Elder mistreatment? Dealing with such info after a death.

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Sorry for the length of this, but I need to talk to someone and don't know where to turn or do so. I've looked under grieving, etc, etc. and will continue searching.

My post is regarding my recently deceased mother-in-law. My husband (before we met) travelled due to his job. But visited and interacted normally whenever home from assignments and he got the chance. He also did so by phone. Later on a job contract took him to Canada for several years. He eventually settled in Canada starting his own business.

After a number of years, he had decided he wanted to move home again, to be near family and friends. He had always kept contact of calls, letters, presents, invitations for visits and accomadations to his brother and family, and further offers for paying for travel and anything else for visits by his mother. No offers were taken up. Second to wanting to be near his family and friends was the idea that by moving home then, although his mother was still independent and well, in the future should she need help, assistance, care, and companionship he would be able to do/help and know more by being near, then from Canada.

My husband sold his business he had started and built up, and made inquiries regarding moving back to the States. He inquired about vehicle emissions and bringing his possessions and car etc. with him, and what else would be necessary. He was still an American citizen and there were no problems in those areas according to the government representitive he spoke with.

However next, when he spoke to his only brother regarding his decision to come home, and was going to discuss home/apt. prices, availability and other necessary information, and arrangements the brother said Suddenly without known cause came right out and said he wouldn't advize my husband to move back home. My husband asked why and was told the reason was that he wasn't welcome or wanted back there. My husband was devistated, learning that nobody wanted him around or at home.

Due to that discussion, my husband feeling gravely rejected and abandoned, he gave up his plans to move home. He did go on writing cards and letters, provided long distance call me free cards etc. to his mother, and answered any letters that came from his mother or brother's family. He had a second private line installed which was given to his family only so he knew to answer it anytime it rang. At some point he also provided large sums of moneys (his retirement savigns/stocks) for his mother's health,and other uses. He offered for his mother to move to Canada with him at various times, but she didn't wish to. He accepted that and understood possible reasons why since that was home and where her friends and some family were.

As time went on, the distancing by family and his mother's declining communication skills, widened the gap somewhat, but not to the extent that has been claimed from what we now know.

Letters came regarding hearing problems and eye sight problems of his mother. The sister-in-law and brother took over more and more, separating him and building the distance. They instructed calls for the mother to be put through their home. Less and less my husband got to talk to his mother. The call me cards were never used once over all the years Mom supposedly had them. When the sister in law was questioned about that, the answer was Mom doesn't hear well and won't use the cards. My husband was frustrated but had trust in his family members to do what was best for Mom regardless how they felt about him.

His mother always told him he was too trusting. I agree. As I say communication was less and less but when it happened it always confirmed little to no problems going on for my mother-in-law. When his brother died suddenly, my husband's sister-in-law decided to sell her home and move her and the kids into Mom's home. Considering that Mom hadn't wanted to move to Canada, and my husband had been told he was unwanted there in person, my husband thought great at least Mom will have company, even if she doesn't want it to be me.

I came along in 1992, met, became friends, dated and married my husband. The situation was explained to me the way he knew it to be, on the many times I asked about doing more for his Mom and us and her being more involved in each other's lives.

Again cards and letters continued on my husbands side of the relationship, I also wrote letters and cards for him, when his arthritis caused difficulty with writing. Calls lessoned due to his being prevented from directly talking to Mom. He felt more and more discouraged by lack of effort from home, and possible obstructions by family. My husband also became financially strapped due to the monies he turned over to his Mom, and a disabling condition that developed which caused him to medically retire. So financially he was unable to do things to the degree he once could and had for Mom. He became wheel chair dependent, and living below poverty level. But he kept up contact on this side, whether or not it was recieved.

Right up to the end, the only news we recieved about Mom was she had unavoidable problems with hearing and sight due to age, was slowing down in life, but was o.k. other then that. There was a second surgery in 86, but it went fine and all was o.k. My husband was informed of it after the fact, and I wasn't on the scene yet but later read the letter.

It was explained that she would be going back to work at her job soon after that surgery(that was at age 64).

My husband did all he could from afar to keep up family communication and relations, which was all he believed they wanted if even that much contact. At one point we had to move, but we gave the address, wrote, gave a phone number etc. as before. For part of that 18 month period we couldn't afford a phone but gave the phone number of a nearby close relative and again insured of the address being known and to call for any problems or reason such as just wanting to talk and we'd get ahold of them right back.

My husband phoned one day and managed to get ahold of his mother for the first time in a long time. The sister-in-law wasn't there or didn't catch the phone first. Although mom asked him to speak louder then is normal, Mom heard him just fine. When he asked his sister-in-law about this, her answer was that you don't know what she is or isn't hearing or understanding. My husband new better as she appropriately answered and replied to the conversation and held conversation of her own. Mom let him know in that call that my husband's sister in law had gotten re-married and moved her new husband into Mom's home, and that was why she hadn't kept contact for the mother, as she was busy. We found that out 1 and a 1/2 years after she got remarried.

My husband was upset,and questioned what was or wasn't going on to himself and me. But didn't know if we were reading something into the situation or not, and didn't know how to find out more from here while not being financially able to go there. The not wanting to believe it stage came in on his part, because of the obstacles he couldn't find a way around. At that point we were told the only health problem other then common colds was that Mom was concerned that she might soon need to use a walker to help her get around better. This was at age 96, and we were glad to know that although it was an issue she was worried about, and we sympathized and empathized with her over, we also thought, if that was the most of her problems at such advanced age, that was great.

