Where’s Waldo, Part Deux

It’s been three or four months since I last set eyes on my dad. He was in a wheelchair surrounded by people just outside of my local grocery store. One of his calves was bloody and raw from where he continually picks at his leg. I overheard one of the women ask if he had fallen. I didn’t stay around to hear his answer. I breezed quickly passed and didn’t say a thing.

I don’t feel bad about it. I don’t feel guilty. Dad made his choice, and it wasn’t to live a good life with me in it. He wanted to stay drunk and be around his homeless friends.

The problem is, he’s going to be 80-years-old this year. He’s too old to be living such a risk-filled life. He’s forever being taken advantage of, and it’s his own fault. He brags about his General Motors pension and how much he makes in Social Security. He just can’t go around doing that, but he does, and it’s his choice.

The other problem is, I know he is in the first stages of dementia. He’s also a diagnosed narcissist and suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder. He flies off the handle at the slightest perceived slight or if he doesn’t get his way. That’s ended him up in the hospital before when he’s gone off on someone younger who doesn’t think twice about belting an old man.

I think I’m worried about him. I don’t care to have him in my life anymore, but I do worry for him. Worry that he’s making bad choices. Worried that he’s not taking care of himself–he takes so many medications. Is he keeping up with them? He has a bad heart, among other organs. How’s he getting to the doctor?

I guess I just can’t turn off thinking randomly about him. I hope he’s okay. I hope he’s found someone to see after him. I hope he’s learned his lesson.

Where’s Waldo?

It’s an odd feeling not knowing where my dad is. It’s been six months since I’ve seen him, four months since I’ve heard from him. The last I knew for certain,  he was in Lake City, Florida. The last I heard from my brother, he could very well be up in Wisconsin with this friend, Big Jim.

Truth be told, I actually don’t feel anything. I rarely think of my dad, which as I say, it’s odd. I’d been responsible for him and took care of him for 36 years and without that yoke, I’m a bit untethered.

I don’t exactly feel free because there’s a part of me that half expects him to show up on my doorstep asking for money. I still double-check the doors and windows before bed each night because I’m afraid his homeless friends might know where I live and will try to break in and do me harm, if not kill me. Who knows what crap my dad filled their minds with about me? All I know is that he never spoke well of me.

What to do now?

Since my dad left my life, my career has begun to flourish. Is that a sign that our relationship is supposed to be severed?

I have one more play to make. I’m going to call Big Jim to see if I should forward my dad’s mail up there or continue to send it on to Lake City. That’ll be my last task, I think. That’ll be me subtly reaching out to ensure he’s safe.

I don’t want to go back to having him in my life anymore. It’s sad, but when I think about it, he was never a part of my life growing up–he didn’t want to be. He preferred his women and booze and not necessarily in that order. My brother and I were–I don’t know what we were. We weren’t priorities, I know that much. Dad never made an effort toward us in any way. I don’t know why I expended the effort I did for so many years. Given his lack of relationship with us, I certainly wasn’t obligated. I think my sense of duty drove me all those years. My sense of duty and my misguided belief that I could help my dad live a better life.

I tried. I failed. It’s over.

Dad’s Future in the Balance

Now that Dad is “safely” ensconced back in the unlicensed “facility” back in Lake City, Florida, I have a decision to make. Do I heed Dad’s wishes to let him stay there knowing that he leaves the house every day to drink all day, but comes back every evening, or do I proceed with guardianship here in Florida and place Dad in a licensed facility where I know he will dry out, get help with his alcoholism and dementia and diabetes and congestive heart failure and, and, and all of his other ailments?

The question almost answers itself.

But does it?

The agent from Elder Abuse said he seems happy. The place seems clean and safe, and the woman running the place says she will help Dad with his medications and is going to get him set up at the VA so he can see the appropriate doctors.

