This is an absolutely true story Book Index(click on video to turn off music)
“The majority of Iraqi people want to live in a peaceful free world and we will find these people and bring them to justice.“ G.W.Bush
Following the death of Mel’s father, we were again clubbed upside our heads with another reality.
"Mel, your sister has moved out" Leroy, her latest live-in relayed.
"What!" Mel was truly in shock. She just lost her father and now this.
Candee deserted their mother Betty. Just one day, she didn't come home. Of course Candee didn’t see it that way.
When Mel spoke to her mother, Betty said Leroy had been drinking and no one should have to live with a drunk. But…wait a minute…it’s okay to leave your incapacitated mother with said drunk? Betty never had a wonderful relationship with Candee, so this was just plain weird for her to defend anything Candee did. I felt she was afraid of burning bridges. She was bed ridden and that is not the ideal place to be if you are planning on running your mouth.
It is a time in your life where the tables have turned and you, the parent, are now the child. A return to innocence.
No matter what Candee did, her excuses always worked. But this time, it seems they weren’t. Mel was livid, beside herself in disappointment. Leroy could take over, but he couldn’t for the long haul. It wasn’t his mother, and after all he had a life. Candee was nowhere to be found. She wouldn’t even go over to check on her mom.
I knew what was coming, but I dreaded it.
“Di, I need to talk to you” Mel started.
“Don’t”. Was all I had to say. “Just go down there and get her”
Mel swore she would NEVER talk to Candee again. This time it seemed as if it were set in stone because she didn't let up. Between the bills and the fact that Candee could use alcohol as an excuse for leaving yet not explain why she left her mother in a situation she herself could not tolerate really painted Candee as the person everybody BUT Mel knew.
Candee had a life long friend, Cindy, who was the only one that could abide Candee. However, she also was through. And disgusted. It was Cindy who kept us up on what and where Candee was and it seems Candee was on the prowl and told Cindy she had met a man and was getting married. Her favorite hobby. She was married 5 times. So what was one more? Cindy relayed to us that Candee never spoke of her mother, or LeRoy and if Cindy were to bring them up, Candee would get up and leave.
I knew that this was going to be tough, I had no idea HOW tough. So Mel set off to Alabama to collect her mother and all of her mom’s treasures. I readied both the house and myself. Betty wanted her own room. We took the spare room that we put Puz up in and redid it. We painted it bright yellow like she preferred.
And then I went on a rampage cleaning the house. Five days later Mel arrived. I was in shock when I saw Betty. She weighed less than 85 pounds. She could not eat without help and it looked as though that help was not there. Betty acted as though she were happy to see me. And I acted as though I were happy to see her. But soon all masks were off.
Mel was thrown into the task of detective trying to find out who ran up all the charges on Betty’s bills. Finally Mel surmised it was the reason Candee took off. She knew this was going to be an issue and she was anything but responsible. We never heard from Candee and so, Mel started to pay them off one by one.
The arrangements were pretty much the same as when I took care of Puz. Mel would work, I would stay home and take care of Betty.
And take care of her I did. She also had incontinence issues, but she was spry. Betty was a night owl. We had given her a bell and in spite of her delicate condition, she seemed ready to live another 20 years. And she felt that way as well. She promised us another 10 years at the least.
We gave her the bell and trust me...she used that bell all night long. Mel never answered it, just me. Betty wanted to watch a certain program, would I cook something for her that she probably would never eat, would I play cards with her. For the most part, I didn’t mind except I also had to take care of Mel. That meant going to the laundry to wash clothes, cooking all her meals and catering to her every wish. I was tired most of the time. But Betty was a secret delight.
Betty had some stories to tell. She had traveled the world as a missionary and actually was part of the beginning of NATO! In the hours just before dawn, the only sound was her small voice reliving these adventures and me hanging on to every word. I felt bad that Mel was not enjoying this as well. When I did have time alone to be with Mel, I would tell her, but she did not seem to be as engaged. She had a lot of bitterness towards her mom who was a strict and often unfair disciplinarian. Betty and I became very fast friends.
Betty was a religious fanatic, that was a bit difficult to get around. She felt Jim and Tammy Faye got a raw deal. Yep, she did. Yet she didn’t understand my idealism regarding the death penalty, I mean, really? If Jesus had been killed twenty years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little electric chairs around their necks instead of crosses. And of course, she had her issues regarding homosexuality. Mel and I had a bedroom next to hers and she demanded we keep the door open. At some point, probably when I was in a coma sitting next to her bed at 4am, she asked me to promise her something. I promised without knowing what I was promising. So from that point on, I had to weigh whether I would have sex with Mel or be scorned to hell – she warned me, she was on a first name basis with God and I would most certainly go to hell.
“The betrayal of trust carries a heavy taboo.” Aldrich Ames
She stopped eating. And I spent my days making everything and anything for her. I tried to sleep when she did, but she would only sleep in fits and starts, and never at night. Those nights with Betty are my treasures. I wish I had taped them. I don’t know what I was thinking, that I didn’t. I just figured she would be there forever.
The VA has a program where home cared elderly can stay in the hospital for a week while the family goes on a respite. We decided to take advantage of it. I felt Betty needed some one on one doctor care and Mel had a conference she needed to attend.
But that trip was not our best decision.
By the way IISTG means If It Seems Too Good to be True