Thursday, January 23, 2020

Standing "Outside" Looking "In" To My Early Life

Mom and I. Even in the darkest and most challenging times -- we were able to stay together. 

She married late. To a man who'd  been married before. He was Catholic. She was not.

She promised to raise me "in the faith" and kept that promise even when a Priest and a Nun called her a "whore" and me a "bastard". 

Children in my era didn't ask questions especially from those in authority. I knew it was a negative comment and over the years the sting of those words is still inside me. 

With recent events over the past nine years, the verbal abuse continues from "those in authority" who would rather turn away and let it continue than face the challenge of resolution. 

Interesting. Cause for thought. A religion requiring confession and forgiveness but does not believe in accountability?

Difficult enough "in those days" to be unmarried so late in life but to marry a divorced man with two children from the previous marriage? Major life error.

I didn't know about "them" until one day I saw a picture of Dad standing beside a woman and behind a young boy and girl who I think looked to be about two years apart in age but had then and have now no idea of how old they would have been. I was about five at the time.

Dad had asked me to get him something out of "his bottom drawer" -- perhaps he wanted me to see the picture--although young children were far more "obedient" in those days because it was the era of "spare the rod and spoil the child" carried forward to becoming a belt that could reach even farther than a "switch" from a tree used on the previous generation.

As customary -- I didn't question. It was "his" drawer, his "things". 

I would have done the same and did, over the years, with Mom. 

For example, I always took Mom her purse, I NEVER went into it to get what she wanted. And I didn't question -- even when she showed some signs of older life challenges.

I saw the picture but never asked who was in the picture. Children didn't question. The "rod" was used and in the case of my father, it was his leather belt and I felt enough of it as he often used it to gain "control" -- of me when I questioned, did something he didn't like---for whatever reason.

Respect. Courtesy. Consideration. 

We were "poor" but we had a roof over our head -- despite Dad's constantly losing one job after another. Never asked Mom how she did it; know we moved quite a bit Perhaps we "walked out" on past due rent and utilities -- I have no idea.

Mom worked at whatever job she could get when I started school. Dad had no respect for Mom's purse...always helping himself despite her pleas to leave at least enough to get bread and milk and a few groceries. 

Alcohol, not his family, was his primary need and primary focus.

What was His was His. What was Hers was HIS.

Alcoholism -- Whether from results of being in the War or for whatever reason -- damaged and destroyed but could not break apart my Mom and me.

Other Mothers were home during the day; mine was not; it was something I just accepted even with the verbal "name calling" from kids who overheard parents "disdain" for "our kind".

Women stayed home; men went to work. There were no "good" jobs for a woman who was married and most women married at or before 18; my Mom was 31. 

She was a "spinster"; actual truth was she worked to provide for her sister and brothers who were still at home.

Mom "came over" from another State to find work as a domestic in other people's homes -- people of means -- people who treated her like "white trash" and worked the 13 year old long, hard days keeping their homes "bright and shiny".

The kids where we lived knew they were free to throw insults my way and they did. This was not the typical neighborhood you can still see in the shows about the families of the 1950's -- those are the "ideal" families and not reality.

Those TV shows about the perfect families living in the friendly neighborhoods where the most challenging problems were so minimal were big in the 60's and the 70's but they were far from reality for many families who lived prior to that time.

Going to "a movie show" was an exceptional treat. 

Riding on a bus or on a streetcar, as inexpensive as it seems today, was also a "special event". 

Somehow Mom managed at least once a month to hide enough from Dad to provide a "treat" -- one we could never talk about in front of him or I would be subjected to his "discipline" and Mom would be verbally abused.

We usually walked to the closest major street where shops lined each side of what we thought was a "busy" street but pales in comparison to today's traffic.

Mom and I would walk and share time together. It was a way to be together. It was her way, our way, to "get away". 

Dad might have been sleeping; he worked the night shift. It's challenging as the years go by to remember some details; too many other life experiences (thankfully) replace them.

When he worked it was usually as a "night watchman". 

To my knowledge he'd been made to leave school at a very young age, never really asked (again, how we were taught)  to help in his father's business, who was a barber. 

That's supposedly where he "learned to drink" -- as this was common practice -- but I wonder also about how his serving in the War (WW1) affected him and may have led to his drinking -- PTSD?

And, he was probably "sleeping it off" if he'd been paid because money in his pocket meant he headed to the local tavern and he was always generous (to everyone but his family) buying drinks for whoever he happened to meet.

His "generosity" in the bar meant we went without: food, clothing, basics many take for granted. 

People in the armed forces have had similar challenges moving around and to some extent those who worked for companies who "transferred" employees to other locations -- but for me, it was accompanied by living in a volatile environment where one parent was protective and the other self destructive. 