Thing is, Dad’s not a vet. He’s telling everybody he was a marine. Of course, that he said he “was” a marine should have been the first indicator that he was lying. Anyone in the armed forces, once in, even when they’re out, still identifies as what they were, a marine, a Navy man, and Army man, etc.

Will Dad get the medical attention he needs? I don’t need to be the one ensuring he gets it, I’m happy to have him be a ward of the state just so long as he gets the medical attention he needs.

Then there’s the cost. Since I’m no longer the payee on Dad’s pension and Social Security, I won’t have the funds to pay all the court costs, which without an attorney still adds up to nearly $3,000. And in Duval County, I can’t represent myself (pro se). I don’t do credit cards. I’m not about to take out a loan for this, and Andy (my better half) would have a cow if I used one red cent of my money to regain guardianship.

Even if I did regain guardianship, do I want the responsibility of having to keep track of every last receipt and update spreadsheets to do the annual accounting? Do I want to pay to be bonded again?

Oh, I don’t know. I’ve been responsible for my dad now for nearly 36 years. Do I want guardianship out of habit, out of a need to control or because I truly care about what happens to the old man?

I wish I had the answer to that question. Then I would have a better handle on what Dad’s future is going to be.

New Contacts & Update

Never in my life did I ever think I would have specific detectives in my directory, but I do–more than just one and they’re from different counties. Seems I need to keep in contact with both if I want any kind of update as to what’s being done to find my dad. It’s been sixteen days since he disappeared, and I’m getting a distinct impression that since my dad has no fixed address, not much is being done to pursue him.

And it’s not just police I’ve added to my contact list; I’ve added Elder Abuse. I’ve reported the Lake City woman and her “facility” for the owner getting herself added onto Dad’s checking account. I also have a problem with her not forwarding Dad’s belongings back to me. She’s not recognizing my power of attorney, which allows me to regain possession of Dad’s property when he is not able to ask for it himself. The situation is well past frustrating.

I’ve also added the courts to my contacts. Since I need to sue the lady in Jacksonville to get back the remainder of Dad’s room and board and need to either Baker Act or Marchman Act Dad and need to move forward on obtaining guardianship and conservatorship here over Dad here in Florida, there are many courts I need to deal with.

Meanwhile, I’ve been plugging away at getting Dad Medicaid-certified, which I did. Finally. Now, all I need to do is find a facility that will take him.

I also decided to see if I could remove the Lake City lady’s name from Dad’s checking account. I didn’t want the Lake City lady helping herself to Dad’s pension, which was due to come in on the first of the month. Turns out, I was a couple hours too late. The credit union accepts direct deposits a day early and the transaction report I had pulled showed that the lady helped herself to $800 just after seven Friday morning. Not being able to take her off the account, the member service person suggested that I could close the account, which I did, and moved the remaining funds into a joint account I have with my dad. If he’s still alive, he’ll still be able to access his money. He just needs to find a VyStar branch. In case he is found alive, I also ordered him a debit card. If I ever find him, I’ll at least be able to give him that and he can control what spending money I put into that account (if I ever get back on as payee for his Social Security and pension, that is).

UPDATE

I called the Elder Abuse hotline again on Friday to report the Lake City woman. Saturday, I received a call from one of their field agents who took my information and requested any and all documents that could help. I inundated him with paperwork and pretty much wrote a treatise on how Dad got from Michigan to Florida with all the ugliness in between.

By Sunday morning, the agent called me to let me know that he’d done what police in two counties couldn’t (or wouldn’t); he found Dad. He’s back in Lake City, right back in the “facility” he walked away from. Been there since about the 23rd. Even with Dad’s dementia, one thing his brain can hold onto is numbers, and he remembered the lady’s number. Called her from the Coffee Grinder, a local coffeehouse, and had her come pick him up.  Seems the Lake City lady didn’t call the police to update them. Had she done that, one, I would have been contacted by police, and two, I would have found out when I pulled the police report on him Friday. Why didn’t anyone contact me? Dad explicitly said he didn’t want me to know where he was. Had choice words to say about me, naturally, so the Lake City lady acquiesced and kept quiet.

