Wednesday, March 06, 2019

X Marks The Spot

I have found that as ten years have passed, I don't think about my mother as much as I used to but I can't escape her stamp on my life. I have great empathy for families experiencing the spiral downward which claimed the life of Mom. Alzheimer's presents families with problems that have no prediction pattern. One thing we would have done differently with our folks would be to have taken a more active role in knowing exactly where all their paperwork, insurance policies, titles, etc were kept. This is an example from November of 2007.

It was surreal, almost a scene out of the Twilight Zone. Last week, my brothers and I worked on selling our folks' car to Susan and Mike, long-time friends of Mom and Dad. We had a problem. We searched the house but could not come up with the title of ownership to the 1996 Mercury Marquis. We asked Dad and he was positive it was in a bank safety deposit box. Scott found a key to the box but we weren't sure at what branch it was held. After a few phone calls, he found the location. Scott explained our situation and the bank explained the procedures for opening the box. We drove to St. Luke's Hospital and picked up documentation of the power of attorney, which is jointly shared by the three sons, and headed to the bank. The staff could not have been more helpful. However, when they they looked at the document we produced, they found it was valid in medical cases but not in this financial situation. We explained our dilemma with our folks' conditions and our leaving town the next day. They were very apologetic but their hands were tied. In desperation, I asked if Mom, who is in a nursing home only a mile away, could sign for the box. We explained her advanced Alzheimer's and told them she would have no understanding of what she was doing but the bank employees agreed it would be acceptable. We had no choice.

When we arrived at the nursing facility, Mom was eating, with assistance. When she finished, we bundled her up and took her to Scott's van. Alzheimer's victims sometimes forget how to do such simple things as get into a vehicle but we managed to get her situated. Back at the bank, we slowly walked her back to the desk of the lady in charge. Do you ever feel like you are being watched? Everyone in the bank recognized Mom's condition and felt compelled to look. The woman put the necessary paperwork on the desk in front of Mom. Scott held a pen in Mom's right hand and guided her through making an X on two different lines. The lady helping us very discreetly averted her eyes: I think it was very difficult for her to witness and she granted Mom her dignity. With Mom's written permission, the safety deposit box was opened and we found what we were looking for, along with some other financial and family papers. As we retraced our steps back to the doors, each bank employee who had been involved wished us the best. I was greatly touched by their kindness.

We are constantly finding completely unpredictable snags in our efforts to get Mom and Dad moved to Kansas. This was simply one more chapter. The bank was bound by their regulations but they also had mercy on us in our situation. They did what they were required to do but were extremely gracious to our family in the process. Sometimes, we get so enamored with the rules that we forget to have compassion. I appreciate why it was hard to get into the safety deposit box- it was for my parents' protection. In the end, they required another type of protection...and they received it. In Matthew 12, Jesus is angry with the religious leaders for making the Sabbath with its rules a god unto itself. The Savior quotes Hosea 6:6 and implies the Pharisees would be well-served to learn the meaning of God's teaching, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Rules are important in society and in the realm of religion but they can never trump mercy. In Mom's case, mercy turned out to be the X factor.

Applicable quote of the day:
"Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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