Rough & Rushed

December 12, 2010

Rough and rushed.  That’s how life feels right now.  Since before Thanksgiving, dad has been my focus.  Dad’s safety.  Dad’s health.  Dad’s finances.  Dad’s living conditions.

Since I first heard from Moira, Dad’s probation officer, getting Dad to Florida has been my priority.  At first, I only planned to have him down here long enough to get him evaluated by his doctor and get his social security money out of suspense.  When I arrived in Sanford, North Carolina, I didn’t try to contact dad.  I had too many things to do in too short a time.

Hate to admit it, but he would have just been in the way.  I needed to meet Moira, the detectives I’d worked with when he was missing, and the bankers who first alerted me to his situation.  I wanted to thank them.  I wanted to have us each put a face to the phone and email conversations we had over the past several months.  I have to admit, though, that I had an ulterior motive for wanting to see them all in person.  I wanted them to see me, see that although my dad may look and sound like white trash, he wasn’t.  I wasn’t.  In my mind, if they saw me, heard me, they would understand that Dad always had competent help at hand.  All he ever needed to do was reach out, but he never did.

My fault, that one.  The day he told me he wanted to move to North Carolina, I told him that if he did, “Don’t call me when you get into trouble.”  Other than when Blackie, his dog, was stolen, I rarely heard from him.  When I did, he rambled, and I knew he was drinking.  Many times, I didn’t take his calls.  Just let them go to voicemail.  If he called too often, I wouldn’t listen to my messages.  I couldn’t.  I just didn’t want to hear his overly long messages that told me nothing more than he wasn’t in his right mind when he called.

Should I have cut him off like that, taken away his lifeline?  I think yes.  His neediness and drama had taken a horrible toll on my life, my work, my health.  His very presence stymied my creativity.  I’m a writer.  I’m an editor.  Creativity is what gives me life in every sense of the word.  Though I published, the work was no longer fun.  Only when I hired help for him did I finally find fun in what I do.  When I made the decision to bring him back here, I made the decision to temporarily take the fun out of my life again.  I know the process this time, though.  The downtime will be weeks instead of months.

Day One: Our first stop for him once we arrived in the Sunshine State was to see his doctor, (I’ll call him Dr. Brennan).  Before we went to Social Security, we needed the doctor to sign on a medical form to testify that dad is unable to handle his finances.  It took only moments for Dr. Brennan to say he’d seen enough.  Dad didn’t stop talking the entire time we were in the office.

Then, it was time to go to the credit union to set up his accounts and get the proper paperwork started for the next day’s visit to Social Security.

After that, the grocery store for some staples he could have in his hotel room.

Day Two: The Social Security office visit was like stepping into hell. The place reeked of body odor, even though it was wintertime. People’d brought their children with them. Why would anyone do that? The wait in the SS office is going to be at least three hours if not longer, and there’s not a child on earth who can sit still, let alone be quiet, for that long.  The place itself was bulletproof-glassed and security guarded up just enough to make me feel uneasy stepping inside. What kind of people do they service, anyway?

Once at the counter, the man behind the glass did his level best to make me out to be a child who was going to take advantage of the old man next to me. “Does your dad owe you any money?” He did, about $25,000, but I didn’t say that. “Will you be getting paid for taking care of your dad’s finance or anything else?” Uh, no. The man doesn’t make enough to pay me, let alone pay me back. I just found the little man’s attitude and tone to be offensive. He was, however, quick to get dad set up as we had already been to the credit union and had the account numbers at hand.

Day Three: Clothes shopping. The urine-soaked pants had to go, as did the ill-fitting shoes and women’s sweater and coat dad refused to take off. He did, I must say, find a pair of pants (not his size) laying beside the road that he actually thought I was going to let him wear. I guess that counts for something. The pants were new to him, after all.

Day Four: Forced shower. Threw out old clothes so he had to wear his new ones. Then, off to visit apartment complex after apartment complex after apartment complex. I wanted to try to get find him something he could afford with just his General Motors pension check so we could start saving his Social Security check once it started coming again.

No luck.

With him just getting out of jail, and that jail stay being for passing bad checks, no one–at least on the good side of town–would touch him. In the end, I took him back to where he lived before, the complex right on the other side of my woods. Thankfully, the staff was the same. They all loved dad (who didn’t, right), and they let him come back. I, of course, had to sign for him…

We wound up putting dad in a two bedroom, second-storey (yes, that’s spelled correctly) apartment. Even though he had no furniture, only my air mattress and a couple camping chairs, dad was thrilled to move in immediately.

Now, all I had to do was start furnishing his life. He already said he’d like to get another dog. I could start on that Day Five.

It’s going to be a long rest-of-the-year.

 

Advertisements

Where or where has my real dad gone?