Now, what do I do? Well, I plan to move forward with getting guardianship and conservatorship over my dad in Floria. I also plan to sue the Jacksonville woman for the remainder of Dad’s room and board I paid her for the month of May. She’s the one who kicked Dad out, it’s not like she was going to hold a bed for him.

As for where Dad stays? He can stay right where he is. The Elder Abuse agent checked out the facility and said Dad’s safe and he seems to be taken care of. He strongly recommended I move forward with the guardianship and conservatorship, though, so I can get Dad into a licensed facility. So, that’s what I’m off to do now.

 

 

 

Scaling Walls

Saturday, May 25, 11:45 p.m.

It’s been eight days and still no word on where Dad is. That’s eight days without his medication. It’s been in the 80s and 90s here in Jacksonville, Florida, and I can only imagine that he’s dehydrated and hungry, probably disoriented, and most likely sleeping on a bench somewhere or behind some building.

I wish I knew where he’s landed. I don’t need to have interaction with him, I just need to know that he’s safe, but deep inside, I know he’s not. I’ve had pangs in my chest all week just thinking about the whole situation. Someone has to find him. I mean, how hard can he be to miss? He’s an old man with a bright red walker on four wheels with handbrakes and a black basket under the black seat. I have no doubt that he goes shirtless during the day. And for someone with a walker, he can walk at a pretty good clip.

I went downtown to the courthouse on Monday with every intention of filing for a Baker Act action on Dad and ran straight into a wall. Naturally, since he has no fixed address, I can’t file. Officers need an address to which they can go pick him up. They won’t search for him. Of course not, because that would just be too easy on me.

I spoke with a detective Monday, too. She didn’t inspire much hope. She didn’t seem familiar with Dad’s case at all. Of course, I have no idea how many missing persons cases she’s dealing with. She asked for medical information on Dad’s mental health, and I emailed her the 3008 form our primary care doctor filled out on him. I’ve heard nothing from her since. I guess I’m going to have to be the one initiating all the contact in this case.

I also had some interesting interaction with the lady in Lake City who owns the managed care facility Dad eloped from. I spoke with her early in the week, I can’t remember which day (I think Monday or Tuesday). She’d heard nothing from him, not that I expected her to. I’m quite sure Dad doesn’t know her name, let alone her number. Besides, he doesn’t have a phone. He does tend to borrow people’s phones, though, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I told her I didn’t want her to have to hold Dad’s bed for him as it’s rather clear that he won’t be returning. I asked her to mail his things to me C.O.D. and to return the box I sent him as it contained his medication, medical insurance cards, and all the pictures we saved for him. She said she couldn’t return them because I wasn’t Dad’s guardian, that she didn’t have the proper paperwork, and that “them’s the rules and regulations.” Then Friday, I received a rather formal text from her (she signed it with her full name, including middle initial). She wanted to inform me that she heard from a “good source” that I knew where Dad was and that I needed to have him call her at [her number] so she could know what to do with his belongings. I told her I didn’t know who her source was, but I had no idea where he was and had no way of contacting him. It just dawned on me as I was writing this that she does have copies of my power of attorney, and that should be sufficient for her to send his things back to me at my request as his attorney-in-fact. I’ll have to double-check with an attorney friend next week and then get back with that woman. I want his things sent back to me. If he shows up anywhere, it’ll be here at some point.

