Alzheimer’s: One Day at a Time in Glen Ellyn

This has been a very interesting week. Not exciting, but interesting. We went to court to finalize Maribel’s divorce. A divorce which took over two years of discovery, findings, interrogatories and depositions. At least I think those are the words they use… Throw in the Alzheimer’s element, and it’s been a long, long road.

two women toasting

2.25 years later = divorce
CHEERS!

No one ever thought it would take this long, but Catherine agreed to help Maribel to the end. So, one would think it’s over… someone else can take-on the care of Maribel and the management of the finances, right?

Wrong.

The natural choice was Maribel’s only daughter who lives in New Jersey – a 14 hour drive from here. I knew Maribel was adamantly against it. She abhorred the idea of her daughter taking on this role. Almost daily I would talk to Maribel about her future, her daughter, her grandchildren. What her life might look like after the divorce. Each time she winced at the notion of her daughter taking over. I would pry to get details, “please help me understand why.” If I could learn where she was coming from, maybe I could work through the anxiety with her. But, she would only answer, “I don’t know.”Alzheimer's words on pieces of paper

I realize even simple questions are difficult for an Alzheimer’s patient, expecting explanations for something so complicated, isn’t fair. So I rationalized it. I mean, what mother would ever want to put their daughter in that position. Of course she doesn’t want to go to New Jersey…

The Plot Thickens

One day this week, in a moment of lucidity, Maribel was talkative, engaged. And then she drops a bomb.  She tells about bailing family members out, including her daughter, when times were tough. Maribel was the “go to” person whenever family couldn’t make ends meet. Money which was borrowed, but never paid back. She would hire her sister for house cleaning – so at least some of the money was earned. Maribel explains her daughter wants her money, not her.

Catherine has been suspicious of this. Heck, her daughter has visited only twice in four years, maybe a total of 3 nights. Other family has visited about as “often.” Somehow, I even rationalized this lack of family interest in Maribel, you know: busy, life, kids…

BUT, she is unemployed… and the kids are out of school after all… she could just live here!

And, yes, I know the daughter was angry that Maribel gave the car to her (now ex) husband when her license was terminated; and yes, I had heard about the $1,500 grocery bill Maribel covered in New Jersey during a visit over the holidays. Are these examples of how the daughter would care for her mother’s wealth and wellbeing?

I’m surprised I wasn’t more suspicious. During my professional career I was always cautious of family members involved in a parent’s transaction, and their motive to “help”. When closing escrow, the exposure for financial loss is much, much greater if we rely on “caring family members.” Sad but true.

Now What?

More attorneys, that’s what. We may be off course, but we need to dig deeper. Unfortunately, there may not be any alternatives. But we do know one thing: Catherine needs to get out from under this burden. Until then, the guardianship will be extended another 60 days as we continue down this torturous road…

But we still work on having fun! Even with the doom & gloom, we push forward and are grateful for all the positive things… like squash blossoms! I even used a fryer to come up with these beauties:

zucchini blossom with mozzarella inside

plop in a cherry sized mozzarella & basil

fried squash blossom

Fried Squash Blossom

And a BIG SHOUTOUT to friends… thank you John, for these sweet, thoughtful and gorgeous short stories. We are now working our way through 3 Matches, reading aloud in the evening. THANK YOU.

two short stories

Short Stories and Illustration by Stip, the trip!

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