We got help from government in moving back closer to the area to where we moved from, and got settled, paying off debts we ran up to do so that weren't covered, as well as trying to assist my mother in her health problems. It seemed sad and unfortunate that due to rejection by family, and due to my mother-in-law's supposed choices and preferences that we didn't have the opportunity or privilidge of helping her out or having her involved in our lives more, as we wanted and as we did with my family.

Mom died several weeks ago, and contradictory to what we were told all along, we were now told Mom had been in and out of hospitals and coma's for 2 or 3 years. We were stunned and hurt and angered at the conflicting info we were recieving. It had been a little over a year since the phone conversation and we had sent cards containing letters since then with our address, and phone as well as having given clear instructions and the alternate phone number and address to be used ,before and during when we moved. When my husband mentioned we didn't have any pictures of his brother's kids in reply to his sister-in-law describing them looking like his brother, she said she had no way of contacting us for two years. My husband was upset and angry but didn't want to argue.

Later on, after other things were taken care of we were then told there was no will and everything went to the sister-in-law by Mom's wishes.

After the conflict of information and other behaviors we had questioned somewhat but had no real proof of, we talked to people here in we knew and the government.

It was their opinion, especially due to the fact that Mom was a legal secretary for most of her life, that there must be a will, and more concerns came up. We found out from another lawyer in her home town, that Mom's former employer was still alive but only practicing part time as a counselor for and under another local law firm. We located and inquired about the will and the situation with him.

The devastating news came, and my husband didn't get much info after that as he was in shock. The shock was not due to the existance or lack of a will, or inheritance that was lost. The shock came when we were told that from the meeting (s) the lawyer/employer/friend had with Mom, he said that she felt that she had been abandoned by her son. We don't know when this started, what caused it, or what set it off. I guess we could find out a bit more of when, by finding out when the changes were made legally by Mom. Although it likely would have gone on for some time before she took those steps.

We are feeling crushed. We don't know what to do with those feelings or the bits of information. It hurts, angers and saddens, and confuses us so much to know that Mom thought she wasn't wanted and felt abandoned. We know why my husband, and later he and I never moved there or insisted that she move near or in with us after years of my husband trying. We figure we now may know, the truth of her feelings about my husband having wanted to move back home years ago. That is bad enough, and very sad if we both wanted each other in our lives, and it was taken from all of us by his brother and his sister-in-law. She did have grand children and great grandchildren in her life at least, and we are glad for that and the value she placed in it.

But the added question and pain was/is why other then his not moving home to live, did Mom feel abandoned. Why the cards, letters, calls and other efforts of love and caring, the financial help, the request for more contact, and the previous request to have her move closer were over looked or ignored as being actions of our love and caring and worry and how we really felt.

The only thing we can come up with is that either Mom wanted and needed more (us moving there) which we were under the belief that she didn't. Or that due to the sister-in-law she wasn't getting the messages, letters, cards, calling cards, pictures,etc. Or parts were left out of the reading of them, or changed.

We just feel so bad to know how uncared for by her son Mom felt. We would also like to find out (despite our fear and anger of what we'll learn) more on what all the "#*&%" happened or Mom went through over these years. I spend my time crying more and more, questioning and wondering what all was done and what could have been done. I spend time going back and forth between trying to be supportive and objective, about the situation and for my husband, and then praying that my mother-in-law is up in heaven kicking my brother-in-laws ass all over the place for what he has done to us all.

Since we no longer believe that our former sister-in-law had anyones interest but her own in mind, neither did my husbands brother for that matter, we know of few ways to get honest and more detailed answers. We don't know or think she/they were abusive to Mom in other ways, unless it was financially, but we are also starting to realize how much we didn't and don't know. Regardless of what legally constitues or clinically describes what is or isn't abuse, we feel that there has been abuse emotionally towards Mom, and my husband, and somewhat towards me. Lessor for me as I've been with him and through this for 8 years unlike him and his mother. Financial abuse or advantage taken is also believed. I'd like to find out ways of dealing with the emotional affects of what we have found out has happened, and am trying to figure out ways to find additional accurate information.

We also found out(from the obituary in the newspaper), that Mom was paying for a companion from a local service for seniors, which we figured that was the sole purpose for our sister-in-law being there in the first place. Perhaps they can help us with information. It would have been nice and morally right for them to have done so back when it could have and would helped Mom, and us when she was alive. However we still feel an emotional and moral need and desire to know and try to work through or deal with whatever she did or didn't go through.

We never knew the need for our intervention, nor of any service that we could have taken advantage of to keep us informed of how Mom was honestly doing or what she wanted. But with what we are very slowly learning of now, we wish and feel that someone should have notified us somehow of both the medical/health/living situation of Mom and of her feelings. No doctor's did so,no agency did so, her lawyer and former employer didn't do so, even though we don't know how long this went on, or when others knew about it. We also realize that other's couldn't help Mom and us, if Mom never gave them the information, of how to contact us. We never knew where Mom's rights of independance and privacy stopped and where our rights and wants out of love and caring, to take steps that may invaded her privacy from professionals started.

I wish we did know then or tried to find out, and we feel tremendous sorrow for Mom and anyone else be they the parent or family member, who has or will go through this ever. I/we question what we did or didn't do, we know the reason and still blame ourselves for part of it. It shouldn't be the way things happen.

I wish Mom had remembered how trusting her son was of people and gotten some message to us. I'll be looking for support or info groups for our situation, but any input or info gotten here is welcome and appreciated.

Lady Patrick.

-- Anonymous, March 12, 2000

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