Mother deprived of loving daughter and grandchildren
at deathbed

Mother deprive of children at deathbed

My sister and I always had a good relationship with my mother Irene, but, as adults, we went on to live independent lives.

Our brother Donald was married for a short time but seemed unable to build an independent life of his own and finally moved back in with our parents.

I married, in 1992, and moved an hour’s drive from my parent’s. Every week I would drive back to my parents house,  take my mother to her dialysis session, then get their house clean and tidy, put fresh linen on their bed and their laundry done. Our relationship remained solid and I continued this schedule until my father Milton’s death in April 2001.

Two months after my father’s death, our family doctor was approached by a lawyer Donald had engaged in an effort to break our mothers Trust and have a new will drafted. The doctor, knowing that our father had handled all business matters, expressed concern that “Irene could be easily manipulated” and refused to enter into a discussion with this lawyer. Donald then went to a larger law firm, Swanson & Sons. On the first visit mother refused to go into law office and Mr. Swanson had to go out to her car to introduce himself.

All through the summer, though my sister and I had happy days with my mother. I noticed an increasing uneasiness but accredited it to grief. (See photograph of my mother, sister and me taken to celebrate what would have been my parent’s 60th anniversary) Then, in September, my brother began preventing my daughter speaking to her grandmother every time she called.  

In October a family relative, and close friend  of my mother’s, went to visit her and was shocked to hear my mother making statements about my having taken away her keys and that she thought I was going to harm her because people had told her that was true.

My sister and this friend were understandably alarmed and decided to take my mother out to lunch in an effort to evaluate her condition. It was a very pleasant day, my mother seemed a bit nervous but we all thought it was because she had hardly been out of her house since my father’s death. She didn’t say anything unpleasant to me or seem to be uncomfortable with me. In fact, even with the nervousness, she appeared to be enjoying herself and was happy to see us all.  During lunch, it was revealed that my brother was leaving her alone at home for long periods of time and that, when he left, he would lock her in. That sounded strange and made us all feel a bit uneasy but, all-in-all, everyone agreed it had been a happy day.

Two days after that lovely lunch, I was presented with a restraining order prohibiting me from contact with my mother. We discovered that, upon my mother’s return from lunch, my brother had taken her to the Swanson law firm to have her sign the order.

Finally, my sister and I decided  this had all gone too far and filed a report with Protective Services saying that my brother was isolating my mother in an attempt to alienate her from her daughters, family members,  and friends resulting in her being left alone, in a locked house, for long periods of time.   

At the time, we were concerned by the fact that the Swanson law firm functions not only as a private firm but also as the county attorney. Because of this, our complaint, as do all complaints registered with Human Services, would have to go through them. We felt this situation could result in our complaint not being given a fair analysis and our concerns were confirmed when our complaint was deemed unfounded.

At the end of October my mother had a visit from two of her grandsons.  Finding her alone and locked in her house, they called the Sheriff. When the sheriff arrived, the deputy said they could pull the locked door open. Once inside the house, they found my mother sitting in a chair in the living room and asked her if she was feeling OK. She answered that she was not. When she saw the deputy, she said “my son says I can’t have any company.” The deputy told the grandsons they would have to leave. A video was made, by the grandsons, at the time of this incident.

In November, my daughter came for a visit and immediately went to see her grandmother. Finding the door was open; she went right in and found her grandmother very happy to see her.  She stayed for a long visit and, when my brother had not returned by the early evening, she turned the lights on for her grandmother and promised she would return for another visit before she went home.  Following this visit, she was charged with trespassing which was a totally unfounded charge.

In January, Donald took my mother to Methodist Hospital for a Geriatric Evaluation. In their evaluation report, they state that she was competent though they felt she was not well enough to be left alone for long periods of time. They also reported that my mother had expressed the desire to be able to reconcile with her daughters.

In February the restraining order against my sister and me was dismissed. When a judge ruled that my mother should be allowed to have visitors and attend family gatherings, my brother’s lawyer, Mr. Swanson, stood up and registered a complaint.  

Unfortunately, the judge’s ruling changed nothing. I thought, if we had to go back to court to get the judge’s decision enforced I would need some proof so, on April 14, I made a recorded call to my mother’s house. My brother answered the phone and the following audio contains excerpts from that call. (click for audio)

Later that day, I spoke to a family member who told me that my brother, who he never sees or talks to, had just, out of the blue, called him to ask if he had a handgun to sell. This cousin said he found it not only strange that my brother wanted a handgun but that, if he did want one, he did not just go to a store and buy one. My cousin said the only conclusion he could come to was that my brother did not want to fill out the paperwork that would provide a record of his owning a handgun. My cousin went on the say my brother  was complaining that I was costing him a lot of money in legal expense and the conversation had left him believing that my brother was unstable. He said he was worried for my safety and believed I should not go alone to the house and not ever go at night when my brother could claim he had thought I was a burglar.

Finally, on May 5, my sister and I were able to spend some time with my mother while she was at the clinic undergoing her weekly dialysis treatment.  One of the nurses told us my mother had told her that she hoped to be reconciled with her daughters and the nurse said, after having been given a letter stating that my mother did not wish to see my sister or me, she was happy to see that my mother was enjoying our visit.

Ten days later, I went to the dialysis center for another visit. After the call from my cousin about the gun I began to carry a tape recorder and was able to record our conversation.

 I took some checks for her to sign, to cover a few of her personal commitments. Though she knew¸ as executor of her estate, it was my responsibility to get this sort of thing taken care of, she could not focus on anything other than the orders my brother had given her. (click for audio) Whatever my brother had been saying to her over the 13 months since my father’s death had put her in such a distressed state that all she could focus on was what my brother was saying to her. (click for audio) At one point a nurse tried to reassure her, that all that was important was what she wanted, but she was way past any ability to understand, or even consider, the concept of her own choices and needs. (click for audio) I had also taken some family pictures that I knew my mother would enjoy looking at, especially those of my father.  She didn’t even want to see my father’s picture. (click for audio)

It was clear my brother had done something to my mother that, without the help of the legal system, my sister and I had no power to remedy. The last thing either of us wanted to do was cause her the sort of distress that we witnessed on that second visit to the dialysis center.   We were never able to see our mother again.

Two years later my mother died. Rather than being surrounded by loving daughters, family, and friends, she died alone.