Friday, May 13, 2016

I Called Adult Protective Services On My Mother And I Would Do It Again

When you call protective services of any kind on a family member I have just one piece of advice, be prepared for a shit storm from the people you don't like and the people you do like, the people you don't love and the painful one, the people you do love.

I started writing this last year and even after time has passed it is still raw for me.


First and foremost and I know it is a cliche to say first and foremost but seriously first and foremost don't tell anyone you are going to make the call.  I told two people I was making the call.  I did not even tell my sisters I was making the call, I told two family members that I had sought advice from in the past.

Within a day, everyone including my mom and her caretakers knew that I had made the call.  Why did it matter that the cat was out of the bag?  The obvious reason, of course, the conditions I was calling to report would be cleaned up by the time anyone from the state came to inspect.  I will preface what comes next by saying if you had a normal happy childhood and normal extended family dynamics most of the following does not apply but, if you are calling protective services chances are that either your childhood was not happy or your extended family has some abnormal dynamics or both.

Between the time I called and the time it took the wheels of bureaucracy at the New Mexico department of Adult Protective services to turn to the point where someone came to check on my mother her living conditions had improved dramatically.  It is good that her living conditions had improved dramatically.  You may say problem solved but as you might suspect my mother can still no longer take care of herself and there is still not anyone who can take care of her but I get ahead of myself.

When APS (Adult Protective Services) shows up my mother's house is clean, my mother is clean and is wearing clean clothes, in fact, it was My Little Pony, Rainbow Brite, and Care Bears all rolled up into one.  My mom is a genius, no caveats she is the smartest person I have met.  My mom did not want to leave her house.  These two facts combined I am sure lead to a performance for the ages when APS showed up, hence the eighties cartoon references.

After it became known I had called APS on my mom I became the belle of the family ball.  I was the talk of the town, not to say that anyone from the family actually talked to me. I did hear through the grapevine that the family was appalled that I called APS.  I wondered why no one was appalled my mother was living in her own filth.

Okay breaking the fourth wall here, except it does not exist because this is written to be read but anywho...

I did not wonder why no one was appalled by my mom's living conditions.  First and foremost I had lived with my Grandmother, that is my mother's mother and she was a hoarder.  It is hard to indicate the magnitude of the hoarding but I will try and paint a little of the picture here.  My grandmother lived in rural New Mexico on a large lot, by the time I knew my grandmother she had moved to central Utah to run a hotel but I would still visit relatives in New Mexico and I could see the Stone Henge of hoarding that was on her property.

To the best of my recollection, my grandmother had six single wide trailers full of stuff, now four of these were in close proximity to each other and formed a square loosely speaking.  It was not much of Stonehenge but I am taking poetic license, what I am not taking poetic license with is there were six trailers brimming with stuff.  Legend had it that once a trailer was full and she could no longer live in it, she would purchase another one but this is the Apocrypha of my family and I have no first-hand knowledge of this.

I did not know my grandma when she had lived in these trailers, I only saw them when they were abandoned, but yet not abandoned because there was stuff of value in there.  When I was old enough to remember my grandmother she had purchased a hotel in central Utah after my grandfather had died.  As a small child, it was fun to visit my grandma in her working hotel, she had a coke machine, her hotel was a stop for the Greyhound bus.  We got to stay in hotel rooms and sit in the lobby and watch people, it was great.

By the time, I was of college age the hotel had been converted to student housing for the local Juinor college and I, of course, stayed there when I attended the college because it was free for me and free is my favorite price point.  At this point, there were not many students living in the hotel and a great many of the rooms and old restaurant areas and laundry areas and even the stairs for the maids had been filled with stuff.

Then it happened.

My grandmother sold her hotel to a developer that wanted to gut the hotel and make it into some fancy dancy off campus dorms.

This initiated the move, my grandmother moving back to New Mexico, perhaps to finish the trailer Stone Henge, who knows, but it triggered a move the likes of which I had never seen in my young life.  My uncle John began taking a full-size truck and a four horse trailer full of stuff from Utah to New Mexico on a regular schedule.  Not thinking much of it I was helping to fill up a load one day and I picked up a box of wire hangers and my uncle said to leave them and I was like why? This was a box of perfectly good wire hangers.
I then went into a room I had never been in before and there before me chest deep were hangers.  My grandmother had a hotel room full of wire hangers, now these were older smaller hotel rooms but still my grandmother had a room full of wire hangers.  I then understood why my uncle had been frustrated.  I became scarce.  My mother was a hoarder, not on the scale of my grandmother but she was no slouch and when I saw all these hangers I was having none of it.