It wasn't exactly conducive to having a friend "over to play" or being "invited" to another home.

When asked today about my "friends" from growing up, I have to admit I haven't many and still find making "friends" a cautionary step and one not to be taken lightly.

A cold water flat; moving every six months from 4th grade until 7th and changing schools twice a year. Some memories come back -- I have some good ones from Kindergarten through the first part of third grade.

Times were changing. Neighborhoods were changing. In our city people were moving "out" because"THEY" were moving in.

Mom tried having a Doctor talk with Dad; she encouraged him to go to AA. He'd stop for a while and then back he'd go -- having Neighborhood bars didn't help as he'd pass one when he walked anywhere and that meant he was "drawn in".

He took me inside with him. Sat me at the bar with him. 

Sometimes he'd buy me a soda -- a very rare treat. Guess he was "buying" my silence as he'd say, "Now don't tell your Mother I gave you that; she'll be angry with me for buying you that soda."  

Of course what he really was saying was, "Now don't tell your Mom I took you into the Bar again. Here's a soda which you can only get when we go here. So, think about that and remember we can only get one when we go here."

When you're a small child, and back then children were more "innocent" and less worldly for many more years than today, you accept more, dream more and generally don't realize how life "should be" or "could be".

Many men drank and they drank to excess. Again, think their being in the Wars of those times and trying to escape the memories had to have an effect. Also drinking was more excessive than it is today for many people.

My Mom planned, she saved nickles and dimes; she went to Beauty School to get a profession she felt could provide for the two of us -- and it did.

It took years. We left with the clothes on our back. With one of Mom's brothers we went back to pick up a few, a very few things, but left behind our lives and for me that was toys and games and my beloved dog who went to stay at the Uncle's.

Children today have so much more. My children had so much more. And, they had love, two caring and devoted parents who both worked so their lives could include great educations and amazing opportunities.

Looking back I do not see the person my oldest son paints me as -- incompetent, incapable, not planning for life well enough and an abuser of his Grandmother and Father.

We've exchanged emails and had email "discussions" many times -- it always ended in his "picking up his marbles" and going home.

Then would come his removing my, his father and even his grandmother's ability to see "his" children. You see, we were a family unit and what he did to one, he did to all. 

Like my father, my oldest son strikes out when what happens, what is said, does not "please him". 

Looking at him on line you'd never guess he was an abuser. Looking at his wife, you'd never guess she participated in an supported the abuse. 

I have no way of knowing how they treat the children. I've wondered. I'm not sure. Sometimes verbal can be as abusive as physical -- I remember as that was also a "skillset" my Dad had.

My oldest once asked me if he was anything like his grandfather. I said yes -- he was blue eyed and bald when he was born. Then the blonde hair came in -- odd because I had dark brown hair and my husband had "salt and pepper" hair with black and silver coloring. My husband had been quite sick as a child and thought that was the cause but seeing my other son "go grey" early, it must be hereditary on "that side" of the family.

We chose how we go through life. We walk past many windows in life, some we see from the inside, some we see from the outside.

We chose to work on relationships or we choose to use relationships to manipulate and control others.

In life, at home, at work, in social situations, we make choices. 

Mom and I both accepted what we could not change but have had the courage to change what we could.

There is heartache but we must move away from those who use and abuse for our own well being.

I know I have the ability to move through these times as they do not control me, they give me the courage to face head on and walk away waiting for the tomorrow I know will come.

I stand outside looking in to my early life and the life my oldest son has chosen to create for me. Little difference. Abuse is abuse.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Legal Duty To Support Our Parents -- Many States Have Laws

Since beginning this Blog in 2012 my journey through aging, medical challenges, dementia, family challenges and personal survival, I've found my entries often move in directions I wasn't directly exploring at the time.

Chance, luck, fate, meant to be....take your choice. Whatever it is, I feel the need to share and enlighten because these life's journeys will most likely be one almost everyone at varying ages and life circumstances will take -- in one form or another.

I focus on a subject and start detailing or remembering what's happened or currently occurring and then use this amazing social tool called "the internet " or conversations in my community.

This leads to my discovering often startling information that causes me even greater concern for myself and others travelling this ever changing personal life road involving ourselves, our family and the community in general.

A "legal duty to support our parents"?  Had no idea this existed. 

Morally, I agree with this concept; however, in reality, I question a society that has to make this law and doesn't recognize the importance of medical care as a "right" for all ages and stages.

And, one step further, do you go to a store to purchase something without seeing a price? 

We walk through the doors of medical services every day without a clear idea of what it will cost and without knowing what "the competition" charges.

Variable, you say. Depends on "what happens". 

