BOLO Dad

It’s never a good thing when the police knock on your door at nine-thirty at night. That’s what happened tonight. We were in the midst of folding and putting away laundry when a knock came on the door. There’s a certain kind of knock that police have. Actually, it’s more like a pound than a knock.  As soon as I heard it, I knew it was police, and that’s a sad thing. I shouldn’t be able to distinguish between a regular knock and a police knock, but I can.

Andy answered the door. I heard one of the officers ask if a Roger Faulkner was here, and I stepped out of the bedroom and peeked around the corner. Andy had just told them he didn’t live here, but he was my father. I added that he lives in Lake City now. That’s when the night got interesting.

Seems my father left the facility in Lake City last night. He was walking–with a walker–back to “his home” in Jacksonville. Of course, when Lake City police found him, he wasn’t exactly walking. No, he was bathing in a retention pond. Rather than take him back to the place where he should have been staying, the address for which I have no doubt he didn’t know, the police drove him to the county line where they had arranged for police in the next jurisdiction to take him East to the next jurisdiction. And on and on they went, radioing ahead for rides. I can only imagine the stories Dad was telling everyone as he rode from place to place. When he thinks he’s in a sociable setting, he doesn’t stop talking. Somewhere in the midst of all those transfers between police cars, though, they lost Dad.

These Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office officers were on the ball enough to at least ask me if dad had any mental issues going on. I gave them the whole story. Early stages of alcohol-induced dementia, the mass growing on his right parietal lobe, the scar on his right frontal lobe, the hydrocephaly, all of which impair his judgment, and diabetes for which he needs medication. I told them about the last five weeks. The hospital stay. The doctors declaring him competent enough to make decisions for himself and discharging him. His stay in respite care. His abbreviated stay in the boarding house and the circumstances of his transfer to Lake City. I told them about his habit of hanging with homeless people and bringing them home when he lived in the apartments near me and how the practice got him evicted a few weeks ago.

One of the officers was especially empathetic as he had to gain guardianship over his own father not long ago. I told him how I was working with Elder Source here in Jacksonville and Elder Choice over in Lake City to try to get dad into a secure facility. I also told them I met with an attorney this week regarding guardianship, and they both commented on how they thought I was doing everything I needed to do to secure Dad’s safety.

At that point, they had me call Shenay, the lady who owns and runs the facility from which Dad left to see if she had reported Dad missing. She said she called the police and was told that since Dad was not declared incompetent by a judge, she could not hold him against his will, so she let him go. They also told her, according to her, that since he was “competent,” and decided to leave on his own, he could not be reported as missing.

Now, why Shenay did not call me last night to let me know that Dad had left her facility, I have no idea. She’d already been paid for this month’s room and board. Perhaps she didn’t think I needed to know anything until it came time to pay for next month? I don’t know. I do know that she’s on my dad’s bank account and that Dad has removed me as his Social Security payee and that his money will be going directly into that account. Shenay can remove all of that money, and Dad will have no recourse for getting that money back.

The JSO officers went above and beyond tonight when they took it upon themselves to contact Lake City police and report Dad as missing and put out a BOLO on him. They filled them in on Dad’s health issues. They reported Dad as missing from this end. And since Dad’s legal address is on West 33rd Street here in Jacksonville, if he does make it to the city line, that’s where they’ll have to take him. Not here, even though this is probably where he was headed.

Oh, Dad. What a mess you’ve made for yourself.

Monday, I’m going to have to call Elder Choice and Elder Care and let them know what’s going on. I’m going to have to call Aging True to let them know what’s going on and see if his nurse and any of the therapists will be willing to swear out statements regarding Dad’s mental state. I’m going to have to contact the apartment complex where he lived here in Jax to warn them that he might try to come around there as there is a lady in the office he considers his “girlfriend,” and she needs to be warned that he’d probably try to sweet talk her into letting him stay with her.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll just have to wait to hear something from the Lake City police. I guess I should turn on my phone.

John Doe Dad

The last time my dad went missing, I found him in jail. In North Carolina. I’m in Florida. At that time, he was living on his own in the streets of some little town I can’t remember the name of at the moment. He’d long since lost his companion of eleven years, his trusted dog, Blackie, and he’d recently lost an old friend of his, Jack, whom Dad had moved in with after our relationship fell apart back in 2007.