Somewhere I had always known my grandmother was a hoarder but it had never hit me, it wasn't real.  I think the cause of this cognitive dissidence was my grandmother was nice. At that time I did not know many nice people, She taught me how to read when I failed the first grade, she took me in when I got kicked out of junior high.  She was nice to me, not like to give me a ride to the airport nice but really nice.  It hit me and I hid.  It was a little touch of the PTSD, okay not really a touch of PTSD, it was bad.  I throw words around for fun and amusement but no joke it was overwhelming and heart-wrenching.

What does this have to do with my mother living in her own filth?  The family is a hoarding family.  I am sure it goes back generations but nobody ever speaks of it so it is hard to know.  In my opinion hoarders have a different opinion about what it is okay.  Secrecy surrounds hoarding.  If you have any questions about this just watch an episode of the TV show Hoarders, they have some real extreme cases but the principles are all the same.

I think I might have become a hoarder, it is in my blood and calls to me at the full moon!

I was lucky, two divorces cut into the amount of stuff I have and my current wife keeps me in check, except for HDMI cables, it is hard for me to say no to a good deal on an HDMI cable.  It was once Ethernet cables but now that the house has been wired for Ethernet that has fallen by the wayside.  On a serious note, I do see these tendencies in myself.  When I could no longer work I brought home everything from my cubicle and my wife found every post it note that she had written I love you on.  I can't throw away a post it note that says I love you.  Thank God post it notes do not take up much space.

Putting all of that aside (I know - why did I write all this if I just want you to put this aside?) it really comes down to life.  When do you interfere with someone else's life?  The way my mom was living was not respecting life - her life - but is that enough to get the government involved?  The way my mom was living certainly was going to cause her to die sooner, is that suicide?  Before that, my sisters and I tried (I did not try much because I was unable to travel but I sent happy thoughts) but try they did to get my mom to go to assisted living.  They traveled from across the country to come to talk to mom in person.

My mom's brothers and sisters said that they could no longer handle the care of my mother and it was time for the kids to come deal with my mother.  Upon my sisters' arrival they received nothing but resistance, it was like they did not think my sisters would do anything, and when they did, the family pushed back hard.  I was not there, but apparently it was real unpleasant.  It was probably for the best I was not there, I don't respond well to bullshit and I would have yelled and yelled and then probably yelled some more.

At this point I contacted the National Catholic Bioethics Center. I am Catholic and they have Medical Doctors and Theologians on staff to answer the sticky questions, and to help determine what, from a Catholic perspective, was the moral thing to do.  The answer came back quickly, apparently this was an easy one, if you have exhausted all other means call Adult Protective Services, chances are it will not be effective but if there is any chance it could have my mother's life treated with more respect (from a Catholic point of view) I had to do it or I more accurately said I should do it and I choose to do what I should.

This post is getting a little long so I will end with this, if you are wondering about blowback, yes there was blowback.  I am not sure whether airing the conflicts that came of my decision would serve any purpose but I probably end up posting the blowback in a post coming soon, or maybe I will be really sick and it will take another year or so for me to get around to posting.

As always Stay Golden, just like Ponyboy. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving A Holiday For My Dad To Shine

andMy parents divorced when I was around six years old and it was settled that the children would spend Thanksgiving with my dad and Christmas with my mom.

The first few Thanksgiving dinners were rough.  Turkeys that were dry, like drink a half a glass of water with each bite dry.  My sisters and I did not always get along and around the holidays we would fight like cats and dogs more often than not.  If you combine this with the fact my dad would not grow into his patience until much later in life, it could make for a loud holiday.

My dad, my sisters and I all got older, not wiser but mellower and with the mellowness came a loudness of a different sort, the laughter of my old man.  He could fill the room with his laughter, he could fill his small house and often it would extend to a neighbor or two in their homes.

My dad has been dead for a couple of years and time does make the absence of him less intense it does not make things easier, especially on Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 9, 2015

To Put It Out There Or Not Put It Out There, That is the question

I post shit that comes to mind.  That is it, I know it would be impossible to tell that from reading my past posts, but it is true.  Sometimes what comes to mind how people can be shitty.  Sometimes it is because people are awesome.  Most of the time it is because people are shitty.

As time passes and I become less able I lose control of things so to speak.  Some days I do not have control of anything but usually I have control over my words and I am able to plunk some of them out and post them to no one and everyone which is the beauty of the internet.

