Genetics – Part Seven

Despite a serious back injury to my niece’s husband, BJ, plans are moving forward on the “Big Move To The Country”.  To recap, the plan is for Mom to buy the land (15 wooded acres), and to secure a construction loan.  From there, BJ and my niece, DQ, will orchestrate building a new home – with an attached apartment for Mom.  Mom will then pay for her portion of the total square footage, and DQ and BJ pick up the mortgage on the remainder.

This gets Mom to an uncluttered “happy place” where she can be surrounded by family.  And it gets BJ, DQ and their menagerie of critters and children* a spectacular new home – along with the full time responsibility for taking care of Mom**.  She’s 80.  She could live a couple more years or twenty.  Throw the dice (and install a canary in the bedroom and hire a ‘taster’ for her food)…

Before my trip to South America, the first domino fell.  The deal for the land purchase was to be closed.  As holder of Mom’s legal “power of attorney”, i reviewed the paperwork by remote, concurred that all was in order, and skipped the proceedings.

The day after closing, while taking Mom to see the cardiologist, i asked her how things had gone with the banking people. 

Mom:  Fine.  I think i threw them all for a loop, though.

daisyfae:  [bracing herself] What happened?  What did you do?

Mom:  Well, everything was going fine.  Signed all the stuff, went through the paperwork.  Didn’t seem like a big deal.  Then they said “Now, all we need is your money”.  So i said “What?  No one told me i was supposed to bring money?”


Mom:  They all laughed real hard when they figured out i was kidding!

daisyfae:  i bet they did, Momma…

In later discussions with DQ and my friend KMD (realtor coordinating the purchase), i also learned that when she handed over the cashiers check, she made a point of kissing it goodbye.

KMD’s comment – “Well, i can certainly see where daisyfae gets it…”.  i’m totally going to fuck with people when i’m an old lady.  Hell… why wait?


* Hard to tell who’s who without a score card.  i thought there were only two cats, but discovered about two more when i dropped of my dog for the long pet sit… i think there was only one baby, but they might have had a loaner in the mix.

** no lines are forming for this job amongst the rest of us… we’re lucky someone is willing to take this on.  but the situation is ripe for exploitation.  i’ve seen the house plans go from 800 sq ft “apartment” for Mom, with a 1500 sq ft house (complete with unfinished basement) to about 1000 sq ft for Mom and 2000 sq ft for the rest of the clan… and i simply ask “how do you plan to pay for this?”… (sigh).  Stay tuned…

Eighty Five Years Ago Today…

Happy Birthday, Dad.  August 30, 1923.  Oddly enough, during my visit to The Park Friday to take Mom to see an estate planning attorney, she gave me a box of “stuff” from her recent excavations.  Among dusty story books i wrote when i was 9 years old, my Girl Scout uniform and the linens Dad’s mother made for her marriage bed?  Dad’s last drivers license and the ID card for his years teaching at the applied technology college… 

Rather than try to write something meaningful – while i remain up to my nipples in boxes and crates – i’ve dusted off the eulogy i gave at Dad’s funeral.  Not my best work – done in an overnight frenzy while i was frantically assembling illegally downloaded tunes for the visitation and service… The best words?  They are his… i had the first two rough chapters his own memoirs as a guide…

April 21, 2001 – In a Methodist church filled with about 150 thoughtful humans…

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Blast from the past

As i mentioned previously, Mom is serious about uprooting – after almost 50 years in her home – and wants to move to “The Farm” with DQ and BJ.  Plans are well underway and an offer made and accepted on a 15 acre plot of land in the country.  i’m taking Friday off to drive to The Park and take Mom to meet with a probate attorney to lock down the best structure for the deal.

My excavations prior to moving were exhausting, but nothing compared to the amount of work required on Mom’s home*.  DQ and Mom tackled one bedroom over the weekend.  While i was finishing up moving The Girl to her new apartment, i received a photo text message from DQ:

TXT:  This wuz under your dads mattress!

What a fabulous find!  Dated 1976, this magazine was likely confiscated from my older brother, who had gotten divorced  that year from his first wife, and had spent some time back at the ol’ homestead until he got back on his feet.

Somehow this made me deliriously happy!  No idea why, but i asked DQ to hang onto it for me… Just a belated glimpse into my Dad’s world.  And a big ol’ grin about a week before he would have turned 85…


* About 6 years ago, we launched a weekend ‘dig’ at Mom’s house.  Three teams were working through the clutter.  My sister, S, worked the spider-infested bedroom that used to be mine, my niece and her first husband worked the garage, and i was wearing leather gloves and waded through mouse turds and moldy cardboard boxes in the storage barn.  At the end of the day, we hauled three truckloads of decent stuff to Goodwill, hauled another truckload to the dump, and burned a mountain of old cardboard boxes.  Clearing out half of her garage was a major accomplishment.  We have no idea how she did it, but within 6 months, the garage was full again, with only a small path around the periphery… this is world class pack-rattery…. and i told mom that it made no sense for us to clear it out if she was just going to keep buying shit. 

