I am the youngest of 4 children and the only girl. My brothers are 5, 10 and 13 years older than me. When I was 7 years old my parents divorced. My mom moved the youngest 3 of us to Manchester, MO where she had gotten a teaching position in the Parkway School district. My oldest brother stayed in ARK.
Because of our age spread I spent the most time living with Mom. Even after I married, my husband and I lived near her.
When she began suffering from dementia it seemed natural for me to be her main care giver. As time and her disease progressed, I began doing more and more for her, starting with paying bills which she was not very good at! I remember she had a gasoline credit card with $60 on it and she was paying the minimum every month!
By fall of 2007 I was pretty much doing everything for her – groceries, laundry, cleaning, chauffeuring her to doctors and hair dresser appts. I was also taking care of her physically, making sure she ate, bathing her, and taking her for walks around her yard. I kept up her many beautiful gardens because it was the last thing she could still enjoy. She used to love to read and watch movies on TV but poor eyesight and dementia didn’t allow for such things any more.
About this time I realized she needed more attention than I could give her. I felt she needed to be in a nursing home or have a live-in caretaker. I looked into nursing homes and found it would cost a lot of money, but I believed she’d be happy and certainly safer there. I passed this information along to my brothers. I got no response from the oldest two and the youngest one said the cost was prohibitive. So I decided to fix up Mom’s house and find someone to move in with her.
Fixing up the house was necessary because she had been in the same house for 44 years and it was full of “stuff”– wall to wall and floor to ceiling. Plus she smoked most of that time so everything was pretty nasty. Just before Christmas I hired a friend who lived near Mom to paint the interior and do a few other things.
By Feb the house was starting to look pretty good. One day Mom wasn’t feeling right. Nothing specific, just not right. So I took her to the emergency room. She was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. No surprise since she had smoked for nearly 70 years. Mom had made a will but none of us had Power of Attorney. Therefore the hospital wouldn’t release her until someone had Guardianship.
There were already issues among the siblings; the worst being between my middle brother and me. So it was decided to have the oldest brother, living in ARK be Mom’s guardian. Unfortunately this took two months. In the meantime, Mom was put in a Skilled Nursing Facility.
She had only been in the facility a day or so when I found her with an alarm strapped to her ankle so she couldn’t leave the building. I then found out that my middle brother had told the nursing staff I might kidnap her. He also apparently said I neglected and abused Mom, stole from her and lied to the family.
I wanted to know what planet he was on! I was the one who took loving care of her for 15 years. He lived in town and only saw her every 6 months or so. My oldest brother only visited Mom every 3-5 years, but he believed everything the middle brother said. The youngest brother knew better because he had helped me with Mom, but he didn’t have any influence on the others.
The 2 months that mom was in that facility was the worst 2 months of my life. I went to see her almost every day. I couldn’t take her out of the facility and we both felt we were in prison. Alarms would go off it she got out of her wheelchair or too near an exterior door. When this would happen she would throw up her arms and say she was sorry, she just wanted to look out the window. Mom loved nature; she loved being outside. During this time we had a beautiful snowfall and I wanted her to experience it. I thought they were going to arrest me for trying to take her outside. They did “write me up”! The staff watched us constantly. It was beyond awful.
In April 2008, my oldest brother took Mom to live in Arkansas. My friend and I finished Mom’s house. The disagreements continued until the house was sold about a year later. My brothers still thought I was trying to cheat the family by paying my friend too much money, even though the total amount spent was right where I was told it would be by more than one contractor when I first started the project.
After about a year living with my brother and his wife, Mom was moved to a nursing home in ARK where she continued to fade and finally died in October 2012. We buried her next to her father and mother in Sikeston, MO that same week.
I have not seen my two oldest brothers since then. I do see my youngest brother, but our relationship will never be the same. Although it was hard just to get Mom to make a will, if I had Power of Attorney and more of her wishes on paper things might have been different. I see now that all this needs to be done BEFORE the loved one gets too ill to take care of it. Once someone becomes ill or dies it seems that very often insanity sets in! Please understand that my brothers were not arguing about money. Except for her house, Mom didn’t have any. By the time she died she was on Medicaid and had no estate.