Posts Tagged ‘senior or elder financial exploitation’

My Story Part 4

So dad died on my birthday in 1994. I never took it as some kind of ominous foreboding pronouncement – honestly, I always thought of it as a tribute to me. He and I were always so close. He was optimistic, mirthful, outgoing, and confident. All the things I wanted to be when I grew up. I’ve often said that my adoption was the best thing that ever happened to me. Most people ask why I don’t say the birth of my daughter and I tell them that I could not have been a good mother if dad had not modeled good parental behavior for me.

The funeral home said the soonest a funeral would be conducted was the following Friday. This gave mother’s family enough time to arrive. The Thursday night before the funeral, the call came saying my aunt Betty had passed away. Mom lost her best friend and her husband within a week’s time. This put her in an extremely vulnerable position. After the funerals were over, I went to work in social services just as dad had requested. He was right. I don’t believe there is anything I’ve ever experienced that has felt as rewarding as working in public service.

As time passed, mom dropped all her friends and even became isolated from most of the family. Today, it is clear that Shirley was grooming her for a set up, but at the time, I just thought she was acting out in her grief. As part of my work in social services, and since I was credentialed to do so, in my spare time I set up a free clinic for those who didn’t have private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, or Indian Health Services. I supposed it was a coincidence but on my birthday in in 1996, I followed a volunteer physician and nurse to a woman’s house that had none of the above and was actively dying of cancer. After our final visit was over, I drove home to eat birthday cake with mom, nana, and my daughter. Imagine my surprise when Shirley was there. Mother had invited her – to MY birthday party. Since I didn’t care for her I was a bit annoyed. During the eating of the cake, mom announced that after 40 years, she was retiring from her job as a Medical Technologist. Since there was no discussion prior, I was a bit suspicious of what was going on. Mom had worked for the same Laboratory for the 40 years and to up and give 2 weeks’ notice on what seemed to me to be a whim was really out of character for her – the most unspontaneous person I have ever known.

the most unspontaneous person I have ever known.
When Shirley left, I began trying to talk with mom about the things she could do to the house with some of the money she was going to receive in profit sharing – knowing that most would have to be rolled over into an IRA so there would be no tax payments. I also asked if she would replace the car I had sold early on to help pay for dad’s medical bills. She was non-committal and remained that way until April of 1997 when she received the money. During the months between her retirement and the receipt of profit sharing I had supported us all on my salary without complaint. Occasionally I would try to engage mother in conversation about the disbursement of the money but she always avoided it. When I became angry that she had isolated herself from all her old friends, she even stopped going to church, she would get red in the face and accuse me of being jealous of her friendship with her one true friend, Shirley.

When the money came, mom took us all to a restaurant that dad had always loved to celebrate. When we arrived, there was Shirley and two men who had tattoos on their faces and necks! Okay, I say live and let live but I don’t necessarily want to have dinner with everyone either! During dinner is when mom announced her intention to be a silent partner in Shirley’s new business at a lakeside convenience store called the Pick-n-Pack by a local lake. The entirety of her profit sharing would be invested as a ½ stake in said business. She then handed me a card that said “thank you for all you have done” and it had a $100 in it. I was completely dumbfounded and wanted to yell at everyone, but we were in a public place and good manners would not allow it. When we got home, I did everything short of holding her hostage to get her to change her mind but she was determined to make it happen. I was so distraught, that I moved my daughter and I out that very weekend.

Time went on and my daughter acted as a go-between checking on mom regularly and reporting to me. Apparently, she was going to the store every day where she, Shirley and her two sons were working. Somewhere along the way, I was called to the front of my office because I had a visitor. Standing there was a childhood neighbor who, although raised in good company, had chosen a different path for a while and made some treacherous friends along the way. He sat me down and asked how my mom knew Shirley and her sons. I explained and then he said that they were all laughing about her at some bail bondsman’s office because they had told her there were some taxes due so she got a loan against her home to get the money, but that it was actually used as a bond for the two sons. **At this point, I’m feeling like I’m in a bad movie that will not be over**. I went to the house and asked mom why she had gotten our banker to give her money for something like that. She hadn’t – Shirley had recommended some finance company to her and she had used them. When I looked at the papers I knew we were in deep trouble because mom had no income, had given all her money away, and had a loan on our house at 28% interest.

I thought I would be finished by now, but the next one will be the last post on this. I have to get it down on paper because I’m not having an enjoyable time talking about it and I want it to be over! Next post soon!

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