Why did it fall apart? Simple. Dad had taken up drinking again, and I would have nothing to do with him when he drank. He’d been on the wagon for nearly a decade when a new neighbor he’d become close with started inviting dad over for dinner, during which his wife would serve wine. That’s all it took.

Within weeks, Dad went from being a pleasant old man with a lot of heath issues and a dog to a belligerent fool bent on getting a hold of his money, to which I held the purse strings, and drinking himself into oblivion.

That didn’t turn out well.

By 2010, Dad was back in Florida. It took about a year or so before he was back to just being an old man with a lot of health issues. Fast-forward to 2018, and we have a visit from his last living friend in the world, Big Jim, during which dad started drinking again.

Jim wound up cutting his visit short, and Dad was left heartbroken and determined to visit North during the summer. I didn’t know if that would be a good idea, but I acquiesed. He left for the month of July to spend two weeks in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to visit my brother and his family and then end his vacation with two weeks in Wisconsin visiting Big Jim.

From the moment I dropped Dad off at the airport, he started drinking. He didn’t stop the entire time he was gone. He stopped taking his medication. He started acting erratically.

When he arrived home, he was still drunk from his trip. Since he had money left over from the trip, he sweet-talked nieghbors into taking him to the store to buy some type of grocery item only to walk out with alcohol and cigars. Both of which are contraindicated with his medications. Within two weeks of being home, he had a heart attack. That was the last part of August. He was critical for a couple weeks, then released into a rehab facility by September. He loved it there. I started the process of getting him on Medicaid so he could stay there, but got talked into discharging him by the end of October.

I never should have done that.

At some point after his heart attack, Dad must have had a stroke, because his behavior was just too much. He started walking the two miles down to Deerwood Village shopping center every day. He’d seek out the company of homeless people, sponge cigarettes and booze from them, and then badger me for money. He’d make up stories that he would need something from the store and would need five dollars. Rather than give him the money, I always just bought whatever it was he said he needed.

Then, he just got mean–and strange. He wanted his money, at least twenty dollars a week. I reluctantly agreed to the amount and started mailing him money every week. Every couple weeks, I would take groceries over, and would be appalled by the state of his apartment. The once new carpet was nearly ruined. He’d picked out the slats of one of his blinds and its skeleton hung in the door window like a little string ladder to nowhere. He started cutting up his throw rugs and taping them down all over his apartment. And he wouldn’t keep them in the same place, he’d pluck them up and move them around. He constantly moved around his furniture. He started dumpster-diving nearly ever day and would bring in junk and collect stuffed animals. He started stealing bikes. Expensive bikes. He jammed a shopping cart out onto his screened-in porch and piled loads of junk in and around it.

The worst part of it was that he would invite his homeless friends to stay with him. They would come at all hours of the night and bang on the door, yelling at my nearly deaf father to wake up and let them in. They’d have raucous parties on the weekends, and sometimes during the week. Neighbors started complaining. I started getting calls from the aparment complex’s office about my dad and his friends as though I could do something about it. Finally, the apartment manager let me know that Dad was going to be evicted if he didn’t stop bringing those people home with him.

Then something happened. One Thursday night or early Friday morning five weeks ago, one of the homeless people staying with Dad couldn’t wake him up. The guy called 911 and the ambulance hauled Dad off to the hospital. (Not the nearest one four miles away, but the farthest one about 20 miles away.) I found out that Dad was in the hospital from a voicemail. Someone from Baptist hospital downtown left me a message that he “thought” he had to talk to me about my dad. The next five voicemail messages I got were condolence calls as the homeless guy who called the paramedics called other homeless people who knew Dad and told everyone that he was dead.

I called the hospital immediately, and six hours later, I got a call back saying that they had two John Does. One was alive. One was dead. I was asked to come identify which was my dad, if either.

Andy and I went to the hospital, and I asked to see the live John Doe first, which turned out to be Dad. Apparently, from what a doctor told me, Dad was unresponsive when they brought him in. And even though he was a DNR (do not resusitate), they resusitated him at least twice. For three days, he was unresponsive, then on the fourth day, he started responding. By the fifth day, they removed the respirator from him. By the sixth day, they gave him some therapy. By the seventh day, he was discharged.

