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Clematis

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About Clematis

  • Rank
    Laura

Profile Information

  • Your gender
    Female
  • Location (city, state)
    Sedona, AZ
  • Interests
    Lena (my therapy cat), Playing music (cello, ukulele, classical guitar, etc.), Watercolors, Ceramics, Flowers-growing and painting them

Previous Fields

  • Your relationship to the individual who died
    Daughter
  • Date of Death
    01/13/2016
  • Name/Location of Hospice if they were involved:
    Hospice Compassus Sedona, AZ

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  1. Clematis

    Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    It's a year later and I think it is most definitely a "season of grief". Today is my father's birthday, and three years ago on this date...well exactly two months later he would be dead. We didn't exactly know that, but I was scared. Things seemed to definitely be going downhill. But then again, there had been so many times before when things had gone downhill and then he had improved almost to where he had been before. Down five steps and then back up four steps. Surely it could happen again. But it didn't. He was getting too tired of struggling to keep trying. I kept hoping and urging him to try to...try to do what I don't know. We were at the end and now I am going it alone without his companionship and backup. I so wish I had those ten years to do over. Not that I'd do anything differently. What more could I do? Enjoy the time more? I did enjoy the time I had and I treated it like it could be the end. I honestly can't say I would do anything differently. I just wish he was still here with me. Every day...
  2. Yeah, Steve is on the right path, but somewhat misguided in the way he is going about it. He tried to get his dad to stay at his house, the "ranch" with an 8-foot chain link fence around it, and that would have been a good idea in saving money, but his approach was to lie to Hermon (and me) in saying it was only temporary while his former caregiver was recovering from surgery. Hermon figured this out and escaped after a week, with part of the result being that he trusts Steve less than before. Hermon lacks the cognitive capacity to accept the reality that he really cannot go back to living in his home, but I think out of respect for his humanity it is worth trying to give him a chance. A year ago Steve was adamant that Hermon not be told that his daughter Billie had died, and wanted everyone to tell Hermon that she was out of town visiting relatives. This was not a credible lie, even to a guy with dementia, because everything had been removed from her room, especially the bed - due to bedbugs. Also, BIllie's son wanted some of her things. Hermon kept going down the hall and calling me in tears, saying "I think Billie's gone". I would say "yes, that's right - she's gone". He would ask me what happened and as I began telling him about the alcohol and her liver, it would come back to him and he would cry a little and then move on. It seemed to me like a rather normal processing of grief. We all forget our loss in the beginning and then it comes back and slaps us back into reality. Hermon wasn't much different. Steve also wanted to not tell Hermon that he wasn't able to drive any more and so Steve took the car he wanted and disabled the other. He thought Hermon would get angry and thought lying was a way to avoid that. Nevertheless, Hermon would go out in the garage and notice that one car was gone and the other would not start. He would go into a rage and call either Steve or me, yelling about how Steve had stolen his car and disabled the other and he was going to kill him. When Steve got these calls he would panic and ask me to go and check on his dad. When I received these cars I would tell Hermon as sweetly as possible that he was not supposed to be driving and in fact his driver's license was expired. I would tell him as kindly as I could that there was really no one, including me, who thought he should be driving, and offer to pick him up and drive him wherever he wanted to go. After some time, Hermon became familiar with these little talks about his not driving and he was not nearly so upset. I know that taking one's parent's keys away or somehow convincing them to stop driving is really difficult, and I think Steve was rather gutless in avoiding this and by his avoidance delegating it to me. Now he is faced with the even more difficult task of transitioning his dad into a care setting, and he's not handling that very well as far as I can tell. I'm not sure that lying to Hermon is working, and treating me like the enemy is probably a mistake because I could probably help him. I think he is suspicious of me because he is doing something suspicious. I think part of his agenda is figuring out how to get the "ranch" into his own possession so that it does not end up being sold to pay for Hermon's care. I figure he is playing his cards close to his chest because he is trying to pull off this transfer without his brother or anyone who might be assessing Hermon's financial situation discovering the truth. Meanwhile Hermon is being told he is just staying someplace temporarily while his caregiver recovers. If he really could believe that, it might be ok because he would gradually settle in. But when I talked to him ten days ago, he was asking me, "Is this a nursing home?" I think he is figuring out the truth and is understandably upset about it. My biggest fear is that he will put this together and escape in his attempt to go home, and since he is not in a secured facility he might die of exposure trying to get home. It's getting cold. I hope I'm wrong.
  3. I think Steve is really scared. His dad has raged at him off and on throughout his life, and I think he is terrified that his dad will turn on him and rage on him that Steve is stealing his money and his phone and controlling his life and has removed him out of his house without Hermon's permission and so on. Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in all that, and Hermon used to say over and over that the worst mistake he ever made was turning things over to Steve. It is also true that it was or would soon be necessary to remove Hermon from his house and sell it in order for him to have the money for where he is going to live next, and he would never have been willing to agree to that. Therefore taking him out of his house without his agreeing to it does seem to be necessary. But Steve had a year of my helping Hermon to stay in his house - I had hoped that he would prepare something more sensitive than the way he has gone about it. As to the isolation, I suspect that the staff is trying to control the situation and keep Hermon calm while he gets used to things. It's really hard to imagine that Hermon isn't angry and scared, and it seems likely that the staff is glossing things over for Steve since Steve has allowed for that by his lack of involvement. I figure he is in some amount of denial in his hope that Hermon will just kind of forget that he had a home and a life. People with dementia remember the distant past much better than they remember the recent past, and so this idea seems kind of crazy. But I have to go along with it for the time being. I think Steve is afraid of a lot of things. I think he is afraid of his brother looking over his shoulder, I think he is afraid of what his dad's future will mean for him and his family and his future finances. Steve has been living for the past 15 years on a piece of property rent-free that is valued at about $500K and he hopes to inherit it and not have it go to his brother or his father's care. Hermon meant to give it to Steve, but if he uses his POA to segue in into his ownership he may be in a lot of trouble. I think Steve also has some apprehension about me, although I have worked hard to help Hermon for the past year and that ultimately is of benefit to Steve as well. I think ultimately he is suspicious of others because he is worthy of suspicion. My intention all along has been to help Hermon, but it isn't easy, and I think his sons see him as the goose with the golden eggs. So did his (now deceased and former alcoholic) daughter, who was seen on numerous occasions selling his stuff when he was at church. What a mess! As for me, I am working on plans to have someone outside my family have my POA and all that. I have a good friend who is a sweet and kind person...very smart and also happens to be an MD. She would be a much better choice than either of my sisters. My dad's attorney would be good for a backup to Susan.
  4. Thanks to you both. It has been very difficult. I really don't understand this strategy of cutting him off from everyone, really including his son, until he "settles in". I somehow find it hard to believe this is how this sort of transition is typically handled, but I don't know. I wish I did... Meanwhile, the only thing I can do is to play ball the way Steve wants it played and to continue to behave in such a way that Steve sees me as an ally and confidant so that he doesn't shut me out altogether. I think it very likely that Hermon will "settle in" and then I will be able to have contact with him. I have very gently reminded Steve that if he wants me to stay away from certain topics, he really needs to tell me what they are and he can't really blame me for not having guessed somehow what Hermon knows about his situation and the degree to which he is being kept in the dark. I certainly disagree with all this, but have to go along with it if I want to keep in touch with Hermon.
  5. I still miss my dad, who died almost three years ago. I also miss my friend Hermon, who disappeared from my life a few weeks ago, courtesy of his son. Hermon has dementia and I spent the last year doing everything I could to help him stay in his home as long as possible. Hermon's son Steve got a woman to trick Hermon to get in a car to go have lunch, which was actually on the way to Steve's house three hours away. Steve tried to keep Hermon in his house on a small ranch with an 8-foot chain link fence around it. Steve and his wife were in no way prepared to keep a very healthy and strong man who wanted to go home. After about a week Hermon got over the fence, was captured, taken to the ER, transferred to a psych hospital several hours away, and then placed in an assisted living facility that does NOT have a locked unit and does NOT have a memory unit, which Hermon probably needs, sad as that is, according to a previous assessment. I talked to Hermon on the phone after he had been there for about a week, with his son's blessing, but now Steve does not want me - or anyone - to talk to Hermon, because he thinks that Hermon will soon forget he had a life before, friends, a cat, a home, and all that. He figures if Hermon is out of contact with everyone, he will just settle in and forget everything else. When he was still in the comfort and oriented to his surroundings, he would go into a rage about or at Steve about every day, saying that giving him POA was the worst mistake he had ever made in his life, and raging about how Steve was stealing from him and so on. I figure that is still probably going on, even though he has almost no contact with his son, and the staff is probably reluctant to be open about this, because their occupancy is at about 75%. It seems that Hermon will figure out that the reason he is suddenly living in Steve's town is somehow due to Steve. I also figure Hermon will keep trying to get home. He has no idea Steve is going through Hermon's stuff getting ready to have a big garage sale and then sell Hermon's house. Hermon will need the money to pay for his care at this point, but it seems cruel to have not told him anything about what is going on or where he is or why. Hermon reportedly thinks he is staying at a hotel or maybe someone's home while his caregiver recovers from a hysterectomy, after which she will continue caring for Hermon in his own home. Is this a normal strategy? Lying to someone about why they are no longer living in their home and keeping them in a situation of no contact with anyone from their past? Is this something that facilities do on any frequent basis with elderly confused patients? Does is ever work or do the people just disintegrate and become more confused? Is this ever a good strategy to capture a person with dementia and shut them up with no contact with the outside world? It seems really cruel, but I don't know what that is likely to do to a person who suffers from dementia. Perhaps someone else knows. I find it to be very disturbing, and maybe it is... The other thing that bothers me is that Hermon really has no contact with anyone outside this facility, and so no one really knows what it going on there. Steve told me that he has only talked to his dad twice in the three weeks he has been there, but calls the staff and asks them how Hermon is doing. The staff give him glowing reports about how Hermon is doing well, is happy, busy playing dominoes, and so on. I remarked that there is a financial motive for the staff to give Steve good reports and people in all kinds of facilities do better when family and friends are "looking over the shoulders" of the caregivers by way of frequent visits and contact. I don't think Steve believed me... Any comments from anyone who has had experience with elderly relatives with dementia living in facilities where they don't want to be?
  6. Clematis

    Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    I talked to the rabbi of my synagogue this past Shabbat after Torah study about Yahrtzeit, and asked her if it is only observed the single day the loved one died. She said yes, and that it is observed by the way it falls on the Jewish calendar. Then she asked me what I was thinking of and I told her it really feels like a whole two month cascade of his final two months from his last birthday until his death. She nodded thoughtfully and encouraged me to honor my feelings in remembering and honoring him, commenting that this is still relatively recent. Three years seems like forever and yesterday at the same time...
  7. Clematis

    Season of Grief - Is this "A Thing"?

    And now it is three years since my last season with my dad. People tell me, "Oh, the holidays are always hard for people who have lost someone." Well, the holidays are hard for almost everyone. This is not just the holiday blues. It seems like almost everything reminds me of my dad's decline and my gathering panic climaxing to my inevitable loss of him from my life. Or, I am reminded of the things we did and what life was like when things were good. Thursday I was in Flagstaff and I went to Michael's and Sprouts in a little shopping center. This has not been a particular trigger, but suddenly I had that same feeling like I couldn't breathe as I thought about how we used to go to Flagstaff together when he first moved out here. He was taking banjo lessons and I was taking violin lessons at the same place and time; I arranged this before he even moved. After our lessons we would go to this Mexican restaurant in that little shopping center... But he really was going downhill, even in the beginning; I just didn't want to see it. His Parkinson's was already making it hard for him to get his hands to work and he eventually quit the banjo and even the ukulele, which he had played since he was a teenager. I sure loved having him here and in my life. I have lived most of my adult life living alone, but before moving to Sedona I was not so alone. He moved her a year after I did, and even for that year I was totally focused on him and getting him out here. And then it was just me and him for a decade. I do have some friends, but none of them are in Sedona. But if I had it to do over, what would I do? The same thing. I would spend every moment I could with him. There is really nothing I could have said or done that I didn't, and anything I wish I hadn't said or done - well I had plenty of time to make amends and did so. Maybe that is a blessing, that I have no regrets really, only grief. I don't know because the grief is such an anguish. It was such a joy after all the many years of isolation from my family and a fair amount of social isolation, to have a companion for any and all occasion - or for no occasion at all. And he always had my back and was supportive and on my side. Most of the time he was not very vocal about it, but he was there. I learned after he had died just how much I had meant to him and how proud he was. I lost my dad from when I was little, the mentor of my youth and young adulthood, and my best friend and constant companion of my middle years. He really did become my significant other, and we had a spiritual connection that didn't even realize when he was alive. And here I am...
  8. Clematis

