Thursday, September 5, 2013

NeverEnding Story

What I meant to say was… The Brady Bunch was a bunch of hooey.

That whole “solve all your problems in 30 minutes” nonsense? It was just that: nonsense.

It was only after I wrote my last blog post that I remembered one very important fact: even The Brady Bunch needed some three-parters and some (really bad though I loved them) full-length feature films to get through their ordeals.

But this insane situation with my grandmother is looking to be much more than a three-parter. It’s more like a… NeverEnding Story (another really bad movie though I loved it).

I’m a mix of sad, frustrated and disappointed to report that the mediation agreement went to crap within hours of it being agreed upon. Because within hours, rumblings emerged from individuals not present at mediation who took issue with some of the content and wording as drafted by a judge, three lawyers and several at-the-time agreeable participants.

And so a ridiculously petty battle over semantics turned into an unnecessary delay in getting my grandmother back home, and we thus returned to the good ol' times (sarcasm) of playing ping pong with a human life. So not cool. And so disheartening.

I don’t know when she’ll finally come home. I don’t know how this will all turn out. I do know that I’m angry. None of this had to happen. None of it. It’s been a colossal waste of everyone’s time, money, emotion, health and energy. Two months ago, everything was fine. Fine! And then… this! And for what???

(Deep sigh… count to ten…)

I appreciate the support and heartfelt kindness my friends, family and readers have expressed over the past couple of months. I’ll keep you updated as best I can. In the meantime, look after your senior loved ones! They deserve to be treated so much better than this.

(PS - How many of you have the theme song to NeverEnding Story stuck in your head now? Sorry about that.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Here's A Story...

I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. What a month it’s been!

Remember how in every single episode of The Brady Bunch, a dispute - no matter how major or minor - was resolved within a matter of 30 minutes? I was always fascinated by this. Whether it was Marcia getting smashed in the face with a football, or middle-child Jan feeling ignored, the Bradys always managed to come together at the end, hug it out, laugh away the pain, and everything was just far out and groovy once again.

I am thrilled to report that my family experienced our very own Brady Bunch moment yesterday, though our happy ending took about 30 days to reach, rather than 30 minutes.

A ten-hour Mediation yesterday was orchestrated by a kind, patient and wise judge - who was so brilliant, he really should be dispatched to the Middle East. By the end of this exhausting day, a solid agreement was reached and the two “sides” were literally hugging and crying while the lawyers applauded this surprising reunion of a temporarily torn family.

In conclusion, all parties agreed that my grandmother will be returned to her home. And that’s all I wanted. Almost.

I didn’t realize it until yesterday, but I also wanted – needed – to know that I still had the family I’ve always had. A family that – despite all our crazy (and believe me, there’s plenty of it!) – at the end of the day, has trust at its core. There may be disagreements at times; we might not even always like each other. But we’ve always trusted one another. And we’ve ALWAYS had one another’s back, no matter what. 

Losing that faith was one of the hardest things to accept through all of this, and I honestly didn’t get it until yesterday, when I was able to actually see family that I love and respect separated from me by a judge. It was bizarre and unfamiliar and unsettling, because we are one of those (weird) families that really and truly gets along!

I may be kind of old now, but I guess I am still that naïve kid who desperately wants to believe in The Brady Bunch version of a happy ending. And somehow it worked. Somehow, it actually happened for us. Faith, family and trust have been restored.

So yes, we certainly had our own proverbial ball smash in the face, but the wound will heal. As do all wounds, if we let them.

...  Now I can’t help but wonder, can I go back to believing in fairy tales and Prince Charming? Because I’d really like to.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Losing A Friend

I am taking this entire situation very personally. I know it sounds odd to many of you, but I truly, honestly consider my two grandmothers to be two of my best friends.

Growing up, I was always very close to both of them in a normal grandmother-granddaughter way.  But ever since my two grandfathers died, and they became two single, independent women in their own right, our relationship changed. On both sides of the family, it became one of two adult women, sharing, caring and bonding in ways that extend far beyond a grandmother-type of relationship. I trust each of these women, rely on them emotionally, and talk to them in ways I can’t always talk to my parents. They seem to “get me” in ways others might not. They provide a level of emotional support that goes far beyond the sense of grandmotherly duty.

My friends know all about my two grandmothers; I talk about them ALL the time. My friends know their names (though one is simply “Grandma Fabulous”). I tell men I am dating – sometimes guys I barely know! – that they have to clear approval of each of these women. Who does that?!

It’s rare and special and precious, two relationships I have cherished to an uncommon degree over the past several years.

I know that when they eventually pass away, I will be crushed. But I will also find immense joy and solace in the mere fact that I had them in my life the way I do now.

This is why the situation is so untenable to me, why I am so angry and hurt and upset and feel so utterly betrayed. In the swoop of an instant, one of these women – one of my best friends on the planet – was taken away and declared mentally incompetent and painted to be less of a human than I know her to be. One of these women’s life as she knew it, as I knew it, was effectively ended, without cause or reason.

And I simply don’t know how to come to terms with it.

If you have any advice, especially if something similar happened in your own family, I’d really love to hear your thoughts. I am at a total loss for meaning.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Wicked Knife

My mom is home now. The stroke was a minor one, though her risk of having a more serious stroke just increased tenfold if she doesn’t get a handle on the stress. (I considered sending her away to some sort of rest and rejuvenation type of spa, but I’m pretty sure she’d hate it. Maybe I’ll go instead.)

We've told my grandmother about this health scare, and so much more, so that she is becoming increasingly aware of – and incensed by – what has happened to her. Our conversations in recent days (before her phone was “temporarily” disconnected, hmmm... interesting indeed) have helped her see that she is merely a pawn in someone else’s sick game.

She keeps asking where her checkbook is, as though unable to comprehend that she no longer has a checkbook, or a checking account for that matter. Nothing – not one penny – is hers anymore.

She has nothing to call her own. She no longer matters. Her opinions, her desires – nothing counts, and no one in a legal or official sense will ever listen to her again. Why? Because a doctor who barely knew her was somehow persuaded into declaring her “mentally incompetent” – this same woman who is and remains one of the sharpest people in my family – and with the stroke of a pen took away every ounce of control she ever had over her own life, and made her irrelevant.

Cautionary note to everyone out there with elderly loved-ones: this is SO EASY TO DO! Check this out, from the Save Exploited Seniors campaign:

Last week my grandmother mused, with tremendous sadness in her voice, “Someone has taken a knife and separated [me] from anyone that I love. Someone has taken a wicked knife and cut off my lifeline.”

And she’s right.

If not for the medication I imagine she is on, perhaps she’d have more strength to fight along with us. But the resignation in her voice resonates as loudly as ever. Which is why we continually tell her we haven’t given up. We are fighting for her.

And don’t worry friends and readers, we really are doing everything we can to get her back. If anything, the stroke has made my mom want to fight this injustice more than ever. And if I’ve learned anything over the past 4 decades, it’s this: never, ever mess with my momma.

So fasten your seat belts...