Could It Be All About The Benjamins?

On Sunday, 16 Aug 2015, my sister called me and verbally attacked me for 55 minutes. Ironically, she asked me if she would ever hear from me again. Here was my response:

Your call on Sunday started with your anger about me not going to (your town) to watch mom during your vacation and then taking one of my own. Then you proceeded with an ad hominem argument for another 55 minutes before threatening me with financial destruction, via (your state’s) filial responsibility laws, if I was not at your beck and call the next time you wanted to go out of town. I understand that you are stressed and now, apparently, you have no one to watch mom overnight to give you any kind of break; although, it should be very easy for her sisters to watch her for a week once or twice per year. They live right there, have no responsibilities, and could have her for a few days each without issue.

As for the personal attacks, we cancelled our Disney trip because of financial issues. I also didn’t have enough credit for a trip to (your state). Our recent trip to Florida was only possible because I got an interest free credit card for the purpose of transferring a relatively high interest balance to it and it came with a maximum balance three times the one I was replacing. Our entire trip was put on this card. We took this trip because my wife is going to spend a lot of time alone after her surgery in a town where she has no friends or family. We don’t know how long it will be until she is fit enough to travel. We only know she will be out of work for at least six months with the possibility she may not be able to work any more.

On the trip we took to (your town) when we brought our granddaughter, I didn’t want to take Jeffery to (a second amusement park) without you or your husband because he wouldn’t listen to me while we were at (the first park). Neither my wife nor I are going to discipline someone else’s child unless that child is in danger. All we did was request that one or both of you accompany us. As far as his dental appointment, I looked on Facebook and found that I liked your post about his appointment shortly after you posted it. I did forget about it afterwards, but then again, I found out about it through a Facebook post. My relationship with Jeffry is better than most uncle and niece/nephews, especially those separated by a thousand miles. No one I asked calls any of their nieces/nephews or sends them presents at Christmas and birthdays.

You made various other attacks on perceived slights that I can’t remember at this time, but I have of one of my own. You sold the trains that our father and his father used, and we could have passed down, for $150. You asked me for some money, but I was living paycheck to paycheck with at least one child at the time. I ran out of money well before each payday. Since you sold those items instead of the many other things you could have, including dad’s two rings that you have, I can only surmise it was because you were mad at me. However, mom had 1,000s of dollars in the bank at the time.

I also don’t understand your steadfast refusal to put her in a care facility when you then, later, say you will do it in the future. If the stress on you is great enough that you would call and attack me for 55 minutes, then you are under too much strain. For whatever the reason you are trying to dodge the five-year financial audit that would occur when putting her in a care facility, it’s not worth it. There is a VA facility near you with a dementia unit. My wife has said many times that she would be happy to bring mom here and our state doesn’t have any filial responsibility laws. I will be consulting with an elder care attorney after my wife’s surgery to find out what needs to be done for me to bring her here.

This is her opening response to my letter:

Yes, I am angry with you but I don’t think you took from our conversation what I had hoped and have misinterpreted most of what I have said. I will respond to each section of your email individually to try and clarify, so there is no misunderstanding (considering your admitted “not remembering” most that has happened). If there still is a misunderstanding, I can know that I did my best to communicate and have no control over your beliefs from this point further. I will always care about you because you are my brother and am saddened that you don’t feel the same way. Take care of yourself, I wish you only good things, good health and happiness.

I tell her I will bring my mother to where I live and take over her care and I get a good-bye response. This is her response to us not watching my mother while she went on vacation:

Yes, I was angry about you not coming to (my hometown) to watch Mom last October, but it had nothing to do with you going on vacation to Florida a couple of weeks ago. I can understand, and I said that, that everyone is entitled to go on vacation. I was angry that you had told me that you would watch Mom so we could take Jeffery to Disney last year. After me telling him and him being excited about the trip and us talking about it and planning it for 5 months, you told me 5 months later that you weren’t going to because you were going to go to Disney instead yourself. Not caring about this little boy who was told he was going to Disney and then me having to tell him that he wasn’t, because you changed your mind and decided to go instead. This had nothing to do with (your wife’s) surgery or your trip to Florida and happened long before that was even a consideration. That was a terribe thing to do, and if you don’t understand that, I can’t help you. You never even apologized for it or showed any slight amount of caring about him. How did he take the news, was he disappointed etc? It devastated me at the time but I was too much in shock to say anything. I thought I had put it to rest but was obviously wrong. Every time someone asked me why (my husband’s) sister was watching mom instead of you, I had to explain and with every explanation it just reopened that wound.

I don’t recall their trip being planned for October because I have made Disney reservations for October in both 2013 and 2014. I made those plans in November of the previous year because reservations can only be made twelve months in advance and the only resort we stay at fills up quickly. I had to cancel both due to financial and medical issues. I tore a muscle in my leg in August 2014 and was unable to begin resuming any normal activities until mid-December. This was about the same time that my wife found out her second cervical fusion hadn’t fused. She had to wear a bone stimulator for six months. Either of these two issues would have caused me to cancel any plans I had with her as they did with my own Disney plans. Her next response:

I did not threaten you in any way, shape or form. You said I did not have to be responsible for her and could have just left her on her own because that is what you did. And if you could do that, I can too. I said I couldn’t do that, first in a moral way. She is OUR mother. She could no longer care for herself. Secondly, I said you were wrong about doing that because whether you thought you were morally obligated or not, you were lawfully obligated to get her affairs in order. I said I did that for both of us, on my own, because of your refusal to assist. I also said that it was terrible that you did not feel that you should have to help at all; in response to your apathy. I was not, nor have I ever, implied that you were at my beck and call now, in the past or in the future. What I had said was that if you cared about me at all, because I know you don’t care about her since you had said it many times and show not an ounce of concern, you could have helped the ONE time I had asked you (far from beck and call assumption), a year in advance to give you time to plan. Remember, our trip was suppossed to be last October, not this year. This, to me, was the least you could do other than what you have done the last 5-6 years, which was absolutely nothing. You haven’t even called and spoken with her in over 6 months. You have never once inquired about her stroke or her diagnosis.

I did not refuse to assist. My sister decided that my mother could no longer live on her own, got power of attorney and moved her into her own home. I’m not sure what help I could have offered at the time other than my wife offering to move my mother in with us if my sister should decide to put her in a care facility. I answer her “threat” and “beck and call” comments later in this post. I have never said I don’t care about my mother. In addition, I never said I hated my mother as she claimed in the Sunday telephone call. Nearly every time I visited my mother, I repaired something at her home at my own expense. I built her a new shed, replaced to faucets, repaired wiring, sealed cracked brickwork, replaced outside post lamp, etc. These are not the actions of someone who hates his mother. I have called and spoken to her many times over the last six months with the phone records to prove it. I don’t recall our specific conversations so I don’t recall specifically asking about her medical issues, but somehow I know all about it. Again, this is more anger about her Disney trip and it seems to be her real issue. If I cancelled in the spring, then she had six months to make alternate plans but I already addressed this issue above. This is her response to me pointing out that my mother’s sisters are having less and less to do with her:

It is very easy to talk about things you don’t have any knowledge about and to say what others can do. Maybe it’s not as easy for them as you would like to convince yourself. You have no idea what they do, what their lives are like or their health for that matter considering you have not spoken with them for over 25 years.

Me not having much to do with my mother’s side of the family is explained later in this post. My belief that my aunts have the capability to spend time with my mother is based on my sister’s complaints that they do in fact have such capability and are doing it less and less, even refusing to have my mother visit overnight. She has been very upset when they won’t watch my mom when she wants them to. My sister also told me that my mother’s brother has not called her since finding out she had dementia. Another response:

What does this have to do with Mom? Like I said, I understood why you took your trip to Florida a couple of weeks ago. I had no problem with that. Not coming here last October was about you cancelling to go to Disney yourself long before you knew (your wife) was going to have surgery. You cancelled in the Spring of 2014 right before I was going to make our reservations. I feel badly about (your wife’s) surgery. I felt badly that you had noone to help you and had even asked if any of her kids or other family members could help by coming to (your state) and stay with her. What are you talking about? I don’t care about your finances. That is your issue.

During our phone conversation, she was angry about our trip to Florida, which is why I mentioned it. She was also upset claiming I care more about my granddaughter than her little boy. I really don’t recall her having Disney plans for October because I had my own, made the previous November. Worst case, my mother could have gone with her as well. The last time we visited, in 2013, my mother was the same with us as when she spent a month with us at our home. The following is another response and an additional personal attack:

We stopped you from taking Jeffery to (an amusement park), not the other way around. Neither of us liked how you had been treating him and did not think it was a good idea. He was not comfortable with you and didn’t know you. He was 5…That is why he did not go. All I meant with what I had said was that all kids misbehave, including (your wife’s) by making fun of mentally handicapped people. I had never told you that but felt why not? Also, about the time we had plans to go to the Ducky Tour, how you and (your wife) just disappeared leaving Mom and me with all of the kids. We were all suppossed to have lunch together, but you both just left without telling anyone. You left Mom and I, both diabetics, without the ability to eat because we had everyone and not enough money on us to feed everyone unexpectedly. Especially since I had to buy (your daughter) new clothes because her period had started and she had ruined the clothes that she had. That was all the money I had on me and didn’t bring my purse because I didn’t know the plans were going to change without my knowledge or consideration.

I answer the amusement park later in the post. I remember the duck tour and I know we all had lunch, so I don’t know how a possible 10-20 minute detour in a shop caused so much strife. I don’t understand these personal attacks, what they have to do with her anger about Disney or my offer to bring my mother here to live with me. She responded to my comment about Jeffery’s dental appointment:

Sorry, that you forgot…

I found out about his appointment on Facebook and acknowledged it. I don’t recall how long after that I spoke to her on the phone. I try to call every two weeks. I don’t always get an answer or a call back. A call the she initiates, not a call back, is rare. The point is, I was told through Facebook and I responded through Facebook. She responded to what my idea of a normal uncle/nephew, separated by 1,000 miles, relationship is:

Wow, I guess that is good enough for them. Maybe you need to talk with some of the other uncles/aunts in my family, they may give you a different perspective.You are a great Uncle whose nephew doesn’t even know who you are when he opens those presents for birthdays and Christmas that you will no longer be sending.

I have taken my daughters to (my hometown) seven times before I went to Okinawa and have visited four times since my nephew was born. That’s eleven times in 24 years, which includes 5 years that I was in other countries. You only visited me once, when I was in Okinawa.  I asked one of my daughters how many times my sister has called her. She replied, “Never, we just like each other’s posts on Facebook sometimes.” However, both of my daughters know who their aunt is and were surprised that this so-called falling out happened. I take the last sentence in her response to mean that she doesn’t want me to contact her little boy again. This is response to the train issue:

Yes, I did do that. I have at least apologized for being a stupid 21 year old girl. I have also tried making up for it by trying to replace some of those things by going to auctions etc. I at least can recognize when I do something wrong and TRY to make it better. That happeneed over 21 years ago, more than half of my life ago. Is that the best you can do to justify your behavior instead of trying to make atonements?

I wasn’t trying to justify anything, just proving that I can add complaints to a conversion that have nothing to do with the current topic just as she can. I was disappointed that I no longer have those to continue passing to future generations, but I moved on nearly instantaneously. They are only toys. She continues:

I was never mad at you about that, that is on you. Just like it is on you that you wanted them and never took them with you and left them at her house. I sold the trains yes, but for no other reason than money. The ring was locked in the safe and I had no access to it at the time. Mom said I could sell the trains, so I did. She did not have all of this money that you are saying she did. I don’t know what you are talking about. And I only know about 1 ring and yes I do have that still locked in the safe.