    My father's ashes

    I think it's rather individualistic...Lena cannot tolerate much fat and so she had a low-fat, high protein, high liquid diet...and I watch her blood work for other possible signs of pancreatic trouble. Her "aunt" Susan, a close friend, also loves Lena and watches over. Susan is a psychiatrist, but did go to med school after all. She had some dogs who developed pancreatic problems from eating high fat table scraps, and Susan herself had pancreatitis and had to have it removed. I am blessed to have Susan in Lena's life...I use her commentary to aid in my communication with the vet and to help make suggestions... But those cats that ate all that bacon and eggs clearly did not have sensitive tummies!
  9. Clematis

    My father's ashes

    You just never know. The guy whose cat was in the Guinness book of world records with the one cat who lived to 38 and other cats who lived to be 33 and 39 - when he was asked what they ate, he said they ate a lot of eggs and bacon! Go figure. Well, I do know that they need a lot of protein and liquid in their diet... I am so glad you have Kitty to keep you company and share your home
  10. Clematis

    My father's ashes

    I wear purple toenail polish from early spring until well into the fall and then I see my nails really for the first time. I looked at them last night and the deep ridges that went across them, perpendicular to the length of my toes. I know from the past this relates to significant trauma or stress of some kind. Counting back based on a measurement, I came up with sometime between February and March. I couldn't remember what exactly was going on then, and tried looking at my calendar and email related to the school district, but there was nothing there since I no longer have access to that email. I found this unsettling but then realized that it might be a good thing to not have all that trash to thrash over. I looked at my posts here from that period and it all made sense - that was when I was put on an improvement plan that I could either follow by breaking the law or not follow and be determined to be insubordinate, by the definition of my evil boss. I am glad to be out of there. But the drama continues elsewhere. In my new post as a contracted school psychologist two days (or less) a week, I just had a rash of complaints that were unfounded and quarrelsome. The SpEd director was sympathetic and supportive when I told her what had happened and she said everything was fine. Nevertheless, I found this unnerving. How did I end up in a field where people are so petty and nasty (education) and doing a job (School Psychologist) who is so frequently a target for lies, gossip, and coordinated efforts of malignment? I wish I could retire. I love the work, but the constant attacks are awful. I suppose I am getting closer. In a few years, I will be able to collect retirement and social security, and then whatever I make will be padding to have a more comfortable lifestyle, travel a bit, and buy art supplies. I wish it were now, but it's getting closer.
  11. Clematis

    My father's ashes

    Thank you, Kay, for this and the rest of your thoughtful post. You do so much to comfort and aid people here - it has been wonderful for me to have your support. I know others feel the same way. Pets are family, and sometimes things are such that they are our only family...maybe we have other relatives, but somehow they can seem less like family than the fuzzy ones who share our homes and hearts. I don't know what I would ever do without Lena, but just enjoy and treasure her. I keep reworking the math as to life expectancy. The Guinness world record for a cat's life is 38, and the same guy had two other cats who lived into their thirties. I hope she will live as long as I do. I know that's all kind of a crazy thing to think about and I know that there are other cats who may some day share my life, but she is the one who has gotten me through all the trauma and everything else from the past six years and kept me going. I have had other cats before, but Lena's presence in my life is HUGE. You know what I mean. I think it would be good if you returned to your art. And I really appreciate your encouraging me in my artistic endeavors...
  12. Clematis

