Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Today is the day

I haven't discussed the real reason I'm in Fairbanks because it was kind of top secret. Since all involved parties now know why I'm here, and the court hearing is at 11 a.m. today, I can talk about it.

On Tuesday of last week I received two very disturbing phone calls. I'd only been home for three days, having returned from a three-week stay in Fairbanks to help care for my sister in her home (two weeks) and then help her transition to an assisted living home (another week).

The first phone call was from the owner of the assisted living home where my sister resides. She was very upset regarding my crazy niece's last two visits to my sister on October 30 and 31. The first visit involved my niece and four teenage boys she brought with her (two children were my niece's sons and two were another niece's grandsons). There was a lot of disruption, with my niece screaming at the boys to behave and then demanding the staff make lunch for the four boys. Not only was my sister upset, but so was the staff and the other residents of the home. The owner was very upset, but there was more.

The second visit involved the Alaska State Protective Services (APS), which were called by the owner of the home during the second visit on Oct. 31. My niece became verbally abusive to both women when they discussed the previous day's visit. She screamed at them that she wanted her mother moved out of the home to the Pioneers Home (an institution-like setting), and furthermore, all her mother's money was gone (there was $50,000 cash in my sister's bank accounts five weeks ago, my niece had me look at the accounts online). She stated she wasn't paying next month's fee of $7,500. All of this was said (screamed) in front of my sister.

APS called me next, and reiterated everything the owner of the home had told me.

Both the owner of the home and APS requested I immediately file for emergency full guardianship of my sister. This had been discussed at length during the previous weeks. Even though my sister has three daughters, none of them are capable of handling her medical and financial affairs.

I discussed this with my other niece, the one that's clinically depressed and has been for seventeen years. She's on a lot of medications for her mental condition and is barely holding on. Both her and her husband (the saint that helped care for my sister during the two weeks after her release from the hospital), agreed I was the best choice. This niece doesn't feel like she can handle it, and I understand. She's extremely close to her mother and she's best at sitting by my sister's bed and holding her hand. Paperwork, paying bills and handling tough decisions isn't something she's capable of doing.

Of course I didn't talk to my other niece, the one that has caused extreme mental distress for this entire family, and especially for my sister. She's already proven she can't handle the responsibility.

There's a third niece that I've only seen twice since my sister's stroke. She lives here (for free in one of the apartments that my sister owns, about 1/2 mile from he home where my sister resides). She's caused a lot of problems for my sister since she was adopted at six years old (she's the only adopted daughter). She came from a home with two alcoholic parents that were charged with abandonment. She came with a lot of emotional and mental issues. She was basically written out of the trust by my sister, so she's really not even in the picture when it comes to the care of my sister.

In the past three days, I would awake every morning at 3:30 a.m., get up and work on a document I was writing for the court. It outlined the series of events that led me to the decision to apply for full guardianship. I would work on it for three hours each morning. The document only touched on a few of the things my niece has done over the last seven weeks, since my sister's stroke. I was preparing it for the Court Visitor, who makes the final decision in the guardianship, both the emergency hearing (which is today) and the final decision for permanent guardianship (which will be in February). Even though it was just a snapshot of some of the horrors that have happened, it was eight pages long. Fortunately, the Court Visitor told me more information is better than less. She was glad I'd written such a lengthy document, to help her with her decision.

I met with the Court Visitor yesterday, and we discussed for an hour the reasons I was applying for guardianship. She almost couldn't believe some of the things I told her about my niece. She told me it was almost a slam-dunk that I would be awarded guardianship. The big gun for me is that the State of Alaska Attorney General's office has filed the petition on my behalf, along with APS (they even waived the fees since they were filing). They both recommend me as guardian for my sister. In addition, they'll have a lawyer from the Attorney General's office in court today to represent me.

It's sort of odd how things work out. The Court Visitor told me she'd stop by and visit my sister yesterday afternoon. I headed over to see my sister at 11 a.m., and brought my sister a bouquet of fresh flowers, a new makeup mirror to put on her beside table so she can learn how to apply her own makeup (something she hasn't even tried yet and I've been doing for her every day), and a new picture to put on one of her walls. At the same time I was arriving, there was Carrie Ann, the Court Visitor. How odd that she actually came in the morning when she said she was coming in the afternoon, and that I was arriving at the exact same time.

She talked with my sister about the guardianship, and my sister indicated she understood. Both my brother and I had already explained it to her, and why I was taking control away from her daughter. As the Court Visitor talked to my sister, she started to cry, but I expected she would cry. The entire issue with her daughter has been very upsetting to her. It breaks my heart that I can't fix her daughter for her, but at least I can protect my sister from her craziness. My sister indicated to the Court Visitor that she was okay with the change. I know my sister never expected that with having four children (her son committed suicide 20 years ago), that her baby sister (me - 17 years younger than my sister) would have to take over her affairs some day.

Another odd event, I've been staying at the Westmark Hotel here in Fairbanks. I love this hotel. It's where our crew stays (I work for an airline that flies into Fairbanks) and I get a really good rate. They upgraded me to a suite this time for the same price (so I don't have to eat out!). It's also only two blocks from my sister's assisted living home. I feel safe in this hotel, and it's very comfortable (with awesome staff).

When I asked to extend my stay through Friday they told me I'd have to move out for 10/7 and 10/8. I pleaded and begged to stay, they said there was a convention and 14 people ahead of me on a wait list. The timing was all wrong for me to have to move (I needed my internet connection to remain unbroken...court documents, emails, etc.). Every day I'd check with the front desk (they all know me). I asked about their no-show factor (there are 400 rooms here - there must be no-shows). They said they rarely have even one no-show, and sorry, but I'd have to leave for those two days. Guess what? Yesterday morning as I was reluctantly looking online for another hotel the front desk called my room. There were 25 no-shows and I could stay here for the rest of my stay through Friday.

