Saturday, January 29, 2011

In the Bleak Midwinter

I find it necessary to just set everything aside once in a while and take some fun, exploring time.

This afternoon we did that.  Not that we hadn't been to this spot before.  But never in winter.  Today we were amused by some form of pheasant.  They crossed the drive in front of our car and lined up at the door like they were waiting for a restaurant to open.  Several peered in the window, but mostly they squawked incessantly.  I don't know if that's because they were darn hungry and were overdue a feeding, or if they were quite perturbed that our car was somewhat blocking their exit from the doorway.  Nevertheless, an amusing flock.

After our visit through New England Biolabs, we took the long route home...oceanside.  Along the coast through Beverly, Pride's Crossing, Manchester, Magnolia and Gloucester.  What wasted the entire afternoon in driving and sightseeing was a needed mid-winter break.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Rest

So...his commendation reads as follows:
United States Pacific Fleet
Flagship of the Commander Third Fleet

The Commander THIRD Fleet, United States Pacific Fleet, 
takes pleasure in commending

for service as set forth in the following

"For outstanding service in the line of his profession as Chief Fire Controlman in the plotting room of a fast battleship throughout a difficult and especially successful bombardment of vital enemy industrial shore installations in the Japanese Empire on the night of 17-18 July 1945.  By his skill and initiative in the performance of his exacting duties during this bombardment he contributed directly and significantly to the success of his ship in inflicting substantial damage upon the enemy.  His conduct was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."

W.F. Halsey
Admiral, U. S. Navy
Mom and Dad at the mess table, Mom and 'A' at Dad's bunk, Dad at the controls
Now, I don't know if this is the same incident as the bombardment of the Hitachi Industrial area.  What I do know is that on one occasion the USS Alabama suffered a hit that disabled the electrical system for the 12 inch guns.  The command of those guns was my dad's responsibility.  In order to continue firing, he personally maintained the electrical connection...literally...kind of 'grab this wire with the left hand and the other wire with the right hand'...and don't worry about me, don't touch me, and keep on firing guys!

Below is a post war photo taken at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, where my dad earned his degree in electrical engineering through the G. I. Bill.
Typing a letter to my Mom?  (Mom's picture on dad's desk)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Final Page


Friday, January 21, 2011

Eight and Nine

New to this?  Scroll down and find "A Letter Home" and start there.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

More of the Letter

Well, I couldn't keep you hanging with that stalled vehicle any longer.  Again, if you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to scroll down and start at the beginning..."A Letter Home".


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Two More Pages

For those of you new to reading this you might wonder about starting in the middle.  Please scroll down.  There are two previous posts to read before this one!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Pages Three and Four

continued from the last post...

A Letter Home

My mom has been going through old photographs and scrapbooks with the idea of trying to organize all the items.  Unearthed, so to speak, once again, are letters home from my dad from his Navy days.  I have scanned one of the longest...written on rice paper...that was composed while aboard the USS Alabama anchored in Tokyo Bay.  Here are the first two pages of eleven total.  Watch for the rest in the upcoming days.  You will need to click to enlarge the images to read.  Since this is the first attempt at publishing these on the blog, I'm hoping the enlargements will be legible.  If not, I suppose I shall have to transcribe the letter.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Saturday's Adventure

Snowshoed Path
'A' and I headed for a walk in the snow at the Moseley Estate and I do want to note a couple things.  They got a heck of a lot more snow 'off-island' than we did 'on-island'.  Easily close to two feet in some places.  Big icicles, too, hanging in rows from eaves.  Where it had been windy, the icicles were hanging at 45° angles.  It looked funny.

Anyway, being a Saturday and the first day of a three day weekend, the parking lot was jam packed at the Moseley Estate (Maudslay State Park).  Lots of cross-country skiers and families with sleds in tow.  I never realized that it would be that popular a destination with snow cover.

'A' and I struggled to walk down the lane to the area where Helen's house used to be.  We tried keeping to gently walking flat-footed in the path flattened by skis.  With a good deal of care only about every fifth or sixth footstep sank deep in the snow.  It made walking very difficult and tiring, and ankles and legs began to ache by the time we had reached the house site.  Having endured enough of that walking nonsense, we turned to head back to paved road and simpler exploration. 

Gate to the Main Road
On the way home we passed through Newbury.  We were delighted to read a couple signs directing to the Tree Burning Bash!  Evidently the town of Newbury allows residents to drop off their Christmas trees at a local field where they are then stacked.  Saturday night was the massive bonfire 'burn'.  Sounds like a pretty cool tradition.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


That about says half of it.