Trailer Park Archeology – Let the games begin…

After 20 years in the same house, my recent excavations have been daunting.  A “category 2” packrat, i tend to hang onto things that may have future utility, but toss out newspapers, broken things, many “sentimental” items and donate any knick-knack that is ugly or useless (or both) to charitable thrift stores.  Periodically purging things like college class notes, financial info and unused clutter.

Mom has lived in the same 1500 square foot home since 1960, and is a world-class “category 5” packrat, a true child of the Great Depression, unwilling to throw out anything.  That would be nearly fifty years of newspapers, plastic flowers, church bulletins, family heirlooms, desiccating school projects, collectible decorative items (ie: bells, eggs, plates, spoons…).  Co-mingled — wheat, chaff and goat hair macrame – and randomly stashed into boxes, bins, bags, piles and every available space in a 2 car garage.

Over the years, we’ve tried to help her de-clutter and organize, but she has an unhealthy attachment to “things”, even at the expense of human comfort and dignity.  Mom will be 80 next month, and is fiercely independent – to help maintain that independence, i got her a “Life Alert” system last January.  After bypass surgery she’s accepted that she is very dependent on others for her daily activities – primarily my niece, DQ and her husband BJ, who live next door to her. 

DQ and BJ are planning to move.  In an on-going series of discussions, i’ve been going over options with Mom:

    a) Stay in the house, deal with the solitude and make do as the house falls down around her.

    b) Stay in the house, invest in repairs/excavations and be willing to allow professionals in to assist her (cleaning, medical, etc).

    c) Move to an assisted living community, where she can dial-up additional support as needed and take more time with the excavations/repair of the house.

    d) Take DQ and BJ up on their offer – to build a “mother-in-law” suite on a new home in the country, and bring her with them.

She’s sick of her cluttered, messy house, and is terrified that it will collapse around her, so she’s ruled out option (a).  Adamant about not allowing “strangers” into the house*, she is not willing to invest in the repairs and cleanout required for option (b).  Getting back to that “strangers” thing, she doesn’t like the idea of being in an apartment alone – even if she has friends nearby, so the assisted living option is out of the question. 

That leaves one choice – and she has thrown the dice, offered to purchase the land in the country to get the ball rolling.  And away we go… 

Looking out for Mom’s best interests, including the financial side of the enterprise, will be squarely in my lap.  Managing the “family” perceptions with siblings – assuring that there is no exploitation, real or perceived as DQ and BJ build a house from the ground up, with Mom as the financial “underwriter”, buying the dirt and securing construction loan.

My recent “purge and move” adventure was just the teaser for the main event.  In this case, however, my first stop will be for legal consultation to make sure Mom’s interests are protected.  Then we can get on with the fun of wading through soul-crushing piles of plastic butter tubs, partial decks of playing cards and fossilized christmas decorations***. 

There is hope that she can get out from under the rubble, have some peace and tranquility surrounded by family and nature**.  This is the “future” she’s been squirreling away funds for most of her adult life… let’s hope she gets to enjoy it!  If she does this right, her last check should bounce…


* After it was clear that he was making the final circle of the drain, Dad’s preference was to be at home, rather than in the hospital.  Embarassed by the clutter, and protective of her privacy, Mom wouldn’t allow “home health care” staff in the house, so it wasn’t possible to bring him home.  She also ruled out “hospice” care.  She was under the incorrect impression that in order to get hospice support, one had to sign over all personal assets…

** even though she’s a bit anxious, she is looking forward to being out in the country, having a vegetable garden, and riding around the property on a golf cart!  better warn the critters and drain the pond… or get her new glasses.

*** not to mention spiders.  oodles of leggy, hairy, juicy spiders.  did i ever mention that i HATE spiders?

dignity. and the loss thereof…

A conversation from the past.  Almost a decade ago… Dad was well into chemo, fighting the losing battle against colon cancer.

Mom: We need to stop at the store.  Dad needs more diapers.

daisyfae: The are undergarments, Mom.  Please call them undergarments.

Mom: Well, he calls them his diapers… he doesn’t seem to mind.

daisyfae: i don’t care if he names them after jazz singers, or wants to write the days of the week on them with a marker.  They are undergarments.  We should refer to them as undergarments

A losing battle. She never really understood my point.  Perhaps not very important in the big picture.  But it is always worthwhile to fight for the dignity of those you love.


A remarkable story from MdW this triggered another buried memory.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?