Old Age

What does one do with a mother that is stubborn like a mule? Who has never listened to any advice one has offered? Who has always regarded this daughter as stupid (even after years of studies at two different universities and with an average of A+)? Who has put herself in the first room since 1981? Who has done everything to crush what little self confidence the daughter has been able to gather in her life time. Who has preferred to clean and throw away things when visiting instead of spending precious time with her grand-children? And now, seems to have no short term memory left?

In autumn, on top of dealing with all the consequences of “Kitty’s” ADHD, I received a letter from the Legal Guardian Authorities in the town where my mum lives. They wanted contact with me and asked me to ring them right when I fetch children from school. I wrote an e-mail with times that would be more convenient. And a lady phoned me the day after receiving the e-mail. She said that my mum’s doctor had filed a report claiming that my mother doesn’t understand anything he tells her and that she needs a “God Man”. In direct translation, it would be “Good Man”. When looking it up, it says that in English it is called a trustee. The trustee is supposed to protect the person’s money, see to that the bills get paid and see to that the person gets help with other things if there is a need. The lady asked if I would like to be my mother’s trustee and I said “how can I? I sit 380 kilometers away from her. How can I help her with her bills, take her to the doctor and so forth? I am stuck down here with the 24 hour job of being a mother to 7 children. I do not work so I do not have any income. My husband works far away and leaves 6:00 and comes back home at 18:00, which means I am IT here at home. The children need me all the time.” I added that I have one child with a sick kidney, one child that goes to a speech therapist for delayed speech and problems with pronunciation and I have one child with ADHD, which means I have to keep an eye on him ALL THE TIME. She completely understood that I am strapped and can not take this new responsibility on to my shoulders as well. And it is not common that you can when you live far away from the person that needs help. She promised to send me information what trusteeship is all about.

But I never received anything. Then I received a letter from the court up there that declared that if I had any objections or anything to say, I needed to send them a letter before the 12th February. I had the letter on the ironing board every day. I thought “I should write something but what? Do I have any objections? If she needs help and a doctor that knows this better than me, has reported to them that she does, how can I object? Should I write and say ‘this person promised me information brochures but never sent any, so please do before you decide anything’?”. The days flew by and I could not come up with anything to write. If she needs help she needs help! She never comes down here so I do not get to see how bad things are. She doesn’t phone me so I who have telephone phobia, have to phone her which means that this phenomena happens once in a blue moon when my conscience is so full of guilt, I can not take it anymore. And then she sounds like normal apart from repeating everything ten times during the one or two hour conversation. And do I get to go up to see her? With 7 children there is always something going on, something happening. If it is not dancing, piano, church related, school things, then someone is sick. And where to find the petrol money for such a long journey in a car/bus that swallows petrol like there is no tomorrow? There never seems to be the extra 200 dollars/100 pounds needed. Our camera just broke down and T. says the car needs to go in for a major check up. All of Sandby hears us when I come driving since the fan belt screams. It’s so embarrassing that I have by now decided not to meet other drivers’ and pedestrians eyes! It’s not me right!!!

Monday, I received a phone call from my mother. Yes, SHE phoned me! She was furious. She said that the Thursday group has behaved treacherous. They have reported her to the courts and have had them appoint a legal guardian. Two women had forced themselves in to the house and declared that they were now going to decide over her, her house and her money. She informed me that she had had a neighbour write a letter on her behalf where she states that she is perfectly capable of taking care of herself, she will not have any of this and is going to move down to Skåne. I didn’t have a clue as to what to say. The Thursday club is, what I believe, a club for people that has bad memory. They meet, socialize and eat a lunch. She stopped going when they told her there is a fee. This, the Legal Guardian Office told me. I tried to softly tell her that I did not think it was them that reported her but one of the doctors she has been seeing. “I have not seen any doctors!”. “But mum, you have been seeing doctors for the last one and a half years, since Monica was here. Last time, according to Monica, was in December or something when you had fallen and hurt your back and you even were in hospital”. “I have not been hurt or in hospital, I have no memory of that at all”. Exactly, was my thought.

She told me that her old classmates are coming up to help her pack. So I asked if she has applied for a flat somewhere. No, she answered, because she has just started to think about moving to Skåne since she has no family up there. She has “just started to think about it for one and a half years now”. But nothing happens. I am not allowed to apply for a flat for her. It has to be done by her. So I asked when the classmates are coming. She didn’t know but thought they were supposed to have come this past weekend. I so wish I knew their names and their phone number. So I could find out SOMETHING! Can they really be trusted? And do they just say yes and Amen to her? She also asked when I will come and take care of the box that has my things in it, from the attic. I have asked her for the last six months, what is in it? Is it worth a fortune in petrol money to go up there and fetch it? If I just have to drive it to the city dump? And then she tells me that Monica has several boxes there too. Monica lives in Australia! Why did she not sort through them when she was here 2010? Who will send the things down to her? Do I have to determine what to do with them? I told her to write down what is in Monica’s boxes and then she has to phone Monica and ask what to be done with the things. And she could write down what is in mine as well, when she is at it.