Now, because I never went down to visit Dad, he got his panties in a bunch and told the doctors and nurses not to talk to me even though I had given them my power of attorney, his living will, and his HIPAA release stating that I was his healthcare surrogate. I had also informed his doctor, the nurse, and the social worker that dad was in the first stages of dementia and that he couldn’t make decisions on his own. I also let it be known that when he was discharged, he needed to be discharged into a rehab facility, preferably the one I had picked out for him before this heart attack or whatever, because he was going to be evicted that Wednesday from his apartment. Regardless, the entire time he was in the hospital, even though I called several times a day every day, I got no information on his condition. No doctor called me. I only got told when he was going to be discharged.

When I got the call that he was going to be discharged, I reiterated to the social worker that he needed to go to a rehab facility, that we’d already had a 3008 form filled out by his primary care doctor to that effect. I had no intention of picking him up. We had quite a back-and-forth and finally the social worker said one of the nurses suggested Dad go to this respite care facility he knew of. They would take him for seven days and would help me find a place to put Dad, so I gave the okay to transport him there.

Naturally, the respite care facility did not help me find a place to put Dad. Instead, I had to call Blue Cross & Blue Shield to get a directory of facilities and called them all myself. I found two that were interested, but they couldn’t make up their minds in time, so the respite care facility owner suggested a managed care place up on West 33rd Street downtown Jacksonville. Not the best area in the world, but my back was up against it, so I relented and gave the okay for him to be transported there. Before he was moved, I spoke with the owner of the facility, Yashica T., and explained where dad was coming from, that I was in the process of getting him moved into a nursing home because he was in the first stages of dementia and an alcoholic who’d relapased. I also let her know that he needed to be supervised, that he would wander if he got bored.

Apparently, all my warnings fell on deaf ears, because 10 days later, some of the guys dad was living with helped him get on a bus (he’d never been on a bus before) so he could find his girlfriend (he doesn’t have a girlfriend).  Somehow, he got lost, because I got a call from Yashica letting me know what had happened, that they were searching for him and that they’d called the police to help find him. The police found him in a ditch. It had been heavily raining all day, so we think he simply fell in the ditch and couldn’t get himself back up.

That night, I was told Dad had to leave the facility. He needed supervision (which I told the owner up front), and that they couldn’t handle him. I had no place to put him, so Yashica suggested a managed care facility over in Lake City (the other side of the state from me). I okay’d the move. That was a week ago Sunday. A week ago Monday, Dad had sweet-talked the owner, Shenay F., into taking him down to the local VyStar Credit Union so he could access his money. For whatever reason, Dad okay’d Shenay to be put on his account. I found out about this a week ago Thursday when I went to the credit union to have some statements printed out. I got to the service desk, gave the member service person Dad’s member number and he looked at the account, looked at me, and said, “And you’re Shenay?”

Uh, no.

I spent the next couple of hours working with VyStar to see if there was any way I could remove Dad’s name from that account that was now joint with my power of attorney. I couldn’t. I called General Motors Pension Benefits to alert them to the possiblity of Dad’s redirecting his direct deposit into a different account. They couldn’t do anything to stop him. I didn’t even bother with Social Security. I knew I needed to have guardianship to stop his redirecting those funds.

Yesterday, I received a notice from Social Security that they would not be paying Dad’s May benefits next month. Today, I went down to Social Security to find out why. They couldn’t tell me, because I’d been removed as payee. Again.

I came home and got online to change the address on Dad’s accounts to reflect his Lake City address. Tomorrow, I’m going to pack up his mail, his bills, his pills that came to my house, and I’ll forward them to Lake City. I’m done playing this game. If Dad wants to be on his own, he can be on his own. I can’t afford to pay an attorney five grand to become Dad’s guardian again. To tell the truth, I don’t think I want to even try. I’m tired. I have my own health issues, and I’m trying to make a living.

The next time Dad does a disappearing act and gets tossed from this place where he is, I will not be around to help him out. As of now, he’s a John Doe to me. A John Doe dad.

