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February 23, 2006. Back from Texas

Jodie's Gone

Today is Anna and Andrew's birthday and I wish I were celebrating with them. Instead I'm still in this mourning period where everything feels forced and I'm so tired.

My grandmother, Jodie Lee Dorris, passed away on the 12th after going in to the hospital on the 10th. She's had Pancreatic Cancer for about 9 months and I feel lucky to have seen her 3 times in that period.

The funeral service was great. All the family came out and we had an outdoor service under the pines in Huntsville where the fabled Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is rumored to exist in secrecy. The irish side of my family is from Huntsville dating back to the Spanish days of Texas. We started a cemetery in 1852 and that's where my grandmother is buried, right next to her mother and father and many of her 10 brothers and sisters. Only 3 sisters still live and they were all there at the service.

Uncle Rob hosted the service as a woodpecker let out it's childlike cry in the nearby woods; we did not have a minister although my cousin is a baptist minister and Jodie was a baptist, but she specifically asked not to have the ceremony led by anyone but Rob and Gordon (a cousin).

Everyone was really broken up, most of all Anthony and myself, the two oldest grandchildren. She really spoiled us rotten and now we've got a big empty void.

The worst part is that in many ways the grounding elements of my life have been severed. In addition to losing my grandmother who raised me, I no longer have a place to call home since the Scottsdale house is part of the estate and going to be sold as soon as possible.

Now, my Aunt Gwen is the biggest family problem since she is still in the house living with rats and not cleaning up after herself, basically just doing her hoarding obsessive/compulsive thing all over the house. I've got millions of stories about Gwen, but the bottom line is that she is insane, but won't admit it so we've just let her be for 55 years. She needs treatment, but won't get it unless some things change.

The prevailing opinion in the family is that we need to remove her by force, but compassion has prevailed so far. My grandfather has the money to take her in, but isn't likely to do so. He might put her up in an apartment, but I suspect she is not capable of living by herself in any situation except assisted care. She's not old enough to get elderly care and unless we can get her declared as mentally disabled she can't get assisted living help that way. So we are stuck.

Luckily, I don't have to do anything. Unluckily, I can't do anything. I just have\get to sit back and watch it all unfold. I've tried to have my opinions heard, but so far my words like silent raindrops fell.

Hello darkness my old friend
I've come to talk with you again.
Fools I say you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might reach you.

Gwen is an issue. She needs to leave the house and there are only four ways that she can do it. I list these in the order of least likely to most likely.

    She can willingly get herself a new apartment and move out.
    She can willingly go see doctors and have herself declared mentally disabled.
    The family can somehow call the shrink SWAT team and have them take her away.
    We can have her forcefully removed as a trespasser.

I don't really have enough room or time to discuss all the possibilities of each outcome, but I will analyze the most likely outcome a little bit.

If she gets thrown out, she'll be living on the street and will end up at my grandfather's out of necessity. He won't let her live on the street, so he'll end up finding an apartment for her to spend the next 10 years until she can move into an assisted living place for the elderly. Of course, he may decide that renting a place for her for 10 years is a bad investment and buy her a new house, and since this will all happen when we are selling the house she currently resides in, perhaps he will buy her that house, my house. Gwen will then own my house, or more likely it will be in his name and we'll be looking to do all of this again when he passes away.

If he thinks long term and considers his own mortality, then he will put her in an apartment and leave her enough money in his will to pay for her apartment for the rest of her life.

If however he realizes that Gwen is insane, which he does, but may not know the full extent, then he will know that she can't live alone anywhere and may take other actions, which takes us back to option 3, the Shrink SWAT.

I think this is the better of the two forceful options because it doesn't place my grandfather into a horridly stressful situation where he is spending all his energy (which he doesn't have) doing work for Gwen. Since no one else in the family seems to be researching it, I will look into what Shrink SWAT options the family has. The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls.