I care 24/7 for my 89 year old frail mother who has severe CHF, stroke, mobility problems and early ?vascular dementia. I have telephoned or visited my mother every day without fail since the 2nd November 1999, when my dad died after 46 years of strong but unhappy marriage. I've lived with her for the last five years; her dependency has gradually increased, and for the last two years her illness has been life-threatening: she needs constant attendance from a vigilant, informed and above all motivated care-giver.
I have three older siblings. Brother 1 and sister have joint POA for finance. Brother 2 rarely surfaces. We're not close in age, and there's the usual emotional muck-heap. We're all argumentative and opinionated.
The problem is that The Three and I have diametrically opposed views on key points of principle that are becoming relevant. The 3 are in favour of voluntary euthanasia: I oppose it (and thank God it's still illegal here. It's the quickest route to sanctioning convenient murder of the elderly that I can think of - oh, always for their own good, of course). They dismiss my mother's right to autonomy, believing that they know better what her best interests are; I bang my head against the wall trying every day to understand how she wants her life arranged. They are atheists, ranging from militant to indifferent on the subject; I don't care what religious label He's wearing, but I do believe in some higher imperative that all religions share in teaching us to live by, and I feel strongly that belief can be a strong framework for coping with life (including death). We were all brought up and educated as Anglicans.
Only... when I was 14, the younger brother aged 18 and I were told during a row between my parents that my mother is Jewish. First we'd heard of it. It had just somehow never come up. My parents were married in church. I don't know - never will know - if my mother told my father about her background before they married. This was the early 1950s, a time when quite a lot of people preferred to keep it quiet. I've learned since that she was confirmed when she was a schoolgirl, in the 1930s (er, ditto, in Europe) at a Christian boarding school in England her parents sent her and her sisters to because they lived in India. I can't tell you what the Church thinks about the validity of confirmation without baptism, in the case of a 13 year old girl whose classmates were all being confirmed at the same time; I haven't asked. Whatever.
Same pattern with our reactions to this information. The 3 deny it. That simple! I suppose it helps if you're an atheist, or maybe that's what made them so, I don't know. Whereas I married straight back in, at 19, and haven't regretted it even though I long ago divorced.
Two things are freaking me out. 1. My sister wrote in an email that a financial plan to insure my mother for lifelong care fees wouldn't work because "the money would be wasted if she died too soon." My sister has POA; and this is her idea of acting in my mother's best interests. Meanwhile the 3 are looking for nice cheap care homes near - not too near, are you kidding?! - their own homes. 2. I am afraid that my siblings will gang up and leave me with the choice that either I let them take my mother's care out of my hands or I tear my mother apart emotionally by fighting them bloodily and to destruction. And not one of them, not one, has asked my mother or asked themselves whether she wants to live in residential care. I have. She doesn't, she wants to live in her own home. All this sh1t- storm so far is about one week's respite care. Crazy.
I am afraid - aren't I? - that my siblings are plotting - in the politest, kindest and most lawful way possible - to kidnap, murder and rob my mother.
Please point out to me specifically where I am being paranoid. I must be, no? My siblings are not kidnappers, murderers or thieves. By their own lights they too want the best for my mother. Surely.
Please tell me how I can relax, just trust them to find a week's good respite care and let my mother enjoy it, when they are looking at residential care homes that offer no nursing support because they don't agree she needs any nursing care. They do not understand her, do not want to understand her, do not know her, do not know that they don't know her, and don't agree that any of it's important. This year all 3 added together have spent maybe 60 hours in her company, estimating generously.
What do I do? Lawyer up? Heeellllppp!
PS Please don't suggest talking to them, not on its own anyway. Conversations with my siblings make me wake from dreams of extreme violence with a happy smile on my face. It's a worry.