This blog is an attempt to memorialize our parents and right the wrongs done to them, and hopefully, by making readers aware of what can happen, we can protect other elderly parents who could fall victim to their own family members.
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Daddy's sister died and he became the owner of her dog. Her biggest worry had been what would happen to her little black poodle when she died, and only after Daddy promised to take care of it did she peacefully slip away. By this time mother was completely bed ridden except for the few hours a day the care givers maneuvered her into her wheelchair and pushed her to her recliner in the den where she could enjoy the sunshine. It was from that window that she witnessed Elizabeth dig up and burn her beautiful rose garden. Anyway, on the third day after Daddy brought the dog home, he showed up at our door with it. “I can't keep this dog,” he said. “It whines. It messes in the house. We have a cat and we don't want a dog. You have to take it.” So just like that, he handed us the dog and disappeared. By this time, he was deep into dementia and did not process very well. For example, one day he would ask us to help him buy groceries for the household, then the next he would go into screaming rants that we had purchased food for the house. “I'm the head of this household,” he would bellow at the top of his lungs. “I decide what to buy and when, and I am perfectly capable of going to the grocery store!” When reminded that he had asked us to buy groceries, he denied that he had. His Alzheimerish behavior made him very difficult to deal with. So we were stuck with this dog. I called my sister Barbara Gail in CA. She was the world's greatest animal lover and had 3 dogs of her own. She immediately booked a flight to Tri-Cities Airport and rented a car and drove to The Flats. There she stayed for a week visiting mother and daddy and driving the dog around in the car to acclimate her to the airplane trip that lay ahead. Fast forward to 2008 Elizabeth decided that mother needed a dog, so she brought this rescue dog to mom and dad's. Mother, whose disease was a slow paralyzing of her muscles, was totally bed ridden by this time. Even though her mind was still in tip top shape, the illness was taking its toll on her ability to communicate. Two things interacted at that time to change destiny. The first had to do with the dog. It was not house broken and had no clue how to go outside for its “business.” So here is this dog that Elizabeth has brought into our parent's home where our mother is so medically fragile that her life was being sustained by round-the-clock oxygen and regimented breathing treatments. Elizabeth stayed for a week or so while the dog was there. It wore diapers which she changed. Then, she left, and left this untrained dog in our parents' home, telling the care givers that they were to change its diapers. Daddy, even further into dementia by now, was incensed that a dog should wear a diaper, so he took it off. The dog was peeing and pooping all over the carpets and floors. The house smelled awful in spite of constant cleaning. Two days after Elizabeth left the first care giver arrived at our door early one morning. She was crying and, from the looks of it, had been upset for a while. She announced that she would not stay in the house with the dog. She made it clear that she loved mother and would do anything for her, but she was not going to take her attention away from mother to change a dog's diapers and clean up after it. Such diversion could have been disastrous for mother. She said that Elizabeth had told her that she had to do it, and that if she did not, she could look for another job. “Care givers are a dime a dozen,” Elizabeth had told her. I promised to take care of it. I called Elizabeth and talked to her. She listened, but would not reply. She just held the phone and listened, then hung up. I waited, thinking that surely her better sense would prevail and she would call back. She did not. The next day both care givers (the weekly one and the week-end one) came to see me. They both said they would quit if the dog did not go away. Again I called Elizabeth to tell her how critical the situation had become, but she did not answer the phone. I left the message on her answering machine. She did not call back. The next day I was visited again by one of the care givers with assurance that she was going to quit and that I needed to start looking for another care giver for mother. You may say that I should just have let things remain as they were for the sake of peace with my sister. You may think I should have allowed this care giver to walk and have hired another one. But you would be wrong. For those of you who did not know Remy, allow me a moment to digress so that you will have a full picture of the situation. I had found Remy 2 years earlier. She was of Philippine descent and was married to a young man who lived near Duffield. Remy was an absolute marvel. She bathed my mother every day, changed her bedding daily, changed her briefs (mother was incontinent by this time), did her hair, put on earrings, put on her make up, and topped it all off with bright red lipstick. I would go over to see mother, and there she was in bed, propped up, watching tv, smelling like talc and looking like she just stepped out of a fashion magazine. Remy