    My father's ashes

    I just got home from community orchestra rehearsal and our principal cellist was not there. Her husband the conductor told us that her father had just died, following his wife by only 14 days. It really threw me back into memories of my dad. My own mother died and I was terrified that he would be right behind her. She was ill for five roller coaster months and I talked to him on the phone for one to three hours every day. I never got back to see her; I was in my last semester of graduate school and every time I mentioned going back across the country to see her the family would discourage it and try to keep me focused on completing my program. So I talked to her on the phone and really focused on him. She died very shortly after I graduated. I coaxed him into coming out to AZ from PA about a year after she died, and it was surprisingly easy to get him to come. My sisters really had no interest in him and I was frantic to give him something to hold onto and keep him on the planet. He told everyone that he was moving to AZ to be my family. He told me that he had lost his purpose to live when my mother died and a person could not live without a purpose. He soon decided that his purpose would be me, and being there for me. I wondered if I could live up to that and did my best. I didn't realize as it was happening that just as I became his purpose to live, he was becoming my own. Now I really wonder what my purpose its and if I have one. When I was younger, I was really driven by the things I wanted to do and accomplish. Then there was my dad and it is hard to know which of us needed the other one more. Now he is gone and the things that I was so passionate about seem more meaningless. Maybe that emptiness is just part of the way loss settles in on a person. It has been very hard to have been left alone. I nevertheless keep putting one foot in front of the other and lately I have been thinking about drawing a lot. I am starting to try to get my chops back as far as drawing is concerned. I'm not sure how meaningful it is, but maybe it will help me get out of bed in the morning.
  13. Clematis

    My father's ashes

    That is such a great idea! I feel better already. I have always figured that my sisters and their broods (4/5 of whom are just like them) would just go run amok in everything and there was nothing I could really do about it. I have known people who had an attorney as POA and figured that they just had no family. It never occurred to me that it might be a best choice...
  14. Clematis

    My father's ashes

    Yeah, that end-of-life care can be expensive, and it's sad to think a person's house goes in the end for care. But if you work hard your whole life, you ought to be able to have your hard-earned money at least take care of you, and not have it snatched out from underneath of you and maybe end up without enough to be able to take care of yourself. Hermon was trying to get Gloria to have his POA, but she thought it was too much and she felt that it should be a family member. But I think you're right - the attorney would have probably been a good choice. I wonder what will happen to me in the end because I have no children and I can't trust my sisters. They have five children between them; two partying young men and two of the daughters as narcissistic as their mothers. My third niece is a nice person. But my dad's attorney, who is really my attorney now, she is really solid and trustworthy. And she is a lot younger than I am...I have never done any of those legal things, POA, living will, write a will, any of it, because it just scares me that my sisters would be in control of things at some point, and my niece is too young. I should give it some more thought. As to Hermon, eventually his son will have his agenda more secured and Hermon will have to be at some facility with a locked unit because his son Steve and daughter-in-law cannot take care of him, if for no other reason than that Hermon is so desperate to go home and will most likely never let go of that. So, he will have to go somewhere. I really hope Steve will have him placed in or near the town he wanted so badly to live-and remain-in, so that his friends can have contact with him. He had many friends from the 40 years he lived here, and Steve was never close to his dad. It would be really sad if he stuck him near Steve because no one else could see him. But I hear there is no facility there that has a locked unit except a short term situation at a mental health facility; they don't do long term care for dementia. The least expensive place I know of is actually near Hermon's and my town, and I have always thought it was kind of cool because the buildings are built around a number of courtyards with mature trees and gardens. So the residents go outside a lot and socialize, soak up a little sun, etc. I actually used to take Lena there as a therapy cat and people loved her. The staff was very kind and attentive. The buildings are kind of old, but it always seemed like they spent money on the things that really mattered - taking care of people. It would be good if Hermon could end up there... But who knows what will go on between now and then...
  15. Clematis