A week ago, Friday, I got a message from my dad’s probation officer.  That’s right.  Probation officer.  My dad has a probation officer.  Unbelievable.  Am I really related to this person?  I don’t know why I was so shocked.  Someone had been draining my dad’s accounts.  Dad was trying to buy things and pay bills.  Every check bounced.  Pass bad checks, get put in jail.  Get out of jail, get a probation officer.  That’s pretty much the process as I understand.

Anyway, the PO, I’ll call her Moira, asked me to give her some background information on dad.

Oh, boy.  Really?  Let me just exhale the page and a half of material I’ve given every last doctor in the past twenty-seven years.  Chronic alcoholic. Three alcohol in-patient rehab stints.  Unmedicated  bipolar I disorder.  Heart patient.  High cholesterol, unmedicated.

Surgeries and hospitalizations?  Let me see …  Michigan, prior to and just after retirement:  In-patient, 28-day alcohol rehabilitation, times three.  After retirement:  Kalamazoo State Hospital, mental health evaluation.  January through October, before I moved him to Florida with me:  Severe frostbite in extremities caused by lying unconscious in a snowbank for a few days after being robbed.  (Docs wanted to amputate his hands.  His fingertips wound up falling off).  Punctured back, left lung by someone who robbed him.  Third degree burns on left side of body after being thrown into a burning barrel after someone robbed him.  Concussion, three broken ribs, broken arm after someone robbed him.

After I moved him down with me:  Pins put in an arm broken by people trying to rob him.  Quadruple bypass, dual carotid endarterectomy, dual femoropopliteal bypass (fem-pop), gallbladder and hernia removed, and then another fem-pop.  All that in under a year.  All those before he moved to North Carolina.

After he moved to North Carolina?  Hmm…  It didn’t take but a couple days before he broke his leg.  Take a guess as to whether alcohol played a part.  He and his new roommate, a childhood friend he hadn’t seen nor spoken with in a good twenty-five years, were celebrating dad’s move.  God only knows how many hours of drinking went by before they both passed out for the night in their relative rooms.  Dad told me he got up in the middle of the night, forgot he had his suitcase by his door, and tripped over it on his way to the bathroom.  His friend, I’ll call him Ted, was so out of it, he didn’t hear dad yelling, so dad told me he rolled himself over onto the dog bed and scooted his way to the phone to call 911.

Lovely.

As for all the other hospital visits, I have no idea.  I’m just beginning to get an idea, I told Moira, because I changed dad’s permanent address back to mine.  I’m getting all his unpaid hospital bills and explanation of benefit forms here.  At this point, it looks as though dad’s been in an emergency room every other month or so since  Fall 2008.  I know the last time I saw him in the flesh last October, he had several staples in his head.

I didn’t ask.

Dad’s hygiene has become horrible since he moved.  He frequently urinates in his jeans, even did so as I was speaking to him when I saw him last year.  Prostate problems again?  Who knows?  He obviously hadn’t bathed in months.  He’d gone back to not taking off, let alone changing, his clothes, most likely for months.  Last time he was in this shape, he didn’t take off his clothes for nearly two years.  He was also wearing a woman’s sweater and eyeglasses he’d found in the dump, smoked like a fiend, and rattled on and on.  Clearly, he was in a manic state.

He also managed to lose his best friend, Blackie, a Scottish Terrier mix who had never left dad’s side since 1997.  Dad was doing something outside his room in a hotel for the homeless, went inside for something, came back out, and Blackie was gone.  By the time dad had someone call me, Blackie’d been missing for two weeks.  Since dad never renewed the microchip subscription, we’ll never know if HomeAgain tried to call.

I could have gone on, but I only have so many minutes on my phone.

Apparently, she called because she was concerned about my dad.  He didn’t seem like any of the other people she had on her caseload.  He just seemed like a lonely old man.  She told me that she sees him quite often just walking the streets of town.  She also said that word on the street is that dad has money.  Dad gets his Social Security and pension deposits a couple weeks apart from one another, and that’s about how often she sees him with anyone.  Those “anyones,” she said, were using him.  They take him to the bank, get his money, maybe take him to get something to eat, load him up with liquor and beer, and drop him off somewhere, not necessarily his apartment.  They leave him to fend for himself.

Everything she told me, I already knew.  Moira got upset with me, because my reaction wasn’t what she’d expect.  She couldn’t believe I could let my dad live like this.

Really.

I gave her some background on me, how I was thrown into the caretaker role my first year in college and how I’ve continued to help dad out of bad spots to the point of becoming his legal guardian and taking him into my own home.

I have a problem when anyone tries to put me in the “bad daughter” column, especially when I know it’s after dad has worked up a sob story.  He’s all alone.  His kids don’t care what happens to him.  He’s just a retired, disabled veteran trying to make it on his own.