loved mother. She was never angry or sad, and was always talking, joking, laughing. Barbara Gail and I are convinced that the reason our mother lived as long as she did was due to the care of Remy and the other care giver, Angela. Also, Remy was a worker. The house was always as spotless as mother. In fact, it was the cleanest that house had ever been. Angela was a different type of care giver, but a jewel in her own right. She always did mother's nails in a bright red polish and kept her hair dyed. Neither of these tasks was easy. Angela had to was and dye mother's hair while she lay in bed. Sometimes, she would have to tie mother's hand to the arm of the chair with cloth because it shook so she could not polish her nails. But mother would have done anything to have kept up that picture perfect image. She knew that she was approaching the end of life and she wanted a quality to compensate. Angela was attentive to her every need as well. Both of the care givers also took care of daddy. They had dealt with Alzheimer patients before and knew how to calm him down when the rages started. But neither could deal with him in the way that created the second event that changed destiny: his falling victim to Elizabeth. Our parents had always done everything equally to all 3 of us children. If they gave one something, they would give the other two the same or of equal value. Even so, daddy always knew that mother had no respect for Elizabeth and really did not like her. She felt that Elizabeth manipulated daddy to drain them of money. Daddy, on the other hand, was putty in Elizabeth's hands. She was always fawning on him and he loved that. But Barbara Gail and I were a different story. He never liked the strong will that Barbara Gail had always presented, nor the fact that I had been a banker rather than a farmer. It irked him no end that Barbara Gail and I would not pull cedar saplings from the back 50 acres when we came home to visit. Elizabeth, on the other hand, always went back with daddy and would spend at least a day helping him pull cedars. She was a girl after his own heart. Of course, he never really liked that fact that mother did not pull them either. He used to pine in private that mother never helped him in the fields the way other men's wives did. I guess the fact that she worked full time and kept house for 5 people wasn't written anywhere in his book of the top 5,000 important things in a marriage. So daddy started getting these phone calls from Elizabeth where he would hold the phone for hours on end - listening. After those calls, he would enter mother's bedroom and bend over where she lay in bed and start yelling at her about something. Mother, who was frozen in bed by her illness, was afraid and could do nothing to defend herself. The care givers would try to get him to back off, but during these times he would not respond until his rant was spent. So I talked to daddy about getting rid of the dog. I mentioned about his sister's dog that he gave away because he already had a cat. He didn't remember that. I told him this dog was running off the care givers. He responded by launching into a screaming rage about how he could run his own household. Again, both care givers visited my house and let me know that neither would stay unless the dog went. I called Elizabeth again and got her answering machine again. I told her that Barbara Gail was here and was headed back to CA the following day. Barbara Gail had agreed to drive the dog to the Cincinnati airport to hand it over to Elizabeth before her departure to CA. (Elizabeth lives outside of Dayton) I told her that if she did not want it, the dog was going to the pound. Then, Woody, Elizabeth's husband called back and left a message. I am not sure what Elizabeth told him (she always said, “Woody knows what I tell him”), but he threatened me on the phone if I took the dog to the pound. I called back. No answer. I told the answering machine that Barbara Gail was staying at the Days Inn near the Cincinnati airport and would be there from 5:00 until the next morning. I told Elizabeth that she had the dog with her and was waiting for Elizabeth to come pick it up. She did not. The next day Barbara Gail was faced with a choice: send the dog to the pound before she mounted the plane, or buy it a ticket and take it with her. She chose to do the latter. Elizabeth saw this as an opportunity. She convinced Daddy that we stole his dog and got him so riled up that the two of them went to court to get it back. After ????????????????????????? months in court, a judge who just wanted all of us to go away ordered the dog returned to daddy. Barbara Gail brought the dog back which by this time she had successfully house broken. Daddy hated that dog (“My cat is afraid of it”) but Elizabeth continued to program him that this was his dog (even though she had said it was mother's) and that Barbara Gail and I had stolen it. It was during this time that Elizabeth saw her opportunity for the perfect coup. She drove our father to the lawyer's office and had him disown our mother (his wife of more than 60 years), Barbara Gail, and me, thereby leaving everything our parents had worked for solely to her and her children. Fortunately, our mother had had the foresight to see this coming years before and had taken daddy to deed all of the property over to the 3 of us-to share and share alike. Right!