It was snowing like crazy when I got out of bed yesterday morning.  I made a quick check and was delighted to see that the town HAD NOT plowed the back drive.  FINALLY, they got the message!  I went out after breakfast and started phase one of the big clearing out.  The snow was wet and heavy and really hard to shovel, especially where the plow had gone by out in front.  I shoveled out my parking in back and the back drive so that I could get my truck in and out.  The backdoor neighbor came out with his snowblower and finished off removing the plow-by at the intersection with the road (Dodd's Lane).  All was neat and tidy and I was very pleased.  I went out front to finish clearing the last half of mom's parking.

It was then that the little articulated plow started up the neighboring drive.  Oh, Nononononono!  He backed out.  Phew.  Then he got a running start and went up and around!  I dropped my shovel and ran through the snow to the back drive and caught him just as he paused at the bottom.  He opened his window.

I yelled over the engine noise, "You're not supposed to be plowing back here.  It's a private drive!  I was just down at the office on Monday reminding them."

"The director told me to be sure to plow this," he replied.

"It's private property and it's getting all torn up, if you insist on plowing it the town will be getting a repair bill."  He shrugged and continued on leaving clods of driveway macadam in his wake and huge boulders of frozen snow strewn throughout the previously cleared and neat drive.  The drive was now impassable as he also piled tons of snow across the majority of the intersection with Dodd's Lane.  I was fuming and went inside to ask my mom to call the DPW office.

No one was manning the surprise.  But either they have caller ID and noticed 4 phone calls from the same number, or more likely the plow driver went and told the director that he'd met up with resistance in the form of a crazy lady who didn't want her driveway plowed, because within a half hour I had a phone call from the director of the DPW.  He asked a few questions and claimed that the driver had misunderstood his directions...whatever...I asked that since they had plowed, could they neaten up the mess they left behind.

Within 15 minutes two DPW trucks arrived, one with a plow.  The first truck was evidently driven by the director who surveyed the situation and spoke to the adjoining neighbor.  The plow was driven by the foreman(?), a nice guy who was muttering, "We aren't supposed to be plowing this," over and over as he walked down the drive to meet me at the bottom!

When he met up with me he repeated it, "We aren't supposed to be plowing this...but that neighbor that the director is talking to called and asked if we were going to and..."

"You can go ahead and plow her driveway if you want!  I don't care.  But don't plow this, it's getting all torn up with the blade!"

"I don't want to plow her driveway!" was his response.

So no more plowing of the back drive.  The director's excuse was that he told the plow driver to be sure to plow between house numbers 3 and 5 (Dodd's Lane)...which he did.  But he mistakenly thought the director meant also between numbers 5 and 7...or mistook them for 3 and 5.  Doesn't matter.  Only two things matter...they won't be plowing my back drive any longer...yay!  But even after they 'cleaned up' the residual mess that they had left behind, they still left half my drive blocked with a frozen solid, four foot high, pile of snow.

Spring is coming...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

White on White

White In White - chill of winter
It's on it's way folks.  Every indication is that we are to receive between 10 and 15 inches of snow beginning in the wee morning hours tomorrow.  This on top of the unexpected 6 inches of last Sunday morning.  New snow on top of old snow.  It'll look pretty and fresh for a couple of hours.  Then the plows and sand/salt trucks will start making their rounds and the pristine white will take on shades of ugly gray and brown.  Seems to be guaranteeing hours of shoveling.  The first removal will be immediately after breakfast.  Another clearing just before lunch...and so on throughout the storm.

Have I ever mentioned?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Have I Ever Mentioned...

Cattitude...yes, I'm grumpy even with a winter coat
that I hate snow?  Not a precisely accurate statement.  I hate having to shovel snow.  And I have to shovel a lot of area.  Mom's wide driveway, mom's crushed stone parking area, mom's front walk and steps, the back walk, the deck, my crushed stone drive, my steps.  At least the 6-8 inches that we were not supposed to get last night is fairly light and fluffy. 

The meteorologists should have stuck with their original forecast.  They changed it from 6+ inches for our area to 0 or a dusting.  Last night's late news included word that 'the event' was more snow for the weekend.  Done.  When I woke up this morning I noticed, from my angle still in bed, that there was a light coating of white on a nearby rooftop.  Oh, no worries...just a dusting.  Then there was a rumble that got louder and louder. 

