The dog


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

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

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

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!