I can accept that for some medical services but not for those that are "standard" and that includes shots, regular check ups (and what that includes), specific laboratory tests and others.

We're at the "mercy" of the medical system. Yes, they provide "free" and "reduced" care but they also could be more "transparent" in the care they charge.

Medicare has deductibles and for many Seniors, that is a challenge along with costs for "above" their coverage levels.

...OR at the very least a full disclosure of the medical costs and the ability to compare services as one can when shopping for other goods and services.

This topic really grabbed me because during my Mom's journey through Long Term Care facilities she had post hospital stays in more than one facility.

I mentioned being given a contract to sign -- ME -- not her -- and in the many pages was a short statement that I would be responsible for her bill. I refused to sign. I was not in a financial position after my husband's medical challenges to take on costs I had no idea what they would include and how many thousands of dollars could accumulate.

They were a "multi state" operation and apparently their "standard contract" contained inclusions that may or may not have been "legal" in my state.

If I'd signed the attorney friend told me I would have been responsible and could have been sued.

Even for a "short term" stay of 30 days, since they determined the services "necessary" and create the "paperwork" (and who among us wants to deprive someone we love of "medical care" )-- this could have been money we needed for daily living (and it would have been) or caused us to possibly even sell our home to "meet our obligations".

Frightening isn't it?  Our parents are growing much older and so are we. We are their children and at a time in life when our "resources" are limited or affected by our own medical and other life challenges it's possible we may be legally obliged to pay even when it could be a hardship.

Yes, the law states if you are "capable" but we all know that's an interpretation and depends on who's making the determination. At the very least, it can involve hiring your own attorney, time spent in this "legal matter" you don't have and money put out for your "defense".

Please note:  I see no reference to a date when the information below was entered on the internet. Suggest reviewing to ensure you understand any and all updates, changes and additions of other States by going to your own State's information in this area.

Also, don't know if there's "cross responsibility" -- not sure how an adult child living in one state and a parent living in another will be affected and by which or both state's laws.

"States with filial responsibility laws are: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia." 

Not every State has a law; here's the reference:

Filial Responsibility: Can the Legal Duty to Support Our Parents Be Effectively Enforced? by Shannon Frank Edelstone, appearing in the Fall 2002 issue of the American Bar Association's Family Law Quarterly, 36 Fam. L.Q. 501 (2002).

Your obligation to pay a parent's nursing home bill is another resource to read:

We took responsibility for my Mom's day to day living through being a multigenerational family where Mom retained all her Social Security and spent it when and where she chose and we paid all the "ordinary"expenses of living and some of her "extras" -- often providing additional money for her to travel or purchase larger items -- bed, furniture, room decor, etc. 

This was how we lived from the time Mom came to live with us when our first child was three months old until she went into a facility through the actions of Julia I've written about in several earlier entries. That was almost four decades.

Mom had no property and no resources aside from Social Security and that was at a very low level as Mom was a very low wage earner.

We finally applied for Medicaid as it provided Day Care. 

I was coping with 24/7 caregiving for two and Mom deserved to have a more stimulating and social lifestyle than we could provide when my husband was basically "home bound".

Most of his time after spending 100 days in the hospital, almost all in Critical Intensive Care, was in a medical bed with as many as four bags taped across his abdomen as his skin constantly broke open and the contents of his "processing" of what he could tolerate to eat dumped into the bags which constantly needed to be changed.

What if my state would have decided I "had" the ability since we had a home when Mom started needing medical care (before my husband had his medical challenges) and we were "held responsible" for her bills .....?

And then there's the consideration of the responsibility to care for "parents" and that would have meant, if they were living, two people for each of us, my husband and myself, bringing to our lives the "responsibility" of paying for care IF each of them could not pay or did not have assets or other means OR if we were seen as "having the ability"......

Where are we headed as a society? 

What can we do?

This is not just a discussion among Seniors and their children.

GenX, Millenials and the GenZ's and those who come after are facing these challenges and they have no idea they exist, have no idea what "responsbilities" are being "thrust" upon them.

Each generation deserves to know more about decisions and practices that not only limit their daily activities and actions but also those in place that are silently and behind closed doors affecting the future they work so hard and often struggle to create.

Life happens. Medical expenses and other life challenges can take away what you've worked for decades to provide. 

In a heartbeat life can change. 

In a heartbeat you find out about laws and practices taking you from independence to interdependence.  

It's a system that's only going to change when we realize how critical it is to watch, to speak out and to move forward along with positive change in other life practices.

You hold the keys not just at the Polls when you vote but everyday when those you elect or appoint, those who make decisions governing your daily life create these and other laws.

If you do nothing else, at least shine the light as I'm trying to do through raising awareness of what's "out there" and find a way to make a difference.

