Finding Peace — Manuscript Post #38
I returned to the hospital later on the second day. Snap was there. The doctors asked him about his hopes for her care when she is terminal. He said he wants her to be at home. I asked about my paying any bills, would that cause a problem for Medicare or Medicaid. I was referred to a financial person. My point is that this is all complicated.
Snap had mentioned some sort of financial issues while we were at the hospital. I thought about this carefully. I wanted to be clear, within my own mind, what I wanted to do before I got involved. I had talked with my wife before I made this trip about how much money we would and could offer if it came up. I made the conscious decision to ask him what the financial issues were. He told me that he had been getting paycheck loans. He and my mother both had credit card accounts that had gone to a collection agency. He wasn’t sure how much was owed. There were other unpaid bills to various other vendors. I started a list. Paycheck loans implied that Snap had been working, but I didn’t know how long this had been going on or if it was full time work. I couldn’t guess if he could pay off the loans on his own.
I had never dealt with a paycheck loan business before. They charge obscene interest rates. It turns out they only accept cash to pay off a loan. Snap had been caring for my mother, to some extent, for some time. I had not been allowed to know any details for years. Now I was learning that the financial situation was pretty bad. I carefully considered what I wanted to do.
I decided, consciously, without any drama from any other family members, that I wanted to pay off any accumulated debts related to my mother’s care. I fully realized that my mother’s finances were completely mixed up with Snap’s. There would not be any way to tell how much of the debt had been for my mother’s care versus supporting Snap. I decided not to worry about things I can’t resolve.
I started by paying off the paycheck loans. I had to find a local bank that would let me take a cash advance from my credit card that was large enough. Then I had to get to all five of the different paycheck loan places to complete the payoff process. With this done, I asked Snap if our mother had a will. He didn’t know but he later asked her in the hospital. She didn’t have a will. This didn’t surprise me, planning was not something my family was good at. It means there was nothing in writing as to her wishes for her care or the disposition of her property. He tells me that she had no assets. I assumed Snap had access to and would take care of her personal property. I didn’t have any way to verify any of this, I just had to deal with what was presented to me.
We returned to the hospital to visit my mother again. Snap had to give his consent for various medical procedure that my mother needed. During this time Crackle called the room and we talked about all that was happening. I described what the doctors had told us about our mother’s condition and what I had seen myself. Crackle sounded stressed. She told me that the doctors were wrong, because our mother did not have dementia. She didn’t react well when I mentioned that hospice care had been discussed. I assured her that from everything I had seen, our mother was getting great care, and hospice care was just one of many options.
I didn’t feel any need to challenge either of my siblings as to their perceptions of our mother’s condition. I knew that I had made the trip to see my mother because I was convinced there wouldn’t be many more opportunities to do so. Because I knew why I was doing what I was doing, I didn’t have to have any conflict with my siblings. If they wanted to believe that our mother was going to fully recover and return home that didn’t threaten me.
Crackle’s call made me realize how good it was for me to make this trip. I had witnessed my mother’s condition and seen the care she was getting for myself. I had seen how many people were working to help my mother. This allowed me to put Crackle’s concerns into perspective. I felt relieved to have made the trip because I knew what was actually happening.
On the third day I returned to the hospital. My mother was asleep. The television in her room had a video of an aquarium playing. Through the window I could see softball teams playing on the baseball fields across the street. Life goes on. As I was leaving the hospital, I looked down the hallway towards her room and wondered if it would be the last time I would see her alive. I called the other vendors that were owed money and made arrangements to send checks to them when I got home. I was told that my mother was being moved later that day to a skilled nursing facility.
Pop called me. He wanted to have lunch downtown. He told me of various family politics that I had not heard about before. There is always more. He described some of the bizarre interactions he had had with Snap. He wanted to know all about our mother’s condition and what the doctors were saying. This put me in the middle. My family members, who refused to talk to each other, still wanted to know all about each other.
I told him that I was happy to tell anyone what I know, but I can’t provide information I don’t have. My siblings need to talk to each other if they want to know more. I also told him I won’t even try to explain why things are happening. I was in the middle, but I was not going to be manipulated any more. They chose to not talk to each other, they chose to not know what was happening.
Pop thanked me for loaning him the money that helped him buy his current house. It was surreal, having lunch with Pop who would not have any contact with my mother, Crackle or Snap. This level of insanity was the norm that I was raised with.
During the three days of this trip I didn’t have any symptoms. While waiting at the airport for the flight home I was overwhelmed emotionally. I thought about how glad I was that I had chosen to be involved. When I was asked to participate in my mother’s end-of-life care I chose to. I wasn’t given the opportunity to have any part in my father’s end-of-life care.