You know, there's not a lot that get my blood boiling and my blood pressure soaring but yesterday that's what happened. Maybe you'd better just stop reading here...
Over my life my mother and I have argued very little especially since I only see her a month out of every year nowadays. Our relationship stays pretty level. There is one situation however, that is growing worse and we butted horns yesterday!
I don't know when the buzzards first started circling but for quite a few years Mother gives out donations to different causes. As she gets older it doesn't matter really what the organization is. They send her address stickers or calendars or note cards and she would automatically write out a check for $10 or $15 and send it to them. She must have been on twenty or thirty mailing lists! Then the telephoning started and daily she'd get people calling asking for a donation so she'd say yes and write out a check and send it off. Now there wasn't too much I could say about that. It is her money and she felt she was helping.
A few years ago Mother began to get forgetful about sending the checks off. They'd sit on the window sill gathering dust (along with other bills that had to be paid.) Marcy was the first to notice the vast numbers of organizations that Mother was donating to and how regularly the same organization would be contacting her. "She just sent a check two weeks ago!" One summer, when I was here, we suggested that she limit her donations to four or five organizations once or twice a year in a larger amount. (Just think of the postage she'd save!) This turned out to be a very touchy subject with her and it remains so to this day.
"It's my money! I can do what I want with it! You don't have any right telling me how to spend my money!" My mother has never been short tempered or argumentative so this reaction is really out of character for her. Can you hear me retort "If you've got so much money to throw around then throw it to my kids! They've got to figure out some way to get enough money together to go to college!"
This is where I'm not sure we're morally right or not. Marcy and I decided that she should just screen all of Mother's incoming mail (Mom can't walk up to the mailbox anyway) and just give her the adds, the personal mail, the magazines and one or two charities. (Just so Mom doesn't get suspicious.) We also decided that any mail Mother sent out, if it looked like a donation, to just tear it up. So you see, we are tricking her now. Mail fraud.
The next scene in this melodrama is that the people who phoned Mom for money realized that her checks weren't coming to them so they started sending people to collect the checks. Marcy hit the roof with this one because she doesn't want strange people driving back to the house knowing where a vulnerable old lady lives not to mention two young children. Marcy and Mom have had "discussions" about this too but Mother insists that people aren't bad and Marcy is making it all up. Mom puts her checks under her doormat.
Just in the two weeks I've been here I've confiscated three checks. I've deflected two telephone calls (I'm not in the house much) and Marcy has confronted two collectors. I've found letters under the doormat from the collectors who wanted to know why the check wasn't there "as promised".
We have politely asked the collectors to stop coming. They come back. Marcy has called the organizations. Usually tape recorded messages. One organization agreed to call off their collectors. The collector showed up at 10:00 last night and was very rude about the wasted trip he made! Marcy is no longer being polite. My brother stays out of it which makes Marcy angrier. We have shown Mother that she wrote two checks to the same organization only three days apart yet she doesn't want to believe that (even with proof!) and can't even remember that she wrote the check an hour ago!
I know... I'm ranting and raving now...
So, I guess today we'll try to get a phone block on Mother's phone. She is "with it" enough to know that we're doing something behind her back but she can't figure out what. (I've disconnected the phone for now.) Marcy keeps wanting to make her understand but I think that's a hopeless and upsetting scenario. Even if Mom does understand for a couple of hours she'll forget the next day and go back to writing checks. I wondered if we could give her a packet of false checks and let her write to her heart's content but I think she still would notice if they weren't her pretty, pre-addressed checks.
When Mother realizes we're "meddling" she gets upset (like yesterday) but she forgets the incident in an hour while I toss and turn all night and can't sleep. I really hate the conniving and trickery but Keion and Marcy and I do it because we love her and we don't want her to be taken advantage of.
Ok. I'm off now to sneak through her drawers and try to find a telephone bill with account numbers on it so we can stop in-coming calls... I hate this...