It's so weird how so many things have fallen into place for me throughout this entire ordeal. Just odd little things that have made things much easier to deal with.

One tiny thing happened two nights ago that annoyed the hell out of me. Someone stole my extension cord that I used to plug in my rental car. I have to park in back of the hotel where they have deadbolt heaters and yesterday morning, the extension cord was missing. It belongs to the rental car agency, and I'm going to have to buy another one in case the temperature plunges below zero. It's been hovering above zero (like + 5 or +10 degrees), but tomorrow it's suppose to get down to -12 degrees.

It's been non-stop snowing since I got here and the roads are beyond horrible. I had two really close call car accidents yesterday. Both by giant pickup trucks that practically ran me over, through no fault of my own. They act like they own the freaking road, whipping through parking lots, not paying attention to anyone else. I have a tiny Ford Focus. It must be the world's smallest car. Maybe they don't see me because it's so tiny, but my heart practically stopped twice yesterday when I had two near misses with pickup trucks. Fortunately, no accidents so far, but it's sure scary driving around here. The car stops really well, it just can't take off very well on the ice. It doesn't have studded snow tires which I find really strange. I also often can't tell where the road is, or if it's two lanes or one because there's so much ice and snow packed on the roads. Hopefully I'll make it through the rest of the week accident free.

It's almost 6 a.m. so I'm going to get dressed and head over to the gym (they call it "the club" here, it's kind of a nice gym). I'm not sure if I mentioned it but I spoke to the salesperson at the gym where my sister has gone five days a week for almost four years, and asked for a week long free pass. I told them why I was here, and that I live in Seattle and wasn't going to join their gym. I indicated that my sister is still paying for her membership, and she can't use it since she had a stroke, so could I get a pass to go with my niece to water aerobics. They said yes (although I hate water aerobics but I'll go if she goes...she's not going today...this is my good niece).

I'm going to do some cardio and weights, to get myself prepared for the battle of my  life today. I expect fireworks if my crazy niece shows up, and I'm pretty sure she'll be there. My other niece, her husband and my brother will all be there to support me. It should be interesting. :)


Lyn said...

Wow! Good luck in court. I agree it sounds like a slam dunk. I know it is hugely stressful though. I wonder if they'd give a restraining order on the neice too? Hope you and your sister have a peaceful week.

Diandra said...

Good luck with everything!

Katie J ♥ said...

Hope it goes well. You are such a blessing to your sister Diana! Stay strong!

Mer and Mo said...

Sending you strong and good thoughts!!! Hope all goes well today!!!!


Brooke said...

Here's some more well wishes coming your way. The best of luck to you today!! You're strong and capable and amazing.

Dawn said...

Good luck Diana, I hope things go ok and maybe you'll continue to have that "magic" luck and the crazy niece will decide not to show.

Dawn said...

We are looking at all of this from a distance because we don't know any of the people involved, we retain the sort of impartiality that the lack of emotional involvement can bring - a little like the court officials who decide and to me it seems totally clear and obvious that a sister, who is a senior family member ought to be the responsible person. When you add into the mix the fact that the younger people have all kinds of issues - even more is it clear that you are the right person to do this. I do hope this is the outcome. I feel your sister would be safest and happiest under your guardianship. I hope it all goes well.Thinking of you all today

Grace said...

Hi Diana, sorry you are still going through all the stress. Good luck in court, I'll say a prayer that it all turns out how it should.

Wow, sounds like the weather is awful up there. I feel bad for complaining about a little frost on my windshield. I just saw a story that they are expecting a huge storm with hurricane force winds. Be sure to stay safe.

Love ya, Grace

Grace said...

I meant to say "a huge storm in Alaska"

Lucy said...

Wow ... sounds like someone is in your corner :)

So glad things are looking better (you getting guardianship).

Ron said...

Hope everything worked out for you !!!!

Anonymous said...

Diana, wow, I can't believe all that you have going on up there Alaska.
I feel so bad for your sister. It sounds like she has had a very difficult situation with all of her children. At some level you think how could God put so much on one person's plate. I imagine her husband was a tremendous support system to her through all of the difficulties they have had to face in life. I can understand now how hard it has been on her to be by herself with out her life partner. As a mother, she has had far more than her share of sadness. And as you mentioned, I am sure it is painful for her at this point to watch her daughter's behavior. As you share more and more about your sister and her situation, It makes me wonder about all the people I know that seem like they have perfect lives. How many of them have situations that are very difficult that we just don't know about. I hope everything went well today. Take care of yourself. I am so glad you are working out and that your arm is recovered.

Anna Down Under said...

I can't imagine having to go through all this on top of coping with your sister's situation. I pray you win this battle, and can get back to caring for your sister. This is a time when people in her life should be making things easier and filling her days with love, not such craziness as all this. You're in my thoughts.

As to the ice, you've certainly reminded me why I don't miss Wisconsin winters now that I've moved to Australia! I haven't seen snow or ice in 8 years. Stay safe on those roads!

Jane Cartelli said...

I have been in Medellin all week and just got back. I hope your court date gave you all you needed. I have been thinking of you and praying for your situation. You have showed such grace through this whole situation.


Shawn said...

I hope everything works out for the best for you. Keeping you, your sister and family in prayer..


Anonymous said...

Diana, hope you are back home and that all is well. Thinking of you and your family.

Mer and Mo said...

Diana - thinking about you and hoping all is well and getting settled!! Many hugs to you!!!