Tonight I have to tell you a cautionary tale. Sadly there are some truly wicked people in this world, or maybe wickedness is not the right term, maybe it truly is more like psychopathy. The old bad or mad argument. The trouble with this tale is that mad or bad, the central character here knew what she was doing.
My mum is a sweet old lady most of the time. Like all of us she has her moments, and always had. But she would give you her last penny or the clothes off her back if she thought you needed them. If she has a fault it is being too trusting. Over the years I have been amused and exasperated in equal measure at her propensity to collect ‘friends’ ie the nice man who tried to sell her something at the door, or the girl in the photography shop. Usually these people are, like most people, good and kind. But as we all know there are those out there who really are the ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’.
One of these ladies (M) became very ‘friendly’ with my Mum after Dad died. She started to ‘help’ Mum to sort out her financial affairs. In the process Mum’s will got changes so that this friend was left a set of chairs, family heirlooms from Mum;s great-great grandparents. Last year when Mum’s dementia and physical frailness meant she moved into a care home, this lady took it upon herself to try to get Mum to sign over to her Power of Attorney for all her financial affairs. She did this the only week I was away on holiday. Thankfully the staff at the care home are sensible and aware of elder abuse enough to pick up on what was happening and were able to stop this before things got worse. As you can imagine the whole thing has been shocking, stressful and distressing. I find it so hard to believe the worst of people, I think we all try to seek to understand what is going on and make sense of it but in this instance every contact has confirmed my suspicion that she is Up To No Good.
Of course we didn’t just let all this go. Social Services and the Police were involved. I got a lawyer. Mum was, and is, protected. M is only allowed to see Mum in a public area and wouldn’t be able to take her out. We can’t prove exactly that she was trying to defraud, but everyone involved was quite clear that the situation did not feel good.
Now we are in the process of clearing Mum’s house. Funding care is not a cheap option. The sad fact is that every penny Mum has will ultimately go to her care if she lives long enough. I hope she lives as long as she would wish to and right now I can see her enjoying 90 in 3 years time, if that means she gets a party ( yes) and cake ( yes again). So this week I contacted the Wicked Witch and informed her that if she wanted Mum’s chairs and table she could arrange to come and collect them, otherwise “they would be auctioned to contribute to Mum’s care”. No sooner said than done and today she eagerly turned up to take them away.
There is part of me that feels dreadful, that I’ve let Mum and Dad down by letting these chairs go. I know that this is not what Mum would have wanted if she’d not been influenced. And the rest of me says, these are just things. The things that matter are the photos, the ornament that reminds of us of a certain time, the overmantel that sat over my Granny’s fireplace, the painted stone with a picture of our old family dog, Kim which sits now on my fireplace. For my boys and me, what matters are the memories, the love and laughter, the arguments when Grandpa was driving, the tales that nana would tell, the meals round the table.
So tonight I am sorry that this leaves me with a nasty taste in my mouth. There aren’t many people I truly dislike, but she is one of them. I am shocked that this can happen, aghast that anyone can behave with such callous disregard for decency. I am upset, angry and relieved that it is done and over with. She is not welcome here. And those chairs are gone for ever.