Thursday, October 19, 2006

My Family is Insane

My mother is crazy. I've known it for years, but it was solidified on my 13th birthday, when she told me that she divorced my father after he had an affair. I've read the divorce papers, and it was my father who sued for divorce, after she told him bluntly that she had had an affair.

Her purpose then was to undermine my relationship with my father, and to convince me to come live with her when I turned 18. Weird, weird, weird.

In the years since then (and really, since I was about 2 years old), my mother has been effectively a nomad. She's lived in countless places around the Richmond area, some as grandiose as a 19th century mansion, some as small as a miserable, leaky 2-room mother-in-law suite in somebody's back yard. Through all of her travels, my grandparents--particularly my grandfather--took care of her financially. She trains horses and people to ride horses, which doesn't pay the bills very well, especially when you're smoking most of your proceeds.

Mom likes to get high. When I graduated 5th grade, she took me out and taught me how to smoke a joint. Well, that ended my love affair with drugs. There's no mystery to it, so I have no interest in using.

Mom is also extremely greedy. Her whole mission is to get hold of my grandmother's dwindling estate. She believes that my grandmother should cede everything to her: the house, the car, all the contents of all her accounts, and even control over her investments. My grandmother does not trust this (nor should she), and believes that my mom would simply cast her out on the street after taking all her possessions. I'm not sure I disagree.

My grandmother is a different kind of crazy: she grew up with a thyroid problem and evidently had Scarlet Fever as a child. The thyroid problem turned her into a raging maniac, which made it difficult for my mom to feel loved. My grandmother has always been more critical of my mom because she had high expectations.

My grandmother is also the queen of guilt and reproach. 7 years ago, when I proposed to Amanda, I called her to share the good news. She answered the phone drunk, and said, "Well that's nice. Listen, it would be really nice if you could come over and rake my leaves." Kind of killed the mood, and made me less than thrilled about helping rake those leaves. She held a grudge for years. Years. I kid you not: I called her to express happiness, and not only did she piss on it, she wouldn't let it go.

We didn't speak for a very long time, and I really don't generally go out of my way to talk to her today. When we meet for lunch, she complains about absolutely everything: the restaurant's too cold, she doesn't want to sit in a booth, the music's too loud, there's a speck of dirt on the rim of her glass, and I tip too much (sometimes she'll actually pick the money back up off the table if I leave more than 15%). Heaven forbid she should actually ride in the car with me.

So that's the background to what happened this week. I don't know if it shows, but my mom and grandmother functionally hate each other.

Yesterday my mom called me in quite a state. In fact, she left a message for me at work and then called my cell phone. This is an event in itself, as I usually hear from her at Christmas and my birthday, but she was very agitated and needed to spill her guts.

She had called her mom on Sunday to ask her to lunch on the 17th, which would have been my grandfather's birthday (he died in 1998). My grandmother told her that she'd been extremely ill, and very concerned about her health. Mom asked why she hadn't called, and my grandmother replied that my mother had absolutely refused to take her to the doctor in the past, so she didn't see the point. In truth, my mother refused to drive my grandmother's car, saying that there was nothing keeping my grandmother from hoisting herself up into mom's Ford F350 pickup truck. They got into a screaming match with my mom shouting that she wouldn't be manipulated, that she'd been manipulated all her life, and my grandmother hung up on her.

So Mom wrote a letter and wanted to run it by me, but she also wanted me to find out if there was actually a medical emergency that we needed to tend to. The letter was pure drivel, and I told her not to mail it, that it would only cause more harm and further alienate them.

The medical condition, though, really did concern me. My grandmother is 8x years old, and my mom and I are her only living family. Nobody knew who had power of attorney, where her accounts were, or even how to get into her house. Of course, I couldn't just call my grandmother and ask these things: we talk about as often as I talk to my mom, so it would seem suspicious that she'd just had this fight with my mom, and now I'm calling.

So I got my dad to call. Strangely, he has a better relationship with her than either me or my mom, and he's impartial. He called and confirmed that there was indeed a medical condition, but that it was not emergent--yet.

That gave me an "in", and I called her. She's probably in pretty bad shape, but she won't let on. She, for the first time, is acknowledging her mortality, and needs guidance. Unfortunately, she can't trust my mom, and I'm not sure she'll trust me, either. But she's agreed to have me come over and start talking about options for her long-term care and financial arrangements.

I hate to think about it, but I'm probably going to have to cut my mom out of the picture entirely: I think I'm going to have to ask for power of attorney. I need to divest her of her assets before she goes into permanent care and before probate becomes an issue.

But both of them think they're investing big secrets in me, and each is playing me against the other. It's madness, and my only allies are my father and Amanda.

This sucks. And I'm busier than ever at work, and I'm also unhappier than ever at work. That's a triple dose of suck. That's teh suck. And Alastair's sick. Poor little guy.

1 comment:

Manda said...

It is teh suck, honey. But know that I am with you every step of the way.

BeeBoo's doing much better today. he had a lot of fun rolling around on the bed chasing Vivienne.