I do find it irritating that she blames me for not taking the trains until I was married and had a child before I wanted to pick up the train set. There were two rings in the safe, a gold plated one and a nickel one. I have held both in my hand. I don’t have a male heir, so I would rather Jeffery have them than a, possibly temporary, son-in-law. I know for a fact my mother had over 30Gs in a savings account at the time. This is her response to my suggestion that I put her in the VA facility:

OK, last time I will ever explain this to you. She has dementia,look it up, removing her from her familiar surroundings expedites the disease. She fares better at our home with familiar people, familiar things and people who care about her. She is never alone. She gets to play the piano which helps her cognitive functioning. She gets to interact with other people which also helps her cognitive functioning, remembering family and the past. We ensure she eats properly, has good hygeine and is relatively happy for the years she has left. I have had her in care facilities when she was first diagnosed with seizures and stroke etc. Those probably would have gone unnoticed in a care facility. As funny as that sounds. They are understaffed, usually have rotating staff and can not give the personal, constant attention that she has here with us. They never get to know her very well and couldn’t tell the difference between a stroke and dementia due to cognitive functioning, it would all look the same to someone reading a chart. I have gone in to visit her in care homes, some of the best around Pgh and she is wearing other people clothes, extremely confused and scared/crying. I say in the future because dementia is a progressive disease and eventually her organs/physicality will decline to the point where she will no longer be able to walk, feed herself, use the bathroom, speak etc. At that time, we will no longer be able to care for her and we will have no choice but to admit her somwhere. This disease will progress faster to this point by taking her out of her familiar surroundings and placing her somewhere. Hence, asking you to come here or (my husband’s) sister to come here to watch her and not sending her somewhere else.

I have read about dementia and personally observed my mother. My wife has worked with dementia patients. My point about her living in a care facility is because of how my mother allegedly treats Jeffery. We could provide everything that my sister does at our home, including the piano. I note that in the last sentence that having her husband’s sister watch my mom is a good thing, unlike during her trip to Disney.

I am not avoiding a 5 year audit, although the process will be a pain in the ass when I have to go through it, and I am quite aware of visiting nurses etc. Remember, I am a supervisor at the Department of Public Welfare and went to school to help others find resources in their community. Some of those visiting “angels” receive benefits where I work because they don’t get paid a living wage. Most places don’t require experience, back ground checks etc.I see clients working there with assault as criminal history. Maybe it gets missed, maybe someone makes a mistake but it happens. I don’t want to take the chance of leaving Mom with someone alone who may be a felon because I trusted the wrong agency. It’s not as easy as you would like it to be. But then again when you don’t have all of the facts, most things seem easy.

She did mention the 5-year audit when selling my mother’s house and I address this later in the post. My wife has many years of experience dealing with dementia, Alzheimer’s and brain injury patients. She took over the care of her cousin that was suffering from breast cancer. She moved her cousin into her home, took her to doctor’s appointments in another city, and all other care required. I think we can handle the care of my mother. This is her response to my wife offering to have my mother live with us:

Really? When Mom visited you a 5 years ago before she got bad, you told me Tracy hid in the basement and locked the door behind her because she couldn’t handle/deal with Mom. You had also told me how you both laughed because she was eating grapes out of the garbage and didn’t stop her.

My mother visited in August 2011 which is four years ago. You say she wasn’t bad but had previously detailed the abuse she would inflict on your little boy. When we visited in 2013, she seemed the same to me. When she was out with us, she acted the same as she did in 2011. The rest of this is untrue and addressed later in the post. This is her response to my comment about filial responsibility laws:

Is this all you care about? What your financial responsibility is? You have never been asked to help financially and you never will be asked. That way, you can lock her up and throw away the key without even visiting her and making sure she is taken care of? When I had said putting her in a home would not resolve my responsibility because I would need to visit her almost on a daily basis you said no I wouldn’t. You leave her there and they take care of her, you don’t need to visit. Is this what your plans are? Not making sure she has clean clothes or that the clean clothes she has are still in her room or that she is at least wearing them? That she has showered and brushed her teeth? Or do you think things like this are their responsibility? If you think so, you may want to look into it.

I brought up the filial responsibility laws because that is what she threatened me with and is the reason she said she had to spend down my mother’s money before putting her in a care facility. I shouldn’t have any financial responsibility as per my mother’s finances that I detail later in the post. Visiting on a daily basis is really unnecessary and impractical. You could visit some weeknights and/or bring her to the house on weekends. I currently work two jobs and would not visit on a daily basis if she was in a care facility here. However, I don’t anticipate having to put my mother in a care facility if she lived with me. Again, my wife is a Certified Nurse’s Assistant. An added benefit of her living with us is that she could be visited by her two grand-daughters. When I talk to mom, she never asks about them but she always mentions that Jeffery is her “one-and-only grandson.” Did you train her to say that? This is her response to my comment that I would talk to an elder care attorney to find out what I would need to do in order for my mother to live here:

I have no words…

I’m not sure of the meaning of this unless she just can’t come up with a valid reason why my mother shouldn’t live here.