Raise your voice towards those who are heard and especially those who "control" your present and your future.

You are the key to the many locks in life you encounter.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Odds Are There's Always One Spoiler In The Deck

As Parents, we're given one chance, one lifetime, to do "our job" of raising those helpless, dependable infants who arrive in our lives and over whom we have little to less control as the years pass.

I really thought, given the same parents, lifestyle, advantages and possibilities, the mold would shape each offspring similarly.

Didn't happen. Not surprised now that I'm into grandchildren.

People are different. What they experience, how they interpret life, decisions they make -- are variables.

We tried to "equalize" and ensure no child was "left behind"; there were no "perks" for one over another; each was encouraged in their unique or similar interests and abilities.

Then they were "grown"; developed; matured -- or at least in the ongoing process of each life step.

But how, some of us "parents" ask, can one be so "different" towards them as the "others". How can they talk about their life in our home and afterwards and twist truth about daily life -- as they "experienced" it.

Enter other influences. Especially those with the ability and capacity to "move" this once upon a time "family member" out, away from and beyond, even believing they'd had a "horrible, miserable and controlling" lifestyle BEFORE finding this person who put blinders on with nonremovable straps.

Watching our children grow, accept responsibility, move forward in creating their lives while maintaining connectivity and support of other family members, especially parents and grandparents -- is most people's "family dream".

What do you do when your son or daughter "turns" on you?

What do you do when they "mis" remember or choose to "twist" their lives and those of other family members to conform to what they believe NOW?

You honor their request even when it hurts you and others when the mandate is "no contact with the grandchildren".

Five years and counting. A new grandchild arrives; no announcement; no contact.

Wait! Intercession. Wife of other son asks "them" to come to their home while you're visiting. It's a long trip, you're only able to make it once a year. 

Concerned about meeting the youngest who was born after the "dictate" of their father regarding "no contact".

Concerned about the younger two and the older two -- you are almost speechless when the time arrives, they walk through the door, approach the chair where you're sitting and one by one, they lean over, hug you, you hug back, wanting to spend more time in that way but concerned about being "watched" and "measured" and "evaluated" not just by "him" but also by "her" and all you can say to each grandchild is "Any time", "Any time".

You wanted to talk with each one but fear if you do you'll have them removed from where you are and take them --- away-- so you hold back tears, of joy and sorrow, and simply say "Any time" -- meaning whenever they can, whenever they're able, they can connect with you.

You understand. None are "of an age" when they're not dependent on their parents. 

They don't understand this isn't the first time their father has "removed" connectivity -- not at all -- either three or four other times before -- I've lost count.

It isn't me. It's who I am. It wasn't his father or his grandmother or his sister. It's that we were his "family of the past" and he doesn't NEED OR WANT connectivity.....with reality....with reminders...with truth. And so he strikes out each time with the only weapon he believes will do the most harm, be the most hurtful -- as others don't seem to work.

When you learn of this "plan" for "re-meeting", you feel sick to your stomach worrying about how it will affect "the children" after so long a time without "talking with" their Nana and their Aunt.

How does your son who mandated and enforced this "no contact" ruling from his position of power and ability to control the minor children approach this meeting?

No way to know. Only to experience. To see how he and his wife "handle" the "meeting".

The hardest meeting was the "first" meeting of the youngest, now almost five, being told by his mother, "I want you to meet someone. This is your Grandmother." As if ... as if ...

What did his little mind think; how will he remember this meeting...will he's been many months and, of course, no other contact.

What brought on this "separation".... it started a few months after my husband's death...or the latest "separation", that is. 

The other times it was striking out at all the adults in the household: his father, myself and his grandmother -- although my son, of course, points the finger only at me now because I'm the only "adult at the time of his life" still living.

Writing about these family challenges is draining and brings up more than I can cope with in one sharing session.

It's a dark story. It's a sad tale of how a family that was so close for so long, started and continues a journey where deception, abuse and control are so prominent.

There's so much I don't understand how people can put on a "face" to the world while being so very different in who they are and how they treat others.

Enough for now. 

As I grow, as I go, I feel possibly sharing some of the "challenges" of these past years, especially those within the circle of the last years spent with my husband before and during his passing and my mother in the same way, will take my life's journey where it should go rather than where it's been directed by other forces.

I will also return to sharing information and enlightening about Elder Care, Dementia and Safety issues in Long Term Care at future times.

For now, looking from the present to the past I still believe it's been worth the journey, the effort and all of the challenges when two out of three are capable of loving and caring about those who loved and cared for them and do not share a life that includes exclusion, elimination and false, misleading and deceptive "rememberances", or at the least, very misinformed rememberances based on "retellings" of experiences by others with "life agendas" to be met.