All alone, my ass.  He wasn’t alone when he wasn’t drinking.  He had friends, played cards every day, had his dog, went places, was liked by all his neighbors.  Granted, my brother and I are all who’re left alive in the family.  It’s just us three and my brother’s family, but dad never developed a relationship with his grandkids.  While they were growing up, he was drinking and he never even acknowledged them at holidays.  And forget about birthdays.  He never visited.  Never called.  Never sent cards.  He started to make headway when he lived with me, because I kept him sober and my brother allowed him to come visit; but once he started drinking again, his temper flared, and he was too dangerous to have around.  My brother cut off all contact.

When he started drinking again, his sober friends didn’t want to have anything to do with him.  His best friend, his card-playing buddy, and his wife decided to move near Orlando to get away from him.  Everyone stopped returning his calls.  Some even blocked him.  When he drinks, it’s like he develops Tourette‘s.  He’s not only foul-mouthed, though, he’s aggressive.  He scares off people.  That’s the real reason he’s alone.  No one knows how to handle him.

I do, though.  He listens to me.  I’ve been known to stop him in his tracks in the midst of an attack just by scolding him.  It’s as though he’s a toddler.  Truly.

As for the disabled vet story?  Dad’s never been in the military.

Moira, dad’s not alone.  I care.  I’ve just learned over the years how to set and keep boundaries.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  NO PART OF THIS ARTICLE MAY BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION, ATTRIBUTION,  AND LINK-BACK.

Copyright © 2010 Diane Faulkner.  All rights reserved worldwide, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

Reproduction or transmission of any part of this work by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, beyond that permitted by Copyright Law, without the express permission of and payment to the author, is prohibited.

Text:  Copyright © 2010 Diane Faulkner.  All rights reserved worldwide.  My Life with Dad™ and related trademarks appearing on this website are the property of Diane Faulkner.

Photo:  Copyright © 2010 Diane Faulkner.  All rights reserved worldwide.

The case of the mysterious rise in rent

Friday was an interesting day.  I received a call from my dad’s local banker.  There was a woman in front of him who was demanding $720 to bring dad’s rent up to date.  She said she was the landlady.

Amazing  how many calls I get and visitors this poor banker gets from people who claim to be a landlord of some kind to my dad.

Mind you, I had spoken to a two different women last week regarding my dad’s rent.  One, who turned out to just be a helper of some kind, told me that they had held dad’s room for him while he was in jail with the understanding that he would pay up as soon as he got out.  She told me he owed five hundred eighty dollars.  One hundred was for a deposit he never paid and the rest was for two months rent at two hundred forty dollars a month.  The other was a woman, who claimed to be the landlady, reiterated what dad owed.  Five hundred-eighty dollars.  She also gave me the same breakdown.

Okay.  I can deal with the possibility that dad owes back rent, but what I can’t deal with are people who request money on dad’s behalf without offering proof of who they are or whom they represent.  I told the “landlady” that as soon as she provides me with a copy of the application with my dad’s signature on it and a price sheet that shows the layout and price of his place, I would be happy to pay his balance.

After much back-and-forth, she finally agreed to send me the application, but she insisted that there are no price sheets.  Yeah.  Sure.  I did at least insist that she note the breakdown of what’s owed.

No price sheets?  I’ve lived in apartments before and not one didn’t have a price sheet  attached to some sort of layout or detail of the different apartments.

Interesting what I received in the mail this week:  a copy of dad’s application with his signature, a breakdown of the amount owed, and . . . a note that the rent is $360 a month.  Why am I not surprised?

When I spoke with the “landlady” who was at the bank, I asked her about the difference in rent.  She said she told me that the rent was $360 when we last spoke.  Poor woman didn’t know I have an eidetic memory.  I repeated our conversation, as well as the conversation I had with her assistant, to refresh her conveniently flawed recollection.  She wasn’t exactly a lady in her response.  Suffice it to say, she asked if I was calling her a liar.  I let her guess the answer.

In the end, I told her the originally requested amount of $580 was already ordered on-line, so I would not authorize the seven hundred-twenty.  She wanted the balance.  I told her I’d have to take care of that on-line.  Which I will.  As soon as I reach the person who actually owns the apartments and get to the bottom of this rent scam she’s trying to pull.

I am beyond tired of people taking advantage of my dad.  I am tired of being lied to while I’m trying to help dad get right in his world.

I think, what I really think, is that I’m just plain tired.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  NO PART OF THIS ARTICLE MAY BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT PERMISSION, ATTRIBUTION,  AND LINK-BACK.

Copyright © 2010 Diane Faulkner.  All rights reserved worldwide, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

Reproduction or transmission of any part of this work by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, beyond that permitted by Copyright Law, without the express permission of and payment to the author, is prohibited.

Text:  Copyright © 2010 Diane Faulkner.  All rights reserved worldwide.  My Life with Dad™ and related trademarks appearing on this website are the property of Diane Faulkner.

Photo:  Copyright © 2010 Diane Faulkner.  All rights reserved worldwide