A snowplow?

I got out of bed and looked out the window.  There it all was, waiting for digging out...and a sizable plow-in, too!  The dread felt was soon replaced by a gnawing irritation.  The town had plowed the back drive...again.  They are supposed to stay off of it.  I started a pot of coffee and bundled up in snow gear to start shoveling.  I checked the back drive...yep, they've dug up more pavement.  That adds another chore to tomorrow's list...a trip to the DPW office to complain.  Obviously they forgot that they agreed to stay off my property and drive.

I propose a compromise.  It can snow all it wants long as it doesn't accumulate on drives, walks, or streets...and it's 80°F while it does it.  (I'll settle for 60°...but don't tell)

Saturday, January 08, 2011

December Blizzard?

I've been told that I promised to post some photos of the storm that we had back in December.  Honestly the photos didn't come out that great.  It's hard to capture the wind, the cold, and the bite in the air...not to mention the damage caused by high winds combined with a super high tide. 

The following photos were taken toward the end of the storm and the day after...while trying not to let too much salt get to the camera lens!

The decking at the end of T-Wharf ripped up by the tide and waves

Debris at Front Beach and torn apart railing

Surf at Front Beach the day after

Sand coated snow plastering the old Hearse House
We didn't get as much snow as the predicted 18 inches but 8 - 10 inches was plenty to coat our neighborhood.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

When Even Memories Are Gone...Part Five

With this post my hope is to become up to date.  More will happen.  That's inevitable.  But for now...

Ann decided to stay on 24/7 with Marion in exchange for room and board.  This did not make me happy at all.  My thoughts were that Marion would have been better served to continue with Ann as only a day care giver and to have one or two licensed home health care providers cover the additional hours.  Marion's limited income and a small life insurance policy from my cousin would carry that type of care for quite some time.  Again, there was nothing I could do to change what was unfolding in SC.

During the SC events I had made a phone call to Marion's step-son in New England.  He was shocked to hear the news and immediately made a call to his brother in Arizona.  I didn't even know that she had a second step-son!  There was a good deal of rumor flying during this time frame with even the Arizona step-son's ex-wife phoning me with details of the happenings in SC!  I never knew what was accurate and what wasn't.  MT just glossed everything over.  The interest from Arizona diminished when a trip to SC by that party was derailed.  A good thing, I think.  It would only have upset my Aunt Marion to have a memory-loss-created stranger trying to challenge Ann.

My mom continued to phone Marion at least once each week to check on her.  Recently Marion hasn't been feeling well.  Her complaints include a bad cold and cough, poor vision in her left eye, and pain in her left foot causing her mobility to suffer.  Regardless, she was taken to Ann's family home for the Christmas holiday.

On January 2nd I received another email from the neighbor, Fred.  Ann's family had moved into my aunt's house the day before.  Teenagers and husband had joined Ann.  They were evidently quite comfy using my aunt's van for their move in and more recently the teenage son has taken to driving it.

I left another message on MT's voice mail.  He had promised to call me after a December 20th meeting with Ann, my aunt, and several other parties and not phoned.  I'd left a message for him then.  And now my second message was ignored, as well.  Now I had no idea if he was aware of the 'move-in'.  In the beginning he had assured me that that kind of thing would not be way.  I waited a couple days more hoping that MT would phone.  Before that time was up I had another phone call.  This time from Fred's wife.  She had spoken with Ann and Ann had bragged that she had gotten Marion to change her will, leaving everything to Ann.  The take over was complete.

I made another phone call to MT and once again got his voice mail.  I didn't leave a message this time.  I made another call his supervisor, Tina.  Evidently there is plenty of office space at the Department of Social Services as she wasn't in her office either.  I left a voice mail message with some brief background info and requested that she please return my call.  That was on January 3rd.  She hasn't called.

Last night I wrote a rather terse email to the Lt. Governor of South Carolina.  In the email I expressed my dismay that DSS and Adult Protective Services of Remote County had been so misleading that they had put my aunt in jeopardy of financial exploitation.  I also pointed out that they had lacked courtesy to the extent of not even returning a phone call.

There is little that I can do at this point.  We will continue to phone my aunt to stay in touch and to keep a check on her situation.  All I have left to wish is that my aunt lives to 120 or more.  May she make Ann and Ann's family earn that house, van, truck, and Harley.

