Thursday, January 31, 2013

Maybe I Said Too Much?

My sister implemented her plan and went to my parents for the last two weeks with the baby. She was a like a drill sergeant there. She managed to get the kitchen counter cleaned up, and install a new garage door opener.

When I spoke to my parents, I asked "Did you go to the doctor with Dad and get more information about the dementia episodes?"
"No I didn't get to that," my sister said, "Next time."
I thought to myself, garage door openers take precedence over dementia?
My sister elaborated on the various refurbishing projects she wanted to do to the house. "I'll have to move Mom and Dad into your old room while I do their bedroom. I'll be coming back in a few weeks, and my husband will be coming with me."
I don't even know if my parents had ever met her husband.

I updated my wife about the developments. "Well if she wants to take on the hoard in that house, then she deserves to get the house. But I'm worried about how she's treating your parents. It sounds like she's really pushing them around."
I reminded my wife of the potential value of the assets we were talking about. "Sure you have half coming to you, and you should make clear about that, that you are the bigger person and will concede that for the benefit of your sister," my wife suggested.
"I don't think she sees it like that. I think that she believes that she has everything coming to her anyway."

So I talked to my parents for the first time following my sister's departure. Maybe I said too much?

"So how was my sister's visit?"
"Oh it was interesting," my mother said.
"I bet you enjoyed having the baby over."
"She was heavy."
"But I bet she smiled a lot?"
"Not so much. It was hard."
"Really? It must have been nice having her there with you, a nice change."
"A nice change? It was hell!" my mother blurted out.
"How would you like being yelled at all the time, do this, do that, move this, move that."
"Sounds hard."
"Hard? You care?"
"Yes I want to know what's happening. I'm neutral. I'm Switzerland."
"Switzerland. Sure you are! You've got your interests in all this."
"I do? Like what? I just want to help you." I said.
"Well, why do you think she came?"
"She wants to take our house!" my mother declared, "But you deserve half."
"I'll forego my half."
"Can you put Dad on."
My father came on the phone. I asked him similar questions about my sister's visit. He presented an entirely different story, saying how he enjoyed her presence.
"She came to help us."
"Dad, can you have mom get on the phone."
My mom got on the phone in another room, so that we did a kind of family conference call
"Dad can you repeat for mom your observation about my sister's visit."
"She came to help us out. She did a lot of work on the garage, helping getting it cleaned up."
"Mom, could you tell dad what your impressions were of my sister's visit?"
"Oh, I don't know. She yelled at us."
"So it would seem to me that you have very different impressions of what my sister's visit was like. Dad, how do you explain my sister's sudden urgency to come into your house and put you to work, cleaning up?"
"You and your sister are in a battle, and we are in the middle!"
"Battle? What battle?"
"I don't know. It's between the two of you."
I turned to my mother, "what did you think mom, what did you think of my sister's visit."
"Your sister didn't even ask what are Jewish names are," my mother complained.
"What does that have to do with anything?!" my father said to my mother.
"Your sister has always been jealous of you and she thinks that we favored you," my mother said.
"So that is the battle?" I asked.
"Yes," said my father, "she is jealous of you."
"But how is that a battle? That is just one side. What am I doing to her?" I asked.
"I don't know."
"I'll tell you then. My sister told me to get on a plane and come over there to clean up, to be one of her soldiers," I said, "and I refused. That is my battle with her, not go along with her plan."
"We know, she told us."
"Do you understand my sister's position, she is desperate. She, and her two daughters, and her new husband, are all living with her mother in law."
"I guess she is having problems with her mother in law," my mother said, "well she finally told us that she got married."
"When?" I asked."
"3 months ago."
"Did you ever meet her husband?"
"Briefly," my mother answered.
"Didn't we meet him at Passover time," my father added.
"When," I asked.
"Oh I don't know, I think a few years ago when we came to Tennessee, where-ever she was living?"
"Well what would you do if my sister, her husband, her daughters and the baby came to live with you...permanently?"
"That won't happen. There's no room here," my father protested.
We both understood he meant that because of the hoard that dominated the house, they felt safe, that no one else could fit in their 5 bedroom house.
"Oh yeah. Is there a large dumpster in your driveway?"
"What's it doing there."
"I don't know."
"Maybe she wants to clear out the house so an entire family can move in?"
"Look what do you want us to do?" my father complained, "We are in a difficult position, we can't do anything."
"There is help. Do you want me to give you information. I can give you information for sources of support and help so that you won't be alone. Do you want information?"
Silence. No one talked.
"Yes we're here," my mom said.
"What is your answer?"
"What was the question?" my mom responded.
"Dad, did you understand what I presented?"
"Yes I did."
"Can you explain to Mom."
"You said that you had some information for us for where to turn to for help."
"So do you want it?"
"Do we want what?" my mother asked.
"Do you want information for where to turn for help?" I said.
My father answered, "Ok can you mail it?"
"Mail it? Don't you feel any urgency?"
"No. Why?"
"Mys sister says that she is coming back in three weeks ... with her husband."
"Ok, well mail the information."
"But it's just a phone number, you can't write down a phone number?"
"Oh, let me try and find a pen," my mother said.
"Hmm, these pens are all dried up," my father said from his side.
"I'm not battling anyone, I just want to reach out and let you know I can help you."
"What would you do?"
"What would I do," I said, "if my daughter came into my house and started to take over and bring her whole family in? I would tell her 'No'. I would tell her that it is my house."
"Ok, well I don't know if we can do that."
"Then if you think things have been interesting. Get ready for things to get a lot more interesting. Can I just tell you one more thing."
"Ok," they chimed together.
"There is something called Elderly Abuse," I said.
"What? Can you repeat that."
"Elderly abuse. Taking advantage of elderly that feel that they don't have any options. One form is called Financial Elderly Abuse, when a child, for instance, tries to take over your property and finances."
"You had your garage door opener replaced, that my sister organized?"
"Yes." My father answered."
"Who paid for that?"
"We did."
"My sister also brought in a contractor to give a quote for fixing up the place and do refurbishing. How much was the quote?"
"Oh it was very high," my father said, "we won't take that contractor."
"How much was it?"
"And who is expected to pay that?" I asked.
"Ok, well, let's just to summarize this. You are saying that my sister is there to help you. I am in a battle with my sister. And you don't want any information from me."
"That is correct," my father said.
"Yes, correct," my mother added.
"Ok, fine. Then we'll leave it at that."
I hung up.

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