Watching my mother being abused by a horribly corrupt judicial system, uncaring politicians, greedy attorneys and family members that are supposed to love one another has truly been a life changing experience for me. I worked hard to save her from being placed in nursing homes. The first two times I managed to bring her home; the third time was just too much for her and the fear took her life.
My grandchildren, as young as they are, remember their great-grandma. The guardian, Mary Giordano, did everything she could to isolate my mother from them and from me. They do not yet know what happened but they will. This is not a deep dark family secret; it is America’s dirty little secret.
While for me the tears still appear at the oddest moment, the what ifs still linger in my mind and at times keep me up at night, the long lasting effects of guardianship abuse was also life changing for my daughter. It is often said that some good ultimately comes out of bad and in my Mom’s case, I believe this to be true.
by Tara Wilson
November 6, 2014
Normally, as parents to young children we are concerned with protecting our little ones; whether that is from falling, the common cold, or which guardian would raise them in the event of our incapacity or passing. As our children get older and learn to protect themselves, we are often reminded that we need to look out for our other loved ones as well. So while our children are becoming more independent, our aging parents and grandparents are in need of more support and protection. We fall into that “sandwich generation” where we are caring for our children and our own parents.
When I was pregnant with my son I began to notice that my grandmother was starting to forget more and more. I vividly remember the day that I thought, she needs help now. I was sitting at my office desk overlooking the Boston Harbor late one morning and picked up the phone to call her as I always did. She was watching “The Price Is Right” with volume so high that it sounded as if the tv was in my own office, not her kitchen 250 miles away. My grandmother, who worked as a teller at Chemical Bank and who managed her family’s finances like a cross between a CFO and extreme couponer for over 50 years, told me she missed a credit card payment. While the credit card fee was only $29.00 and the interest was minimal for her purchases at Kohl’s and Macy’s, it was unheard of for her. I offered to call the credit card company and the fees were waived within minutes. However, this was the beginning of the end for the financial astuteness that ruled her life.
A few months later I went on to have a healthy baby boy, my grandmother’s first great-grandson. I lived and breathed my new role as a mother, loving and caring for him and making certain he was fully protected.At the same time, my mother took on the role of caretaker for my grandmother. In order for my mother to help with my grandmother’s medical and financial care, taking her to doctor’s appointments and balancing her checkbook, my mother needed legal authority to do so. My grandmother signed a Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy when she realized she couldn’t quite handle everything. While I tried to give my grandmother other advice, my grandmother believed she would be fine with the minimal planning she put in place before I entered law school; she and my grandfather had prepared simple wills naming each other as beneficiaries and their three children as successors. Unfortunately, within a few months, my grandmother got very sick and my mother’s siblings had a very different view on how my grandmother should be cared for (or not cared for as the case may be).
Here is the story of how my grandmother went from a caring mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and widow to a victim of an abusive court-appointed guardian who took her freedom, her assets, her home, and her life.
During this entire ordeal I was taking care of my infant son and became pregnant with my second child. As if raising an infant wasn’t tiring enough, the birth of my daughter brought me to a whole new level of exhaustion. I was of little help to my mother and grandmother; the distance, the babies, and my fear of the abusive people involved in my grandmother’s life. My mother fought harder than anyone to help her mother and is still fighting for other victims of elder abuse. It is one of the biggest regrets in my life that I was not able to be there for my own grandmother while she fell victim to an all too common and pervasive form of elder abuse that ultimately killed her.
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