Throughout the week, I followed up on a suggestion from one of this blog’s readers who is an attorney (who is no longer practicing). She read about my trying to regain guardianship and conservatorship over Dad’s affairs and pointed out that I could read the statute online and also find all the paperwork I needed online. She gave me a link, which I followed up on, but unfortunately, Duval County is one of many Florida counties that does not have its paperwork available online. She sent me another link to another county and told me that the paperwork is nearly universal and the new link should get me started. In my research, I learned that–in Duval County, at least–an attorney is required, so even when I do fill out the paperwork, I’ll still need an attorney to represent my interest. Fortunately, I have a friend who’s a retired nurse, now a doctor, who has loads of experience dealing with elder affairs. His girlfriend is also a social worker who has a son working with the police in some capacity. From the three of them, I learned that there is a pool of low-cost attorneys at the courthouse I could avail myself of, and I intend to do just that. I’ll get everything as prepared as I can on my end and then run on down to the courthouse to have everything reviewed and see if I need anything more. If I could just get that aspect of all this taken care of, I think I’d feel a lot better.

I also researched how to bring a suit in small claims court. I need to get back the rest of the money I paid to the lady on West 33rd Street for Dad’s room and board. I paid for 31 days; he stayed five. I also need to get back the remainder of the money I paid the lady in Lake City as Dad only stayed 16 days there. Naturally, I have to do this in two counties since Jacksonville and Lake City are not in the same county. Lovely.

My nurse/doctor friend convinced me that I needed to report the Lake City lady for elder abuse as she had, after less than 24 hours of knowing Dad, got herself put on his bank account. Thursday, I tried to report her. Seems they can’t take a report until she actually takes money out of the account.

Everywhere I turn, there seems to be a wall.

Marchman or Baker — What’s My Best Bet?

Five weeks and five days ago (that was a Thursday), one of the many homeless people Dad regularly invited to stay with him in his apartment called 911 because he couldn’t get Dad to wake up. In fact, he thought Dad was dead. And, in fact, Dad was dead at some point. Twice, as a matter of fact, sometime from the time the paramedics started working on him until he was safely ensconced in Baptist Hospital-Downtown. To hear Dad tell the story, he suffered two more heart attacks and a stroke. By all rights, Dad should have never been revived, because he’s a DNR–Do Not Resuscitate. The bright yellow form was taped to his refrigerator. I guess in all the mess that was Dad’s apartment, the form was not noticed.

Since his stay in the hospital, he’s been evicted from his apartment for not only inviting the area’s homeless to crash and party with him every night (he even gave one guy a set of keys to the apartment and mailbox), sent to respite care where he stayed for seven days before being transported to a boarding house. He stayed in the boarding house for five days before being kicked out after 10 days. He wasn’t properly supervised, and the guys he was staying with helped him get on a bus–he’s never been on a bus–so Dad could visit his girlfriend–he doesn’t have a girlfriend. We had torrential rains that day, and when the owner of the facility realized Dad was missing and found out he’d left, she called the police to help her look for him. The police found him in a ditch. The facility owner took him back, cleaned him up, called me, and told me he had to leave immediately. Since I knew of nowhere to take him, she suggested a managed care facility over in Lake City. I okayed the move, and off he went.

One week and four days later, Dad took off from the Lake City facility and started walking back to Jacksonville. With a walker. The reason? The owner would not give him money to buy alcohol. Dad’s 78, an alcoholic and diabetic. He’s in congestive heart failure and his kidneys are weak. Walking a great distance would not be beneficial for him to say the least. Lake City is about two hours away by car, and that’s if you speed.

The Lake City facility owner called the police and let them know that Dad had left the premises, that he was in poor health and needed medication for his diabetes among other ailments. A search was set up. Police found Dad bathing in a retention pond. He told them he was on his way to his home in Jacksonville–he has no home in Jacksonville–so, the police gave him a ride to the next jurisdiction. They called ahead to the next jurisdiction, and they gave him a ride. They lost him at an Interstate 10 and State Road 301 truckstop. Somehow, Dad got from there to the south side of Jacksonville, back in my neighborhood, the only neighborhood Dad’s known since I moved him here back in 1999.

Does any of this sound like something a sane man would do? Does any of this sound safe, like maybe Dad put himself into danger by bathing in a retention pond at night (we have alligators and water moccasins here)? Does it sound wise to take off with no money and no medications? Could all of this be construed as putting himself into danger? Could his reasoning be off because he is so focused on getting and staying drunk that he will hang out with potentially dangerous people, give them keys to his apartment and mailbox, and then even putting a woman he’s known for less than 24 hours on his bank account just so he could have a debit card?

My dad is an alcoholic. He has lost the power of self-control with regard to alcohol and I think his actions show that he is inflicting harm on himself.

My dad is in the first stages of alcohol-induced dementia. While he’s sharp enough to hold a conversation on current events–to a point–and he definitely remembers happenings decades ago, he can’t remember where he takes off his shoes. Sometimes, he takes them off outside and then walks away from them. He rarely wears matching shoes, because he usually cannot find a matching pair.

Dad steals things. This year alone, he’s stolen three very expensive bikes, a shopping cart, and loads of stuffed animals. He tried to steal the store of candy at the apartment complex where he was living. He steals pens, especially if they’re shiny. He hoards business cards and brochures.

Without care or treatment, Dad’s neglect in caring for himself poses a real threat to his well-being and he could come to serious bodily harm.

Given all these events of the past five weeks, I have a choice to make: I can either Baker Act my dad or Marchman Act him. Under the Baker Act, I can have Dad forcibly admitted for involuntary assessment, which will help me get him declared incompetent by a judge. Under the Marchman Act, I can have Dad forcibly admitted for involuntary assessment for substance abuse, which will help me get him declared incompetent by a judge. I could go either way. I’m thinking of going the Baker Act way.

Thinking. But not doing.

The problem is for the police to issue an order to pick him up, he has to have an address and he needs to be at that address when they come to pick him up. Dad has no address as far as I know. He says he’s staying at “The Colonial” apartments behind the Walgreen’s off Southside and Baymeadows. There is no such place. The police will not search for him to take him to either of these hearings, but since he’s a missing person anyway with an actual BOLO out on him, there’s a chance, according to the Duval County Clerk of the Court, that when he is found, he’ll be taken in for evaluation anyway.

I need all the help I can get here. I met with an attorney about regaining guardianship and conservatorship over him and found out that it would cost more than five thousand dollars. I don’t have that kind of spare change around, and neither does Dad. I was told to call Three Rivers Legal Services to see about getting assistance through them. I believe I make too much money to be helped by them. I am stuck, stuck, stuck.

I don’t really want to know what tomorrow will bring me on the dad front. I don’t think I can take anything more right now. All I want to know is which is the better bet for my dad, Marchman or Baker Act? Once I figure that out, maybe I can convince the officers to take him in immediately and contact me after the fact. That’s all I want right now. Is that too much to ask?

The Prodigal Dad

Sunday, May 19

It’s 1:30 in the morning and I’ve just finished updating this blog with the latest on Dad. He went missing from the managed care facility where he was staying in Lake City Thrusday night. He was walking back to Jacksonville. Jax to Lake City is a two hour drive, so he had a lot of walking to do.

Four hours earlier, a couple of Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officers stopped by to clue me in on Dad’s travels from county to county getting rides from the various officers and how they lost track of him at a truck stop at Interstate 10 and US 301. They’d put a BOLO out on him and started tracking down his last known places of residences. The West 33rd Street facility was particulary unhelpful according to the police. The apartment complex office was closed, so I was really the only other addressess they had associated with him.

The two officers who talked to me got the rundown on Dad’s health problems and gave me the contact information for the Lake City police were handling Dad’s case. The young officer who came out at 1:30 basically went over the same material, but I at least had the opportunity to tell him about Dad’s borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, hydrocephaly, the mass on his right parietal lobe and the scar on his right frontal lobe all of which affect his ability to make decisions. I told him, too, that he’s in congestive heart failure. I offered to print out a ist of his medications he needs to take, but got no takers. He did take a picture of a picture I have of my dad from nearly twenty years ago that still looks quite like him. The officer had me sign a statement that all the information I gave them was true, and that would allow them to put Dad into the NCIS system and get other officers elsewhere looking for him.