The first problem is that words have power.  Problem number two is when people think they generally think about themselves.  Not in the selfish kind of way just that it is hard to get outside of your own head and I am no better than anyone else, well I am better than a lot of people but certainly not the fine quality people that read this blog.  You combine these two problems and it makes it hard to vent about whatever person is behaving like an asshole at that particular moment because every person that is sensitive thinks they are the asshole in question.

The old me would not have given much of shit about this, but two things are different in the new me, first and foremost I don't find butting heads with people enjoyable anymore or to be more accurate I would say I no longer have the energy to butt heads with people.  The thing that will surprise everyone is that being Catholic has made want to be more Christlike. Before I post things I now consider what impact it will have on people.

You can not be too vague or everyone will think the post is about them, seriously this has happened to me more than once or you are specific enough that you may embarrass someone so you can blow off a little steam.

Sidenote sometimes it is crucial to let off a little steam or the boiler will explode.

I have a fifty-eight drafts I am working on and the truth be told I don't want to finish them because I am scared about what I will find out so really all this other stuff was just self flagellating bullshit.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Where Have I Been? (Pink Floyd, Cats, Family Drama, 80's)

I have been sick, is this your first time reading this blog?  The past six months have been particularly bad but coming through the other side, wait actually it is still going on so more of an update during the trip that at some point will end one way or the other.

I meant that last line to be funny but my wife has informed me that death jokes have a small audience and that only a few people will think that is funny.  Ironically those people will have serious or life-threatening illnesses, you remember Arsenio Hall and the things that make you go hmmm?

Needless to say things have been better and even though it was, needless to say, I said it.  Sarcoidosis has found my hips, knees and ankles to be the preferred food as of late.  Without any Irony, I have been relegated to one room of my home, for the most part, could we call that room sickroom and talk to ourselves as we die?  Sure we could do that and in fact, let us do that now.


Listen to Free Four by Pink Floyd to fully appreciate the humor in the preceding paragraph, also you should listen to more Pink Floyd in general but not too much because it can be a bit of a downer.  The humor in the above paragraph might be considered existential and therefore about death, be aware, be very aware.

Anywho just a general rundown of the current state of physical affairs, I can't drive, some days I can't walk, and that keeps me in bed most of the time and not in a sexy way.  The plus side I have been getting a ton of beauty sleep, the downside I have not gotten any prettier.  As I type this now I have sitting on my bed with my back against the wall, with a cool Tempurpedic pillow of some sort between me and the wall so I am not actually sitting against the wall but I guess that depends on your definition of against.

I have an afghan that I purchased on Ebay covering my lower extremities and my legs sit akimbo, not actually but I have always wanted to use the word akimbo.  I sit with my legs apart and my knees slightly bent.  This is not a comfortable way to sit but I have found that under the current regime led by the dictator sarcoidosis that this is the least painful arrangement of my legs.  I am wearing Tardis fleece like a shawl and I do use it to cover my head, I wear my shawls old school like I am going to get some gruel on.

To complete the picture, there is a blue tortoise cat that I call Hummus.  Her full name is Blue Ivy Hummus but we have known each other for about a year and we have gotten closer over that year to the point where I just call her Hummus.  Before Hummus to came to the fast paced world of the sick-room she went by Quinn but now with the hustle and bustle she is surrounded by Hummus seemed much more appropriate.  Hummus sometimes sits on me and sometimes she sits in the windows and sometimes she sits on the stack of extra blankets and then sometimes she hides, under a bed, in her carrier which means she is hiding in a cat prison, I never said she was a smart kitty.

This may seem like the same shit from a few years ago when things got bad and you would be right, then what is the difference now?  My dad is dead, I called adult protective services on my mom, and my two sisters and I have not been seeing eye to eye about how I handled my mother's poor situation.  The stress makes everything better, okay it actually makes everything worse.  The stress has had a profound toll on my body, at one point I considered this complete bullshit put forward by weak people.  I do not believe in karma, but I admit it seems karmic that something I once thought was bullshit now afflicts me.

Don't worry. I still love gossip and there are several blog posts detailing all the conflicts of family life, and just wet your whistle it even includes the rarely mentioned extended family drama, that's right for no additional cost you will get gossip on my fall out with uncles, aunts, cousins and maybe some second cousins I honestly can't remember everyone that is mad at me.  I have tried to write a post about my mother three different times or I more accurately there are three rambling unfinished posts about my mother and my call to adult protective services but it maybe a year before I get enough distance to put something out on that topic.

Anywho life is not all bad, but I do not think the good things fit in this post, things have been really crappy and that is where I have been, Craptown eating a shit sandwich, but at least I am not going hungry.