The outright lie, concerning her not allowing Jeffery to go to (an amusement park) with us, has caused me to question everything she has said to me. She has told me many horror stories dealing with mom and her siblings both before her moving in with my sister and after. Did my mother really throw a trash bag with broken glass at my sister’s face and damage her eye? My sister has detailed to me many instances of mom both verbally and physically abusing Jeffery. She also detailed the verbal abuse towards herself and her husband. Based on her words, I insisted that she put our mother in a home. Why would you keep an abusive person around your “little boy”? However, when we visited, we never saw any sign of this abuse. When my mother stayed with us for a month, we never observed any of this behavior. She was somewhat forgetful and maybe a little weird.

My mother’s one month visit to our home was mostly uneventful. I installed a lock on our door to the basement to keep my mother from possibly harming our three Chihuahuas. The dogs stayed in the basement every night she was here. This was because my sister had told me about my mother dropping Alka-Seltzer in her fish tank years ago and how she had to take her new puppy with here everywhere she went because my mother threatened to kill it. My wife caught my mother taking food from the trash and made her throw it away again, explaining that it was no longer fit to eat. We never let her eat from the trash while laughing at her. My mother did get a little annoying by following my wife everywhere she went, even the bathroom. My wife had to lock the bathroom door to keep her from coming in. My wife’s only complaint was that she couldn’t get even a few minutes privacy to call her kids. I suggested she go the locked basement if she wanted to make any calls. She did do this one time. My mother continuously knocked on the basement door, then went outside and rang the doorbell until my wife returned from the basement. That was the one and only time this was done and it was just to make a phone call. Future calls were made while I was there and could entertain my mother while my wife talked with her children. The only other odd things my mother did were rinsing dishes instead of washing them and walking in circles around the first floor of our home. She was never physically or verbally abusive to any of us, including my daughter who came to visit. We also took my mom to visit my stepdaughter and her family. She was not physically or verbally abusive to anyone there nor had any kind of embarrassing outburst anywhere we went. My sister had described many of these including an incident at a movie theater where she threw her large soda in the lobby. My mother was polite and well behaved wherever we went.

I suppose it was easy to believe any of the abuse my sister described because I remember receiving it myself. One day when I was very little, every time my mother came near me she would flick my earlobe has hard as she could until it got very red. She used to paddle us with a thin board wrapped in electrical tape. This did break once on my behind. She also broke one of those big, thick, 70’s hairbrushes over the top of my head.

I mentioned the filial responsibility laws firstly because my sister threatened to release herself from being responsible for our mother’s care, dumping her in a home, and said the state would come after me, as the oldest child, for tens of thousands of dollars after her death. She said this could happen if I didn’t travel to her home and stay with my mother during her next vacation. I mentioned it secondly because that may be a reason she would keep an abusive person in her home with her “little boy”, and gave her the option of sending my mother to live with me in a state where there are no filial support laws. My wife has said on many occasions that she would rather take care of my mother than see her put in a care facility. My wife is a Certified Nurse’s Assistant and has many years of experience caring for Alzheimer’s, dementia and traumatic brain injury residents. My wife only works three days per week now, but after her upcoming surgery, she may not go back. One of the three days is a day off for me. Therefore, the worst-case scenario is that we would need to have a visiting nurse for up to nine hours a day, two days per week. My sister flat out refused to let her come here. She refuses to have a visiting nurse enter her home, have a companion, volunteer or paid, come to the house to spend time with our mother. These care professionals could come once per week or once per month, whenever my sister needs to spend quality time with her family. There is also a State VA home in the city where they live with a 44-bed dementia unit. The way this works is that my mother would pay what she can afford and the VA pays the rest. She qualifies since my dad was a state resident and served four years in the military. She absolutely refuses to let anyone else take control of the care of our mother nor will she allow anyone to care for her in the home. Putting her in the VA facility is not locking her up and forgetting about her. She can be visited at any time and can spend weekends with my sister.