Knowing there was nothing more I could do, I took a sleeping pill and went to bed. I figured I’d get up early and power-walk off some of this stress. I was awakened at seven-thirty by the lady who owns the Lake City facility. She wanted me to know the police had visited her and asked if Dad was there. She told me that Dad went off in a huff when he wanted her to give him $20 so he could go to the store. She explained that I wouldn’t be sending CashApping the money until Monday and that it would hit her account on Wednesday, so that’s the soonest she could give him his money.

Dad had a fit. Started swinging around profanities to her and decrying my existence in any way he could.  Shenay, the owner of the facility, told him that he wouldn’t have time to walk down to the store and be back in time for supper, and Dad took that at a “you can’t go” order and started throwing out profanities at her, told her he was going to leave and go back to Jax, and she made the mistake of not believing him. He took off, and he didn’t come back. (Of course, I got no phone call telling me my dad was missing, but that’s another story).

Thinking I might hear something overnight, I kept my phone on–something I don’t normally do. I unplug at eight or nine at night and don’t usually turn on my phone again until about eleven the next morning. Something told me to keep the phone on, so I did.

Sure enough, I got a call from Shenay at seven-thirty in the morning frantically explaining how the police had been there and that she’d done all she could do to give information on him. I let her know that we’re tying to get him Baker Acted and that if she comes into contact with Dad, she’s to call the police to have them come pick him up.

So, from there, I figure it’s safe enough to head out on my 6-mile walk. I walk nearly to the corner, and who should appear, but Dad. Walking up with his walker. Long light mint green tee-shirt on over oversized dark shorts. He had a pink foil bubble wrap envelope stuffed with carrots that he wanted to give me. I told him I didn’t want them, and he huffed up on me. I explained that I was going for a walk and couldn’t carry them, so he turned around and headed out of my neighborhood. I asked him where he was staying, and he told me he was staying at The Colonial behind Walgreen’s. There is no Colonial behind Walgreen’s. He even mentioned how much it cost a month to stay there, and I wondered where he could have gotten the money. Later in the day, he said he was going to go to a party in some apartments across from the old Winn-Dixie store on Old Baymeadows around four or four-thirty. I kept that in mind, and when I got back from my walk, I called the number the officer gave me to pass that info on to the officer on the case. That was around noon. It’s nearly twelve hours later, and I’ve heard nothing back from her.

Later in the day, Dad stopped by our house. Wanted money. I told him I didn’t have any, which I don’t. He seemed to take that in stride. Wanted to know when I’d be giving Shenay his weekly money, and I told him I’d do that Monday. Dad made mention he’d have to get back to Lake City to pick up his money and all the rest of his stuff that’s there. I have no doubt he will forget to close out the joint account he made with Shenay where his Social Security will be deposited in a few weeks. I certainly hope that he didn’t stop his pension from being direct deposited into the account it goes in now. At least I can keep that money safe.

Tomorrow, I guess I’ll call the police again to see where they are in finding Dad. He needs to get back on his medication, all of which is in Lake City along with his clothes and sundries. Dad figures on walking back.

In the meantime, Andy’s going to get with our old doctor’s folks to see if he can track down our doctor. He’s been seeing Dad for 20 years and should be able to give a good account as to why Dad should not be left to live on his own devices. He needs a secure facility.

I’ll contact the guardianship attorney to let her know Dad is missing and that plans to go through with the guardianship may take a turn if Dad winds up in court of his own volition. I think I’ll still visit the couple of nursing home facilities that service I hired suggested I see just in case I can get dad back here and willing to move in.

Somewhere in all that, I also have to finish proofreading a book and getting out the invoice for it. Work can’t stop just because Dad’s on a walkabout.