She told me that all her bills are paid automatically which is what I suspected all along so in that way, I was not concerned about bills. And she added that she takes her medicines every morning. I had to rush off and fetch “Sparky” at 11:20 so it meant finishing our phone call after an hour and a half. Then I had a stomach ache all day and all night with nightmares since I felt that I have been dishonest with her. When I had sorted laundry yesterday morning, I received a phone call from a lady named Hurtig. She told me that she has been appointed my mum’s trustee by the courts. She has been going home to see my mum for quite a while to get to know her and to see if my mother would accept her and her help. My mother has always been very courteous towards her. BUT Thursday both of them had received a letter from court saying that Mrs. Hurtig has been appointed trustee and my mother had exploded. She had phoned Mrs. Hurtig on Sunday and had screamed at her, calling her names and you name it. Really nasty! We sat and talked for an hour and she told me that it was my mum’s memory doctor that had written the report but that he now has moved away. She has been prescribed a memory medicine that Mrs. Hurtig has never seen in the house so my mum has run out of it and has not renewed the prescription. She just says to her, “the doctor is not here anymore” whereupon Mrs. Hurtig has said that any doctor can write a new prescription. So pills that could help my mum are not taken at all. But she probably takes her pills for hight blood pressure, blood clots and for her heart. Or?

When Mrs. Hurtig has visited, my mum has told her about how she met my dad, how she bicycled to work in Malmö, she has told her that my sister has four children when she indeed only has two and that I have seven children but she has never met the youngest one. I told her that Monica has twins and that my mother has met “Sparky” many times. I will never forget how she promised to come down and help take care of the children when he needed surgery on his kidney. I knew I would have to stay with him in hospital for weeks. When the hospital phoned and said “he must have surgery tomorrow, he is in a critical condition”, then she just said no to coming because she did not want to miss her English class. But I did not tell Mrs. Hurtig this. I did think that perhaps my mum avoiding to see her grandchildren now makes her think that she has not met them? Who knows? She tells Mrs. Hurtig things over and over again just like she does to me on the phone so she told me “your mother doesn’t have any short term memory”. As an example she described getting there one day and as my mum let her in, my mum pointed to a rolled up carpet on the stairs, going up to the second floor, and she said “who has put that there?”. Mrs. Hurtig tried to tell her that maybe she was on her way up the stairs with it? But my mum just went on and on about who would have put it there, what a stupid place for it and so on. Mrs. Hurtig is not sure at all that she always takes her medicines and she had come there one time and helped her with a bill that had gone to “in kasso”. That means to the bailiffs! I gasped when she said this, because you really get bad credit if that happens and it prevents you from getting loans and some landlords will not take a renter that has a “dot at the bailiffs”. Mrs. Hurtig reassured me that this is what happens all the time with people like my mum, with no memory, and that she has not paid her bills to the housing society that her house belongs to. You pay your electricity bill to them, where SHE lives, and you have to write up what your meter says. They have had to do it for her for a while, according to Mrs. Hurtig. This was all news to me. And I am more than convinced that she can no longer handle her affairs when it comes to bill paying. Mrs. Hurtig told me that she will contact home service which will go in and check on her to see what help she needs and she warned me that they might have to go in every day to see that she really takes her medicines. I asked how she remembers to go to the doctor and Mrs. Hurtig told me that the Thursday group, that she refuses to go to, phones her on the day she has an appointment, to remind her. But how she gets there is beyond our knowledge.

This was all such terrible news. And she said that if my mum refuses to let her in or refuses to have her as a trustee, then she can’t do the job. She will try again in two weeks when my mum has hopefully forgot and has calmed down. Mrs. Hurtig does not believe that my mother will leave Trollhättan. At this point I don’t see how she could. SAAB has gone belly up so noone wants to even buy a house in Trollhättan. Why would they when the town is dying and there are no jobs? I need to try to talk to my mother as well, about letting Mrs. Hurtig help her but as I said to her “She has never done anything that I have adviced her to do, if she had, then she would have lived down here the last ten years! But I will try, even though she holds grudges and will probably never speak to me, ever again.”. Mrs. Hurtig also told me that Monica needs to do the same thing. How can I accomplish that? The only thing that gave me some comfort was Mrs. Hurtig telling me, that I can’t do anything for my mum because my duty is with my family and to try and head butt with my mother would be useless. One is too close, too emotional and it only causes friction and bad feelings. But I can’t say I feel better after those words. I am worried sick and feel terribly depressed. Why did this have to happen? And so early in her life? Why does she have to be so stubborn? Why, why, why did she not move here when she was 65, able to drive about, get to know new people, get involved with retirement activities and so forth? She really has made her own bed and it is so difficult for me to accept that now she must lie in it.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Old Age

  1. I don’t know what is best. As it is, I am feeling a nervous wreck. I don’t feel well because I am so helpless. Bad conscience has tormented me all weekend. And is this all fair on my small children let alone the big ones? She is winning. She is getting all the attention and my children come in second hand. I loose patience with them because my thoughts and worries are elsewhere. And the one that reacts is “Kitty” of course! So he’s been a nightmare this weekend.

  2. I dont know what to say, Camilla. This is all very bad and I am sure very stressful on you. How sad for you mum to be without short term memory. I have known you for awhile, you have encouraged your mum to come live by you so she is near family. She did not want to do that. You cannot take care of her from where you are. And she has always been , if I may say, difficult to deal with. She was not a close mother for you. Can you imagine what your life would be like if she was to move to your town??!! She would drive you to the mad house! I dont know what the answer is. She should not be living alone. What if she takes her meds, forgets and takes them again? She does need a trustee, that is for sure. My thoughts are with you, dear friend.