A Sad End

It’s interesting to see dad’s friendships in his later years. Most of his friends are either dead or not talking to him–a result of how he lived his life, i.e. drinking too much, getting into trouble, making a nuisance of himself. His constant friend has been one of his oldest friends, Big Jim. Jim and dad talk every day, several times a day now that dad is living under my care, not drinking, not getting into trouble. Jim, himself, stopped drinking almost five years ago, so their friendship is one that I encouraged.

When Jim asked to come down to stay with dad this January through March to escape the harshest part of what a Wisconsin winter had to offer–well, part of me was hesitant, because I didn’t know if I could believe Jim when he told me he’d stopped drinking so long ago, and the other part of me thought it would be a great idea. Dad’s lonely. He has no one down here. All his family’s dead, save for my brother and me. My brother, long ago, told me dad was my responsibility as he’d already done his duty taking care of grandma, dad’s mom.  Other than a once-every-few-years visit, my brother and his family would not be a source of entertainment. I’d made it known after dad’s last round of drinking that I wouldn’t be a source of entertainment, either. I’d take care of him every other way, but he’s spent his last dime of pity with me. So, this visit by Jim, well, that sparked some life into dad. I was glad for it. Glad for him.

Big Jim arrived ahead of schedule, December 28th. Dad was giddy. He called me several times every day to tell me what they were doing: going to Wal-Mart and riding the carts around the store, going to Target and Publix and Winn-Dixie to do the same. Jim’s about 400 pounds. Dad’s short and about 250 pounds. I can only imagine what they looked like tooling down the aisleways.

They went to DXL to buy some new clothes for Jim (he’s about 400 pounds, dad’s about 250 pounds).  They went to Batteries+ to get a new phone battery for dad’s phone. They’d go out to breakfast every morning to different delis as well as iHop and Denny’s and Golden Corral. Sometimes they’d also go out for lunch or dinner, too. Jim cooked dinner. Dad says he doesn’t know how to cook, though I know he does. He makes chili and vegetable soup and he can make a roast in a Crock Pot.

They’d do laundry every few days and wash bedding every week. They’d go sight-seeing. Historic St. Augustine, The Alligator Farm, driving up and down US 1 to see the remnants of Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. They’d sit out at the pool, (yes, in February), and get sunburns.

I have to admit, I didn’t go over any more than was necessary. My other half and I went over early on because they couldn’t set up the flat screen Jim gave dad. I’d go over to put minutes on dad’s and Jim’s phones. I brought them Girl Scout cookies. I’d pick dad up for his medical appointments.

Dad’s last appointment was with an oral surgeon to have five teeth extracted. I dropped dad off at his apartment and left to get his prescriptions for pain and antibiotics, and in that short amount of time, Jim let dad know that he was going to head back north, a month early. He said his roommate was in an accident and he had no transportation.  My immediate reaction was, he’s never heard of Uber, Lyft or a plain ol’ cab? He’s a much younger man, I think he’s my age, mid-fifties, didn’t he have friends who could run errands for him?

I’ve known Big Jim my whole life. This this the first time I think he lied to me. I don’t believe his friend was in an accident. And if he was, I don’t believe he had no other resources he could tap for four weeks than Jim. I think Jim wanted to leave. I think the thought of playing nursemaid to dad for a couple of his remaining weeks here was the kicker. Knowing my dad, I know dad let Jim do all the cooking and cleaning, let Jim instigate it all. Dad’s not clean, not tidy. He doesn’t clean up after himself well. God love grandma, she didn’t either, so he comes by the bad habits honestly. Jim is very clean, nearly a germaphobe. He’s able to take care of himself–I believe he as at least two pensions, if not three, and he saved (an inherited). Dad’s lost everything he has three times and now I control what funds he has. I think Jim just saw a different dad, and he wasn’t having the fun with an old friend he thought he would.

So, I come back from getting dad’s prescriptions. Dad tells me he’s losing his roommate. He’s pale. His voice is choked. In the same breath, he tells me he’d like to go up to Wisconsin for a few months in the summer. Jim tells me his excuse. I honestly felt bad for dad. He’d had so much fun every single day for two months, and now he knew it would all come to a halt. He’d be alone every day and night. I’d see him every other week, and maybe a couple times in-between, to get groceries, and that would be it. He would have nothing to look forward to except watching television every day.

