Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mother Matters

When we get heavy rain, Mother's lounge and kitchen lights go out. She resets the circuit breaker after a while and they come back on. Her house was built in the 1940s and the wiring is old and the coverings are crumbling. This all began about a year ago. She called a big company who seemed to make it safe and paid the bill herself. However, he said the house is dangerous and needs rewiring. He quoted $11,000. Mother's children decided we were not paying and she needs to consider her options.

The recent storms and heavy rains have wreaked havoc. She now only has bedroom lights. A local electrician has quoted $9000 to rewire and says the old wire is crumbling. Of course in times of crisis who does Mother call? Yep, R. R then gets stuck in to me to 'do' something. This is unfair. She has four children. Why is it always down to me? Ok, I am the oldest. I spoke to Sister and she said you and I will pay $5000 and our brothers can pay the remaining $4000. I will wear that.

I then called Tradie Brother and said to him, do you still have any electrician mates? Can you seek advice? In spite of the decaying wiring, why can't new wires be run from the sound electric board to the lights that are not working.? Tradie Brother agreed. This could be done, he reckons and he is seeking advice. In his words, we can stick up a couple of fluoros directly wired to the fuse box.

Unlike Sister and myself, Tradie Brother and ABI Brother don't have any spare money, and ABI Brother has already borrowed $1500 from me. I don't have much cash on hand and never have, and nor does R. No doubt Mother thinks, but what has your forthcoming holiday costing. It is a point, but R is approaching 70. He wants to travel now, while he can. He has been generous at times with me and extremely generous to Mother. If R wants to travel, then I will do so, while he still can. It costs big money and that is where our money goes. Otherwise we live quite cheaply.

Mother is 83 and frail and always moaning on about what is wrong with her, but her organs are quite hale and hearty. We, her children, pay for many things for her as she is hopeless with money. Most of her money goes on cigarettes and a huge amount of cures for her diseases of old age from the chemist, even though she pays little for her prescribed medication.  She says we will get the money back when she dies from the sale of her house, which her father bought for her. That is not necessarily correct. The money could be eaten up by care at some point. She is terrified of leaving her house where she has lived for about forty years, and I understand this, but she could be living a good life somewhere with house being worth about $350,000. She has options and choices, but she won't take them. We will prop her up to a point but I am not sure about us paying $9,000 for her house to be rewired is one of them. As she succinctly put to R, even if I sell the house, I do need lighting until it is sold.

29 comments:

  1. Family! At least you have one x

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    1. John, with three siblings to share the cost, that is something.

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  2. Travel with R while you can has to be a priority.
    And the mother scenario is painfully familiar. My mother used to preface her most outrageous requests with 'it is the least you can do'. She has been gone a long time now but that phrase still sets up hackles up.
    Good luck.

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    1. My mum had a similar phrase: "after all I've done for you".
      Sorry mum, but leaving home when I was 7 doesn't count as having done much for me.
      But I did promise myself I would never say that to my kids, and I haven't.

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    2. EC, it is hardly a phrase designed to get the best out of your children.

      River, I didn't know about your mother leaving. Not too many women can do that, leave their children but then I don't know the situation.

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  3. My mother wouldn't have gone anywhere if it hadn't been for that torn rotator cuff that sent her to hospital. Never looked back since being in the Home, 7 and a half years when they gave her 4 to 6 months when she first arrived. It's not the house that's worth money but the land so don't bother with spending too much, it's not worth it.

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    1. Jah Teh, we are trying to avoid spending money on the place, but really, we can't see her without lighting. It will be demolished by a developer who buys the house for the land.

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  4. It's absolutely your decision but since you have ventilated it here, I'd just suggest that if you and your sister put in money of that sort it should be by loan. There should be a written agreement that it will be repaid on sale of the house or out of her estate and if you have to borrow the money she should also repay any interest you have had to pay. It feels a bit yukky to do this with your own mother but it is really a matter of fairness between siblings, avoiding future misunderstandings and making sure that, if her position has to be assessed by the Govt at some stage (eg, if she does have to go into care), repayment of any loans can be taken into account before determination of any bond etc to be paid.

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    1. Marcellous, your professionalism is showing, but between us children, we have never had to do that although I did write a document once stating what we would pay for and what we wouldn't and my siblings agreed and that has worked since 2010. Your point about debt repayment is excellent and I never thought of that. In that case, it will need to be formalised in some way.

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  5. Crikey Andrew ..... families are tricky, aye?? My Mum is in her 70's. She wants to do lots of things before she carks it but one thing she is adamant about is SHE WILL NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES END HER DAYS IN A RETIREMENT VILLAGE OR NURSING HOME. So she understands your Mum's feelings. However, your Mum should not be asking for, or be expecting help from you or your siblings. She had you because she wanted to. You didn't ask to be born!! Her problem ...... not yours!! Mum and Dad are still supporting their kids (not the other way round) and the youngest is 37 with kids of her own. AND they are not wealthy people. Well they are really ..... they have ME!!!!!!! If your Mum wants to stay in her own home then she has to find a way to stay there by her own means. There would be ways. You and R need to enjoy your trip away without feeling guilty.

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    1. Charlie, sometimes people don't have a choice about going into a nursing home. Some do very well in care and some do not. I expect what will happen with my mother is she will go into hospital one day for a reason, and end up in care of some sort. It could be a while away though. Your point about expecting is valid, but she is too old to instigate any way our of her situation. As I said, we can't let her live in the dark.

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  6. Anonymous11:55 am

    Hels said: If your mum is 83 and frail, and if the house is not problem-free, she really does need to move into a care community. NOBODY wants to leave their own home, I realise that, but there is no viable alternative. Your mum with have a bedroom, loungeroom with kitchenette and a bathroom - small but perfectly designed. She can cook herself or eat in the dining room with others.

    When my parents moved from the family home, mum placed her fingers around the front door post and wouldn't budge. She only moved when dad waved goodbye and prepared to get into the taxi :(

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    1. Hels, that must have been awful to watch your mother like that. Btw, my mother and my step-mother have the same name as your mother had. She can still cook for herself and garden and all the basic things. She hates living alone though but nor does she like the idea of living with other people. We point out that she can be as alone as she likes in care.

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  7. I'm sorry Andrew. I've seen this so many time doing inhome care. But I have done nothing about as I age. Both of my son could be in the same boat.
    Coffee is on

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    1. Dora, thanks for your recount of personal experience. It seems to be so hard when people get old for them to realise that care accommodation is the best option.

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  8. A very large box of candles? Or maybe a battery operated LED lamp in each room? Has Mother been told that faulty wiring is a fire hazard?
    I think you may all have to band together and force a move. Mother will moan and complain, but she does that already and will be far safer in a more modern place. There are independent living places where care is available at the touch(push?) of a button should she need someone in a hurry and of course you and R are still just a phone call away.

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    1. River, so tempting. I spoke the electrician today. He is a decent bloke and he said the wires at the back of the fuse box have crumbling coverings and he knows exactly what it will be like in his roof. He seems decent and did not charge for yesterday's visit. He too has an elderly mother but she has just gone into care.

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  9. Aging parents has become a dilemma for many of us. It took a major crisis for my mother to move into a home where she has been very happy for the last 7 years. She moved because her doctor said she could no longer live on her own. That was the end of the discussions. The doctor knew what he was talking about whereas the advice from the family was of no consequence.

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    1. Marie, her doctor, a social worker and hospital staff has told she shouldn't be alone in her house, as have we and various other people. She takes no notice. Your mother wisely took her doctor's advice.

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  10. That's a real hard one to figure out. You will be damned if you do pay part of and damned if you don't.
    At least my mum when alive didn't say anything like that to me, nor my late dad, never threw anything up in my face.
    Looked at all the money your mum could have saved (ha, probably sent it elsewhere) if she didn't smoke! Guess she has to have some joy in smoking and at her age certainly not worth giving it up.
    Go on holiday with R as often and as long as you can, for one day one of you will most likely be gone before the other.
    The price of the electrical work in my opinion should be paid by your family if you mother has no money of her own.
    Stubborn not to go in a home after selling her house. I just had one of my Aunties (97) who has moved into a home this past week and loves it, didn't want to go but was forced to because she can't look after herself at home.
    Good luck with it all.

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    1. Margaret, we will certainly be damned if we don't pay. Mother always plays it nicely but manipulatively and not confrontationally. For the two weeks she was in hospital last year, she did not smoke and then as soon as she was home, she started again. She believes it calms her. It might be more calming to have the money in the bank. I agree though, at her age, while she would recover better from any surgery if she did not smoke, it is too late. Your aunt was 97 before she left her home!!! Wow. Thank you.

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  11. How very sad...and how very dangerous. A fire could easily break out .... I can say no more...

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    1. Lee, as the electrician warned me when I spoke to him this afternoon. I will give him the go ahead tomorrow.

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  12. I really hate the abuse of older people by tradies etc. A friend of mine, no longer with us, would occasionally call tech people who would come to his house, do little more than reboot his computer and charge a fortune.

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    1. James, that's pretty outrageous. Older people, even though they may manage to use computers, tend not to have much of an understanding of them.

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  13. Gosh that's a lot to rewire. I think I'd be unhooking the wire behind outlets, fastening a cord to it, and pulling new wire through behind it, rather than paying out. Or getting some solar lights, powering them up in the day, bringing them in for light at night, or lanterns.

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    1. Strayer, it is the second quote, $2000 less than the first. I like your practical and cheaper ideas.

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  14. Definitely agree, you and R travel now while you can. Families can suck the life out of you!

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    1. Jackie, take a leaf from your book, hey.

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