    My father's ashes

    Thank you Kay - it's good to hear from you. I appreciate your mouse advice. I had never heard of electronic traps. I'll see if I can talk Doriene into buying some - or at least one. Hermon was sent by the ER in Show Low to a Behavioral Health Treatment Center in Phoenix. The son, Steve, has been very cagey and avoidant in giving me any information about his dad, what is going on, and where he is. Steve clearly does not want me to talk to Hermon. I suspect several things. First, Steve is an average guy with a history of a serious head injury (coma for 11 days), after which he was never the same. He is a cashier at Lowe's. I am a licensed clinical social worker and a lawyer's daughter; I think he suspects that through some perverse means even though I am a mere woman I might be smarter and/or know things he does not. Second, he is trying to get away with some stuff like selling his dad's house out from under him without Hermon knowing and also without his brother Mark knowing. Third, I think he fears that if I talk to Hermon, I might spill the beans. Being cut out of contact is insulting because I have spent a year being at the beck and call of both Hermon and Steve, and have not only played everything Steve's way, but done everything possible to help in any way I could...taking him shopping, taking him out into the community so he could visit with people, feel connected, and be happier. I also worked to get services set up for him in the home, and handled any little problems that arose because I live 5 minutes from Hermon's home and Steve was four hours away. I also talked to him over and over all day on the phone every day to help him feel connected. The truth is that I was able to give Hermon another year at home, and Steve had that year to prepare a gradual path for Hermon to transition. But he did nothing but take advantage of what I was able to do for him and then cut me off from Hermon. Steve seems to be in close communication with Hermon's ex-girlfriend and his caregiver, who behaved as if she was in some competition with me on who was Hermon's best friend and the most important person to him. She was/is an employee - Steve paid her with Hermon's money. I am Hermon's friend and was careful to never take any money for anything I did for him. Nevertheless, I figure that eventually things will sort themselves out. Hermon's house is worth about $500K, as is the 5-acre "ranch" that Hermon bought and Steve has been living on rent-free for 15 years. Hermon did plan to give Steve the ranch in the end (in his will), but he never did, and he may need the money because long term care for Alzheimers is expensive. (Hermon's mother lived to be 105). Steve is probably planning on using his Power of Attorney to transfer the ranch over to himself to keep it away from Mark, and hope that no one finds out. He doesn't know anything. Eventually, Hermon will be transferred to a long term facility. When that happens, they will find his assets, and would be able to find a recent transaction, like a recent transfer of the ranch, if Steve is trying to present a picture that Hermon has much less money than he actually has. Steve seems to think he is smarter than anyone else and no one could figure any of it out. There could be a lot of problems, and Steve is trying to keep anyone from thwarting the agenda that he and his wife have to grab the resources. Hermon's long time friend Gloria has also been cut out, but Hermon's friends all know each other and are aware of this. I told her it seemed like Steve figured he has grabbed the golden goose. It seems really awful because Hermon worked so hard for all of his life to get into a secure position, usually working two jobs, and he was very generous to his kids with his money. But now he may need his resources to live wherever he ends up. I know that people do horrible things to each other after a death to get at the money. But Hermon is still alive! It is very distressing. And I know that wherever he is, he is upset and confused and terrified about what is happening. He used to tell me that it had been a horrible mistake to have Steve have his POA, but Mark would have been worse. I think he feared what is actually come to pass. Eventually he will be placed somewhere, and no one will care if I talk to him or visit him or if anyone else does. But probably not until Steve and his wife have accomplished their agenda... Sorry, that was really long... I remember my dad talking about these kinds of things happening, and from time to time he would say something like I would probably try to shove him off into some "old folks home" and take his money. I take telling him that if he wanted to go somewhere other than his home I didn't want to be selfish pig and just keep him all to myself, so I would let him go...but what I wanted was for him to stay right where he was - where I could get in my car and be at his house in a minute and a half. I sure miss him...
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