they're quite different. My father worked construction, enjoyed hunting and fishing in his younger days, is emotionally self-controlled, and bears up well against suffering. He developed mild diabetes a few years ago, but has been lean and fit most of his life.

My mother had several surgeries, a bad back, torn rotator cuffs, was obese for many years, developed diabetes and suffered from uncontrolled blood sugars for 20 years, but started a low-carb diet four years ago. She hasn't been very active for much of her life. Emotionally, she could use more resilience.

A few months ago, they went to the hospital about the same time--my father for a bad cut on his arm and bump on his head after a fall; my mother, because her kidneys were shutting down.

One of my parents made a remarkable recovery and stayed with their mate Monday night at their deathbed. That parent is my mother--the same one who worried that she wouldn't live to see me graduate from high school. (I'm 45 now.) She took care of my father, the metabolically gifted one, who nevertheless suffered from dementia. Due to that and his active nature, kept getting up, falling down and hurting himself. She also took care of herself starting four years ago--she mostly stuck to a low-carb diet because she felt so much better when her blood sugar was under control. Even though she was far more sensitive to carbohydrate than my father, she kept her diabetes under better control than he did.

How could did diet have affected their outcomes? Dad died of an infection. Infections are less likely to happen with normal blood sugars--and unfortunately, the rehab center where both Mom and Dad were makes no effort to help patients control their blood sugar with diet. Alzheimer's disease (a form of dementia) is now known as type 3 diabetes. If Dad's dementia was due in part to hyperglycemia, a low-carb diet might have given him the presence of mind to avoid getting up, falling and hurting himself. He likely wouldn't have gotten an infection of clostridium difficile if he hadn't been at a rehab center.

In fairness, though, Mom had a few trumps. She'd never had a stroke; Dad had had a few and they ran in his family. She was also from long-lived stock: one of her uncles danced at his hundredth birthday party and most of her ancestors lived into their eighties.

* * *

Dad insisted on having his funeral service in the town where he grew up: Thermopolis, Wyoming, hundreds of miles from his friends and immediate family.* Fortunately, we've talked Mom out of having a destination funeral. A lot of people (who aren't me) find Thermopolis wonderful; my only objection is that a day's worth of oil wells, antelope and windy prairie lay between there and my nice, comfortable home (and the nice, comfortable homes our family and friends don't have to pay to sleep in or gas up their cars or take off days of work to get to). And nothing against people from Wyoming, but I just don't like the place. As my best friend put it, it's Destination Desolation.

A funeral service doesn't have to be an expensive packaged affair. It can be whatever you want it to be. Say a few kind words, tell some amusing stories about the deceased, scatter some ashes, and have lunch. If you want to avoid Alzheimer's and diabetes, make it a lunch that keeps your blood sugar under control.

*Correction: Dad didn't want a service at all, but wanted his ashes to be taken to the cemetary in Thermopolis.