Sunday, June 17, 2007

Brief personal update

I haven't visited this blog in a long time - I have been too involved with taking care of my mother. When I started this blog, my mother was an independent 94 year old. Since then, she has spent 8 months held prisoner in a nursing home, had all of her money embezzled and almost lost her home of 40 years, been rescued from the nursing home by my attorney, and is now sharing her home with me, now her 24/7 caretaker. I have spent so much time in court in the last year that I have finally decided I made a good choice when I gave up going to law school and became a teacher - I could never have loved being a lawyer the way I have loved being a teacher.

Rug hooking has taken a back seat to caretaking. I still think about it all the time, plan rugs in my head, and sometimes wake up in the morning with my hooking hand sore from somnabulistic hooking. Somehow, the quantity of stuff required to hook - the floor frame, the wool, the big sports bag I carry it all in, plus the bag of hooks and the pattern - just takes too long to set up and is too hard to move if I have to jump up to help my mother. As my mother shakes off the bad effects from the nursing home, she may relax more about calling for help - at the home, the technique to get help was to yell as though death was imminent if she wanted to go to the bathroom. Yesterday, at breakfast, she started to talk about "the fight" and when I asked what she meant, she said, "the fight with the people who were here before, the fight to get the house back" and then she realized it was a dream. How awful to have to dream about something akin to a civil war battle because her greedy relatives wanted her home. She can't damn them when she's awake, but she can fight with them in her dreams. I could almost make a rug of that dream, but I think I would grind my teeth too much while hooking.

I want to find a way to warn people like my mother about being ever so careful when granting a power of attorney to a loved one. My mother loved her youngest nephew, especially after his parents moved away when he was a young man and my mother let him live with her for several years. He paid more attention to her than her own sons, a lot more. When her oldest son seemed to be making some poor choices and ignoring his mother, she had her nephew do more and more of her business for her - at first writing out checks to pay bills and then having her sign them, and then eventually putting his name on her checking account so he could sign the checks himself. She had her attorney draft a power of attorney that had a safeguard - it could only become effective if my mother was declared incompetent in writing by two doctors or by the court. My cousin was able to ignore that activating clause and used the power of attorney to take out five mortgages on my mother's home, while he was draining her cash and savings by cash ATM withdrawals - with his name on her account, he had received an ATM card and started using it almost daily. Last July and August, he persuaded my brothers and their children that my mother was bankrupt and her home had to be sold. They immediately started emptying the house. When I saw that all of my father's things had been thrown away and found my Great Aunt's quilts in the trash, I filed a petition with the probate court to stop them. My oldest brother was/is furious because he had already made plans to take my mother's property, tear down her house, and build condominiums. He lives right next door and hasn't spoken to me or my mother, even though we've been back here for two and a half months.

Mother calls, have to go