(post script:  I seem to have forgotten to mention the funeral director.  He gathered together a bit of information to write my cousin's obituary.  Didn't get it correct.  Had a glaring 'coincidental' error for where my cousin was born.  Used the same town name as where he died...then added to that a completely wrong state!  I emailed a request that it be corrected, at least on the website.  He commented that no one new the correct information...yep, no one there!  My aunt wouldn't have remembered where her son was born, or that he had never even lived in Massachusetts.  However, my mother had supplied all the correct information to the funeral director...on the day Paul died.  I hate it when people lie rather than just admit a mistake.)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

When Even Memories Are Gone...Part Four

The list of participants in this story continues to grow.

So far there's
Paul, who failed to make legal arrangements for his mother's care if he should die first...and he did.  He also failed to distribute or notify 'others' of his wishes and/or his will.

Marion, who only wants to stay in her home and will agree to anything for that to happen. 

Fred and his wife, concerned neighbors who are trying their best to keep an eye on the events across the street.

Ann, the day care giver who has seized the opportunity to better her status by using Marion's fear of having to leave her home to her (Ann's) advantage.

A doctor who either failed to recognize dementia or chose to ignore it.
MT, the Adult Protective Services case worker, who has made statements that he can't back up and chooses to believe whatever Ann chooses to tell him, even when it is pointed out that he is being lied to by omission.

And the elder law attorney that I can't afford.

Now add in more players over the next few days.  In upcoming posts you'll read about Ann's family, a funeral director, Marion's step-sons (and one's ex), the Adult Protective Services supervisor, Tina, and a SC politician.

Monday, January 03, 2011

When Even Memories Are Gone...Part Three

Ann took my Aunt Marion to the doctor's appointment.  Case worker MT's hope was that the doctor would recommend that Marion stay in the hospital for a few days to get an infection under control.  Once there her general condition could be evaluated and long-term care arrangements then be made.

But that didn't happen.  The doctor said Marion was fine, healthy, alert and quite capable of doing well with assisted living.  He gave her some 'tests', like counting backwards from 100, and declared that she was competent to make her own decisions.  What he failed to assess was her memory of everyday things.  He failed to realize that she thinks she lives in Florida, or that she doesn't recognize her own house in a picture.  That she can remember some oft repeated stories from childhood, but not what happened a few days ago.  That she, herself, admits she doesn't know what is going on currently.

So Marion was sent on her way with Ann, and Ann saw her chance.  By that same afternoon, Ann had Marion at an attorney's office where Marion signed over Power of Attorney to Ann.  Within one week of my cousin's death Ann had started her journey toward taking over...everything.  On December 7th, the Power of Attorney was registered with the county deed office. 

Unaware that any of this take-over was happening, I had contacted an elder law attorney in Remote County, SC.  I wanted to be sure that there was no chance of Ann using Marion in just that manner.  (During the first call that my mom had made to my aunt after Paul's death, Ann made a point of stating, "You know, Marion will give me anything I want to stay here with her.")  My thoughts were that Ann could stay on in her previous capacity of daytime care-giver and a licensed home health care provider could cover the remaining hours and be the 'official' caregiver. The attorney informed me that as an out-of-state relative there was not even a slim chance that the court would listen to me (or grant guardianship to me).  Particularly since Marion's doctor had declared her competent.  The lawyer thought my best bet would be to work with MT and Adult Protective Services...or pay him a $3000.00 retainer and $225.00/hour to start a court battle.

The latter was not and is not an option that I can afford.

So, of course, when I heard of the Power of Attorney, I called MT.  He was unaware.  He said he'd talk to 'them'.  He was evidently satisfied with Ann's explanation that wasn't conveyed to me.  He did say that he had explained that there was to be no 'questionable' behavior...all money was to be used for Marion's 'off' check amounts...receipts to be retained.  He told me that all seemed in order.  That Marion seemed happy, clean, and well.

But there would be more emails arriving in my Inbox from the neighbors.  Ann was not finished yet.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

When Even Memories Are Gone...Part Two

The events of the morning of December related to me by Marion's neighbor, Fred.

Ann arrived as she usually did each weekday at 7:30 a.m. and found the door locked.  Normally Paul would have left it unlocked when he headed for work at 6:30.  Ann knew that Marion would still be in bed, waiting for her morning help, but where was Paul?  Maybe he had overslept.  Using her cell phone, Ann phoned the house.  She could hear the ringing inside but no one answered.  She looked in a few windows.