My better half and I plan to take him out, if he’ll come out, to try to lift his spirits. I don’t know that I’ll sanction dad going North. I don’t know Jim’s roommate, and now, I don’t trust Jim.

 

A Dawning Realization

My dad’s best friend, Jim, is coming for A Friendly Visit in January. He’ll be here for three months.

Earlier today, my dad called me to let me know that Jim will need to have a doctor when he comes down, because he needs, among other things I’m sure, to have his blood drawn every month.

No problem. I can get our doctor’s information to Jim.

Hours pass.

I sit down to prepare my writing plan for this week, and it dawns on me that I am now going to have to take care of–at least in part–Jim’s medical needs, too. It’ll be like having two dads to care for.

I truly don’t mind overseeing these two’s medical care. I’d rather know what’s going on with them than not, so I can make certain they’re not doing anything to harm themselves–which they will. Fifty-three years of experience assures me of that.

It’s just that I also realized that it’s not going to stop at medical oversight. Jim will have a vehicle. The two of them will want to go on road trips. Neither know where to go around here, so it’s going to be up to me to be their human GPS, since neither has a smart phone.

Is it harsh to say I don’t have the time to play travel guide? In truth, I don’t have the time. I have writing and editing and consulting to do. I have my own ailments to deal with.

Neither do I have the inclination. Dad, as you know, was never around when my brother and I were growing up. He wasn’t a part of our lives as we grew into adulthood, because he was busy being a drunk, getting into trouble (read: sitting in jail), and going through wives and girlfriends (sometimes simultaneously). We didn’t want to be around him.

Now, I’m faced with these two. Who, together, will get into trouble. They will act like little boys, as they have done for as long as I can remember. Will giggle when they’re caught.

And I find myself unable to see the humor in everything that’s going to come next.

 

A Friendly Visit

My dad’s best friend, Jim, is going to come down from Wisconsin in January to spend the winter months here in Florida. I like Jim. Love the guy. He’s happy-go-lucky, kind-hearted, and any other happy hyphenate you want to apply to him. He’s just an all-around good egg.

But.

Jim’s always been a drinker. Even though he assured me that it’s been four years since he’s had a drink, something inside me just doesn’t believe him. He lives with a much younger guy who I know does drink, and I can’t see Jim not joining in.

I have reason to be skeptical. The last time Jim came down for a visit, dad had just been released from the hospital after having a quadruple bypass. Dad had a zipper of staples up and down his chest. He was taking medication that contraindicated alcohol. I told Jim before he came down that there’d be no drinking. Period. The end. If there was drinking, I’d have to ask him to leave–and take dad with him.

Well, the first evening I left the two alone, they called a cab to go out for dinner–and drinks. A lot of drinks.

When I returned from wherever I’d been, I was frantic. I had no idea where the two had gone off to–they left no note, of course. I canvassed the neighborhood to see if anyone knew anything, and no one did. By the time I got back to the house, a cab pulled up and out stumbled my dad. Jim at least kept his feet.

I was furious. I was cool, but I was furious.

As dad stumbled next door to relieve himself in my neighbor’s flowers, I approached Jim and reminded him that he knew the rules. I was sorry, but he’d have to leave. And he was going to have to take dad with him.

He didn’t believe me.

Jim packed and ordered up a rental car. While he did that, I packed a bag for dad. When Jim left, I poured dad into my car and followed. When Jim checked into his hotel room, I left dad at his door.

Jim called and called and tried to convince me to pick up dad, because by that time, dad’s happy drunk self turned dark. I finally convinced Jim that when I laid out the rules, I meant what I said, and Jim took dad up to Wisconsin with him.

In short order, Jim called my brother, who lives in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to see if he would take dad off his hands.

My brother said no. He didn’t want dad around his young children.

Jim called other friends of dad in Michigan and tried to pawn him off, but they didn’t want him. Dad had burned too many bridges.

Finally, I relented and agreed to take dad back, but only because he had to get his staples removed and had follow-up doctor appointments.

I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to get dad flown back to Jacksonville with no ID or wallet (this was pre-9/11). He arrived. Drunk.

Things were never the same between us after that. I moved him out of my house and into an apartment. We barely spoke for a year.

I don’t need to go through that again. I hope Jim’s telling me the truth.