The same day I suggested that my wife and I could take over the care of my mother, she sent me an email with a “have a nice life” opening, sent my daughters a farewell message, and then deleted us all from Facebook. My sister also chastised me because she says I’m not in her son’s life enough, even though I live over a thousand miles away, but when I asked my daughter how often my sister calls her, she replied, “never.” I find this very hypocritical.

When my sister moved my mother in with her and sold my mother’s house, she explained that the state would look through my mother’s finances for the five years prior to her going in to a nursing home and that she would have to be careful how she spent down the money so the state wouldn’t take it. My mother got over $50K for her house then received $25K from some mineral rights that she inherited, that came with the possibly of additional revenue in the future. My mother also receives social security income and a state retirement with healthcare, in addition to any Medicare that I don’t know for sure that she has. There may also be a life insurance policy. Living with my sister leaves her minimal living expenses and medical copays. I can’t see how my sister is going to spend down my mother’s money when, in fact, it should be growing. After thinking about it, I remember her telling me a while back that my uncle asked her, referring to any future proceeds from the mineral rights, “Why would you share anything with your brother”? This coupled with the recent health scare my mother had made me think that our recent “falling-out” may be a ploy for the money, especially since my sister has power of attorney and had my mother’s will updated. Her husband was also out of work due to knee surgery and is now only working part-time.

Will I be notified of my mother’s passing before the will is executed? Only time will tell. I don’t care about the money. You can keep it. If you put her in a home, it would be gone anyway. Even if I am notified of the funeral, I will not attend but will visit her gravesite at a later time because I will no longer be comfortable around my sister or anyone else that will be there.

I now also question the treatment that my sister allegedly received from my mother’s family. The things she said were believable to me at the time because of some experiences I had. My cousin stayed with us for a week one summer and we purchased some discounted records. When my aunt came to pick her up, she saw the albums, smashed them, and then lectured me for an hour about how I will burn in hell if I keep listening to rock music. After my sister’s first wedding, my uncle asked me, “How does it feel to have a ‘spaghetti’ man in the family?” My response was, “It doesn’t matter to me.” My sister once relayed to me the tongue-lashing she received from my other aunt after my sister laughed when my aunt explained why they were raising rabbits. The rabbits were to be used as food during Armageddon. My mother’s mother could also be emotionally abusive in that she would say things to make you feel bad about yourself. She also convinced my mother that showering in the morning opens your pores, letting in germs. Therefore, I was no longer allowed to shower in the morning before school. This briefly caused me some issues until I hid a towel, soap, and shampoo in the basement laundry room. I had to get up before my mother and secretly wash my hair/body in the utility sink. These and other incidents made it easy to believe her when she said she was called a hoe by my mother’s mother, in front of her aunt and uncle who didn’t disagree, and would call me from her home telling me how mean and rude everyone was at Christmas dinner and every other family gathering she attended. She would tell me some not so nice things they said about me including the time they saw an article I had sent my mother from the base newspaper about an award I had received. They were “surprised” that I was doing well in the military. They were surprised, not happy. My sister explained a years-long system of extortion perpetrated by my mother. If my mother did anything for my sister, she would write it down and force my sister to pay it back later, with bogus and inflated expenditures. She also said that my mother said her car was broken down and that she forced my sister to take her anywhere she wanted to go at any time as if she were a free, personal taxi service. If she was late for any reason, including not getting off work on time, she would get berated not only by our mother, but her mother as well. She also told me that my aunt said to her son-in-law, at his brother’s funeral, “he’s going to burn in hell.” My sister also told me that she overheard our mother on the phone on several occasions telling other family members lies about us. Recently, she told me that no one in the family has ever said anything bad about me, that they always ask how I am doing and that she has a good relationship with everyone. Now I question the truthfulness of everything she has said and wonder what she has said about me to the rest of the family.

I recently added one of my cousins as a friend on Facebook. Since he may know the truth of what my sister has been telling me about her treatment from the family, could this have played a part in our “falling out”? I fail to see how this, the Disney trip or my request to bring my mother to live with me could cause this complete cut-off of communication.


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