At about that time Fred noticed that Ann was wandering around outside the house and he walked across the street to see what was going on.  Ann told Fred about the locked door and no answer upon phoning.  Fred told her to call 911.

It took a few minutes for both the sheriff's department and the ambulance to get to Marion's house.  They live in a very rural area, quite a distance from even the smallest of towns.  While awaiting their arrival, Fred had called the guard house (a gated community) to notify the guard of emergency vehicles arriving.  Once they arrived, the EMT's broke a window to the garage to gain access and entered through a door from there into the house.  First they checked to see that Marion was alright and Ann then stayed with her. A sheriff's deputy went upstairs to look for Paul.  The deputy found Paul flat on his back in his room.  He was dressed for work but had never made it downstairs that day.  Once the coroner was summoned and had opportunity to check Paul's medical report, he determined that Paul had died from a massive coronary.

Of course by then the house was full of officials.  Ann was keeping Marion busy and Fred's wife, Janet, had come to the house to help.  A case worker from Adult Protective Services of the Department of Social Services was called as it was noted that Marion could not be left on her own. The case worker, MT, arrived and suggested that Marion be taken to the hospital for temporary care.  At that point Ann and Janet offered to stay 24/7 with least through the weekend (5 days). 

Meanwhile, back here, the phone was ringing off the hook.  First the coroner, then the funeral director and the case worker, then Marion's neighbors.  They were all relieved to have located a relative from the names, addresses and phone numbers found at Marion's house.  Marion couldn't really remember who all the people were that were listed in her book, but my Mom's name had sounded familiar to her.  Both my mom and I agreed that giving Marion the chance to stay home with Ann and Janet caring for her would be the best temporary option.  When I talked to MT, he informed me that a doctor's appointment had been scheduled for Marion during which long term care arrangements would be determined.  MT assured me that Marion would be looked after and that he would check with me and keep me informed.

I told him that I would be in touch with him that Friday afternoon, after Marion's doctor's appointment.

Friday arrived and that's when things started to go awry.  A few days later and the situation would be worse...and all of it happening under MT's (not so)watchful eye.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

When Even Memories Are Gone...Part One

I wasn't going to start this story tonight as I am far too tired.  But then an email arrived and, after reading it, I thought if I didn't start writing the story I would forget some of the details.  I'll tell you right now, some names have been changed.  I'll also add that I'm not going to delve into details of family history...the who, what, and whys of the characters of the story.

Part One...

When I arrived home from volunteer work at the historical society on December first, my mom had some startling news.  She had received a phone call from the coroner in Remote County, South Carolina.  My 65 year old cousin, Paul, had been found dead in his bedroom.  While of itself shocking news, for me it began an exploration in to probate law and elder care that continues one month later.

When my uncle died, about 15 years ago, Paul had moved from Connecticut to Florida to help out his mother, my Aunt Marion.  Several years later, Cousin Paul and Aunt Marion decided to have a house built in Remote County, South Carolina and moved there from Florida.  My aunt and my dad (sister and brother) were quite close and even though there was then some miles between them, my folks would stop to visit twice each year when they traveled the cyclical follow-the-sun of 'snowbirds'.  Additionally, my cousin and my aunt would visit my parents here in the north or spend the Christmas holidays at my house in Florida.

In recent years, as my aunt aged...she's going to be 94 in February...Paul had to find 'day care' for his mother while he was at work.  A few years back she had suffered a stroke and that, plus other conditions, have meant that Marion is unable to care for herself.  She needs someone to do the cooking, to help her with bathing and dressing, and to help her get in and out of bed and up out of a chair.  She uses a walker to get about once she's on her feet. There are some other details of care needed, as well.  With limited funds, Paul hired the wife of a co-worker to provide that care while he was at work. Her name is Ann.  

So now, just a month ago, Paul dropped dead of an apparent heart attack leaving his 93 year old mother.  A situation he never expected would happen.  Who would?  From my phone conversations with him over the past couple of years, he was trying to get everything sorted out legally.  And while his mother was primary beneficiary in his will, he asked for all legally necessary information making me secondary beneficiary.  Two years later and all of that became irrelevant.  More irrelevant than I could have imagined, and it has led me to a new level of understanding on what is needed to see that your wishes are indeed carried out after death.

This is not a story of inheritance.  It is a story of the failure of at least two systems.  The legal system and  Adult Protective Services.

More to come in the following days....