I decided to treat myself to a grande flat white on my way into work this morning. Things were going along at a reasonable pace… so like an idiot, I thought I’d go visit my mom on my lunch break. I’ve been feeling guilty about not seeing my parents since Saturday. Today is Wednesday.
My mom started talking about her unhappiness. Which quickly went to money. Which I did not handle well. I keep trying (like an idiot) to explain the legal construct that is the annuity that was created in order for my Dad to receive Medicaid services. She doesn’t remember or care that when we decided to do this, we discussed it a lot. I pushed for it, because it was the only way to get all of my dad’s care paid for. I was worried that he would have another stroke. Or something else. And even with Medicare, my parents were paying a lot of money for his on-going medical bills.
Between social security and the annuity, their income is around fairly reasonable. They have enough to pay rent and all their bills- electricity, cable and their credit cards. And they should have enough left over to spend on frivolous things, and still be able to put several hundred in the bank each month. They also have a savings account that has more in it than I’ve ever had- and probably more than most people. All of my dad’s healthcare is paid for by Medicaid. They’ve paid off all the medical debt that they had after my Dad’s stroke. I think that they’re doing okay. I would even say good. My mom disagrees. I guess, and maybe here’s the disconnect. She is unsettled by not having a house. Maybe I need to help them buy a house? But then I think about taxes, and house payments and getting the house wheelchair accessible, and homeowner’s insurance, and yard work and shoveling snow…
I do understand that she wants her money. All of it. Where she has more control of it. Money means security. Her life has changed so drastically in the last two years, I get it. Where I am failing–miserably and horribly failing is in my sheer inability to contain my frustration at hearing this for the 37th time. All I want to do is say, “I hear you. I know you want your money. But just talking to your lawyer, will cost you money. They are literally going to charge you for every minute. Maybe I should have said that we can try to find an elder law attorney- that can give them free legal advice. But I didn’t think of that. Until now. Knowing very little about the construction and legal parameters of such financial instruments- I do know that based on the cost and paperwork involved in setting up the annuity, it is next to impossible to dismantle them. There are third party companies that purchase them, and pay you a lump sum, that I assume is a fraction of the total amount. And I don’t care if they want to go that route. I just want them to understand how that works. But my mom thinks that I am being obstructionist. And that I think she’s dumb. And that I have no empathy for her situation.
I try to. But there’s never been much of a closeness between us. She’s been detached and slightly inaccessible to me for as long as I can remember. But she is my mother. I think that a lot of her character was shaped by living through the Korean war. And from being in a marriage that she almost immediately regretted but did not have the wherewithal to leave. I know this, because she tells me this a lot. She has my entire life. My parents don’t really trust me. I was a terrible child. And a horrible, selfish, asshole of a teen. When I was 14 I dated 19 year olds. My parents had no idea. They just paid little attention to me. I was, in many ways, living my life on my own at that age.
Then we veer off into my lack of detailed knowledge about how much money they have, how much money they are spending, etc. It was such a stressful time, after my dad had his stroke and I was driving back and forth every other week. My mom didn’t drive. Didn’t know how to use her phone. Or her TV, if anything went wrong. I honestly don’t remember many details. My mom also ended up going into the hospital while my dad was in the hospital for a bleeding ulcer. And she had some dental issues- and had multiple teeth pulled out and an upper denture made. I was trying to balance my work life and taking care of my parents. With no help from anyone, except my daughter.
My mom agrees that I don’t know the details of their current finances, but that I did at one time have control of their finances when my Dad first had his stroke. And then, the gut punch. That I was writing myself checks from their accounts. That I was paying myself a salary. Paying. Myself. A. Salary.
I want to say FFFFFFFUUCUUUCCCCCKKKKKKK YYYOOOOUUUU! But I think instead I say that what whatever my mom is saying is simply untrue. She continues saying that I was taking money from them and says that my dad has the cancelled checks. She’s also weirdly not angry about this, and says as much. She says she understands. She then says my dad told her not to say anything to me. She is resigned to the fact that her daughter is a ne’r do well and its as if she has confirmed documentation that I’m her thieving, horrible offspring, but that she’s accepted it and its okay. I repeat that this isn’t true. My parents have little faith in me. Little. Faith. They don’t trust me. Voices are not raised. I leave before it gets too nuts. But I feel the weight of the situation. The idea that my parents think I’m such a terrible person. Am I? Are they right? I wonder if I did write myself checks. I may have- but if I did, it was under my mother’s direction. She gave me my Dad’s credit card to use for gas for our trips back and forth. And I did. And I did buy snacks for the road with his card- when we stopped for gas. At my mom’s insistence. Damn. I should have known. I should have known it was a trick. An unintentional trick, but one that would make me feel like a shit.
I think about all those seven hour drives to Missouri. The call from their neighbor that my dad had a stroke. My mom not wanting us to stay at her house. She got mad at me during their last Thanksgiving visit and left after two days- then refused to speak to me. This wasn’t the first time she refused to speak to me. One time she went two years. She softened, when she realized I was there to help her. I got their house sold. I got them moved out. I found my dad a rehab facility (My mom now blames me for picking a bad place.) I found my mom an apartment. (Which she hated.) I moved my mom to another apartment. Which she now hates. I managed my Dad’s care. And their finances. My life has been on hold for the last year. My daughter lost her job because of all the trips we had to take to care of my parents. Nothing is ever enough for them. Nothing is ever enough. Nothing.. It never has been. It never will be. Why can’t I get that through my idiotic head?!
Little did I know when I started my day, that I would need a second flat white on the way back to work after visiting my mom. It’s so annoying and sad when we have these types of interactions. No one wins a damn thing. Well, no one expect Starbucks.